It seems JOELISTICS can’t get enough of Canberra and its hip-hop fans. He was here only a few months ago in May with Adelaide hip-hop quartet Lowrider, though this time he’s going solo on his Voyager tour. “The last gig at Transit Bar with Lowrider was banging and I’m looking forward to coming to Canberra and warming the cold nights,” he says.
The Melbourne-based artist has been practising hard for his first solo performances and is fired up about touring. “I’m super excited about going out and smashing stages around the country.”
Joel Ma, of TZU fame, has been working on material since the group decided to take a break two and half years back. Joel took time to travel parts of Asia and Europe and this has inspired his work. “I saw it as an opportunity to explore personal territory lyrically,” he explains. “I wrote these songs using themes of travel and identity.”
All of the music and lyrics on the album Voyager, released on Friday July 29, are written by Joel so he’s very attached to the work. “I feel really close to the beats, I’m a bit of a control freak that way,” he reveals. Joel describes the record as “post-20s, futuristic, personal, anecdotal, folk, electronic hip-hop.”
The MC is not only vocally talented but plays drums, guitar and piano and started out as the drummer in a punk band in year eight. The two genres may seem quite far apart but Joel disagrees. “I was attracted to political punk like The Dead Kennedys and heard an echo of that in artists like Public Enemy and De La Soul, in that they’d take a pop song and turn it on its head,” he says. “I related to the rhythm of rappers.”
Other musical influences came from his parents who he says have impeccable musical tastes. “They were really influential in my music taste.”
Joel says his music is rooted in hip-hop but he tries to reach into other territories as well. “I try and bring other music into what I make. I like a diverse sound and try and weave it into what I do. I’m definitely not a purist when it comes to hip-hop.”
Joel also wants people to not only have a good time at his gigs but to think as well. “I write lyrics which are meaningful and give people something to latch on to. I want the crowd to get down but be challenged as well. You have to keep it original and innovative.”
He says the innovation is happening across the Australian hip-hop scene and it’s stronger than ever before. “It’s no longer the industry joke,” he explains. “Ten years ago we were banging down people’s doors to take us seriously.”
Joelistics hits Canberra on Thursday August 18, playing at Transit Bar with two of his favourite Melbourne acts Ishu and Polo Club. Tickets are $12 + bf and are available through Moshtix.