AIM Composition lecturer Austin Benjamin has founded and produces a cutting-edge pop and rap label called Trackwork that showcases the works of Indigenous rappers T-Breezy and Walkerboy, Zambian hip-hop artist Sevy, ex-Dispossessed punk singer Bayang and producer Utility. Trackwork artists recently performed at the iconic Opera House – unleashing many new tunes that have never been witnessed live. The crew prepared for the performance here at AIM, where Austin is also on staff in the Composition department.
“There was a great energy from the crowd – it was an extremely special event running throughout the day with Barkaa the performance being my personal highlight, bringing her daughter out to sing back up vocals,” Austin said. You can watch her set below.
Trackwork is sharing real Australian stories through new voices and tunes that weave together sounds in an original way that demands attention. A deeper understanding of our culture can be gained from their output.
Austin reflects on the label’s roster:
Austin: “T Breezy has a very unique voice – his vocal timbre but also his story from growing up in Inverell. His cousin Walkerboy shares many aspects of T Breezy’s journey but communicates them stylistically very differently. Sevy has an extremely unique persona which threads together his current output – you can tell it’s a Sevy tune even if the instrumental styles are from two very different worlds (watch his blistering set below). Bayang used to sing in iconic punk band Dispossessed – he has an extremely strong energy and conviction in everything he raps about – his rhythmic approach is very specific too.”
Austin on COVID and its effect on artists:
Austin: “Last year was strange for everyone but as artists it had a very specific impact on their creative process. I moved out of the original Trackwork HQ studios, whilst projects overseas and multiple festival opportunities for T Breezy were cancelled in March due to COVID.
In many ways COVID has been derailing, but individually and collaboratively some interesting projects have come out of it. These include releasing Snoee Badman’s debut EP (the first EP released by an Australian artist from a maximum security prison) and animation series (watch an episode below). They also include Sevy & Bayang’s collaborative project notfromhere with associated videos set in different Sydney locations.
Although last year was productive, something was missing: we didn’t have a feedback loop between our output and audiences. Previously this had been one of the most motivating aspects of making music – writing it and hearing it in the club. In a way the studio became a club and Instagram, Youtube & Spotify became fixed arenas that these feedback loops could occur within. It was, and is a fragmented way of creating and sharing music.“
Austin: “Live performance is an essential part in how people fully engage with these projects. It gets back to building a real-life / real-time connection to what we make, especially when artists like T Breezy & Walkerboy communicate where they are from and their personal journey in such a direct way. It’s exciting thinking about how we can build on the next chapter of our collaborations and the Burrabuwari show signifies our first step in the next part of that journey.
The show serves as our first performance coming together and performing songs that have been created & released throughout 2020 but have rarely or never been performed live. It will set up a new context to move forward in, after a year of building and releasing music in what sometimes feels like a purely digital abyss.“
In his Filter Zine interview I think T Breezy hits the nail on the head of this drive and power to connect with his audiences, whilst moving forward in his art: