Interview: Seth Sentry Captures Youth
We caught up with Seth Sentry, one of Australia’s premier rappers, ahead of an extensive February/March tour of his homeland:
Hi Seth! Thanks for taking time out to chat to us here at Something You Said. First off, aside from being a lyricist and vocalist, I was wondering whether you play any instruments? And, how would you describe your musical background outside of hip-hop? Can you recall any records or artists that were formative for you growing up?
When I was young I played piano, guitar & saxophone. I was pretty terrible at all of them to be honest. I used to listen to a lot of Seattle grunge and a butt load of West Coast punk music. Nirvana was absolutely huge for me. Rage Against the Machine were a big influence in the beginning.
Your lyrics often seem to reflect a sense of malaise with the world and, I think, question what it is we are doing and why we do it. To me that’s always been a strong connection to your audience. Drawing from the line “Only showing love through the drugs and the modem plug” – do you think there’s a general disconnect between us as individuals and society as a whole? How would you describe your own relationship to technology?
Yeah definitely, more and more I think. You can look around at any given time & see a bunch of people walking around staring down at their phones & not even really being aware of the world around them, myself included. I get caught in that endless loop of… check Twitter feed, check Facebook, check Youtube, check Instagram, wash, rinse, repeat. Before I know it, two hours has passed that I will never get back. I’m very aware of it but yet I still do it. Sometimes I feel like going and buying an old Nokia phone that doesn’t have internet access.
How would you describe the conception of your new single, ‘Run’?
I really wanted to capture that feeling of my youth on a song. I wanted the beat to remind me of listening to old 411vm skate videos on VHS & discovering new rap music through them.
Were there negative experiences with places you worked, or a dissatisfaction with the cycle of trying to scrape by, behind songs like ‘Simple Game’ and ‘Strange Lot’?
Absolutely. I worked hospitality for about 11 years and hated almost every second of it. However, I do feel like it helped to inspire me to rap about the futility of working in a job that you have zero passion for.
Aside from those two tracks reverberating with me strongly, ‘Room for Rent’ is both universal and yet very Australian to me. I once lived in a pretty intense and shambolic sharehouse. For example, one morning my roommate got up after about four bucket bongs and headed to the kitchen to get breakfast. Upon discovering that his food had been eaten, he kicked the neighbour’s fence because the dog was barking, and then the neighbour (who was like a synthesis of a Tolkien troll and Meatloaf) grabbed an axe, kicked the fence in and chased him out the back of the house, this all ending with a police raid. It leads me to the lyrics for ‘Room to Rent’. Have you experienced a lot of share housing and is that where you’re at now or has ‘being too close to your housemates’ taken its toll?
Haha, great story. Yeah I have lived in heaps of different share houses over the years. I recently moved into my own apartment so I no longer have to deal with housemates. I do miss it though, my home-life is very boring now. No-one eats my food apart from me, I’m not losing my socks. I mean, shit, the other day I bought a toothbrush holder.
And I need to know, was the ‘Waitress’ a real person and did you ever hit her up?
Yes she was and no I didn’t. I explain it more in my verse on “Horrorshows – Nice Guys Finish Last remix.”
Back when I was younger, ‘Down by Law’ was the first Australian mixtape of Aussie hip hop artists – that I knew of anyway – that came out (in Sydney here at least) and for a long time that was like the birth of a scene here, despite the graffiti scene having been strong for a lot longer, the emergence of Australian centric hip-hop artists was still a really new thing. Fast-forward now and it’s become almost mainstream on some levels and artists are side-by-side with bands and DJs at major music festivals. How do you think the scene has changed since you’ve been involved with it?
I’ve noticed a huge change since I started. Back in the day, for me at least, it was all open mic nights and battle rap. getting played on radio wasn’t even in the realm of possibility and certainly not something we ever thought about. I was simply trying to rap better than everyone else. It was competitive and that’s definitely something that drew me to it. The fact I can now do it as a full-time job is still mind-blowing to me.
What can we expect from your shows on your current nationwide tour? In what ways do you think your live performance differs from your recorded output?
The live show is a completely different beast I think. It’s something that I absolutely love doing. I try to make every live show unique to that particular night. I definitely struggle to come out night after night on autopilot and just do the same show every time. I love just going for it on stage and seeing where it takes me. If someone yells some shit from the stage or whatever, I’ll generally respond and it becomes banter city.
Who is an Australian artist out there you think not getting the airplay they deserve?
What’s coming up for you in the future? What are a few key things you’d like to make happen in 2015?
A whole ton of touring, both national and international. Plus a new Fallout game would be sweet.
SETH SENTRY – RUN TOUR 2015. With special guests Citizen Kay and Coin Banks. Tickets from the usual outlets.
FRI 20 FEB | THE HI-FI, BRISBANE QLD
SAT 21 FEB | SOLBAR, MAROOCHYDORE QLD
SAT 28 FEB | THE REPUBLIC, HOBART TAS
SAT 7 MAR | THE HI-FI, MELBOURNE VIC SOLD OUT
SUN 8 MAR | THE HI-FI, MELBOURNE VIC NEW SHOW
THU 12 MAR | THE CAMBRIDGE, NEWCASTLE NSW
FRI 13 MAR | THE METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY NSW (ALL AGES)
SAT 14 MAR | ANU BAR, CANBERRA ACT
THU 19 MAR | PRINCE OF WALES, BUNBURY WA
FRI 20 MAR | METROPOLIS FREMANTLE, FREMANTLE WA
SAT 21 MAR | THE GOV, ADELAIDE SA (ALL AGES)
MORE INFO AT WWW.SETHSENTRY.COM
Interview by Damon Collum.