Music Interview: 360 challenges himself
Acclaimed Australian rapper, 360, took a few moments out from his tour to talk to Annastasia Robertson about interacting with fans, basketball and dream collaborations:
You’re currently on your Retopia tour and you’ve been hitting some smaller towns around Australia. What’s been your favourite place to play so far?
All the North Queensland shows were incredible. Cairns, Townsville and Gladstone, which is absolutely epic, and Ipswich.
I’ve noticed that you were going to try and get out and talk to the fans afterwards but you couldn’t quite get out there. I think they were a bit disappointed by that.
In Brisbane I had to go and do an interview and I couldn’t come out which was a shame because I’ve been trying to come out every show. I’ve done it most of the time, but that one I couldn’t so I felt bad, but there’s nothing I can do.
And I noticed that on social media you quite often respond to your fans and you interact with them and engage with them. How important is that to you?
I think it’s extremely important, I think in today’s day and age, with social media, it’s really created a whole different medium for artists to connect with fans. Like back in the day when I was growing up, if you really idolised someone’s music you couldn’t really reach out to them like you can today. You’d have to write them a letter to their fan mail and then pray you’d get a reply.
I remember doing that so many times, and they never reply!
Yeah, barely anyone got replies. But now you can just go on someone’s Instagram or Twitter and have complete access to them. I mean, not everyone replies, but if you’re an artist who wants to have longevity – and especially if you do want a bit of a cult following – it’s important you connect with your fans like that. Because then they feel like they know you on a personal level and they’ll stick by you through anything.
Alright, so let’s talk about your music, because that’s really what we’re here for. How does your latest record Utopia differ to your previous records?
I think if you listen to all three of my albums back-to-back, you will notice a lot of change with me, like vocally, how I rap, how I write songs, everything like that. I can’t even listen to my first album anymore because it just makes me cringe, like, most of the songs. Some of the songs I still see a little bit of positivity in there and I can appreciate some of it. Then when I did Falling and Flying I feel like I was still growing a lot as an artist and I don’t think I was where I wanted to be. I still don’t think I’m where I want to be. I think because Falling and Flying was such a success in the mainstream world, it was very successful and stuff like that, but I feel like the way I approached Utopia, it wasn’t about trying to have six radio songs, like Falling and Flying, it was more me trying to improve as a rapper and trying to really prove to myself as well. I wanted people to know that I come from a background of rap and I understand the art of rap and I wanted people to know that I can rap my arse off. So I really went into the album with that in mind and just trying to be a lot better, and you can hear it. I’ve changed my flow a lot and I’ve really tried get into the whole art form of it.
So it’s kind of like you’re growing up with your music.
That’s it. Yeah, exactly right. And I’m a big, big, big believer in constantly evolving as well. I think musicians should treat an album like how an artist would treat a painting, like you don’t do the same painting twice or just add a few changes to each painting, they’re always trying to come up with new stuff. That’s how I approach music. I think a lot of people get successful off music and then they have a formula that they stick to about how they make music and I want to constantly challenge myself and take myself out of my comfort zone and try and do new stuff that I haven’t done.
On this tour, you created a Retopia hashtag where young aspiring rappers can post a video of themselves and you give them the chance to get on stage with you. Have you found any talent so far?
Yeah, definitely. It’s actually been amazing to see how many kids are getting involved and it’s good to see a lot females getting involved, too. The first winner was actually a girl called Rachel from Brisbane and she’s just been writing for a couple of years. She’s quite new to it and she was so nervous when she got it up but she absolutely smashed it, like the crowd really got behind her and they loved it. Yeah, that was amazing and I’ve been watching a lot of the videos and they’re really good. Some of them are really talented and some of them are people that aren’t rappers, they’re just doing it for a bit of fun which is very entertaining as well.
You didn’t always want to be a musician though, did you?
Nah, I wanted to be a basketballer. Yeah I was obsessed with basketball and music was just a little hobby. I honestly wanted to go and play NBA. I wasn’t that good, but I saw that if I worked hard enough I could do it. And then my vision started going. I developed an eye disease and I’m blind in my right eye. I’ve had a cornea transplant and that killed my love for basketball.
Who did you want to play for?
I wanted to play for the [Chicago] Bulls, I was just a Michael Jordan fan. But it was a blessing in disguise though cause it made me focus on music after that as my main passion. So it was good.
At the end of March you released the acoustic version of Early Warning with Chris Cheney, which I think is really a beautiful version of the song, it gives it a whole new feel. Are you going to get into some more acoustic versions of your songs?
Yeah, definitely. When you do an acoustic version, it really makes you focus on the lyrics, and it brings a whole new light to the song. When we did that it just made me think how much I’d love to do a bunch of songs that some people haven’t picked up on over the years, because they haven’t been on an album or they’ve just been on a mixtape and I think I’d love to re-do them in an acoustic way, so people can hear the words. I think they would bring them a totally new life.
Who are you dying to collaborate with?
I’d love to work with Kanye. I’d love to work with Cee-lo Green. I absolutely love him, I think he’s a beast. I’d love to do a song with Kendrick Lamar as well, or Drake. There’s heaps, to be honest.
What can we expect from you in the coming year?
I’m going to be working extremely hard on some new music. I spent about three weeks in Sydney before the tour just working in the studio with different producers, and when I get back that’s all I’m going to be doing is making new music. So I want to try and push the envelope a little bit and come up with some stuff that hasn’t been done.
You can catch 360 on tour at the remaining dates below:
To find out more about how to buy tickets, visit his website.
Interview by Annastasia Robertson.