“Whatever makes sense to you and your creative journey is yours and nobody else.” – Rapper Dobby staunchly speaks his truth
Unapologetically proud of his culture and bursting with talent is rapper, drummer, speaker and workshop facilitator Dobby. It hasn’t even beean a year since his selftitled EP release and the 24-year-old has already caught the attention of Australia’s legendary Byron Bay Bluesfest, landing a spot on their Boomerang Festival line up. To find out more about where he’s come from to get to this major milestone in any Aussie musicians career, Dobby spoke with Take One’s Melanie C.
In the lead up to releasing your self titled and critically acclaimed EP, what was it that you envisioned about the release in terms of telling the world who you are?
I wanted to put out a specific kind of energy that is unique to me and my sound. I knew this EP would be fun, and varied in its different moods and sounds. I worked all the beats to be quite distinct from each other, exploring different kinds of Hip Hop! I’m really proud of it. This EP has helped me understand the ways that I tell stories. You’ll hear some voice recordings in different settings after each track on the EP, in various unique locations from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, to Brighton UK. I wanted to also deliver my lyrical ability for the Hip Hop heads, and continue that craft as an integral part of Hip Hop culture. This is super important to me!
Were there any surprises for you after you released it comparing what you imagined and how audiences reacted?
I didn’t know what to expect really, but the reaction was amazing! I was able to travel interstate and perform this EP in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and even getting my music to international audiences. I’m still seeing the effects of this EP; it opens more doors for education and workshops in Hip Hop, English, Music etc. It’s opening doors for me to represent First Nations voices across both Hip Hop and Classical communities… It’s mind bending.
You’ve talked a lot about the scrutiny you feel and being an Indigenous artist and to me it would seem like that’s something that might hinder your creative process. How did this impact you putting together your first release and do you feel like it’s still a big weight when it comes to your work?
As a Murrawarri and Filipino artist, there are different avenues I can take with my creation. Some of these avenues have been carefully crafted for artists like me, designed to box me in. I’m talking content-wise and image-wise. It’s a complex array of influences and the only thing that seems right to me is to speak my truth, and create what makes sense to me. I know some amazing artists that blast their culture to the world, powerful! I know some deadly artists that write scores for horror films. Whatever makes sense to you and your creative journey is yours and nobody else. Birdz, mad Melbourne based rapper, speaks in his music about being categorised as Indigenous music. His album competes well with the best in this country in my opinion!
Bottom line is, this EP and upcoming projects this year are informing me to write my story and let it be mine.
You wrote and produced your first release by yourself and yet have since gone on to collaborate with many artists like Dion Condack, Funk Engine to name a few, and are a member of Jackie Brown Jr. Why did you decide to work by yourself on your first release and is this new trend likely to continue for your second?
Personally I think it’s important for me to explore and challenge myself. I produced the beats and wrote the songs on this EP, and it helped me to work harder, think structurally and conceptualise the bigger picture. I’m not a great producer, but as a drummer I love beats! How could I not try myself? This year, however, I’m really excited to say I’ll be working with a few of my favourite artists in this country…
The last time you were talking about new music you mentioned you were going to try to return a little to your roots and use a few more real instruments. Any more updates on the next release?
My new music brings together all my passions and skills. I’ll be playing more piano, playing more drums, I’ll be scoring more orchestral instruments… Ah. My next release is so exciting. I’m pumped. I think about this project every day and every night. I’ve been thinking about it for 10 years.
It’s one thing to create a body of work but it’s another to be able to bring it to life on stage. What is your approach to performance and how do you go about crafting the right set and staging to make your performances your own?
Yes! Performance is the most important thing for me. I’m constantly thinking about how my favourite performers engage with the crowd. I’ll be continuing a few of my signature live routines such as drumming and rapping, but this year I’ll also be exploring more piano playing, storytelling, theatrical elements, audience jamming, even a bit of marching band!?
Who do you look to for inspiration when it comes to performing live?
I love folks who make performing look easy… In no particular order; H.E.R., Anderson .Paak, Janelle Monae, Jacob Collier, Mirrah, Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, Snarky Puppy (Very excited to see them again), Baker Boy, Eminem, Kanye West (STRICTLY for his music and performance)
What about developing your image? How did you decide how it is you want to present yourselves to the public?
I look to Janelle Monae and Anderson .Paak, Kendrick, Eminem (early 2000’s era!), H.E.R. when it comes to how they convey image. They’re determined, focused, not at all concerned with criticism. I am so inspired by artists with a vision, one that is undisturbed and cannot be compromised. I embrace and promote creativity and positivity through my music. I want people to feel that when I perform. I proudly represent my culture and my identity when I perform and create… I hope my representation on these platforms can inspire others to chase their dreams as well. It’s harder to find spaces where we can be ourselves lately, and we can change that one artist at a time.
You’ve had the chance to perform across many a festival stage from BIGSOUND to Vivid, and Yabun to name a few. What was your first festival experience like?
My first festival was bigsound 2017 and it was hectic. That was the first experience where I could actually see the face(s) of the music industry. We have a passionate community and there are a lot of moving parts to this music society. It’s made me damn proud to be a part of it, and even more determined to shout my name out.
What will you be bringing to this year’s Bluesfest?
I’m bringing my story, energy and my positivity to Bluesfest. I’m really looking forward to bringing what I do to the Bluesfest community!
Any artists you’d recommend?
With everything that’s happened since your EP launch in 2018, what do you now define as success?
I think success is the ability to reach within and bring something back out. For me, the bulk of last year was about rediscovering that authentic feeling of creating. It’s the same feeling I had in 2009 when I was making music for no one else but me. For me, that is my success.
Dobby will be performing on the following dates: