Q&A – Atarungi, Curse Ov Dialect
November 20, 2009 § Leave a comment
Published: Music Australia Guide #71, November 2009.
Hailing from Macedonian, Maltese, Anglo-Indian, Maori and Pakistani roots, outsider Melbourne crew Curse Ov Dialect have made a name as iconoclasts of hip hop’s global underground and one of multiculturalism’s most strident voices. On the eve of the release of dizzying fourth album, Crisis Tales, MAG spoke to the enigmatic Atarungi about the band’s kaleidoscopic musical vision. By Dan Rule.
A lot of hip hop has moved away from sampling and that whole idea of collage that first generation guys like Afrika Bambaataa and the Bomb Squad really championed, though it’s at the heart of Curse.
“When we were on tour, we played a show in Geneva and this one guy came up to us afterwards and said ‘I consider you guys to be one of the last flames of hip hop’, and I really didn’t know what he meant at first. But his comment was directly in reference to people like the Bomb Squad and the whole idea of collage. The collage of musical elements is like cooking. If you’re into eating pasta with absolutely nothing else, that’s fine, but if you throw in a bit of sauce, some onions, some basil and a bit of this and that, it gives it a lot more colour and flavour.”
Volk Makedonski and August the 2nd’s attire obviously represent their cultural roots. What is the significance of some of the other costumes?
“These days Raceless is dressing himself as a 16th Century Maltese duke and getting more and more deeply into his roots. Paso Bionic has always been the shy, low-key B-boy kind of guy, but he’s been really expressing cultural background also, wearing the lungi and stuff, which is great. People have often asked me, ‘What do you represent? Are you just a trashy tree or what?’ but I really feel that I’m aspiring to represent my culture of imagination.”
A key facet of your music is its multiplicity of voices and styes. You’ve always seemed like a truly collaborative unit.
“The primary nexus of the band is to be as collaborative, in unison, as possible. There’s a really, really strong basis of friendship and togetherness and that extends to the way we make our music. All of the things we talk about politically and spiritually and everything else, we actually try and embrace those qualities in our lives and our process.”
Do you feel your music transcends language?
“It’s always been a big question for us because the majority of our work is still in English. But I’ve been really surprised travelling abroad through many different places where English isn’t the first language, and they still get it! Even if they don’t understand every single thing we’re saying, enough seems to translate for them to really the message as well as enjoying the music.”
What does Crisis Tales mean to you?
“Our music has always been very political and social and spiritual, but to me, Crisis Tales is as much about personal growth and becoming more mature in handling these onslaughts of life. At the rate that life is passing us by, to avoid responsibility is ridiculous.”
Crisis Tales is out via Mistletone/Inertia