rnb superclub - State of the Art
Friday, 31 August 2007
A compilation seven releases deep, a record label with clout (Warner) and two up-for-it DJs reppin’ their state… That’s right, Sydney’s G-Wizard and Melbourne’s Kevin Watts are squaring off in a battle of DJ supremacy for rnb superclub vol. 7. As 3D’s RK found out, we’ve got a hotly contested encounter on our hands.
G-WIZARD – SYDNEY CONNECTION
By George (that is his name actually), we have a battle on our hands here. G-Wizard tells it like this: “I’ve been involved in the rnb superclub compilations since the very first volume of the release. I have worked on them in my studio, produced them and done all manner of things. Then they asked me to mix Volume 6 and I was really excited! Then I asked to be involved for Volume 7 and was over the moon when they gave me the nod. I was the first DJ in the entire series to be invited back to do a second release in a row! And the brand has grown now such that the whole Melbourne vs Sydney comp was sparked - in a friendly kind of way. Kevin Watts and I went head-to-head at QBH one night and, judging by the reaction from the crowd, everyone thought it would work. Kevin is a great guy who has been around for quite a long time and really knows his music.”
No doubt then, that between the two of them, they present as a formidable combination of with-it heads. The brand of course boasts a lot of know-how when it comes to urban music and while it began life at the most mainstream of commercial Melbourne clubs, Heat, G-Wizard believes that the music, by its very nature, presents an underground vibe to the fans.
“Sure, being boasted in every state makes it mainstream, but this release is very different to the earlier stuff where we just flew the brand name. Now it is becoming an education for us all. Experience has been our biggest teach and the last teach compilations in the series have been the top sellers. This tells you a lot about what is happening with hip hop, RnB and urban music in general: it has been accepted and it plays a really big part in people’s lives.”
And he goes on to recollect: “When I first identified Melbourne’s scene around 1997 or 1998, I remember a lot of live music being played around the CBD and the like. It was an exciting time and I remember even playing a gig in Melbourne and how much more rooted it was in the culture. Sydney was more of a conventional city – they were more about house and dance and trance music. At that time, I remember thinking that Melbourne was 10 years ahead of Sydney. I still love the club scene but I have to admit that I have seen how Sydney has now come back up: promoters, artists and fans are starting to acknowledge Sydney to the point where now where have probably more night spots rocking hip hop and RnB than Melbourne does!”
Regardless, the boys are coming together for a goodwill tour to display their wares around the country. Their respective MCs, Rudeboy and Jayson will feature and you can expect more than just a DJ performance. “We’ve got the guys writing raps and breaks. There will be a lot of live interactivity. It will be like an artist show so you can expect it will be a lot more out there than just the DJ show!”
KEVIN WATTS – MELBOURNE RNB PIONEER
Don’t believe what you’ll read on the left side of this page about Sydney and its rnb scene. Melbourne is where it’s at! It’s where it all began - and even today, the clubs are better and more focused. I won’t be drawn on that argument though - we’re here to talk about a battle of the cities. A compilation (or should I say competition) where there can only be one man left standing. And the man in the blue corner representing Melbourne-town is Kevin Watts. In 2007 he is on another winner for Warner Music who’ve come knocking on his door once again, requesting he perform his magic on the flip side of rnb superclub Volume 7.
This from Kevin: “Well, firstly in regards to how it all eventuated; superclub has been putting out compilations for a while - obviously we’re up to number seven so there is no doubt that the brand is really well known. I think it’s fair to say that the last few have had a conceptual sort of feel - the idea was to work on something along the lines of a VIP club experience. Now, we’ve decided we wanted to take a more of a ‘state versus state’ approach and, since I’ve been involved with the superclub in Melbourne, the choice they made was to give me the opportunity to spearhead the CD. That’s the basics of how it came about and I have worked with Warner in the past on a couple of things and here I am!”
Not only is he amiable and friendly, but Kevin emphasises the superclub brand philosophy succinctly. Its very raison d’etre has been to create the best RnB entertainment in the country - whether it be local DJs or international artists. Another of their hallmarks is the choice of the best venues - and in Melbourne it’s the famed QBH. “It really highlights what we’re about – the best possible product in the best possible place.”
Indeed, the underlying motivation for any compilation should be diversity, and, with two CDs and some 40 tracks, there is no doubt that this box is checked. Kevin goes on: “There is plenty there. A mix of the old and the new. In fact, I think the more diversity there is in something the easier it is to mix and play. It can get a little boring when you DJ and go from the same to more of the same! It keeps the crowd wondering and it keeps me wondering too – what am I going to pull out of the bag next-”
And of course the evolution in urban music in Australia encapsulates this whole effort. DJs are battling and representing their states. Clubs are popping up and playing street music. People are bumping Redman from Chapel St to Double Bay. With that comes an entirely different collection of licorice allsorts (pardon the pun) and that can only be considered a good thing. But who is the undisputed winner- Whose rims are the biggest and whose women are the hottest-
For now I’ll just taken Kevin’s word for it: “I’ve experienced that change – from the days of Bump’n’Grind at Chasers to all the radio shows and the DJs and clubs. Sure Melbourne has it good! I think even Melbourne did it while Sydney was playing house music! But in all, it’s good for the scene in general and when you’ve got me and G-Wizard making mix CDs that’s it! It’s spread right around the country now. The fact that we sell a few units is great for the music scene in Australia. We are pushing the rnb sound and I look forward to the tour so we can dip into that bag of tricks again!” And that’s the winning blow.
WHO: DJ G-Wizard and DJ Kevin Watts
WHAT: rnb superclub Vol. 7 / Play rnb superclub at the Bloc, Penrith
WHEN: Saturday 8 September / Friday 28 September