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Bliss N Eso - The True Colours Of Hip Hop

Author: Matt Unicomb
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Jonathan Notley, aka Bliss of Sydney crew Bliss N Eso, takes 3D’s Matt Unicomb through their third album, Flying Colours.

Bliss N Eso, one of Sydney’s most celebrated hip hop outfits, have held a formidable presence over the local scene for the best part of a decade. The trio have just finished recording album number three in Melbourne and you can expect to be in for something different this time, judging by the electrifying artwork gracing the cover.

“We didn’t want to go photo based,” Notley says of the striking design. “We didn’t want to do the ‘picture of us on the cover’ kind of thing. The art is reflective of the topics on the album, hence the title.”

As well as collaborating with Hattori Hanzo on the the project, Bliss himself and fellow local M-Phazes join forces on several tracks. There is also an assortment of guest MCs.

“Locally we have Hyjak and Phrase,” Notley says. “Internationally we collaborated with the world Scribble Jam champ, Immaculate, and Ethnik. We also have the 21-piece Zulu choir.”

Of notable interest is Sing Sing Studios engineer Andy Baldwin getting called in to mix Flying Colours. Known best for his work with Spiderbait, Notley sheds some light on choosing the primarily rock engineer.

“There aren’t really that many full on hip hop engineers,” he says. “A lot of stuff now is still bedroom based.” But why Baldwin- “Because Australian hip hop is still like a baby coming out. We used Andy on the Bullets and a Target single.

But why not do the mixing themselves- “As long as the band is in on the mixing process it’s a collaborative effort,” Notley says. “He knows how to get the sound we want.”

On the business side of things, Flying Colours is out through Melbourne label Illusive. The group signed to them pre-Day of the Dog to a two-album deal. The decision to sign was an easy one.

“We had toured with the guys on the Xzibit and Cypress Hill tour,” Notley says. “We’d met them and liked the way they operated.” Of the trio’s parting from hip hop kingpins Obese Records he admits it’s simply because they’d finished their one-record deal.

“They’re a great label,” he says of the Oz hip hop juggernaut. “They had a lot of acts on the roster at that time, Illusive only had one other act so we could get extra special attention. I think every act should be after that special attention.”

So what’s changed since their 2000 debut, The Arrival EP-

“A lot has changed since The Arrival days,” Notley says. “We were all about doing it ourselves; mixing, mastering, you just had to figure it out yourself.

“The main thing is that it’s more Australia-wide – the media is a lot more aware of Australian hip hop. It’s now a lot more accepted in places. Back then it was like cringe factor central, especially with the accent thing. People have come around heaps more to it. And the music has improved heaps. It’s on the up.”

WHO: Bliss N Eso
WHAT: Flying Colours through Illusive/Liberator
WHEN: Out now