RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AUSTRALIAN ARTIST THE DOMAIN
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
When did you realise that you were into music?
So I started playing the guitar when I was around 12 years old, maybe 11. I enjoyed it quite a bit. So much so that I quit playing Soccer specifically so I could spend my weekends smoking weed and playing my guitar (and of course drinking and socializing as well). I remember hearing Rage Against The Machine on a cassette tape. That was wild. I was playing rock’n’roll stuff like that, things like AC/DC and Jimi Hendrix.
Introduce us and tell us your musical history.
Well “The Domain” is just me at the moment. It sounds like it could be a band, and that’s done on purpose, so I could have the option of adding members and forming a group. Two years ago when I first had the idea to start the project I had no idea what it was going to be. I literally knew nothing about nothing.
So as I said, I started out playing the guitar when I was quite young – and then I kind of started making beats and rapping – getting into Classic Hip Hop music, produced quite a few Australian Hip Hop albums for myself and other artists and friends. After actually investigating the marketing and promotion aspect of releasing music it became crystal clear that I would need to pivot into doing something a little more commercially viable and less niche, so here I am. This is exactly what I always wanted to do but I never knew it would be possible.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
I have a good friend and a mentor – the first time we met I gave him a copy of the album that I had just finished at the time – an Australian Hip Hop album that I had produced and rapped on – and he gave me a copy of his book “The Nature Of Life”. After he listened to the album he kind of got mad at me, in his own words he kind of said it was “good” and “positive”, I proved that I was a good musician but it wasn’t really congruent with my soul and potential and purpose.
I did actually listen to his advice and I paused to reassess what I was doing – knowing fully well that making Australian Hip Hop is a complete waste of time. There was a time when Australian Hip Hop with an Australian accent was fairly popular (in Australia), nowadays I’m not sure if it really even exists anymore and it’s basically impossible to have success outside of Australia. Anyway I ended up having one more idea for a crazy crazy ridiculous concept album that I recorded – which kind of led me to what I’m doing now, since during that process I made some connections with most of the artists that I’m working with now.
When I was 16 I became homeless through no fault of my own and I guess I kind of got sidetracked, without my guitar and in the absence of having any studio to work out of I ended up hanging out with a bunch of local rappers and got into making killer Hip Hop music. I guess this new project is kind of me reconnecting with the potential for what I would have achieved if I never became homeless and never was subjected to extreme domestic violence and didn’t have so many horrible adversities to overcome.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic? If so what?
I bought a four wheel drive so I could go on a epic vacation into the outback. Of course they closed all the borders so I couldn’t actually go anywhere just as I was about to leave. And of course the engine died and needed replacing at just the same time so I was stranded in the middle of nowhere for a month without any wheels.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Actually “The Domain” is an obscure reference to the Roswell alien interview – even though it’s just an interview and hardly anyone knows about it even in the UFO community I guess you could call that a kind of a conspiracy theory.
Conspiracy theory is an interesting word, I don’t particularly like to use it if I can avoid it. Because I’ve never watched television, at least since I was probably 12 years old, I never realized the derogatory nature of how the word is used.
If someone would have a conspiracy theory I would think the logical reaction would be like “oh that’s interesting, what is the theory? Let’s investigate whether it’s plausible and what are the implications?”
I didn’t realize that somehow the word “conspiracy theory” secretly implies like “oh where’s your tin foil hat, you bloody crazy lunatic” – it’s actually a word that’s used to demonize people. It just triggers people in a certain way that they have a bunch of subconscious associations from stuff they’ve seen on TV.
I heard the term “conspiracy theorist” was actually coined by the CIA back in like the 50’s specifically to cancel anyone who found out about the crazy stuff they were doing. I think that’s fairly plausible, – would anyone honestly doubt that the CIA was doing some shady secret stuff they don’t want anyone to know about?
The other problem I have with the word “conspiracy theory” is it seems to apply even to scientific facts that are just outside the realm of what’s promoted by the media. For instance I just saw a Ted Talk about Atrazine that was really interesting – it’s just scientific facts, it’s just data but it would probably be labeled as a “conspiracy theory” by most people simply because they didn’t see it on CNN.
One of my friends, the Riot Squad smashed down her door at 7am with a battering ram and stormed the house with assault rifles and body armour, they ripped her out of bed while she was naked asleep. She was like 19 years old. All because “apparently” her brother said something on Facebook. So yeah If you make any mention of conspiracy theories in Australia it’s entirely possible that there will be a gang of heavily armed psychopaths bash down your door and violently assault and traumatize your family.
Who is inspiring you at the minute on the xx unsigned scene?
Have you heard of a band called Wild Rivers? I don’t know what genre it is – but they have a lot of soul and emotion in their songs – their singer Devan is mind blowing. I guess since I’ve been following them since before they’ve kind of blown up I feel a connection with it too.
Also to be honest – a lot of the collaborations that I have coming out soon are literally my favorite singers in the world I guess that’s why I worked with them. I have absolutely no idea how I was so lucky to do all these (as yet unreleased) songs. I actually never knew if I would be good enough to make songs with half of these people.
What useless party trick / talent do you have/?
I have an extremely good, what I call a “BS Radar”. I can tell easily when someone is full of s@#*. Not necessarily specifically when they are lying, but when their whole personality is kind of invented and there’s nothing real about them. I like to meet people that are kind of grounded.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
I used to rap when I was younger – I headlined a undergound MC battle event on pretty much zero sleep. I didn’t enter the battles – I performed live after the final battle to headline the show. The way I see it, if you can rock a room full of underground battle MCs then you can pretty much rock any crowd anywhere. If you can do that when you’re sober then you’re pretty much invincible. I love to see when rappers can really rock a party without relying on alcohol or weed or anything harder. When I first started I relied heavily on various different types of substances to rock a party.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Honestly, I don’t recall having a bad experience ever. Even times when I’ve forgotten the lyrics to a song I just be like “ah shit I f@#*ed up” and then you get right back into it and the crowd loves it.
If you could choose, would you prefer to time travel to the past or go forward in time? And why?
I would travel to any moment in time before Western Civilization and live with the native people in harmony with nature. Probably the Australian aboriginal people or the Native American Indians – or perhaps a South American people like the Mayan or Incas or Aztecs.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
Well, I may look stupid but I was actually quite gifted at school. I skipped three years of school and I actually went to University to study music when I was 14. Well I skipped two years and one year I just didn’t attend because I decided to just stay home and smoke weed and play video games and play my guitar hahaha.
Tell us a funny story from backstage?
Haha most of the venues I play at are too small to have a backstage – I’m just chilling front stage in the bar with my friends before playing my set.
If you had to describe your project to an alien how would you describe them?
Haha my project is perfectly designed for aliens! I hope they would like it! It’s killer futuristic alien beats – that’s why I chose the name “The Domain” – hence the Roswell alien interview reference! My Spotify banner is a picture of aliens and a crashed flying saucer at Roswell.
Name a four piece band made up of legends – who would be in it? (drummer, bass, lead singer etc)
Leon Bridges – vocals
Nile Rodgers – guitar (the legend)
Chad Smith – drums (RHCP)
Verdine White – bass (Earth Wind and Fire)
What advice would you give someone going into the music industry?
Have as much fun as possible. Don’t focus on the outcome. Focus on having fun in the studio. Of course at this point in my career I am literally the least qualified person to give anyone advice LOL
Whats your biggest achievement as a band/Artist?
Well back in the day I used to get quite a bit of nationwide radio play when I was rapping but that is an entirely different project. This new single is literally the very birth of my career as a producer/DJ – so I guess doing an interview with RGM right now is my biggest achievement as an artist!
What makes you stand out as a band/Artist?
I think it will be apparent once I release a bunch more of the singles that I’m planning – it’s kind of a signature sound / style / it’s a vibe – I guess it’s just my taste at the end of the day. I grew up on tons of 70’s Soul and Funk music and tons of 90’s Hip Hop music – and remained largely oblivious to the Electronic music scene for most of my life so now that I’m delving into that world myself, hopefully I’ve developed something that’s unique, the way I’m not trying to do what everyone else is doing, just doing what I like, making music that I really enjoy.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
Right now, being stuck in Adelaide is not ideal for me – I will be moving interstate soon. It’s just hard with all the restrictions that suddenly come and go, and also with being halfway finished about 20 new singles. As a producer moving interstate is always a challenge because you have to pack up your studio, find somewhere to store it, then you have to hope you can find somewhere you can actually set up again and make noise. Then you have to transport everything. Then you finally have to set everything up again and try to pick up where you left off, which can be a challenge if you’ve got lots of half finished songs on the go.
Whats your favourite song to play live and why?
Well that would be this new single! Favorite Mistake featuring Lousy – her vocals are so sick! I’m so lucky to work with her on this!
I hear you have a new single brewing, what can you tell us about it?
I do. I think the next single I release will be one that I did with a singer called Audrey, her band/project is called Alke. I’ve been wanting to work with her for a quite while – she’s actually one of the people that inspired me to start my own production project.
It took quite a while to line up – firstly for me to actually come up with some really good ideas for a collab and also because she moved across the country, and I moved across the country, it messed up both of our schedules quite a bit.
The track is a little bit of a sideways motion – it’s still quite retro but instead of having a modern Dance groove, it’s more of a proper 80’s kind of a vibe influenced by Synthwave and Electro. Although there’s another track that I did with Lakes that is EPIC that I will release soon. I have literally so many songs to release at the moment it’s impossible to decided which ones to release in what order.
Talk me through the thought process of the single/album?
I have only one method when it comes to working in the studio. I don’t think about anything, I don’t plan anything and I generally just do whatever I feel like doing and have extremely large amounts of fun in the process. That is exactly the thought process of the new single Favorite Mistake! No thoughts! Just spontaneous fun! I think you can really hear it – it’s a fun song!
That is probably one of the reasons why it’s taken me SO LONG to actually start releasing new music. I’ve had to start becoming more organized now in order to start finalizing mixing and mastering and get my release schedule on track.
What was the recording process like?
Well Lousy is in New York so it was all done remotely. We had been chatting for a little while and I was making some demos for her, it’s actually our second track together, the other one I will release soon. She’s such a pro, she just kind of nailed it immediately.
Living in Australia there’s hardly any opportunities for producers and engineers to get studio work and of course it’s very difficult to get noticed by any labels. Of course you are also quite isolated from other big artists. Pretty much anyone who’s really serious just goes to LA but of course travel is a bit difficult at the moment. So it has been really convenient working remotely with different artists and just putting together different songs all while trying to stay alive in 2022….
Why record an album? A lot of artists are going down the road of regular singles, just interested in your thoughts on committing to an album right now.?
Well I have more than enough material to release an album – although no-one’s heard of me yet so I guess I have to keep releasing singles until people actually know who I am – then I will be able to release an album really easy. There’s no point releasing an album until there’s a gang of people waiting to hear it. At least that’s how I understand the industry works nowadays.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single/album?
I guess the mixing is a long never ending learning curve. For people that are unaware – production and mixing are two separate stages (although I do everything myself so it’s kind of just blurred into one phase) and pretty much all major artists/producers rely on a great mix engineer to make the song pop out and sound amazing. If you can find the credits to any major label production there’s likely going to be like 8 different producers working on it and a few different engineers.
It was never in my business model to be able to afford to pay a mixing engineer to work on my stuff so it just comes down to taking time to learn the craft and become adept at it. Mixing is far more involved and specialized than production, it takes longer to learn and master, you really need to train your ears and learn lots of technical stuff that producers don’t necessarily need to worry about.
Would you change anything now its finished?
No but I just did a remix that will come out as soon as possible. It’s more futuristic and less retro – somewhere in the realm of Future House. The track was kind of already borderline Dance Music so I decided to adapt it slightly for everyone that really loves EDM.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
I figure if I can get at least 5 singles out then people in the industry should start taking me more seriously and anyone who comes to my Spotify profile will have more reason to stay a little while and enjoy the tunes. Then I can reassess my plan of attack.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
If you made it to the end of the interview you’re a legend. Hopefully, you’ll be around to hear all the new music that I mentioned. Thank you
Thanks for doing us today folks, all the best and keep in touch.