Lane-Harry and Ike Campbell are, quite simply, machines. Their fecund 21-year-old minds are constantly generating new material. With an extensive back catalogue that many industry veterans would be proud to call their own, the personable hip-hop duo have released their most musically mature album to date: the rather interestingly titled YOUTH. Blank’s Natalie O’Driscoll caught up with them following the album’s release.
“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” says Lane. His trademark flyaway hair is barely contained under one of what must be dozens of caps.
I can’t help but show surprise. Does he mean no one has criticised them?
“Well no, I mean sometimes people say something we’ve done is really bad and then I’ll take a look at the stuff that they like, and it’s really bad, so…” he trails off.
Oh, such confidence. Sometimes it can be hard to tell when Lane is joking and when he’s serious. Ike sits quietly next to him, occasionally shaking his head, an amused smile on his face.
The relationship between the talented two began at Griffith University several years ago, and has turned out to be better than either of them could have imagined. A seemingly perfect match, they immediately began to create sounds that would make Australian hip-hop heavyweights sit up and take notice. Last year they toured Japan, although when I say “they”, I mean Lane and their producer, Guy Cooper. Ike was on holidays.
In June the men premiered YOUTH to a packed and appreciative throng at Brisbane’s The Triffid in support of Remi and Seth Sentry. Although again, when I say the men, I am referring to Lane and Guy. Ike looks sheepish.
“I wasn’t there.” I raise an eyebrow. “I know, I know! I just keep booking holidays,” he chuckles.
As it turned out, Lane was able to not just perform their new (somewhat edited) album with half the original act missing, he also managed to grab the attention of Seth Sentry’s publicist. Perhaps, at least initially, not the way he’d intended.
“Before the show there was this bloke sitting by himself and I said ‘Hey mate are you the sound guy, what’s going on’ and he and said ‘no I’m Seth’s publicist.’”
Another head shake from Ike. I giggle. Lane, unfazed, continues.
“I said ‘Hey are you looking for clients?’ and he said ‘Not really.’ He seemed like a really cool guy, so I said ‘Man watch our set cause we have the best set’ and I never played a show so hard in my life… it was like Rio, I was competing for the gold medal.”
And won, it seems. Following the set, the publicist came up and asked to be sent YOUTH. Two weeks later, Lane-Harry x Ike Campbell were signed to a new publicity deal with Call and Response, joining the ranks of several popular Australian acts.
So what’s all the fuss about then? While YOUTH shows some distinct musical development from both the guys, it is also designed to appeal to a younger audience – hence the title. In a previous interview with Blank’s editor, Lane summed up the concept.
“There’s heaps of subtle references to our childhood,” he said. “Our new song San Luca has a sample from The Horse with Striped Pyjamas by Captain Kangaroo – a song my grandparents used to sing to me when I was a kid.”
“Some 15 year old kid doesn’t want to hear about some intense breakup. YOUTH is for a younger audience.”
In keeping with that idea, there is also much less swearing on the album. Lane remembers the moment he decided to clean things up a little.
“I was at my girlfriend’s house and her whole family was over, extended rellies and shit… children and old people. And they wanted to hear some of my music so they played Netflix [Sample lyrics are ‘I ain’t seen this bitch since high school now she’s drunk as fuck and high too’] that was our most recent song and our best video… I could feel the tension in the air like this guy will not stop swearing in front of the children! Everyone was in a bit of shock. That’s the moment I thought I really need to write some music that people’s families can listen to, so now we have three songs with no swearing at all.”
The album is thematic in concept, and it comes across musically too – this collection feeling much more cohesive than anything offered by the guys in the past. I ask how much work went into developing the musical themes, and yet again am surprised by the answer.
“There wasn’t a plan actually,” shrugs Ike. “We just started making music and we just got more and more songs compiled, and then we got an idea of what we wanted.”
With that in mind, I’m curious if the duo are actually capable of pinpointing the moments that their sound evolves into something different. Lane answers first.
“With the new album, I think three times we were like ‘this is the best song we’ve ever made.’ Holland, over a year ago, then (first single from the album) Rendezvous, we wouldn’t stop going on about it to each other… and then we made Strangers while Ike was in Thailand and I did the vocals on that and sent it to him and it was a real vibe.”
Ike has a different feeling about it.
“There’s not a definite point I notice when we’re changing but when we listen to each album then it’s clear. The majority of the difference comes from maturity.”
The duo are technically a duo no longer, with the recent addition of DJ Joel Johnston to the act. The addition of a DJ means that Ike is now free to roam the front of the stage with Lane, concentrating more on his vocals during the live performances. As the biggest change is for Ike, I’m curious as to how he perceives it.
“I was always keen on the idea,” he states.
“Back last year we had the idea of doing it especially when you play bigger shows having two people out the front is a lot more engaging for the audience. It’s good to have a back up there I can freely move around and enjoy myself more. I’m on a lot more songs on this album.”
No doubt these changes, as well as their new publicity deal, will see the continuing musical evolution of Lane-Harry x Ike Campbell. In light of their signing with Call and Response, YOUTH will be re-released later in the year, with a few extra songs added in the hopes of an entry into the US and European markets, something the guys have long desired.
As for what else they have coming up for fans to look out for, Lane gives an incredibly Lane response.
“We’ve got a music video about to drop called Keith Richards, and it’s going to revolutionise the Keith industry. The name Keith will never be the same. It will change the way people listen to music.”
Ike cracks up. “That’s a huge call for a song that’s already out.”
Hey, if anyone can do it, these guys can.
You can purchase YOUTH from Bandcamp, for as little as $1 and Lane Harry x Ike Campbell will be performing at the Gold Coast Showcase at BIGSOUND 2016
PHOTO CREDIT: Lamp Photography