Keiren Bond spoke to P.H.Fat.’s beat machine Mike about the Cape Town music scene, using synths from 1972 and the oddities of AFL.
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Their manager greeted me with “G’day” and called me mate. Aussie mode ON. I grinned and racked my brain for South African idioms. All I could come up with was “next level”, which I dropped several times during the interview.
My predisposition to South Africans held strong after making the acquaintance of P.H.Fat. Challenging the status-quo of hip-hop and integrating elements of dance, folk and indie-rock, this duo are producing shoulder-shrugging music and bringing it to Aus.
Mike, welcome to the Land of Oz! How’s Melbourne?
Melbourne is fucking cool – it’s like a first world Cape Town. Everyone we’ve spent more than two minutes with we’ve generally made friends with, it’s been great. I’ m not going to lie, I feel very comfortable here, it’s like home.
Stoked you chose us Aussies to smother a little SA flavour on! Why Australia?
I just noticed there’s a big, genuine independent music scene here and quite a grassroots one, especially with the hip-hop scene. I’m excited to see the reactions on people’s faces when they hear our music.
Your music is less about the hip-hip genre and more about your individual style. How did that transpire?
I think because we’re from South Africa, we don’t get those mainstream influences. There are a lot of copycats. People copy the American influence and English artists, but in South Africa there’s quite a healthy local music scene which adds a unique flavour and emphasises individualism. Every now and then we’ll go off the grid and stop influencing ourselves and forget what everything sounds like.
Right – you get some of your best instrumentals from the depths of people’s garages and dodgy op-shops?
Yeah, it was kind of a hobby of mine to go hunting for outdated gear, something to give us a unique element to our music. Everyone downloads the same software so by using analogue synths from the 70’s we get a different sound.
Your first EP was titled You Are Going To Die, and your first LP album Happiness Machine. A change of perspective?
(Laughs) I don’t know! Me and Narch set out to make music that we want to. Every time we have gone off what we’ve wanted to do we’ve been unhappy. We’re probably a lot happier in Happiness Machine because we set out to make music that makes us feel good, rather than what the mainstream wants.
If the mainstream doesn’t want it, I do. P.H.fat brings a fresh element to electronic rap and with a South African charm you’ll be completely defenceless. Come see their only Queensland gig at the Bowler Bar in Fortitude Valley, Friday 23 May.