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Interview: Ivan Ooze

Ivan Ooze

Melbourne MC Ivan Ooze is on something of a roll at the moment. After a bunch of headline summer shows Ooze toured Australia with Wu-Tang Clan, recorded tracks with Ghostface, and has now released his much anticipated ’93 KFC Rotisserie Gold’ mixtape.We caught up with the feisty rapper before he heads out on another huge national tour to talk about the latest release, offensive lyrics, and not being a role model.

You just released your ’93 KFC Rotisserie GOLD’ mixtape, which has been a pretty highly anticipated release, how do you feel now that it’s out?

I feel really good! It means that I can just keep moving and working on new stuff. I had all of those tracks for a really long time so it’s good to just get it off your chest and see people’s reaction to it. But most of the feedback from the tape has been good, so it feels good.

‘The Social Alien’ mixtape was well received and particular favourite of fans, did you feel any pressure following it up?

A little bit because you always want to make something better than your last tape or release. I tried to do that in a way but at the same time make it similar to ‘The Social Alien’ because I know how much people did dig that tape. So I tried to follow the same structure as ‘The Social Alien’ mixtape with the chill melodies that progress to more deep songs and then picking back up to the trap stuff. So it was similar in that way because I think it worked well that way.

You’ve said before that your style is quite random, but for me this project felt like two projects with distinct sounds that had been put together. Do you see yourself pursuing one sound more, maybe the more melodic tunes or do you think you will always stick with those club bangers like Fire?

It really depends, say if I was doing an EP or something I would probably stick with one sort of style. But I like mixing it up because it keeps people guessing and it’s a lot more fun. It shows people all the different kinds of stuff I can do and it keeps people on their toes. A lot of artists I listen to do the same thing and it keeps me interested because I never know what they’re actually going to drop. It’s a lot more fun for me and it keeps music interesting to me. But for a solo project or something that isn’t a mixtape I would probably stick to one genre.

So you might do that on an upcoming album?

I think it would be more on a midrange level instead of dramatically increasing to some trap and then dramatically dropping to something deep. I think it would stay more in one range.

What was your creative process like on this project? Has it had to change or adapt to your hectic touring schedule?

Yeah, pretty much. I didn’t work for a while so pretty much every single day I would wake up, sit down, get on a beat, and start doing it. I would just write and some things would be good but I would also have about 10 to 15 songs left over that I wouldn’t use because I didn’t think they were good enough. So every day I would wake up and if I didn’t have a show, I would just write because it’s the only way you can improve. It’s just practice. So that’s pretty much all I did, just wake up, write, go to bed, wake up, write.  I would just keep doing that until we started touring. I don’t like to write on tour because I like to focus on the actual shows.

I have listened to the mixtape and I had a couple of problems, but the one I particularly wanted to ask about were the offensive lyrics. Specifically, I want to know why you used a homophobic slur on the track 64 More Bars of Carnage?

I wrote the one a really long time ago, but the only reason why I used it in that one is because in underground hip-hop everyone uses it but not as a homophobic slur. People took offense to it as a rap style rather than being a homophobic slur. So people that don’t like my sort of sh*t, they call me a f*ggot or call me gay but it isn’t offensive to me because I have gay cousins and gay friends. But I know that those people that label me that, they get really offended by it. I also know that my cousins get offended by it which is why I have only used it once on that one track. It’s because I was rapping like I was in a battle rap and rapping against someone, so it would be considered that I’ve gone sort of harder. So if you listen to battle rap or anything like that, it will be used none stop. But I only used it because of that battle rap vibe I was going for.

But do you consider the broader social context and do you worry about being labelled homophobic?

Yeah definitely, but I know that I’m not. If people want to label me as homophobic, they can label me as that but I know for a fact that I’m not homophobic. Seriously, I said it once and I’ll probably never, ever say it again. It’s pretty much to get a point across. It’s not aimed at a gay person and I am not homophobic but I can understand if people find that offensive. But in that song I felt that was the right way to approach it because of what people say about me and then they can get around it and be like “oh, you’ve gone really hard, you’ve called us a f*ggot now and like we call him a f*ggot all the f*cking time blah, blah, blah”. But if someone calls me that, they mean it as “you’re an a**hole” or “you’re f*cking sh*t” rather than labelling me a homosexual. But I would never use that word ever again in another song, it was just in that one song because that was the point I was trying to get across.

On Drugs Again, you obviously talk about your own drug use and also rejecting the label of role model, can you tell me more about the experiences that lead you to writing this song?

Kids send me stuff that says I’m a role model but I don’t consider myself a role model. I know what I rap about and I don’t want to take up that position. I know that I have a lot of younger listeners but the reason I started rapping wasn’t to become a role model but to express my anger and get things of my chest. I know that people like it but it’s hard to tell people especially kids not to do something when you do it. It’s hard not to be a hypocrite. It makes it hard to express yourself because when I share some of the things I do, they take it as me telling them to do that as well. In reality it’s me trying to explain how I coped with certain things but I’m not saying that’s necessarily the right way.

So do you think it adds an extra layer of pressure? And if you were to take on that title it might force you to change your creative process or even censor yourself?

I think it depends on the situation. I do love kids, they’re great and chill. But I want to be myself, I don’t want to be something that I’m not. It’s about staying true to me and staying true to everybody else. For example, if I were to start saying “I used to take drugs but I don’t take drugs anymore”, and then I went and took drugs one night and didn’t tell them, then I feel like sh*t because I’m completely lying to them. It’s hard because there is a pressure to try and motivate them not to do that type of sh*t. Instead I think I can sort of explain to them why they shouldn’t do certain things using my own stories of what has happened to me and sometimes that can scare them into thinking “I don’t want that to happen to me”. So it’s not just me telling them not to do things but explaining what can happen. I think there will be a lot more of that type of stuff in other songs that are coming, this was sort of just the start of it.

Another thing I have to ask about is the album artwork. I don’t really understand where it came from or how it relates to anything else?

We originally did so it was The [KFC] Colonel filming a porno because it was a little bit dirty. So the front cover was supposed to have the girl and have the porno vibe and the back cover was supposed to be The Colonel with a camera and he was filming. We did that originally but then we wanted to change the back cover and we didn’t end up getting that vibe but I really liked the artwork. People just thought it was just a hot girl in an office type of thing but it was supposed to be a porno scene and be a bit of fun. But we didn’t end up getting around to it so then it was supposed to be like some sort of 80s thing which is why there is like a girl getting in a Jacuzzi and all that weird sh*t. So, it was meant to be more of a throwback to the 80s because most of the music I listen to is 80s and 90s influenced so I was trying to get on that vibe.

Rap, more than any other genre, is heavily scrutinised for sexism, is that something you consider or worry about when using an image like this particularly when a lot of people won’t have the backstory or the context?

If someone asked me what it was about then I would tell them what it was about. It was just all supposed to be fun, and that’s what I grew up on but I understand feminism is a really serious thing and I respect women. It wasn’t supposed to be like me exploiting them to make myself look big or anything, it was just the image we were going for in that situation. People have criticised it before, people have commented on the post and DMed me about it. I explained it to them and they weren’t necessarily happy with it and I completely understand that and if you’re not a fan anymore that’s fine.  But I’m still doing myself and I understand if people don’t like it.

You’re about to head out on a huge national tour; but let’s go back to the beginning of the year, touring with Wu-Tang Clan, how was that experience?

It was awesome! Wu-Tang were really nice and it was different from any other tour I’ve ever done. They were around all the time to talk to and it was crazy. It was probably one of the best experiences of my whole career. All their shows were incredible and their fans were insane. It was a really good experience, I really enjoyed it, and I’m really grateful for it.

So it wasn’t at all damped by the people that said you didn’t deserve to be there?

No, f*ck ‘em.

We know you hit the studio with Ghostface and those sessions are yet to surface, so when can we expect to hear them?

Probably sometime in June, July or August because hopefully we’ll have another EP out by September. That’s what we’re aiming for at the moment.

And finally what are you most excited about on your upcoming tour and what can fans expect?

I’m pretty excited just to be on tour again! I haven’t done any shows in the last month so it will be good to see everyone again and have a fun time. But there is heaps of new music and a whole new live show. It’s just a completely new experience so if you come down you’ll see it!

Read our review of ’93 KFC Rotisserie Gold’ HERE

Ivan Ooze ’93 KFC Rotisserie Gold’ Tour Dates

The Grass Is Greener, Cairns
Groovin’ The Moo, Bendigo
Jimmy’s Den, Perth
Arcade Nightclub, Joondalup
Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Agenda Nightclub, Toowoomba
Flinders Social, Townsville
Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Rad, Wollongong
Newtown Social Club, Sydney
The Small Ballroom, Newcastle (U18)
The Small Ballroom, Newcastle

Get Tickets HERE

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