Plutonic and G Love
It could have easily ended up sounding hodge-podge and all-over-the-place given the circumstance of its recording – but in the hands of producer extraordinaire Plutonic and bluesy-surf-hip-hop legend G Love, Moonshine Lemonade was probably always going to be smooth sailing, even if the two protagonists were on opposite sides of the globe for its entire recording.
“It’s rough-sounding, but not in a bad way,” states Plutonic, also known as Leigh Ryan. “It has an edge to it but I wouldn’t call it ‘raw’ exactly. It’s hard to describe, but all you have to do is consider that it was recorded in all different locations.
“I was in Australia putting stuff together and G Love was in America doing the same, so we’d just be emailing material back and forth all the time. Sometimes G Love would record the raps in a proper studio with great mics, sometimes it would be at home, sometimes it would be in a hotel or something – so the actual sound and texture varies, but it’s still quality.
“Sometimes we decided to just leave things the way they were originally recorded without replacing the older takes just because it gave it that rougher vibe. At the same time, the album is probably the most produced album than anything I’ve ever done,” he laughs.
It’s also definitely one for the resume, according to Plutonic. Having contributed production duties for the Mercury Prize Award-winning Speech Debelle album Speech Therapy in 2009, Plutonic describes his collaboration with G Love as yet another step up. For the producer, Moonshine Lemonade was a chance to step out of his comfort zone of working with fellow Aussie emcees and producers, for G Love it was an opportunity to take a trip back in time and rediscover his musical roots.
“These days he’s known for a more bluesy kind of style,” explains Plutoinic. “But for anyone that knows G Love, his earlier work is a lot more beats-based; it’s pretty much straight-up hip-hop. He’s been making music for 20 years now, so for him, this record has been a return to his earlier stuff.
“While we were making this record, he sort of had to split his brain in two because he was making this hip-hop album with me and at the same time he was putting out a record of his own back in the ‘States which is straight-up blues and roots. So this has been a direct flip for him because he’s doing heaps more raps on our record than he would normally.”
If it was up to him, Plutonic claims the record would already be out for the public to soak in right now… But due to G Love’s touring and recording commitments back in the ‘States, Moonshine Lemonade has been embargoed since mid-last year.
“It was finished last June, actually, but it’s coming out in February” reveals Ryan. “The same thing happened with Jess Harlen’s record [ Neon Heartache, 2010] – we finished that like four months before it came out. If I had it my way, I’d put the record out now, but it’s all about the timing and you’ve got to trust other people to decide when to drop it because they know what they’re doing, I guess.
“We didn’t release Moonshine Lemonade until now,” he adds, “because we’ve been waiting for G Love to get to Australia so we could promote it together properly. We’ll be doing a few shows as just a mini promo tour and then he won’t be back here again until about May before we can hopefully do a proper tour.”
It’s just one of the things that are set to be major highlights in the new year, according to Plutonic, who reveals a glimpse into the rest of his 2011 schedule which includes collaborations with some of Aussie hip hop’s best.
“I think I’m going to be mostly producing records for other people,” he says. “I’d love to do another album for Muph & Plutonic; it’s been kind of cool to always have that as my main thing. I’m hoping to have something out in mid next year but it depends on a lot of other things I’m planning at the moment.
“I’ve pretty much started on Jess Harlen’s second record and also I’m working with an emcee from Sydney called Dialectrix and a bunch of others.
“The standard of these artists is just incredibly high,” he points out, “there is so much more diversity in Australian hip hop right now. The scene has been building up for along time and the older guys have worked out a lot of things for the up-and-comers and there are now systems put in place.
“New artists can now tour without any problems; things that used to be hard to do are no longer hard. For dudes dropping their first and second records, it’s a lot easier now for them because the groundwork has been laid. When I did my first CD like 15 years ago, I didn’t have the production quality that you can get now because everybody has a computer and knows some crazy techniques. Some people see that as competition, but I think it can only be a good thing in the long run.”
PLUTONIC (of Muph & Plutonic) & G LOVE (of G. Love and Special Sauce) have spent a year collaborating from opposites sides of the globe to produce their full-length album Moonshine Lemonade and will convene for their first ever performance together at The Northcote Social Club this Friday January 14. With support from buskers-done-good Bonjah and Jess Harlen, this is gonna be a good ol’ fashioned knees up of the arse-shaking kind. Tickets from 9486 1677, via The Corner box office (57 Swan St, Richmond) or northcotesocialclub.com. Moonshine Lemonade will be out in February.