Remi and Sensible J discuss drugs, drug testing and the House Of Beige communityIn the follow up to part one of the Aware Project’s interview with Remi + Sensible J, Remi + Sensible J discuss drugs, drug testing and their new diverse music label, House Of Beige.
Aware: Onto another song, XTC Party covers the topic of drugs and highlights both sides of drugs, the fun side and also the destructive side. In the song you say that you are not really someone to judge because everyone has their own set of issues or reasons. Is there a point though where you take action about a friends excessive drug use?
Remi: One-hundred percent. I guess that’s what we try, when we are talking about drugs in general, is try to promote that. I can’t judge anyone because of their background, where they have come from, but if you see someone who is in need or needs help, I think that is a lot of the reason why I was kind of taking the main focus of ice at the end of that, because I know a lot of people that take too many drugs definitely, but too many party drugs which is where we can kind of stand in and be like “ Hey man -’
Sensible J: Party’s over, it’s not happening on a Wednesday night.
Remi: Exactly. A lot of people will bite their tongue if they see someone who just acts the damn fool on drugs, because some people just don’t agree with drugs. But with party drugs you can usually step in you can be like, ‘Hey man you need to relax, like what’s the point of getting so fucked up? You don’t remember the bands you saw, I spent my whole night looking after you, why the fuck do I want to do that? I came out to party. Sort yourself out’. Whereas with drugs like ice or heroin the dependency rating is so high that a lot of the time you don’t actually have an option to stand in, because by the time you realise that that shit is an issue that person is so far gone that they are not the same person that you knew. So I mean it is a balance and of course I know that through music comes promotion – you give people the idea of doing that kind of stuff and we both thought it was important to make sure it comes across as ‘We are not promoting this shit like, at all’.
Sensible J: Thank you for picking up that it does actually cover both sides of it, because it seems like it’s “yay ecstasy” but it is definitely not just what it is about. If you’re going to do it anyway just be moderate.
Remi: It’s the same as booze. If you get so drunk that you shit your pants, then maybe you shouldn’t get that drunk.
Sensible J: Give him an adult nappy.
Remi: See that’s what I’m talking about J, it shouldn’t come to adult nappys bro! It just comes to moderation. It comes to moderation! I know that people are going to do what they’re going to do especially because it is very ridiculous to tell smart people that you can have this drug that is taxed by the government or whatever you can smoke your cigarette or whatever but you can’t have this which can do less damage to you if you get fucked up. So it’s like, people are going to do this shit regardless. There is no stopping it. I grew up thinking that I’m never going to touch that shit, and that was a bold-faced lie. I grew up also in a family that made me very, very wary of the impact of drugs and I just knew that off the bat I wasn’t going to do certain drugs. If it’s coming to pills or capsules, I’ve never done a whole cap the first time I’ve done it. One-hundred percent that has saved my life two or three times at least. Because it’s you don’t know what’s in that shit. It’s just about being smart. That’s it. I don’t want people to not have fun, I don’t want to be a killjoy because that’s hypocritical, clearly, but it’s just about being safe.
Aware: It’s obvious that people aren’t going to stop doing drugs, and the government’s hardline approach to that is obviously not working evident at festivals. What do you think needs to be Australia’s approach to that other than just no drugs. Does it need to be education to promote safer drug use?
Remi: It should create help, because you can’t stop people from doing something. I’m not saying you should advocate it, but the more you make someone feel like they’re doing illegal activity, the more secretive they’re going to be about it. And that means getting rid of any evidence, which means eating all the drugs that you took with you if you see a sniffer dog, which means you end up in the emergency department and might die.
Sensible J: Bringing criminal charges to people using stuff is not the right way. It comes down to education, probably, but I wouldn’t know, a pill testing thing seems like a smart thing to do.
Remi: One-hundred percent, because you don’t know what’s in that stuff. If someone’s bought like four pills or something, you go to a festival, you get a drug testing kit and then you find out that there’s ice, floor cleaner or rat poison in that shit, you’re not going to eat that shit, it’s that simple. You have to be a fucking idiot to get that test back and have it. You’re just going to be mad you spent that much money. People don’t want to kill themselves. And you go overseas and see that culture – people pace themselves. We were at a festival with like eighty-thousand people, and I reckon about seventy percent of them were high as shit on drugs, at least seventy percent. But they were pacing themselves, there was no aggression, there were no real dickheads, everybody was just relaxed because people felt comfortable, the more comfortable you feel, the more safe you are.
Aware: The Australian rap scene is known for being much more conscious than other countries in some senses. Recently you started House of Beige the label, which has signed a range of artists from really diverse backgrounds, was that planned? Did you initially plan on it being that diverse or did it just happen?
Remi: Always, because that’s just Melbourne for us.
Sensible J: They’re all our friends.
Remi: Especially in Melbourne, I can’t speak for other states because I haven’t spent time there in their music scene, but from when I first started doing music with J I wasn’t hanging out with rappers, I was hanging out with rappers, singers, producers, players. These people all sit in this hub in the scene where they all respect each other, it’s a very soulful kind of scene that we sit in. Soul based I guess is the best way to put it. Everyone has this kind of respect and connection between each other so House of Beige for us was just trying to create a thing where people that probably wouldn’t necessarily get shine for the incredible music that they do can hopefully get that. Whether that’s Man Made Mountain, whether it’s Syrene, whether that’s Hau, people doing very different stuff to what we’re hearing, but we still like it and that’s the vibe. It’s kind of showing people, because a lot of people were like ‘I didn’t know this shit was going down in Melbourne!’ It’s like, they live around the corner from you!
Aware: What’s your vision for House of Beige and what is the impact you want to make in the rap community?
Sensible J: Just to keep going, we want to keep putting out diverse music that doesn’t normally get shine and work with our friends. We’re not really big or set enough to be working and doing huge budgets for people, than our friends.
Remi: I think also to build a level of trust in the fan base of House of Beige. We have from like websites from Okayplayer to record labels like Stones Throw. Everything they put out we trust, and we’re going to press play regardless. We’ll put someone on our label whether or not it sounds anything like us, people will still feel the vibe. It’s an alternative-esque realm I would say.
Sensible J: And we might put out stuff that’s just straight percussion drum album, no vocals to an EP. I’m going to be working on with a singer, to his next record, to Man Made Mountain. That’s what we’ve got in the next six months.
Remi: At the moment for us it’s just sick having something where you can help your friends out.
Sensible J: It’s all people we’ve known for more than five years. It’s not like a label with suits. Not with our marketing budget!
Remi: I don’t even think we’d employ anybody who wears a suit. Don’t trust suits!