Words & Pictures by Carley Schad
I can’t even begin to express how much hip-hop has changed my life. As a casual poet and grand appreciator of music, I find hip-hop (if done well) can actualize the deepest feelings a person has and translate them in a way that seamlessly connects everyone with a simple beat. I had the pleasure of sitting down with an emerging hip-hop duo who were beginning to fill my Facebook feed with their quirky remixes and insanely clever lyrics. Caspar Hardaker (19) and Joe Burke (17) are the two members of Sydney based hip-hop group Flip the Script and two kids who truly embody the meaning of quality hip-hop.
The towering boys sat across from me at Café Newtown, with cappuccinos in hand, and began to discuss Caspar’s past rapping aliases before I could even press record. The hilarious duo kept me on the edge of my seat while I learnt all the things I never before knew about Flip the Script.
DSM: Where did it all begin with Flip the Script? What are your separate music backgrounds and how did they come together?
Joe: I’ve been writing for a few years, but they were pretty toy rhymes. Now, I’ve really gotten into it and I [started], mixing and recording stuff and I would send things to Caspar and he would send me back stuff too. I had a few tracks ready for a mix tape and I thought ‘why don’t you go on them (Caspar)?’ And then one Sunday morning…
DSM: Is that Sunday Spittin’?
Joe: Yeah, we had a beat on and we were just free styling and then we said, lets just write a verse and then Gabby wasn’t too happy because she was just sitting there doing nothing (Joe gestures to his sister and Caspar’s girlfriend, Gabby, who is sitting across from the two boys patiently) But we both had 40 minutes so we just wrote a verse each and then we recorded it, after that it was just a continued want to collaborate.
DSM: So did you come into all of this, Caspar, because of Gabby?
Caspar: Yeah, Yeah, I met Gabby, in our early stages of dating and seeing each other and that’s how I met Joe…
DSM: The true love affair…
Caspar: Yeah you could say, hey, but also we shared similar music as well…
Joe: Yeah, remember that Joey Bada$$ conversation we had?
[Caspar agrees and laughs]
DSM: We’ve had a Joey Bada$$ conversation [gesturing to Joe]!
Caspar: Yeah we bonded over that as well and, as Joe said, he was writing his stuff and I was writing my own. I had been writing in the past but they were really kind-of banal lyrics. Obviously, the more you practice the more ideas form and I eventually became pretty happy with what I was doing and then Joe and I had a good combination going, would you say, [turns to Joe]?
Joe: Yeah, free styling in the car against radio beats.
DSM: Your voices do mesh really well, it’s very easy to listen to, and it doesn’t sound like two strangers trying to make a mix tape. I think that’s what I like most about your music is the bantering in between rhymes. I really appreciate tunes that will fizzle out for a moment and then completely change it up with something really different. That’s why I asked Joe, when we first spoke, if he was really influenced by J Dilla because he’s a great example of that. Who would be your most major influences?
Caspar: Oh, well, we have various influences
Joe: There are a lot of different sub-genres and sub-categories that explain why they influence me. I started out listening to – the first ever mix tape I listened too – was B.O.B.’s No Genre mix tape and his music was so lyrical back then, it wasn’t that good but it was so amazing for me. I think that is one of the main things Caspar and I focus on, like you said about the banter.
‘When you listen to the song people should want to listen and be where we are.’
Caspar: Yeah, because you want to keep it as organic as possible because anything too scripted and too much attention to detail will sometimes take it away from that real energy.
DSM: So is the name ‘Flip the Script’ a play on the fact that you like to bring that organic and raw nature to an otherwise banal tune?
Joe: Yeah, it’s like; we are trying to do something a bit different.
Caspar: My experiences started, I think like any other kid, listening to Eminem.
DSM: Oh yeah, I was really into Linkin Park. I was that really aggressive 11 year-old kid at the back of the school bus listening to my Walkman with so many problems
Joe: Lupe Fiasco was mine
Caspar: Yeah I listened to a lot of that and there was that movie 8 Mile…
Joe: You say that like it’s a not very well known movie…
DSM: It was probably the first sex scene I ever saw and I didn’t know how to deal with it.
Caspar: [laughing] Well! There is a line in that where he’s about to do the final battle and then the guy he’s about to battle says to him, ‘it’s time to flip the script on this one’ and that really sort-of resounded in me.
‘I ended up applying that to our group, our duo, the fact that there is never a time to stop evolving, stop trying to show people something new, something that they haven’t seen before.’
DSM: As Australian artists in the Hip Hop industry here, would you find yourself complying with what an Australian Hip Hop artist is or do you see yourself breaking away from that?
Joe: There’s lots of things I love about Australian Hip Hop, we didn’t say it, but Seth Sentry, Tucker, and Horroshow, they are all big influences as well. The whole loose vibe of Australian Hip Hop – the casual feel – it’s something that we fit into well but hopefully we will go ahead of that.
Caspar: I think naturally, you have to develop and get inspiration from these artists but then there is going to be a time, with every artist, where you actually start breaking away to keep that momentum and then it will manifest itself into your own individual spin and you, yourself, then create things that people get inspired by.
DSM: 100%, I was never into Aussie Hip Hop but when I listened to your music, everything changed for me. I heard so many influences, it sounded different. The dialect was still very true to Aussie Hip Hop but I think the downfall of that Industry now is that so many of the artists do sound the same and you guys managed to break away from it while still staying true to home.
DSM: So I guess what it comes to now is the release of your EP? What do you want to achieve with it? What is it heading towards?
Joe: Getting some free clothes would be good.
Joe: What we want is a little fan base, even if we had 30 fans but 30 people who come to our shows, if we did a gig. That’s the main thing, doing gigs is the dream.
DSM: So… you guys haven’t done a gig yet?
DSM: Have you been searching?
Joe: Yeah we have, trying to get some backyard gigs
Caspar: We are taking it step by step, after we release this mix tape, we feel like that is when the big hype is going to emerge. We have a Facebook page, Flip the Script.
DSM: Oh really? Who am I talking to right now?
[Joe and Caspar laugh]
Joe: This is our base. The mix tape is our base. We can always work on other stuff but we will have this to show people. When I’m 18, we will try and get into bars and stuff. We may start doing a little busking but Hip Hop is a little hard to busk with… When I used to busk with 4-part harmonies…
DSM: Wait, 4-part harmonies while doing hip-hop?
Joe: No back in the day when I busked for Christmas, doing some carols.
DSM: I thought Christmas carols were a charitable thing, like, here’s some Christmas spirit! No, you were ripping them off for money?
Joe: We got like $400 in 4 hours! But the mix tapes aim is to spread our name [rapping] the mix tapes aim is to spread our name.
DSM: So what is the name of the mix tape?
Caspar: We actually haven’t really thought of a name yet, we think that is going to happen naturally after we finish it.
Joe: The introduction is titled intro-juice
DSM: You gotta a lot of puns, you really draw people in with the puns. When do you anticipate the tape to be finished?
Joe: Ahhh [chuckles] 2 months it’s going to be completely finished, it’s just uni and stuff, balancing everything is very hard.
DSM: So you guys prewrite most of your mixes? Do you sit down and write together?
Caspar: So the track that we are going to be releasing next, really soon, we sat down together and wrote it in the park next to central, with headphones in next to each other and absorbing the city and playing back over and over again the beat.
Joe: We would write two lines each…
DSM: Was it an effective method?
Caspar: Definitely, I think environment is a big, big factor in how well you can think of things to write about, what inspires you, and how you can extrapolate that.
Joe: The second line is ‘for the people on Sydney buses and trains, that struggle and strain, from 9 to 5 moving from central up to the reigns’ So you just look around and you’re like, yeah, that was Caspar’s line…
DSM: I love that you know his lines…
Caspar: I have a problem with my own lyrics. I need to go to the stage of writing my own stuff and then reading it and feeling confident about it and then after I do that, I can focus on other verses.
Joe: You write and then record and I listen to it again and again because I like it! But Caspar doesn’t like it!
Caspar: [but] when we are writing, it’s not like I’m going to be nice or Joe Is going to be nice to me, if there is a shit line that I have written, Joe is going to pull me up on it and visa versa. We aren’t going to be nice about it and say ‘that will do’ because we want good lines, good music and we want something that isn’t going to fade away. We are pretty candid when it comes to writing.
Joe: Like, although there is a lot of banter and stuff and it doesn’t sound perfect, that actually is perfect. People will enjoy the realness of that, that’s the perfect ending of the tune, if it’s not quite perfect.
DSM: Yeah, people seem to be intimidated by something that is too perfect
Joe: Like Nickleback…
DSM: What? Like Nickleback? Nickleback are too perfect? [laughing]
Joe: Well, people don’t like them because it’s so robotic. Everything they are doing is calculated, I just want to make people feel a type of way with my words.
DSM: What do you hope to achieve within the year?
Joe: Mix tape, working on another mix tape, gigging in venues.
Caspar: We are both pretty proactive with it and we are both dedicated and we want it.
‘I just feel inspired every time we are doing something. So I don’t know, as we said before, getting some gigs and getting that exposure we need would be awesome.’
Joe: Getting 1000 likes on Facebook.
Caspar: Getting 1000 likes on Facebook would be really helpful.
DSM: Well I think I can help you with that…
LISTEN: Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/flip-the-script-hiphop
LIKE: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/flipthescriptsydney