Entries in Australia (5)


In Search of Freedom with LA Songstress King avriel


Her name pays homage to a woman regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs of the 18th dynasty, but King avriel’s rise to the throne is not one in search of superiority. Whilst she places herself in a position of power it is not for individual gain. King avriel simply represents women as a whole, and it doesn’t stop there. In the last few months avriel has released a string of songs, including Paranormal Paradigm and Freedom, that touch on everything from online identity and false reality, to gender roles and oppression. She challenges everything that society, and the music industry, tells her that she should be, and does it all to the beat of her own drum.  There’s no use trying to put King avriel into a box, because she is determined not to stay there.

We chat to the new King of LA about her love for female pop acts, the first time she heard The Love Below, how her name is a call for equality and why you should forget everything you think you can expect from King avriel. Jesse Kuss writes.


Your father is a classically trained guitarist and toured internationally with Reggae band Boom Shaka. How did this influence your relationship with music as a child?

I grew up in a musical household with tons of instruments around, music was always playing, and I went to lots of my dad’s shows when I was little. I also learned a lot about music theory and songwriting at a young age. Not sure I absorbed it all back then, but it definitely made it easier to learn once I was older and started taking theory classes in college. 

I understand that the first album you bought was Butterfly by Mariah Carey. What other artists have had a strong impact on your music over the years?

I loved female pop acts — Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, Mariah (Carey), Whitney (Houston), etc. I went through adolescence in the early 2000's, so boy bands, alternative rock, and rap videos with all white parties on yachts were the norm. Lauryn Hill was really impactful to me too. Since I was classically trained as a pianist and violinist I loved classical music, and got into Jazz later into my teens. After I graduated high school I really started exploring different genres: classic rock, underground hip hop, indie stuff, etc. I remember the first time I heard The Love Below my life was changed forever. Something similar happened when Nostalgia Ultra and Overly Dedicated came out around the same time.

Originally you were releasing music under your full name Avriel Epps, more recently deciding to go by 'King avriel'; a name you have said is central to your identity and ideology. What is the meaning behind the name and why did you decide to change it?

I’m really inspired by bell hooks’ scholarship, so I lowercase the a in avriel to take emphasis away from myself, the individual, and capitalise the K in King to redirect said emphasis to the collective and the intellectual, feminist work I’m trying to do. I’m donning the King to show that all women can be kings, just like men can be kings — and one’s gender should not dictate how much power one should have. It’s a challenge to patriarchy, and a call for equality.

A very large part of what you write is autobiographical and you often describe very specific situations and events in your songs. Why is this kind of story telling so important to you as a songwriter?

I think that there is not enough value placed on the narratives of individuals. People want to hear about aggregates, data, and big picture stuff. They want things to be generalisable so they can understand society or groups as a whole, but there is a richness that you lose when you only focus on those things. And, oftentimes marginalised communities are overlooked and not included in that way of understanding things. I’m not interested in the mainstream or the birds eye view. I feel like we already know what’s going on there. I’m interested in the outlier, I’m interested in the lived experience, not just the statistic. So, that’s what I focus on in my songwriting.

You said that you had fallen out of love with music shortly after the release of Be Cool. What was missing then that has changed for you now?

I wasn’t in control then. I am now.

The release of Freedom was accompanied by an essay that you had written which referred to the necessity of empathy in fighting oppression. The essay also referenced your decision to challenge gender norms, a topic that you are obviously very passionate about. Why was it important for you to include the essay when releasing the song/ video?

Well, I think that the way I intellectualise my art is something unique I bring to the table. I spend a lot of time working through details and ruminating on the message I want to convey. There’s a lot of planning and thinking that goes into every piece that I create  and I don’t want that to be lost on the listener. It’s heavy stuff, and it’s something that I wish some of my favourite artists would do because I know they’re packing meaning into their work like I am. I might not do it forever, but it’s been fun for these last few releases.

You have described your next project as a conceptual piece; what is the focus of the project and what can listeners expect from the content?

I don’t want to give too much away, but all I can say is that everything you’ve heard thus far is not a good representation of the project. What I’ve put out recently have been fun, throw-away tracks, but the project takes on a far more complex journey sonically and narrative-wise than what you’ve heard so far. 

You produced and co-produced the majority of your project; was it important for you to be directly involved in the production? What has been the highlight of the project so far? 

I mean, I’m a musician, so yeah I like to be involved in that. Sound supports the story in a very special way, so it’s important for all of the elements of the song from the last word in the hook to the cymbal crash at the end of the bridge to work together to convey the message. I think the highlight of the project so far has been learning how to record and mix all of my vocals. I spent a ton of alone time in my bedroom trying to perfect everything, and I really cherished that time.

You also model and act, having even lent your voice to a character in the cartoon TV series Hey Arnold! Do you have any plans to continue modelling/ acting or are you focused on spreading your message through music?

Who knows… If the opportunity presents itself and it feels right. I love being in front of the camera, but only for stories that I feel are important to tell.

What is the most important part of this journey for you?

I’ve learned so much about myself, and began healing from so many past traumas in the last two years leading up to this release. That growth was invaluable.

What Stimulates your Soul?

Watching/listening to people pour their entire beings into their life’s work inspires me. 


Want to know more about King avriel?





Photos: Lily Epps


Re-connecting with music: a moment of truth with CharlieRED. 


For some people music simply serves to entertain a moment, for others it provides a deep and direct connection to the soul. For Cobaine Ivory and Rocki Evans from producer/singer duo CharlieRED, creating is an “instinctive desire” that comes from within, "full of emotion" and often accidental. Since the release of their debut EP ‘Religion’ late last year, CharlieRED have gone from strength to strength proving that this Blues/Hip Hop duo are indeed the truth in music we’ve all been missing.

Stimulate Your Soul has a chat to CharlieRED about the need for truth and honesty in art, their first sold out show opening for Marsha Ambrosius and why their debut collaborative EP is a message to believe in something so much that it becomes your religion. Jesse Kuss writes.

Who is CharlieRED? How does the name represent you both? 

Rocki EvansCharlieRED represents the calm yet bold versatility of both our energies.

Cobaine Ivory: I feel like I represent the "Charlie" part. I come from a more old-school way of production and "RED" is definitely Rocki's energy, all caps! 


Before CharlieRED the two of you were pursuing your own separate musical paths, how did you both get into music and how did you meet?

Rocki Evans: I got into music through church, seeing preachers sing. The emotion they evoked appealed to me and the passion grew from there. Cobaine and I met through our manager, at the perfect time in each of our lives.

Cobaine Ivory: I've grown up with music all around me. My mum was a singer and I would sleep in the studio when I was younger. My stepdad was a Jazz drummer and DJ so his ear is crazy! We were introduced to each other by our manager and decided to try this together. 


Cobaine, I have heard you say that you feel like CharlieRED was created “out of lack.” What do you think was missing and how do you hope CharlieRED will fill that void? 

Cobiane Ivory: I feel like we are all missing the truth in music. It exists, but it's not as prevalent as it was in different times. Much of today's music is drowning in marketing and brand schemes and the connection is lost. Fast food music. My only hope is that CharlieRED remains true and honest. 

Rocki you’ve said that when you connected with Cobaine you felt that your expression finally found a home. What was different about working with Cobaine compared to your previous experiences?

Rocki EvansGreat question, I feel working with Cobaine is different simply based on the quality foundation he provides me as a singer and songwriter. The beats often feel like theme music to my emotions, I've never felt that prior to Cobaine. 


When you first started releasing music together as CharlieRED you were an "unknown singer/ producer duo." Was keeping your identities hidden a conscious decision? 

Rocki EvansInitially keeping our identities unknown was conscious, simply because we wanted the focus to be music oriented. It worked out because the focus is still on the music; they just have a face to attach it to now. 

Cobaine Ivory: Personally, I feel it's just about the music. Of course, we have to "reveal" our identities once we began performing, but I like remaining unknown. At times, we get wrapped up in the packaging of the message. 


It is evident that you both take your relationship with music very seriously. Cobaine you even have a rule that no one else can be in the studio when you are recording. What defines your relationship with music and how would you like this to flow down to your listeners? 

Rocki EvansCreating is an instinctive desire within me. It's a legal high that takes me places no drug can, I appreciate my gift and would only ask that the listener be open to it.

Cobaine Ivory: As in all things, remain true. Quincy Jones said it the best when it comes to music, "We can only go by god's dividing rod; goosebumps, chills. If I'm turned on by it, it is more than likely that others will be turned on by it as well."


Rocki I have heard you say your influences come from what you force yourself to be surrounded by. What is influencing the music the two of you are making at the moment? Do you often reflect on who and what you are surrounded by in life?

Rocki EvansI often hear of writers that write based on something that happened in a particular day; I've done that but my source of inspiration is built over time. Meaning I think for days on a particular topic and when Cobaine provides a track, it all comes pouring out. At the moment, I am listening to lots of Stevie wonder and Bobby bland.


Tell us about the ‘Religion’ EP? What is the overall concept and how did it come about?

Rocki Evans ‘Religion’ was a moment that happened so naturally. It's basically saying that your Religion is the "life you lead not the creed you profess." From relationships, time and life in general. My religion is a bit unknown at the moment. (Laughs)

Cobaine Ivory: 'Religion' is just a musical representation of conversations Rocki and I were having at the time. We allowed the muse to come and the songs wrote themselves. The concept of the EP is essentially, "Believe in something so much that it becomes your Religion...not the other way around." Our faith was completely in the 'Religion’ EP before anyone knew it existed.

What has the response been like since you released ‘Religion’? What has been the most memorable part of the journey to its release?

Rocki EvansAll of it is memorable to be honest. It's truly amazing to hear people genuinely speak on what they received from the music, even more mind-blowing when their perspective is exactly where I wrote from. It's shown that people want truth and honesty in art. The response has been amazing, we released it a little over four months ago and the universe has worked wonders for us.

Cobaine Ivory: The responses continue to be amazing. Hmm, I would say when ‘Kansas’ landed on VH1. At that moment, we were eating dinner with our band and both of our phones blew up as well as our numbers! It was a great moment.


You opened for Marsha Ambrosius at SOBs in New York last month, a situation I understand came about because Marsha herself asked you to open for her. What was it like knowing that you had her support? How was the experience?

 Rocki EvansHaving Marsha's support is amazing. I grew up on floetry, listening to the songs and loving their vibe. The experience was one to remember, I learned a lot from her in terms of vocal and crowd control.

Cobaine Ivory: It was an experience. It was our first sold-out show! I just appreciated the opportunity and every opportunity to let others know that we exist.


You have both spoken of the vulnerability and truth in the music you create. Why is it so important to make honest music? What does making honest music mean to you?

Rocki EvansI never really focus on making honest or dishonest music. I pride myself in being an extremely passionate and vulnerable person, so creating simply comes from me being myself.

Cobaine Ivory: I believe the more you ‘think’ about making music the less that you heal yourself, which in turn leads to you not healing others. Everything I've ever created has been completely absent of thought, full of emotion and accidental. It's pretty simple for me. I do it for the feeling. Something else wrote those songs. I'm just happy I was used.


What’s in the future for CharlieRED?

Rocki EvansThe future is bright for Charlie, more music, more honesty and more experiences to tell to amazing interviewers as yourself.

Cobaine Ivory: We're working on new music that we love... We hope you will connect with it as well!


What Stimulates your Soul?

Rocki Evans: Pain, love and life stimulate my soul.

Cobaine Ivory: The Life experience.


Want more? Get Stimulated with CharlieRED here:


Finding Our Way with Jansport J


Some may know him as Sport The Pharaoh, others as the Soul Provider. But most will know him simply as Jansport J. One thing we know for sure is this Covina, Californian native is determined to make his mark on the music industry. Dedicating the last eight years to becoming a full time producer, Jansport J's journey has seen him work with artists such as Planet Asia, Kool G Rap, Strong Arm Steady and AZ, just to name a few. Identifying his style as "soul-sample based sound", Jansport J makes music that reflects his hip hop roots. We chat to Jansport J about a journey from false hope to opportunity, the song that sparked his ambitions and how his recent Instrumental LP 'For Love.' became a soundtrack for all of the things we do for love. Jesse Kuss writes.

For those who may not be familiar with your work, how would you describe your production style?

I try to do a little bit of everything, and have my work be a reflection of the different styles of hip hop I grew up listening to. My bread and butter and more notable style would have to be the soul-sample based sound. I am a soul provider.

You chose beat-making as a serious career path around 2005. What has the journey been like for you since then?

Probably the hardest yet most rewarding journey I've taken. Over 7-8 years there have been so many failures and false promises, as well as moments of growth and amazing chance-in-a-lifetime opportunities. The whole experience has not only led me to become a better producer, but a stronger man. Persistence and a strong sense of purpose has definitely been the key for me sticking to it this long. I made the decision to not be bashful over my aspirations in 2005, and took the initiative in 2008 to dedicate every day to making my dream of being a full-time music producer come true. Despite all of the "no's" and false starts, my passion and those few successful opportunities have fuelled me to this point where I am finally starting to see the fruits of the labour. It's an amazing feeling, and I want to continue a tireless work ethic to make things happen.

I've heard you mention the likes of J Dilla, Pete Rock and DJ Premier amongst some of your biggest inspirations. What is it about their style that you are drawn to? How does that influence your own style?

What initially draws me to them is that they are all soul-sample based, like I am. They are the ‘sensei's’ of that shit. In order for me to have any longevity, I feel like it's necessary to study the greats, how they do what they do, and either incorporate small elements or take their way of thinking and apply it to their own. Very small example: Dilla is the greatest. A lot of people will take his drums, loops, chops, even the "Dilla siren" and use them as their own with little to no twist on it. Rather than blatantly steal his shit, I realised that Dilla branded his music with that siren. That siren lets you know it was a Dilla joint and got you even more hype about it. Sometimes you can't even wait to hear it in the track. So I took notice of that and now use my own sound trademark on my beats (the "woo!" sound from a Beastie Boys record). Just little things like that. It's important to know where you come from if you want to take the culture anywhere in the future, and that's why I study my heroes.

One of the songs that cemented my love of the 'old school' Hip Hop sound was 'Find A Way' by A Tribe Called Quest. Was there a particular song you heard growing up that made you realise this was what you wanted to do?

That's crazy, because "Find A Way" is my favourite hip hop song of all time! The song in particular that sparked my production ambitions was Missy's "I can't stand the Rain" when I was 11 years old. It had a new sound to it, and I overheard my sister talking to her friends about this new guy named Timbaland who did the beat. I bought Timbaland & Magoo's "Welcome to our World" later that year and that was it for me. I'd practice his drum patterns on my lap all the time. I didn't know how to go about it, but I knew I wanted to be like Timbaland when I grew up.

You have released a project more or less every year since 2008. You seem to devote a lot of time towards each project, is it important for you to take your time with each release? What is your process?

It is. Each project is like a child to me and really a time capsule of my thoughts/feelings at the moment. I draw heavily off emotion and concepts associated with my emotions at that time. I think of music production like jump shots in basketball; you practice every single day, even in the summer when there are no games. So I'll usually know that I want to start a new album, and just make random beats until a concept or idea comes to me. Once I get that, I hone in and start creating records in that lane.

You released your 5th project at the end of last year, an instrumental album titled 'For Love.' Tell us about the LP. What has the response been like?
For Love is the first instrumental project I've done that wasn't so concept-based, at least in creating it. It was more so just me meditating on what love is, what love means, what's healthy about love, what's dangerous about love, etc. The album is nothing more than a soundtrack for that whole period of me focusing on that. The response has been a unique one. I started off sending it directly to fans that sent their information to a specific email. Thanked them for their years of support, and encouraged them to share the album. I didn't send it to any blogs until a month after. However during that time, what started off as an email to 150 fans spread to 1000 downloads before an official press release. I've also gotten a lot of positive responses from fans thanking me for thinking of them first. So it's done what I wanted it to do; the people who connect with my music connect to it. That's all I can ask for.

You were recently voted 'Favourite Producer' as part of the True Sounds/ Native Instruments Producer Showcase in LA. How did it feel knowing you had that kind of support from your fans? What was the experience like for you appearing alongside a number of great producers?

I'm very appreciative to not only have fans that support my music, but ones that take an active role in making sure I succeed in my endeavours. My fans spread my music, send me positivity, and vote for me in online polls with a line-up of peers that inspire me daily. I didn't even vote for myself in that poll, my favourite producer is my man Willie B, of Digi+Phonics/TDE! But I'm so very thankful for that honour. It makes me want to work harder and not let my supporters down. The show was amazing, it was my 3rd year involved in it. It's kind of like a religious revival for LA Producers. We all know each other and a fan of each other's work, so to get in one room to press play to entertain a crowd and inspire each other, there's nothing better.

I understand you used to actually write rhymes as part of a group called the Rhythm Voyagers Crew, but you stopped because you hated the sound of your own voice? Is that true? Have you considered rhyming again since?
Yes, I hate my voice. (Laughs)  I know every rapper does. I still dabble in writing and can be instrumental in helping rappers put a particular record together. I do occasionally toy with the idea of doing something, but I don't know. I don't see it in the near future at all. I'm very content right now with striving to be the best producer that I can be. There's so much more room for growth in that department that I can't afford to dabble with rapping. I never say never, but we'll say probably not.  (laughs)

You have been spending quite a bit of time over at the Delicious Vinyl headquarters lately. Can we expect some exciting new things from you soon?

Yes I told them I'm about to start moving furniture in there. The experience with Delicious Vinyl has been amazing; it's felt like home since the first day I walked in. I've been working with Bizarre Ride Live (Fatlip & Slimkid of Pharcyde; LA Jay and J-Swift) on some new material. They're touring a lot right now, but I get in the office maybe twice a week and work on records for them. Also been working on some other material up there that'll be revealed in due time, that I'm very excited about. But all of the staff at the label, even all the way up to the owners Mike and Rick Ross, have made me feel more than welcome up there. I look forward to continuing to develop our solid relationship.


Dream collaboration?
MF Doom & Ghostface Killah

Last record you purchased?
Atychiphobia by Curtiss King

Favourite sample?
Any Black Ivory song on their album "Don't turn around."
I love Black Ivory, and Phyllis Hyman.

What stimulates your soul?
Soul music stimulates my ironic? That moment right
when I've added everything I'm going to add to a beat, I'll stand
up and just listen....that moment stimulates my soul.

You can catch Jansport J spinning that goodness at Paid Dues Festival Saturday 30th March in San Bernardino.



Believing in Miracle

Miracle, rapper

With over 100,000 views on Youtube for his ‘Better Dayz’ single, Australian rapper Miracle has opened for artists such as Big Boi and Lupe Fiasco. Producer and rapper, Miracle reveals what it’s like to be a rapper in Australia, his plans after dropping out of Nufirm music, and an exclusive on his upcoming album. Margaret Tra writes.     

Do you get receive love from Australian Hip Hop supporters?

Yeah. I definitely get a lot of love and support from the Aussie Hip Hop fans, mainly not so much from the Aussie Hip Hop artists themselves, but I still get a lot of props from Australia's biggest DJ's and other artists around.

You originally came from SYDKIDS, how does it feel to branch out and known you've come this far?

Its real dope like SYDKIDS are my boys, I see them all the time. I support them as they support me, and really I'm blessed to come this far with the some-what success or name that I've made for myself. Truthfully, it feels like if one of us makes it we all do, like that person is paving the way for the rest to come through if you get what I mean.

You have supported some big names in hip hop such as Big Boi, Lupe Fiasco and the like, how does that feel? And do you have a favourite?

Crazy, just crazy knowing that your share the stage with your heroes, and supporting their music and Hip Hop! My favourite would definitely have to be the Supafest tour. Getting to meet, chill and learn from some of the biggest names in urban music worldwide, crazy.

How is the album coming along?

It's actually coming along a lot better than I expected, not a lot of people know, but since signing with Nufirm I already made one album. But, this first year in my career has allowed me to grow as an artist and find my direction, so departing with Nufirm and the creation of this new album I thought it would a struggle, but I'm already 70% in, and I've already produced about 80% of my album!

So you are no longer associated with Nu Firm?

No longer associated with the Nufirm, but I wish Israel and them all the best.

What came first, making beats or rapping?

Making beats for sure, I try to make at least one beat a day sometimes even three. I usually just vibe to whatever beat I feel the most think of a concept or story for it then do my thing.

What's next for Miracle?

God willing after starting all over again, I'm going to re-sign to Sony music as a direct artist, drop my first 4 singles and hopefully change the music system in Australia! Then drop the album and do a national tour, but that is if everything goes to plan.

What Stimulates Your Soul?

All types of music man, I love listening to music of different genres, like lots of soulful sounds and just anything with a beautiful melody, and a dope ass bass line


Picture Perfect with P.R

Pedroum Rouz

Australian music producer Pedroum Rouz, or better known as P.R has work with artists such as Bone Thugs N Harmony, Ali Vegas, Evidence (Dilated Peoples) and Israel. Setting his mark in the Hip-Hop culture P.R discusses what it’s like to make beats in Australia, his upcoming EP ‘Picture Perfect’ and his thoughts on Aussie Hip-Hop. Margaret Tra writes.  




What are your thoughts on Hip-Hop in Australia? Do you struggle to make beats in this industry?

I think hip-hop is only just really starting to catch on in Australia now. Hip-hop in the states goes through quick transitions, whereas here we are still behind in some ways.

I wouldn't say I struggle to make beats but I definitely do find it a bit harder to find more buyers, work and people here on my level that share the same love and have the same drive, and are quite simply doing what I’m doing with music. Luckily, we have the internet which helps me bring in more business, find more contacts and draw more inspiration. 

Australian Hip-Hop or Hip-Hop?

Hip-Hop is Hip-Hop to me.  

DJ Premier, Dilla and 9th Wonder are you influences, who else is there? 

Japanese producer "Nujabes" (R.I.P) is also a very big influence of mine, Just Blaze, Timbaland, Kanye West, Alchemist, Statik Selektah, Nottz, Ski Beatz, and many others. 

So many musicians have influences me over the years. It's the when and how that matters.  

Who would be your ideal artist to collaborate with?

I've always wanted to work with Mos Def, apart from him, there are a couple others, but really, I don't have main ideal artists in mind. Whoever is talented, real and connects with me musically then I'd love to collaborate with them.  

You recently did an EP with Ali Vegas, what was that like? How is it going?

Yeah, I did the new EP with Ali Vegas called ‘Bridging the Gap’ with my music production partner ‘The Iron Ghost’. We make up a music production duo called "Sound Kamp".

We were very overwhelmed by the response and support it got. Downloads are still climbing every day. It came out the way we wanted it too, we are very happy with the overall result of the EP. 

You have worked with an impressive line-up of artists, how did you start? And who is was your favourite?

I basically started producing in mid-2006. My first real major track I produced would have to be Israel’s track "My Lady" which was in 2007, and on his mixtape "Burn Vol. 1". It featured Stan Bravo and Mirrah. Working with Israel, helped not only get my name out there, but also helped boost my knowledge in both music production and music business. It also lead me to land two beats on his successful 2009 album ‘The Legacy’. So he is definitely one of the more favourite artists I've worked with.

Apart from him, I would have to say Ali Vegas was another favourite and hearing Evidence (of Dilated Peoples) jump on one of my beats was amazing, same with Bizzy Bone and a couple others. I enjoyed working with most people I got involved with. 

You've been described as 4D can you elaborate?

 I guess when we say 4D; it relates to my diversity. I am always approaching music from a new angle, with a new sound and style. I always try and keep my music endlessly flowing in all aspects. 

I've had some people say to me; "You should try and find one sound and stick to it, and start a new phase with it", but that’s very difficult for me, especially when I enjoy making so many different sounds.

When music is gaining a new sound all the time, so I guess being known for being diverse is really what I want. But, we will see what I come up with next.

Hip-Hop and Jazz why did you decide to mix it? And should other beat makers mix genres?

Hip-Hop and Jazz is the most amazing fusion I've heard. I got my inspiration for it from Nujabes's music. 

There is just so much diversity, emotion and vibes in it. It’s unexplainable, but i definitely do recommend producers get into it. 

Any future projects?

 I'm working on a second EP called "Picture Perfect" under my production duo ‘Sound Kamp.’ It will be a local 6 to 8 tracks. It will feature all Australian artists, production by me and ‘The Iron Ghost.’ We are currently working on the beats for it right now.  Apart from that, I have a lot of artists I’m also producing for, so prepare to hear a lot of me this year.