For almost half a decade now, Bodega Collective has been a staple in Australia’s always-growing music scene. Situated in Sydney, this creative force serves as both a propeller of blossoming talent, and a creative hub where artists can connect, collaborate, and record their music. They’ve ushered in releases from the likes of Raj Mahal and Dante Knows, and their studio has hosted juggernauts such as Chillinit and Mason Dane. In 2021, they brought their vision to the live stage with Pass The Mic, a concert series that hosts a variety of musical prospects and allows them a platform to push their individual talent. With their stature only continuing to rise at a rapid pace, Bodega Collective have begun rolling out one of their biggest moves yet, and it comes in the form of a collaboration with the iconic drink brand Alizé.
Alizé’s links to hip-hop are well-established. Dating back to the 90s. They’ve stocked the shelves of this music revolution, resulting in name drops from the likes of Tupac on classic records like ‘Thug Passion’. With this in mind, their enthusiasm to work alongside Bodega Collective is hardly surprising, joining forces with the grassroots movement as part of their Alize_X_ platform, created as an outlet for Alizé to champion creatives within the Australian music industry. The first is a complete revamp of Bodega’s home studio, enhancing its presence as a safe space for artists to create without boundaries, using the resources needed to amplify their voices. This is followed by a video content series that shines more light on Bodega’s journey, alongside profiles on Nerve and SHANAE. Their work will then head to the stage with 2 collaborative Pass The Mic events, with the first featuring an all-femme lineup and free-flowing glasses of their premium French vodka and cognac. It’s clear that this creative partnership between Bodega Collective and Alizé has its sights set on benefitting creative culture, bringing people together, and building spaces where artists can fully express themselves.
To learn more we hopped on Zoom with Peter Sabbagh, one of the beatsmiths behind Korky Buchek and co-founders of Bodega Collective. He talked us through the origins of this collaboration, his experience working with Alizé, and the future that this forging of forces foreshadows.
Congratulations on this exciting new partnership between Alizé and Bodega Collective. How are you feeling?
Yeah, I feel really good about it. It’s nice to get it over the line. I’m excited to show what we’ve been doing and what’s achievable. I feel like a big part of it is showing you get to this goal point of collaborating with a major brand like Alizé, because that’s when things actually start to move in a real way.
Bodega Collective’s journey up until now has been one that has positively impacted and amplified the communities surrounding it. What is it about Alizé that made them the perfect brand to accompany you on this quest?
Alizé has always had a footprint in hip-hop, dating all the way back to the Tupac era. So when this opportunity came, I already understood the history behind the brand, and that they were a part of the culture. I remember watching a lot of battle rap events back in the day, and you’d always see the Alizé logo in the background, so this collaboration just made perfect sense.
Do you feel like there’s a lack of obtainable knowledge in this industry that educates people on how to get to this point?
Yeah, it’s hard to really know how to do things, or where to get financial support in order to do things. I think it’s mainly about building leverage and realising what you have. We’re lucky in this case because Alizé reached out to us, and it was weird timing because I had already been having ideas about doing something like this. But for sure, we need more people to explain how to get to the places you want to go.
What was your first impression when this opportunity came across your desk?
It was crazy because like I said, it was something that was already on my mind. I remember watching the F1, and noticing how all these brands were getting involved and showing their support. I realised there was no reason we couldn’t work with a brand to bring our vision to life here in Australia. It was exciting because it felt like divine timing.
One of the major things you guys have collaborated on is revamping the studio over at Bodega Collective. What’s that process been like?
It’s been really good. It feels good to give this space a refresh. We’ve been in this spot for 3 years now, so it’s really beneficial to have the ability to bring a bunch of new stuff into the space and give the place a new sense of life.
How have you found the alignment of your respective visions in this collaboration?
We’ve really worked and communicated together to really uplift the space, and make it look nice and function well for all the artists coming through. It’s been very easy, and Alizé have been great partners, giving us a lot with the main goal of making everything here look and function better.
The origins of the Australian music boom we’ve especially seen over the recent years are firmly planted in the garden of grassroots communities. As it continues to grow, what do you think is the most important thing creatives should know about brand collaboration?
You have to understand your worth, and what you’re bringing to the table. A lot of companies are coming now, and they’re bringing a lot of opportunities. However, that opportunity isn’t there unless you’ve been working at the grassroots level. So you need to recognise that worth and why what you’re doing is important because in these collaborations we’re granting access to a culture that some brands may not know how to connect with. Alizé has been very good in this aspect, because they want to align with the community aspect of this, and have done stuff like getting the muralists we work with involved and invited people on our team to be a part of the project.
One thing I loved about Bodega Collective, which is referenced in the collaborative video you made with Alizé, is that y’all want your space to be a place where people feel safe and motivated to be themselves. How do you nurture that individuality in an age where media often feels dictated by algorithms and trends?
It really comes down to how relentless your individuality is. Like so many different people come to Bodega Collective, and at times, they can clash. But it’s about not being afraid of those clashes and that rawness because you should run towards it. Hip-hop is a very raw genre, and it’s about letting that expression and emotion happen, even if you butt heads with people at times. That’s what the safe environment we’re trying to create is about, where we don’t want people to feel afraid about saying something or sharing different views. You want people to be comfortable enough to create.
I think your goal with that is exemplified in your Pass The Mic events, where the title itself encourages unity and represents the different talents encompassed in this country’s scene. Alizé is now joining you in the hosting of a special edition Pass The Mic; how is that coming together?
For December 3rd, we’re locking in an all-femme lineup, where everyone from the DJs to the emcees will be femme artists. There’s going to be Alizé flowing all night, and overall it’s a really good one to make happen because it’s just another form of a safe space we can create for artists to feel comfortable. I want to keep moving forward with Pass The Mic this way, continuing to change up the format every time we host an event. We’ve done 10 of these now, and I want every future one we do to be distinct, and a platform for different voices to be heard.
By revamping the studio and continuing to grow the presence of Pass The Mic in Australia, this collaboration seems to be a great gateway to ensuring that creatives are connecting in person as we move on from the virtual era that ruled the pandemic. What do you think the importance is of reuniting in person?
The first few times we had people together again here at the studio after the lockdowns, it felt a bit like church. There was a special energy in the air, where it felt like people were getting more than what you’d get just looking at a screen. We’re human, and that feeling of being outside and connecting with people is unlike anything else. That’s the awesome thing about the Pass The Mic events as well, where although our social media and interactions continue to grow online, the best part is still seeing 15 artists hit the stage and give us all of their vulnerability. When you connect in real life, you can share your honest truth, and you end up walking away from every interaction feeling better.
Lastly, this collaboration is bound to become a part of Bodega’s already-important legacy and foreshadows the potential you guys have to continue growing in the future. What do you want to see from this experience as you continue to progress?
I want to continue collaborating and growing. A big goal is to take this movement internationally, touring places like Asia. I also want to create another space that’s like three times as big as the studio we have now, and create a hub that people can be really proud of. I want to show with this collaboration and everything we do in the future that creatives can come together under the same roof, and help each other thrive.
The Alizé x Bodega Collective collaboration continues with a video series featuring Bodega Collective as well as artists Nerve and Shanae — check out part one below and follow Alizé and Bodega Collective for more!