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Gold Fang is Just Warming Up

Ahead of releasing his debut EP, the Trinidad-born, Sydney-based artist has his eye on the prize.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t immediately fascinated by the first few seconds of Gold Fang’s big debut, ‘Where Yuh From’ alongside Big Skeez. It’s no secret that Australia’s current musical landscape has been heavily informed by the US and the UK, which in turn, can be traced back to parts of Africa and the Caribbean islands. Speaking candidly, this has led to a lot of Australia’s youth identifying more with culture from overseas, than what we were presented with growing up. Basically what I’m getting at; is there’s a current generation of identity crises where people are putting on fake accents after watching too much Top Boy and listening to too much Central Cee. I was dying to know what the verdict was with Gold Fang. I’m glad to confirm that in the case of Gold Fang vs. accent authenticity, his Trinidadian inflections are 110% real. Born and raised in the Southernmost Country in the Caribbean islands, Fang moved to Australia at the age of 17. He was extremely welcoming and open when telling me about what his life has been like up until now, how his brother and uncle inspired him to experiment with music and how the battery in his back is to one day help the rest of his family migrate to Australia.

How’ve you been, man?
Good! Just recording music, every day. That’s my life. 

How’d you find music as your outlet?
I would say from a young age, I started doing music by rapping over music videos and stuff. But I really found music when I came over here like 5 years ago, and I saw my uncle doing the same thing, that reggae style. It inspired me to take this route, doing music that was rooted in my own culture and my own sound. 

I feel like, as far as immigration goes, you see a lot of African immigrants and Asian immigrants, but you don’t really see many people coming over here from places like Trinidad. How was it for someone like you to see your uncle explore this in a place like Australia?
It was crazy for me, man. But I kind of already knew the impact that music had over here because my dad was in the Guinness Book of World Records for limboing, and they would always come back home from tours and stuff. So I’ve always seen it from an outside perspective and would think that was dope. So I always knew that I had that musical blood. 

You have a pretty signature sound, especially for over here. I feel like most Australian immigrants have a sort of identity crisis, where they’re not sure what they want their music to sound like, so they might coincide with US and UK accents because that’s so much of what we consume. Was there ever a point where that was what you were playing with?
Yes, like everyone. But the difference between me and everyone else is that I always don’t put out music. It’s always stuff that sounds like something else that I don’t want to put out. I have complete tracks with me rapping, where it sounds like I was trying to be another person. Like, I didn’t have sauce, anything that I could add on top of it. It was straight biting, and I never want to put something like that out. I wanted to find my identity first, and I wanted to do it right. 

I always wonder why people criticise that sort of stuff because I feel like for anyone who’s making music, that’s how you start. You have to make a copy of something you already like, and then realise that it isn’t what you want to do.
Yeah, you have to learn from something you know? I’m not scared to admit that a lot of my influence comes from rap and a bunch of other sounds that have made me who I am today. I just now know how to flip it, and put it in my own accent and words, with my own sauce. I also love representing my roots and showing people that it’s a vibe over here. I try to do that as much as I can. 

Right now you’re focused on showcasing your roots and wearing that on your sleeve. Was there ever a point where you thought you should try and be Aussie?
Never bro. Most of my life was spent growing up in Trinidad. I’m 24 now, and I came over here when I was 17, on the border of turning 18. I just love where I come from, and understand that I speak to my people. I love Australia, and not to compare them because they’re both beautiful countries, but I grew up in a smaller place, and where you can just speak to your neighbour and go to their house. Over here, it’s more protective in the sense that people are more to themselves. I can understand it because there are so many different ethnicities over here and so many different things that maybe you can’t really trust. Back in the Caribbean, where it’s just the island, you know everyone in your village. That’s something I miss a lot. So yeah, Trinidad is definitely a place I want to represent. 

Was there ever a point in Trinidad where you thought you’d be making your music in Australia?
Since I was I kid, I knew at some point I was going to leave the country. I remember my grandma would say “Yo, don’t do nothing crazy and get into the country, because you’re going to leave the country one day.” I would keep that in the back of my head, but it wasn’t about music at the time. I used to do power walking, and I used to play soccer, so I wanted to be an athlete. But it transitioned because when you head to a new country, you get to explore new things. 

You mentioned that you look up to your uncle because he was always making music. Was there a moment where you were like “Oh this is actually hard,” or was it like that from the start?
I think that moment came when my brother was producing one of my uncle’s tracks. I was like “Jesus man, this thing is crazy.” 

Did that humanise the process for you where you like “Anyone can do this,” or like, “I can do this”?
I was already doing it by that time, but it showed me that I could do this because I wasn’t recording at the time; I was just doing live music. So that was a bit of a transition for me to say “Yo, maybe you should put your shit down for people to listen to.” 

What was that transition like?
That transition was hard because when you’re doing live music that you haven’t recorded, it’s easy to do. But when you have to think of a topic, that’s a bit harder. I will say it’s 50/50 because I was able to take so much from music and take it to record. If you’re an artist, you have to be able to do it live, because it sucks if you can’t. You have to be able to move the stage. If you’re a recording artist, try live music, if you’re a live artist, try recording it. It’s the next step in both areas. 

With no one really being able to perform live over the last few years, are you looking forward to returning to the stage?
I’m not just looking forward to performing, I’m looking forward to breaking these stages man. It’s been too long you know? For a few people, it was like they got a little break when things looked like it was coming back, but for my band, we have a residency and stuff, things have to be open and running for it to work. So it has almost been 2 years, and I cannot wait for it. 

Is your uncle onto what you’re doing now?
I’m pretty sure he is. He moved somewhere an hour and a half away from Sydney, or something like that. Now, me and my older brother, he’s really my cousin but I call him my brother, we’re the heads now. He’s the bass player, I’m the frontman. 

The last few releases you’ve been a part of, including ‘Where Yuh From’, have had a lot of people involved, from features and producers through to the people making the videos. How much of an importance do you place on collaboration?
Collaboration is important because I love working with artists, and people that aren’t in my box. When I get into a room with another Reggae artist, you just can’t stop us, because there are so many topics we can bounce off of each other. It’s harder when you get into other genres, which I love because it challenges you. So yeah, I love collabs; I probably have more collabs than I do songs on my own. I love getting into situations where I can challenge myself.

Everything you’ve been involved with recently has sounded different. How does your approach change to suit what you’re making?
It depends, man. I have this song called ‘Skank on Everything’ that came from singing a melody in my kitchen one day, and the title came 2 minutes after, which hit me and was undeniable. It means putting your flavour on everything, and everybody knows that skank is reggae. It’s me putting my reggae flavour on the radar, my Trinidadian flag on everything. Adding those styles of melodies to stuff for me is easy, but the topic is what I find hard because I want my lyrics to be on point, but also full of lingo. That way, the homies can understand it, and you can understand it. 

What do you think ‘making it’ will feel like for you? Because I think it has a different meaning for everyone.
I don’t have too many things I want for life, in terms of materialistic things. I have family I want to bring over here to take them out of the trouble. When I just came over here, you can ask my cousins, I was in love with Kmart because I was like “What the hell is this? I can go buy clothes for next to nothing.” I can call Dominos and get a pepperoni pizza for $5, all of this was crazy to me. These are luxuries we don’t have back home, a pizza is like $100, and we get paid the same. So for me, making it would be bringing my family here, putting them in a nice home, making them warm, and showing them a better life. I’d build a nice house back on my grandma’s island in Tobago, because that house fell down, and I’d move her back there because that’s where she was born. I wouldn’t want to do much for myself, but my family. 

What’s the greatest thing you want to achieve in your life?
I’d like to buy my mum a house in Queensland by the beach. 

I think the main goal for heaps of people is to buy their mum a crib.
For sure, and my mum lives with her sister in her spare bedroom right now, she doesn’t have her own crib. Giving her that would mean the world to me. 

How has making music helped you become who you are now outside of music?
It’s helped me become more sensitive to things, and feel a little more. I feel like I can relate to music more than I can to people, which is a weird thing to say because I am a person, but some people don’t explain themselves correctly. 

I feel like because you won’t know how to phrase something, but then you hear it in a song, and you realise that’s what you’ve been feeling the whole time.
For sure, it’s about how you relate to things. How you relate to something is how you’ll say it, and sometimes I can’t relate to things, so I don’t know how to say it. 

If the music you make was a landscape, what would that look like?
It would look like a Bob Ross drawing with a whole lot of spliffs in it. 

What do you have coming next?
I’ve got reggae coming, I’ve got rap coming. I’ve got a couple of projects coming, next year will be a big year for me in terms of visuals and deeper music. But we got stuff coming in the next month or so. I think this upcoming stuff will be the music that shows my calibre. 

Lastly, what are you looking forward to most?
Breaking a stage bro, breaking a festival stage. I want to get out there and feel the sun on my back with no shirt on, going crazy on the stage for 45 minutes straight.

This feature was done in partnership with G-Shock Australia and shot at Culture Machine Studios SydneyFollow Gold Fang here for more.

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