Sydney’s I.E is an artist who has been at the forefront of Australia’s hip-hop resurgence in recent years. His 2017 joint ‘Separated’ has racked up over half a million streams on Spotify, he’s toured with international artists like Majid Jordan and he’s just released his debut EP Road to Paradise. Featuring production from Iamsolo, the seven track EP also has a wild 11 minute visual that’s a cross between rap Tron and live action Akira accompanying it. We caught up with the trap crooner to talk about his inspiration, his vision for the EP, and the state of the Sydney scene right now.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into making music?
I started making music in church as a child, then moved to Australia and met a friend who introduced me to R&B and rap. He kind of showed me that I could do something with my passion. RIP Martin Grace.
What music were you listening to growing up?
I listened to everything: pop, rock, R&B, and rap. Being raised in Europe allowed me to take on music from several different perspectives, countries, and styles.
Who is on your rotation right now?
Burna Boy and Saint Jhn.
You’ve just released your EP Road to Paradise. What was the process of putting this together like?
Putting it together was a long journey, we recorded it over a month back in 2017. I was going through a break up and getting down on myself, I didn’t know how to move on. My friend Solo said, “Why don’t you just write music about it?” and it’s like something clicked in my head and I decided to really show a different side of me.
It was hard being vulnerable at the beginning, but after I started letting go I realised I was actually letting go of the pain as well. After that, we had a vision of how we wanted to release but had lots of obstacles thrown our way for almost a year and a half. Eventually we met Rudy [I.E’s manager] who put us on the right track and helped us navigate the bullshit and see our vision come to life. It’s been a journey itself to get Road to Paradise out, but nothing good comes easy.
How do you feel you have evolved as an artist between 2017 and now?
I’ve definitely come to understand where I want to be as an artist, I’m comfortable with my sound and I’m confident that I have something to say that matters. Still every day I’m learning, growing, and trying.
What can you tell us about the short film that accompanies your new music? What kind of things inspired it and how did you execute that vision?
The short film has been something I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to tell the story about two lovers who both have problems yet can’t be without each other. Both of them are playing a dangerous game but neither can say goodbye. My friend Matt helped me structure the story and bring it to life with help from my day one film buddies at The Jaen Collective. They loved the idea and we made it happen.
What’s it like coming up as an artist in Sydney?
Coming up in Sydney has been so good! I couldn’t of asked for anything better, there’s so many amazing artists and creative people. I learnt a lot from the city and I wouldn’t change it for nothing. Sydney is becoming a melting pot and although it took some time and I’ve done some hard yards. We are finally at a place that makes me very proud to be from Sydney.
How have you seen rap evolve in Australia over the last few years? What excites you about it?
There’s so much new young talent out there that I’m loving right now. The rap scene has definitely changed, it’s become more eclectic and it’s becoming more popular all at the same time. It’s amazing to see so many young people coming out and doing it the right way.
You work closely with Iamsolo who is a bit of a figure in the Sydney music scene himself. What can you tell us about him, and your working relationship?
Solo!? He’s a ghost! He’s one of the best producers that I’ve ever worked with and great friend.
Who are some up-and-coming Australian artists we should check out?
Mason Dane is up next for sure!
Who are some dream collaborations for you?
Lido, The Code, Pharrell Williams, or Kanye West.
What does 2020 hold for you?
I’ve got a few collaborations I’m planning on releasing before the end of the year. I’m gonna take some time to travel and get inspired. I need to be experiencing things to be as expressive as I can, so 2020 is just another year to me.
For more I.E follow him here and stream Road to Paradise below: