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PREMIERE: Teether and Kuya Neil Wander Through a World of Their Own on ‘Addy’

We talk to the rapper/producer duo about their otherworldly upcoming project and collaborating with Sydney’s Sevy.

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After proving their chemistry on this year’s God of Surprises EP, Teether and Kuya Neil, two of the country’s most forward-thinking artists, have returned with a video for the second single ‘Addys’ from their upcoming project. For a few years now, Teether and his label/collective X Amount records have been a prolific force in the Melbourne underground, pushing sonic boundaries with a constantly morphing sound that takes inspiration from an eclectic set of influences ranging from the lo-fi, avant-garde hip-hop of underground acts like Earl Sweatshirt, MIKE and Armand Hammer to death metal, industrial and electronic music.

2021 has been another busy year for Teether, having releasde “God of Surprises” with Kuya in February, then only two months later, dropping the album ‘Melbourne 2’ with his group Too Birds – a chaotic combustion of harsh, industrial noise and hip-hop – as well as a bevy of singles like ‘Osedax’ alongside Agung Mango and Sloppy #2’, his kaleidoscopic collaboration with producer Hawkrada.

Kuya Neil has proven himself to be one of the most exciting producers working, creating dazzling and frenetic electronic/club music and implementing that unique palette of sounds and club-tailored thump into modern rap production, working with Mulalo, Papaphilia, Various Asses and his NZ “family rap ensemble” Fanau SpaTogether, Teether & Kuya Neil make future-focused rap informed by modern club styles like footwork, gqom and bass music that frequently feels of another world, even as Teether dissects his inner psyche and the immediate world around him. On the lead single ‘Theory’, Kuya combines deep synth wobbles fitting for a big-budget sci-fi trailer with a gqom-inspired drum beat – a genre of dance music originating in South Africa – as Teether raps about how “cunts like me don’t belong here”.

Today, we’re premiering the video for their new single ‘Addy’, featuring Sydney-based Zambian rapper Sevy. The track finds Teether adrift – on a druggy walkabout, alienated and suspicious of those around him – while Sevy is trying to procure the addy from a baddie so he can slide. The music video is filled with 3D graphics of laptops, iPhones and message screens that fit the remotely-made production perfectly.

Teether and Kuya said of the track: “Addy came from conversations on our experiences as people born of migrants. To observe the parallels and differences can unveil unfortunate truths and necessary comforts. It felt right to invite Sevy to join us on this song who in addition to being one of our favourite artists, shares ancestral roots to Teether”

With their upcoming mixtape GLYPH due for release on November 5th, we caught up with Teether and Kuya Neil about their partnership, their influences and the upcoming project. 

How do you think this project differs or continues from your other respective and collaborative work?
Kuya Neil: Every collaborative project is different, but I think the timing of this one was really significant. While we had known each other for years, we only started talking and working together for the first time at the end of 2020. I think the lockdown had really shifted my perspective on music and I wanted to work with more artists around me. When we linked up, we found we were both wanting to work more intuitively and not overthink the process or approach things with expectations. There are a lot of similarities in how we grew up and related to making music and the world. We both felt comfortable to try new things and trust in the process. It all came together really easily.

Which artists were you spinning while making this record? Have any local artists stood out to you recently?
Kuya Neil: I was listening to a lot of rap and club music. Bktherula, TiaCorine, Leonce, DJ Swisha, EQ Why and DJ Kill to name a few. Being guitar players, we also bonded over the G3 tour and guitarists associated with that era – Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen. As well as local artists Sevy, Bayang, Corin, Felicity Yang, Mulalo, Ryan Fennis, Papaphilia, Pookie and ZK King to name a few.

Teether: I’ve been listening to heaps of 80s and 90s metal this year, a bit of everything else too. Mystfier, Death, Sade, Bad Brains, Armand Hammer, Metallica, Sun Ra, Aby Ngana Diop, Pink Siifu, etc. I’m too scared someone is gonna slip my mind to even get started but there’s heaps of talent around here. My loved ones at X Amount are a constant inspiration of course. I encourage everyone to really explore local releases, whether you live here or elsewhere. Some of the most incredible art I’ve ever heard was made 5 minutes down the road with zero budget and zero promo.

There are recurring themes such as alienation across this project. Did you feel like there are any themes or ideas tying the project together?
Kuya Neil: I think our location and context is a big theme that comes through in the music. This wasn’t a conscious thing, as we write and record very quickly. The conversations we have before we record tend to inform the themes more than anything we set out to do intentionally. That is more integral to the process than anything.

Teether: We recorded this project with the intention of tapping into the current feeling of the day, whatever it may have been. Just getting out what feels right at the time rather than having a specific goal in mind. I think doing this lets the themes identify themselves. Documenting lived experience in all its beauty and mundanity. It’s all in there.

Kuya, who or what inspires your approach to production and sounds in general?
Kuya Neil: I’m inspired by the rawness of early internet rap and electronic music. I feel nostalgic for the sound of low bitrate mp3s and the aesthetics and culture of music during that time (music blogs, personalised web pages, fan sites etc.). In terms of production, I try to do a lot with a little and utilise the tools I have.

Teether, you’ve said that you’re trying not to take shit too seriously, do you think you had that same philosophy while making this project or was there a more distinct goal in mind?
Teether: Definitely. I think allowing ourselves to be as free as possible in the creation process lets the art be as honest as possible, therefore communicating everything that needs to be communicated. In saying that, I still do think of creating music as an important task, some sort of purpose or whatever. As a generation in this particular part of the world, I’ve found disconnection a prevalent theme among my peers and myself. To express your understanding of who you are and what this is and what that means as you make sense of it all is helpful for others going through the same process. We’re just trying to contribute another resource to this infinite pool of philosophical consolations we call art.

Teether and Kuya Neil‘s upcoming mixtape GLYPH is out November 5 via Chapter Music, you can also pre-order it here on cassette.

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