Muph n Plutonic - Strictly Muph n Plutonic
Much more than just an Aussie hip hop duo, Muph n Plutonic are a world-class act, and with new LP …and then tomorrow came take their craft to a whole new level. 3D’s Huwston found out more from beat-maker Plutonic.
Muph n Plutonic joined forces in 2001 and captured the nation’s attention with their debut album Hunger Pains due to the diverse subject matter Muph drew from Plutonic Lab’s world-class beats. Their most recent album …And Then Tomorrow Came sees the duo continuing on their confident stride as the thoughtful achievers of the Obese roster.
Catching up with Plutonic over the phone, it was impressive to get a grasp on his body of work over the last five or so years. It’s much more than just three duo albums, although Obese fans will probably be all over it.
“I have three solo albums,” he says, “plus the three Muph n Pluto records, plus records I have done for Pegz, so it’s been a few since 2003,” he admits.
…And The Tomorrow Came has a lot of live playing on it and the guests are employed more as personnel rather than bold-typed big shots for the cover sticker. As he’s a musician, you can hear the depth of musicality in Plutonic Lab’s beats, though they never lack in that old boom-bap.
“We always did [have live instrumentation] on the other two records but pushed it a lot more to the front and got more people involved,” he says, though strictly on a studio level. “It’s hard to travel around with a horn section, so we try to keep it simple for the live shows, the live drum kit is the one element that gives it that ‘live’ element,’ he explains, “saying that he certainly doesn’t want to turn the Muph n Pluto project into a ‘hip hop band.’ “I still like hearing the samples and the processed basslines. We have Bonez now [as part of the show] – so it’s live drums, DJ and everything else is sampled.”
With hip hop finally coming of age in this country, possibly enough to even drop its ‘Aussie’ prefix, there is a lot more going against a group in terms of this country’s daunting live music lineage and Pluto does not disagree.
“Australia really does still have that thing of judging a group on its live show, rather than overseas where some artists can just be recording artists and visually it does do a bit for the show to have [instruments] as a visual [and sonic] element. From when I started out, people needed to see more live instruments but not so much these days. A new generation of kids have come up who are not as fussed and are just as happy to see a DJ as they are a ‘band.’”
Pushing bangin’ beats and deeper sonic frequencies, this writer for one never knew that the Plutonic Lab sound would cross over to mainstream Australia. Plutonic is proud but realistic of his achievements.
“It’s only really because of national radio play that kids know our stuff. The most remote place we have been has been Karratha as part of triple J with The Grates and Powderfinger, Maybe the internet would help but I think it has more to do with national airplay.”
Hip hop is big business in this country even if it can be far to parochial to present to the overseas market, but that has never been an issue for PL as a beat-maker. His music has no accent.
“We started out just making hip hop and the ‘Aussie hip hop thing’ evolved and came around after what we were already working on,” he says, admitting “it’s weird to be pigeonholed in amongst an Aussie hip hop scene - something that apparently we’re at the forefront of it, but I don’t feel a part of that in some ways because our influences and where we started didn’t have anything to do with that. I think for the kids starting out now, it’s its own sub genre but for me I don’t feel a part of that.”
With some of his contemporaries like M-Phazes getting up overseas, has Plutonic Lab ever thought about jumping ship- Committed to the cause as ever, Pluto is in it for the long haul.
“I’m always trying to make stuff that’s of a world standard; I don’t want to think of my own backyard. I think that can be a trap, I think some crews are just getting out of that and not making sub standard music anymore by rapping about BBQs and now they’re rapping about more interesting concepts and coming up with more interesting sounds, pushing more of a world theme. A few years ago I thought it was all going to be a mess of horrible crap.”
He continues, “I’m not pushing beats overseas really at the moment. [After the tour] I’ll be working with DJ Perplex on his world DMC title Custom Wax - I did the last one – then I’m working on Raph Boogie’s record. I have had a few things with a few other guys and next year I plan to record another solo record. I’m not out there hustling, selling beats; it’s not my bag. I feel like I need to concentrate on building our stuff here, I think there are enough people overseas slinging beats; I would rather be building it here. It’s better as a long-term thing rather than hustling, plus it’s nicer to do the collabs when people have been in the country and I can sit down and vibe with them as people as well.”
As for the guests on …Tomorrow, Pluto reckons the record buying public aren’t interested as much in a list of overseas collaborators, instead the track-list is peppered with interesting and unexpected appearances.
“We kinda had the idea that we didn’t want to do trad RNB singing or many guests MCs. Our guests would either be instrumentalists or singers/vocalists. I wanted to raise a few eyebrows and certain tracks we had called for more rock or jazz vocals.”
One amusing tale of how a guest on the album came to be was that “Paul Williamson came about because we sent a beat to Dave Graney to work a hook on and he ended up making a track on the whole beat – he took the whole song! I had to wrestle it back!”
WHO: Muph N Plutonic
WHAT: …And Then Tomorrow Came / play Wollongong Uni / Gaelic Club / Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle / Area Hotel, Griffith / Roi Bar, Albury
WHEN: Out now / Thursday 28 August / Friday 29 August / Saturday 30 August / Thursday 18 September / Friday 19 September