Bliss N Eso - True Colours
Hitting the top of the Australian chart with their fourth LP Flying Colours, MCs Bliss N Eso are enjoying unprecedented success. 3D’s Fat Tony checked in with the boys to see how they’re dealing with it all, why they preached to a choir, and how you deal with performing to maggoted punters.
Bliss N Eso's profiles have been rising since their debut dropped in 2004. Four years later they've toured the country many many times, and seen their fourth full-length album, Flying Colours, climb to the lofty heights of #10 in the Australian charts. MCs Bliss and Eso, as well as DJ Izm have recently returned from the Australian Alps, where they've been entertaining the parka-clad masses.
“All the shows were pretty much sold out, it's just a matter of whether they were sober enough,” laughs Eso, on the verge of their national Flying Colours Tour. “I think they just get up there and get absolutely fucking maggot. Falls Creek, the last show, we already knew that it was sold out and we still didn't go on until like 11 something, y'know. If it's already sold out you might as well bloody get on stage, 'cause these guys were just mutant, you were telling them to put their hands up and they were putting them in their pockets. But all of it was really good fun.”
The last time you had the chance to see them was on the Unified Tour where they shared the stage with True Live, The Funkoars and The Winnie Coopers. It was a university tour that took in 21 dates, and the Flying Colours tour is set to take in 26. You might think that sounds like a lot, but the trio are accustomed to being on the road. “I think all up last year we did about 112 shows, so 26 dates is nothing to me now”, shrugs Eso.
Choosing what tracks to include in a set gets harder as your catalogue grows bigger. “You think about those people that are coming to the show that have only heard Flying Colours and then want to hear everything off the new album. And then you've got those fans that have been listening to us from day one that still want to hear stuff from the first album. So I think we've done a good job of really mashing it all together. You're at least going to get half of the new album, that's covering a lot, y'know. We've still got songs like Then Till Now, Watch The Water Dragons, and Up Jumped The Boogie, that people really want live... Party At My Place. We're going to switch it up a bit and give you some new stuff. DJ Izm's going to have a special little midway set for all the DJs out there.”
“As we grow, our show is still all about two MCs and one DJ. You can have as many lights flashing and smoke machines going on as you want, but if the MCs aren't doing their job, then those lights can go to buggery. We're just keeping it very pure, two MCs and one DJ.” The supports will vary from city to city, but Motley, DJ Flagrant and Phase will all feature prominently. And new Sydney outfit Mind Over Matter were hand picked by Eso to join the show at Sydney's Enmore Theatre.
The first single of the new album was Bullet And A Target, which featured the Connections Zulu Choir, a 21-piece choir from South Africa. The choir were out here as part of a political awareness raising project run by the Oaktree Foundation. Bliss N Eso saw them on Sunrise, and the proverbial lightbulbs went off over their heads. “That's where we saw them. We had a chat to our label and said there's this choir over here at the moment, it would be awesome to be able to work with them. You know, it all just kind of came together.”
As fate had it, the MCs and the choir made the recording in Jimmy Barnes' lounge room. “We didn't get to chill for very long which was the shitty thing because I wanted to get to know the guys and girls from the chior, but it was an in-and-out kind of thing. But they did such an incredible job.” But a chance came up to spend more time with the choir. The Oaktree Foundation, in conjunction with MTV and Nova, organised a tour of South Africa, and Bliss N Eso were invited to spend nine days as guest of the people in the choir. “It wasn't fancy hotels mate, it was mud huts and sleeping bags on the floor. Everyday we'd wake up at like seven o'clock and go do different activities like going to different orphanages and dropping off bread. Meeting the street kids down on the street kid level, it was very hectic. We thought it was going to be a bit of a holiday but far from it, it opened our eyes up like there's no tomorrow.”
The boys decided that they had to finish the lyrics for Bullet And A Target while they were “in situ,” while the emotions were running high. “Bliss was like, 'when we get back to Sydney we're going to forget the real feeling, let’s write this right while we're going through it. Any way we get affected, we want to write about it. So it just all came together.”
So they were able to film a clip for the single in these villages in South Africa, the striking backdrops making the song all the more poignant. “We said [to the choir], 'why don't you guys give us a song. We gave you lyrics to sing why don't you help us out. They said they had this one song called Never Give Up, and that's another track we did with them on the album.”
Who: Bliss N Eso
What: Flying Colours out now on Illusive / Play the Enmore Theatre
When: Out now / Friday 17 October