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Peter Gunz - Kiss The Gunz

Author: Fat Tony
Monday, 30 June 2008
Well versed in his craft, Peter Gunz knows what it takes to get the floor moving. 3D’s Fat Tony talked to the established hip hop DJ about his sound, his peers and his new mixtape.

It's been a long and winding road for the New Zealand born hip hop and RNB DJ Peter Gunz. He started DJing in NZ at the age of 14, playing amateur gigs like school parties, then he moved to Sydney and a friendship with local DJ Moto helped start him off on his professional career. Now he's risen to become one of Sydney's more prominent DJs, he's supported any number of touring internationals like Usher and Cypress Hill. If you need a DJ to rock a crowd with the freshest hip hop, Peter Gunz is your go-to guy.

He's just mixed the Reprezent Vol 2, the second instalment on the Hardwax label. It's an upfront mix of the finest Australian and New Zealand hip hop, with names like Scribe, DJ Moto, and Delani on the tracklist. “The first one I did [Reprezent Vol 1] was initially all New Zealand music,” Gunz explains.  “So for the second one I wanted to put a bit of local content in it. There's a lot of good music coming out of Australia that I really like so I made a point of putting some Australian artists on this new mix.”

Two of the Australian artists he speaks of are the Beat Kamp Muzik crew and The Dirty Mob, both out of Brisbane. “They're pretty much the guys I'm feeling. I didn't put on music that I didn't want to put on. They were the local artists who's music I was feeling.”

Gunz moves through a fair few styles on the mix. “A lot of New Zealand hip hop will have that commercial sound to it, and there's a lot of underground hip hop as well that's still very popular in New Zealand. And same goes over here, there's the commercial sounding hip hop, and the underground hip hop. A lot of hip hop nowadays is influenced heavily by the southern [US] sound like the crunk type of sound. That's the sound that stands out on this album. It starts off with Scribe, then it goes on to those guys from Brisbane and Melbourne... you can hear it in the music. It's heavily influenced by the southern sound.”

The southern sound that Peter is talking about has only been around since about 2000. It was born in Tennessee, which was popularised by southern artists like Lil Jon & The Eastside Boys, Petey Pablo, and Ciara, who's sometimes referred to as the “princess of crunk.” Gunz also included some reggae vibes on the mix, given that the reggae style is always well represented in New Zealand's hip hop scene.

“There is a little bit of reggae, but no reggaeton. I'm trying to reach out to the market that likes the real hip hop, reggaeton is more of like a fully commercial sounding genre, I have more reggae than reggaeton. I've got a track by Sean Paul in there, and another couple of tracks from some reggae artists from New Zealand.”

Gunz moved to Australia about 12 years ago. DJ Moto was one of the first friends he made out here and the pair still work together today in different contexts. “I met up with DJ Moto, he was one of the first people that I met and he took me down to an under 18s thing in Burwood. He was one of the first people that hooked me up with a gig. He used to run a hip hop store called Anthem Records, him and a guy named Joe. I eventually started working there. We still all work together, still DJing together and everything.” Although Gunz laughs when I ask him if he's running any nights himself, “Nah I don't promote my own nights, I've learnt how to not lose money. There's too much money involved in promoting your own night.”

Anthem closed down in 2004. Gunz atrributed the closure to the demise of vinyl and the rise of the new DJing technologies. “Serato came in and DJs just stopped buying vinyl. I'm on Serato, everyone's on Serato these days. Now the music is more accessible, where as when you were playing vinyl and CDs there was only so much music you could get a hold of. Now you can create your own remixes, play pretty much whatever you've always wanted to play. Music is more accessible now you know.”

He has started producing hip hop recently as well. One of his collaborative tracks is featured on the new Represent Vol 2 mix. “I just got into making beats over the last year. I produced a track with two other guys that I'm starting a little production company with. We're called Major League, I produced a track with a guy named Mareko from New Zealand from the Deceptikonz. He's featured on the new Reprezent mix as one of the exclusive tracks.”

Guns said he has noticed a trend to more and more Australian hip hop producers getting skilled up in terms of production. The NZ scene has had a dearth of respected producers for some time now, maybe it's time for Australia to catch up. “It's something that's becoming more and more popular,” he agrees. “There is a market here for it, there's a big need for good production out here. There's so many artists out here in Australia but most of them turn to New Zealand or perhaps America if they had more funding. There are a couple of producers here but I just don't feel a lot of it's up to scratch commercially, you know what I mean.”

“The whole point of making music is to get it where people can hear it, which is ultimately on the radio, or to make money out of it, or something like that. The point about making music is to make good music and if you don't have good producers then you can't make good music.”

WHO: Peter Gunz
WHAT: Reprezent Vol.2 through Hardwax
WHEN: Out now