It’s hard to attribute a group’s success to one feature, but this hip-hop quartet from Sydney’s Inner West have broken out through one key asset. Diversity. Whether it’s diversity in their music, gigs or what each member brings to the group, they refuse to fit into any specific mould and it is not only changing the hip-hop scene, but the city around them.
Producer Bill Gunns, and rapper Martin, aka ‘Marty Bukkake Large’, first met at the Trinity Grammar School and went on to meet rapper Conor, aka ‘Obi III Terrors’, through mutual friends at St Patrick's College in Strathfield. From as young as sixteen they decided they wanted to make hip-hop music. After graduating in late 2012, they first produced the never to be released fifteen-track mixtape Press Start in Billy’s garage.
“It was fun at the time, fucking around learning how to record, getting beats down and shit. It was mad,” said Bill.
It was mid-way through 2014 when Conor met Dom, aka “Lil Dijon”. Coming from a family of singers, he featured on a track of Conor’s and met the other two. Debuting on ‘Incense’, Dom’s singing would prove to be the secret ingredient that allowed Bill to start diversifying the group’s sound.
“I brought in a singing element into the bars, mixed it up, and it just changed the game,” said Bill.
Now the group has two Eps and a slew of singles. Coming off the back of touring nationally with Falls Festival, they have most recently released ‘Jitter’ featuring Raj Mahal, a heavy, nu-metal rap track with verses from Conor and Marty. The track was built like most Triple One tracks, starting with Bill. Giving the boys a small loop to go off, he establishes the concept behind the track before the others go off an add their own individual “two cents” about how it should sound, as Bill put it.
“Each person has their own particular set of influences, there’s not one main kind. That’s what makes us different,” added Dom.
This is just one of the ways a Triple One track is made, however, with the song writing process being as varied and diverse as the tracks themselves. Their biggest hit of 2018, ‘Tarlo’, was drunkenly written late at night after a long day of recording their second EP, The Naughty Corner. Everyone worked together for what would become a sentimental hit, dedicated to the rural town where they stayed while recording the EP.
“Everyone is sitting there writing, no one says anything. That’s how we know this is good,” explained Bill.
Perhaps it’s this easy-going and versatile production process that explains why there is so much variation from track to track. From radio-ready The Naughty Corner, to house party singles like ‘Showoff’, to the downbeat and melancholic The Libertine EP, there is no one defining Triple One sound. Between the four different members’ influences, their cooperative writing style and their unrestrained, unregulated and unrestricted set of rules, there is only one word to describe their music, diverse.
“A lot of people sound like other things. A lot of bands stick to one sound, have a direction in exactly what they want to sound like and one influence from a particular sound. We don’t pay attention to that as much. Maybe if you grabbed like 20 different artists you could be like yeah it sounds like that. But we immerse ourselves in every scene,” said Bill.
This immersion isn’t just in various musical genres, but across the entire Sydney music scene. With a lackadaisical attitude towards hip-hop conventions comes an openness to performing at a range of live shows. Never ones to fit a mould, some of Triple One’s favourite nights performing have been with the punk rock band and close personal friends, Johnny Hunter. Whether playing with other hip-hop artists like Chillinit at the Get Bodied Festival or a slew of rock bands like Mac the Knife and Georgia June on the King St Crawl, what is important is supporting other Sydney artists, regardless of genre.
“There’s no rules about who you should be playing with,” explained Bill.
“It makes the whole music scene more diverse. Instead of sticking to sectors and being like ‘You have to listen to these kinds of people and play with them’, it brings a whole different crowd along to see a whole different kind of music. It’s opening the whole community up into one thing instead of sectionalising it into hip hop music,” added Dom.
Triple One are slowly but steadily changing the game, not only within hip-hop but within the Sydney music scene. With a middle finger in the air towards any ideas of what they should do or be, Triple One embody diversity. Favouring musical variation and originality over convention, they are leading the charge in a new wave of Australian hip-hop while also uniting the Sydney music scene through a well reciprocated love of all music types.
After a huge 2018, the boys are immediately back on the grind with a new single and EP on the horizon. Get acquainted with their sound and have a listen to Tarlo below: