If you believe Triple J’s Unearthed music director Dave Ruby Howe, one ex-Glenbrook boy is destined for big things.
Samuel Dobson, 28, now of Marrickville, pulled in a few favours and crowdfunded $8000 in July last year to get his debut hip hop/rap album Samuel finished and pressed this month. Unearthed’s Dave Ruby Howe declared the album “gives me chills”.
”The production is liquid gold, the raps as vivid as ever,” Howe says of Samuel Dobson’s self-titled album.
The album took the ex-Blaxland High and Lapstone Primary student more than two years to write and put together. And he knows even with support he’s up against it, battling the thousands of artists putting out music in the country.
“It’s a huge thing to get that support. Unearthed have been really supportive, [but] it’s a really flooded market.
“Technology has made it easier to release music, the challenge is when you are one of those masses of people creating stuff – how do you penetrate it?”
Asking favours from friends (some included string players from the Sydney Symphony) was how he got his album off the ground – but crowdfunding was necessary to “get everything mixed and mastered”.
It meant offering rewards like free albums, music lessons, “taking people on dates to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and agreeing to do a private concert at home”.
“It feels weird to ask people for $8000 to make music – but you do have to constantly work out DIY ways to do everything,” he said.
But Dobson is all about innovation. He trained in jazz performance at the Conservatorium of Music (and has just returned from playing jazz on cruise ships) and his music is a hybrid of classical, jazz, hip hop and rap. Even he has trouble describing it.
“It’s quite hard to explain, it’s hip hop but the sheer number of musicians involved make it quite different,” he said.
“Part of the 11 people in the band are a string quartet and that’s not often brought to the table. But the foundation of the band is mostly jazz players, so you’re bringing these classically trained musicians, with jazz and they’re essentially playing hip hop – it’s hard to compare.”
The album is released tomorrow (February 18) and is being distributed through MGM.
He kicks off the album tour at The Gearin Hotel in Katoomba on Saturday February 20 at 8pm, before performing in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra in coming weeks.
An Australia Council touring grant has made it possible for the 11 piece band to go on the road.