Here's something we don’t see very often, two Australian women making dope hip-hop. What The Sound welcomes Coda Conduct. The duo met and began in their Nation’s capital of Canberra. Since then, Erica and Sally have been taking their country by storm. They’ve supported acts such as Pharoahe Monch, Tkay Maidza, and were about to open for a Childish Gambino show in their hometown but that was cancelled. When they aren’t dropping upbeat and engaging tracks, they have their own radio show. We recommend that you tune in, and they take requests! Below, read Coda Conduct's first international interview.
What The Sound: Where are you right now?
Sally: In my house in Sydney.
You’re originally both from Canberra?
S: Yeah we never really knew each other before we started doing music three or four years ago. So that’s how we know each other, really.
Did you begin making music once meeting each other or had you began prior to the formation of Coda Conduct?
S: Definitely after meeting each other. We kind of met when we were traveling together, and it was like “I like hip-hop, you like hip-hop – let’s be rappers”
Erica: It just so happened somehow that we both had this hidden desire to be rappers and that we met each other and that it could be possible through each other.
S: Yeah. And I don’t think I had ever vocalized it before because it was so ridiculous, I mean so ridiculous, because look at me – I am not a rapper…
What sort of hip-hop did you grow up listening to?
S: It was a mix. Quite a lot of Australian stuff. You always get American Top 40 stuff like Tupac and Eminem, but I’ve been the most engaged when I hear someone rapping in an Australian accent. It feels like it’s a real person telling a real story, not a commercial type of thing. That’s when I started switching and listening to the lyrics. So it’s a bit of a cycle there.
E: Do you know who Horrorshow is? It’s an Australian group of just one rapper and one beat maker, and I think I really connected with them because their stories were really relatable. I think what really did it for me is that they were Australian.
Nice. Was there any other genre that you really enjoyed growing up?
E: Yeah, definitely. I would just like rock out to Rage Against the Machine, I was really into some hardcore stuff and then Red Hot Chili Peppers, I love that shit. There was a lot before hip-hop became the main interest.
S: I’ve always been quite eclectic I guess, I’ve not had a single genre until now. My dad had all these collections of 60’s rock n’ roll, so I grew up listening to like the soundtrack to American Graffiti, but at the same time he was really on top of Australian music and listened to Triple J and stuff so that was nice.
So when you two met and began making music, how did you jump into making hip-hop? Did you do slam poetry or spoken word before transitioning to music?
S: I think by that time we both knew hip-hop was what we wanted do if we were going to do anything. We’re both big readers and writers so that’s always been the focus. I’ve done poetry slams and our first gig was actually a poetry read. They were putting together this eclectic art showcase at the end of the year and I was volunteering at the time and they heard that I was secretly rapping so they gave me a set at this little thing. It was a two-minute set and we had two songs… haha. So anyway to answer the question we kind of just sat down and started writing lyrics at a café.
E: Some of the worst raps that you will ever read… So abysmal, but we stuck at it.
So what’s your songwriting process like? Do you tackle a song together or does one write more than the other?
E: Usually we’ll get a beat from our producer or a beat maker, and we’ll either sit down separately or together and brainstorm what we think the song should be about based on how the beat makes us feel. And then once we decide on a loose concept, we’ll take it away separately and write a verse on it. Sometimes the chorus comes first – one of us will write the chorus and the other a verse.
S: Sometimes we’ll give the other person unfinished lyrics and say “it’s gonna be like this, -hums-” and she’ll be like “yeah I was thinking that too!” We must sound like crazy people…
Sally, you make beats occasionally?
S: Yeah, I’m pretty slow at it so by the time I make a beat I kind of never want to hear it again so I put it away before I can actually make a rap for it.
So other than having the beat making skill and some serious flow, do you two play other instruments?
E: I guess we dabble in things. I play the harmonica and can strum the guitar but nothing serious.
S: I grew up playing piano for a long time but I wasn’t classically trained. But knowing how chords work and what notes go together and playing in the right key was helpful.
How do your live shows and live versions of songs differentiate from your recorded versions?
E: I guess we get a lot of energy when we perform live because we’re really bouncing off the crowd. It depends on which show and which crowd but it’s a lot more raw.
S: And we’ll hype each other because you’ve got both of us delivering lyrics. We’re jumping around and there’s a lot more energy.
E: There’s more call and response so we get the crowd involved. People say we have good stage chemistry.
What’s the most fun show you’ve performed at?
E: I’d still have to say our Canberra launch. It was our first EP and it took us two years to get it out, and everyone that we knew was there as well as people we’ve never seen before. So it was just a packed bar. It was weird because one minute they’re talking to you and the next they’re chanting your name.
S: But we did play a gig a few months ago and that was crazy because we were playing to a stadium. It just felt amazing.
E: By the end of the show some dude was wearing Sally’s face as a mask –haha- It got really weird. It was like a little rave.
“Paint It Gold” is sweet, is that a part of an upcoming EP or an album, or is it just on its own?
E: Um we’re planning on an upcoming EP. I personally hadn’t intended it to be a part of anything.
What track was it where you shot the music video in the skatepark?
S: That was our first every song and first ever music video. It was so much fun – it was ridiculous.
E: You haven’t lived until you’ve gone down a skate ramp on a couch. We just went so hard so fast, like how can we top that video?
What do you think about the hip-hop/rap game in Sydney and your part of Australia? Are there any artists that you look up to? Australian or international.
S: Sydney is not a huge city but it’s the biggest city in Australia and there’s quite a lot of subgroups of crews, and some of them have done a lot for hip-hop in Australia. There’s a label called Elefant Traks, they’re one of a small number Australian labels, they have an amazing artist called Hermitude. It’s crazy that this tiny independent label has such a huge artist.
E: All of their artists have always been incredible. And their angle is giving back to the community as well rather than being about the money. That’s where acts like Horrorshow came in. Yeah they’re a cool group of artists that we respect.
S: International acts changes every week. We love finding people who are up-and-coming. Obviously there’s big artists who will put big albums out and that’s always exciting, but when there are albums that come out of nowhere it completely rocks your world.
Is there anybody in the States that you really like?
Wow. There are so many rappers in the states that this is almost an impossible question. At the moment we’re working with this guy from Charlotte - QJ of Vaudeville. We love him. He found us a year or two ago. He just put out this little mixtape, The Coyote Tape. Check it out! Currently I’m listening to Intuition, Palmer Squares, Glam.I.Rock, Rapsody, Noname Gypsy...
Awkwafina is this chick out of New York, she’s slightly comedic and satirical, she’s doing something really different. She always raps about her grandma who is a really traditional Chinese woman who comes to her shows.
Have you ever been to North America?
If you are able to come over and play a show in any city, do you know what it would be?
S: I don’t even know. It’s so intimidating, the thought of bringing Australian hip-hop to America – I don’t know how it would work out… There are definitely Americans who are open to that, but if you got up on stage and started rapping in an Australian accent and you’re two white girls… I don’t know.
E: Knowing more about American cities and the artists who are from them would definitely improve my understanding of American hip-hop. But I don’t know, New York would be cool. Or Chicago...
You guys just played two shows and have one coming up – are you excited?
S: Yeah, yeah we’re excited. It’s a small city so we made the paper a couple times which makes people think you’re really famous haha. We got in a rap feud one time with the mayor of a neighboring city and he’s like this 60 year old conservative guy… He released a rap about us haha. It’s actually hilarious.
E: We went on Triple J and did this thing called Weather Raps where they pick a city and you do a rap about it. So we did one about Queanbeyan and it exploded.
Are there any smaller artists that you dig that you want WTS followers to know about?
S: Yeah, Dawn Laird. She’s amazing, she makes all her own beats and stuff. I really love the socially conscious stuff.
E: We just played a show with Yve Gold, and she’s really cool. She’s in Melbourne, and she sings and raps. She’s really good.
E: We’re in something called Capslock Collective in Canberra, and that’s like a bunch of artists like Semantix, Jimmy Pike, Stateovmind, Context… Some of our favorite Canberra rappers are called The Ansah Brothers. It’s so good, they’re both rappers in their own right with their own style and they’re totally different but when you see them on stage it just works.