Coin Banks, Comrade of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Heats Up Aussie Hip Hop

Love her or hate her, Coin Banks can thank Iggy Azalea for opening up British newspaper The Guardian‘s interest in the Australian hip hop scene. Writer Rob Boffard touted Mr. Coin, “Even artists who have yet to break it big are putting out material that is much more innovative than anything Azalea and her producers can cook up. Listen to Vegas Aces, Chelsea Jane or Coin Banks. They aren’t well known, and their singles aren’t cracking the Billboard charts, but they’re all doing things that push music in interesting directions.”

Side note: Ouch, Rob Boffard. Iggy’s “Black Widow” is a pretty solid track.

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Being presented as the next big act you should be listening to is one thing, but appearing on stage for the down under visit from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis? Unbeatable. Even Dr. Dre should take this guy under his wing as the new Eminem.

Is working with a group always the best way to hone your hip hop skills, or is it better being your own act from the beginning?

Speaking from personal experience, I think being in a group or a close crew will definitely force you to lift your skills. Being in a group, I used to depend on other people’s opinions when I wasn’t sure about something I wrote, I learnt that if I doubt something in the first place, then that means it isn’t good enough, and it needs improving.

Have you ever had anyone you’ve previously worked with in any capacity – a producer or a collaborator – get jealous of your success? Does it help you as a performer getting your edge on?

It’s funny, people talk about jealousy that it’s a shame, but I really believe (at least in art) jealousy is an important emotion. It just depends how you deal with the jealousy, so when I am jealous of someone, it really makes me think I need to step my game up; it keeps me looking forward. I’ve had cats I’ve worked with in the past tell me they are jealous of my success and what I’m doing, but I’ve felt that exact same feeling towards them in the past too.

What did you learn from working with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for their Australian tour?

It was so amazing that we were given the opportunity to share the stage with them. They are really down to earth, everyday normal people. We sometimes forget that celebrities, in general, come from a background similar to most of us, and that they are just ordinary people living extraordinary lives.

You’ve done really well for yourself in an age when people steal music with your touring. How can someone sell out a tour in Australia, or anywhere for that matter, when we can’t get people to part with their money anymore for any kind of business?

Thank you. Ummm, I’m not sure if I have the answer for that. I think it comes down to right place, right time. Unfortunately, hype is a really influential muscle at the moment, and it’s like a snowball. As it gets going, it just gets bigger and bigger until it just suddenly stops. I think as artists, we should focus 100 percent on our message and art we are making and let everything else fall into place as it should.

A while back, I got in trouble with my prudish aunt for giving my second cousin some explicit Eminem songs. I think he knew much worse than the Eminem material! Why do you think there is so much stigma around hip hop? To me, I was listening to Eminem when I was a kid and don’t see how it’s any worse than seeing X-Men get murdered in cartoons. It’s just life as art!

Haha, I Love that you reference the X-Men cartoon. That was me every morning with a bowl of cereal growing up.  I don’t understand it, but it has always been there, from when our parents grew up to when we will become parents. I think parents try to find anything to blame for their children’s behaviours, and a human being (musician/comedian/celebrity) is a probably a better scapegoat than a cartoon character.

Are you getting many people now bothering you about comparisons to Iggy Azalea? For us in the UK/USA, she is our only representative of Aussie hip hop. That must be worse than the times I get asked if I’m from Russia because my last name is Russin and looks to some people who don’t read well like “Russian.” Which happens a lot. You’re actually in a Guardian article about it!

But aren’t you Russin? Haha. Yeh, I saw that article, I was honoured to be mentioned in The Guardian – that was a good day!  I have had a few comparisons, but very ignorant ones that I wasn’t really interested in hearing about. I think Iggy Azalea can rap, whether she writes her own lyrics or not is debatable, but if she does, then the girl has skills. She is clearly in it to make money, and that’s fine. I don’t think she represents Australia, at least not the Australia I know.

I read a different article, a negative one online, making fun of Australian hip hop culture with the air of, “What the hell can they talk about? They aren’t from the hood!” I believe in you so much, or I wouldn’t be this excited to do an interview with you. But for all the doubters, how diverse is Aussie hip hop? And where do you guys get your material inspiration? Isn’t love and pain the same for people everywhere in the world as a song writing source?

Haha. That’s funny, there are a lot of people in America making music, and they are not from the hood. There are a lot of very well educated rappers in mainstream; some just seem to hide that aspect about themselves.

Thank you so much, its buzzy every time I hear someone compliment my music and each kind really means so much. I appreciate you!

Australian hip-hop is very diverse. Traditionally it was very one sided with heavy roots in boom bap, the four elements and Australiana themes. Currently, we have a diverse mix of styles from Trap, Boom Bap, Pop/Electro Rap, Soul, J Dilla, Live Band, with a range of ethnicities head lining a once white dominated scene.

That’s it, I really think everyone everywhere has a story to tell. We’re all going through a struggle and triumph in some way. If you feel inclined to get on the mic and tell your story, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

All the names we’ve tossed around here today are people who decades ago, wouldn’t be called the face of hip hop due to their skin colour. Why do you think people still have a problem, initially, with seeing someone who isn’t black cut some great rhymes?

To be honest, I’m not sure what it is. I think people just become comfortable with something, and it takes awhile for them to accept something different I guess.

What is happening for you the rest of this beautiful 2014?

A very busy five months is ahead of me.

I am releasing the first single SOMEONE from my next EP TAILS on August 15th. A video clip for that will shortly follow in early September.

Following SOMEONE will be my second single HIGHS AND LOWS – due to come out in early October with a video.

The TAILS EP doesn’t have a release date yet, but it it will be out definitely before the end of the year.

I have a bunch of shows coming including Rottofest at Rottnest Island on September 20th and the Big Sound festival in Brisbane on September 10th.

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