When acclaimed Perth hip hop outfit, The Brow, recently launched their Third Trimester EP, it’d been several years between releases.
Not that they’d been sitting on their hands, mind you. The band had spent much of their time touring throughout Australia doing festival and venue dates, as well as stopping over in Singapore for Beerfest Asia 2014. A support slot for Public Enemy at the Chevron Festival Gardens saw none other than Chuck D watching from side-of-stage, impressing him enough to play tracks from The Brow on his RAPstation website.
As the band continued to busy itself, however, an evolution was taking place.
“In 2015 we brought some new blood into the band and started drip-feeding singles from what became an EP to close off one chapter and open up a new one,” Nicholas Owen (aka NDORSE) (beats/MC) says.
“We’ve always been quite an eclectic band with – for lack of better phrase – a ‘broad church’ of music lovers. Whilst we’ve always dabbled in a bunch of styles I think we were keen to focus more on the hip hop/electronic side of things over pop music, which can be a very unrewarding beast to tame.”
Those several singles evolved into the Third Trimester EP, the title coming from the core of the musical developments taking place.
“It’s a line from (EP track) The Mantra,” explains guitarist/MC, Ben Fear (aka Rogue Scholar). ‘The kick moves in us like we’re third trimester’. For the uninitiated, it’s an obstetric reference. The relevance to the EP is that it’s the end of a chapter – read: pregnancy – in the band’s sound, image and direction. Taking this metaphor further, the EP is the last stage before the ‘birth’ of our new line-up and sound.”
As ever, the rich influences in The Brow’s music tend to circle high and wide. It’s a trait that links the new line-up with the older ones and makes for a pleasing maturation all ‘round.
“Members of The Brow, both past and present, have come from a variety of musical backgrounds,” Fear points out. “Some of us have trained in contemporary or jazz performance, our bassist (Josh Terlick) has a background in melodic power metal, and others were raised on hip-hop and electronica. Our combined musical tastes and influences are more diverse still.
“The Brow’s way of creating a unique sound is by combining elements from different styles and genres. Luckily this ‘combining’ process happens quite organically without much conscious effort. This creates a sound that draws from various influences but is ultimately cohesive and, hopefully, recognisably ‘us’.”
In moving forward, The Brow happened upon their new singer, Talia Hart, and it’s already proved to be a rewarding union, especially in terms of the band’s creative verve.
“Talia brings a great dynamic to the group and fit in perfectly from the first meeting,” drummer Josh Ellis says. “She takes the title for the youngest member of the band by a fair margin but has a distinct and soulful voice and great pop sensibilities.
“Also, being fresh to the band has the natural advantage of hearing everything with fresh ears and also seeing our vision from an outsider’s perspective. Now she is central to this vision and is shaping it with her own contributions. Talia has an incredible ability with creating melodies from raw undeveloped ideas and this has been a catalyst and inspiration for us to start writing and producing music again.”
There’s no such gap between releases for The Brow these days, with the unveiling of a brand new single, Circles, the first track co-written and recorded with Hart, who travelled to Bali with Owen and Ellis on a creative trip which combined beautiful scenery with the kind of cabin fever that can only come from songwriting.
The result is a cool slice of world weariness combined with a steel resolve; Hart’s sultry lead vocals complemented by NDORSE & Rogue Scholar’s matter-of-fact rhymes before the boys-in-brass (Sam Timmerman & Karri Harper-Meredith) take the song – and indeed The Brow – to eagerly-awaited new heights.
With that in mind, The Brow have a full dance card lined up in terms of gigs and some interesting plans for visuals and audience interactivity to boot. The plan ahead is for more singles to follow, leading to a full album release in 2017. It’s an exciting new era for a band that already boasts a rich, award-winning history.
“Circles is definitely a new direction for The Brow and we believe it is culmination of our influences and a sign of things to come,” Ellis says. “The trip to Bali was such an important part of our recent history. Having Talia welcomed in to the band and then dedicating that time to nothing but The Brow was the kick-start that we required and an inspiration for all us to pursue what we are doing now.”
w/ Childish Japes & Ryan Beno