INTERVIEW: Coptic Soldier

Coptic Soldier

I recently sent a few questions across to Coptic Soldier – one of the members of excellent Sydney-based hip-hop collective I Forget, Sorry! I asked him about a very interesting project the guys are throwing together for this festive season…

Hi Luke! Hope all is well. I hear there’ll be five mixtapes from IFS! members dropping for free on Christmas Eve – whose work are we going to get to hear?

You will hear a full mixtape from each member in our camp. That is; Johnny Utah, Mind Over Matter, Phatchance, Smiles Again and myself all releasing a mixtape each – free. :)

How did the idea for the mixtapes come about?

Haha, it’s actually quite funny because Smiles wrote a song on his mixtape about how it all went down. Basically the mixtapes were his idea, however I’ll wait for you to hear the song, because Smiles tells the story there more funnily than I can. Maybe we can get On The Tune a Christmas Eve eve exclusive?

That’d be great! Five mixtapes is quite a lot of music though – are you worried that you could over-saturate listeners with too much new material at once?

It was definitely something we discussed. However as a fan, I love it when artists drop mixtapes in between albums, and I know all of us in I Forget, Sorry! haven’t dropped one in ages… so we are due I think. Besides, as a fan, mixtapes always make me want to hear more from an artist. It’s the artists that drop albums so close together consistently that are the ones who outstay their welcome I feel.

Any chance of a cheeky single including everyone involved in the project?

That song I mentioned earlier on the Smiles Again mixtape has everyone on it, even if they are only brief appearances. :)

Thanks for your time, and good luck with the releases!

Thanks for your support Jeremy, heads like you really help us get the music to the people!

Wondering what all the fuss is about? Check out an IFS! mixtape I put together a while ago – it’s legal and free. Get over here!

Check out a couple of teasers from the mixtapes below!

TOUR: Phatchance and Coptic Soldier’s “Hey, Where’s Your DJ?” tour

So you may have noticed I recently reviewed Inkstains (Acoustic) and The Sound of Wings 2, the most recent releases from Phatchance and Coptic Soldier.

Well, they’ve recently announced a co-headline acoustic tour around a few of Australia’s major centres to showcase their new material, and if you’re a fan of hip-hop this is not something you want to miss. They’re touring with a full live band, alongside collaborator and musician Jon Reichardt, and if their recent EP releases are anything to go by, this tour will be special indeed.

It’s a shame they can’t make it to more cities, but if you can make it out to see them you really should. Best of luck to everyone involved, I’m sure you’ll smash it!

See the below poster for details.

REVIEW: Coptic Soldier – “The Sound of Wings 2”

In case you missed it, I reviewed The Sound of Wings quite some time ago. Over here. Ultimately I felt it was an alright release, but that better things were to come from Coptic Soldier. The Sound of Wings 2 proves I was right.

For those of you unaware, The Sound of Wings 2 is an acoustic EP from Coptic. If you’re worried, don’t be, because the acoustic atmosphere suits Coptic’s rapping style more than ever, and it’s amazing how much of a difference it makes. This feels like a niche Coptic could easily slot into on a regular basis, because it works really well, and as a result the release sounds much more cohesive.

Like Inkstains (Acoustic), there’s new material, this time in the form of “I Hate Sleep (Acoustic) feat. Charlie Mayfair” and “Fight for the Fame (Acoustic)”, both of which are brilliant. The latter is a personal standout: musically with the guitar picking and strong back-up vocals, and lyrically.

Vocal melodies and hints of jazz instrumentation throughout the EP help it retain the soulful feel its predecessor had, and I don’t think that’s a sound you hear too often. Which is great, because ultimately The Sound of Wings 2 wins through its diversity. It really sets itself apart. Not content with being any normal acoustic release, it goes that step further to differentiate itself (an increasing trend I seem to be seeing with I Forget, Sorry!’s releases). Which is exactly what makes it such a strong release.

And the effort put into it shows. Coptic and Phatchance both reached capacity at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory three weeks in a row to showcase these acoustic tracks. That alone should tell you there’s something special here.

The Sound of Wings 2 represents what feels like a natural progression for Coptic Soldier. It’s a big step from his last release (despite both sharing tracks), and it’s where Coptic’s real talent starts to shine. Amongst the mountains of musical trash thrown at us every day, The Sound of Wings 2 proves there is always something special out there – you just have to find it.

Grab lead single “I Hate Sleep (Acoustic) feat. Charlie Mayfair” from Coptic’s triple j Unearthed page here, and pick up The Sound of Wings 2 online here!

LIVE: Mind Over Matter, live at the ANU Bar, Canberra (07-04-11)

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah.

I Forget, Sorry! can be credited for really broadening my interest and faith in hip-hop. The Australian based collective create some brilliant, innovative music that deserves much more attention than it’s currently receiving. I’ve been a fan for quite a while, and recently I was lucky enough to catch a few of them live on Mind Over Matter’s Just Like Fireworks tour.

My friend and I arrived at the ANU Bar a bit before 7. The place didn’t look incredibly lively, but by the time the first supports took to the stage there were a few people wandering around. Unfortunately I think Illy playing a show the next night may have had a small effect on the turnout, but everyone looked like they enjoyed themselves throughout the night. Even if they’ve probably played to bigger crowds before.

If I’m blunt, I don’t remember a whole lot about some of the local supports. That’s not an insult to Canberra’s hip-hop scene (if there is one – I’m new here), it’s just they didn’t grab my attention and I was hanging out with a few mates. Although I do remember a duo called Domesticated Apes. Their songs got better towards the end of the night, although a few were hit and miss. Repeatedly saying “Sh*t C**ts” over and over didn’t do much for me to be honest.

I think it was about 9.30 or so before Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah came on. To say the least, I was a little excited. Johnny Utah’s EP The Welcoming Party was a solid release, and I love Coptic’s acoustic stuff I’ve heard lately. At any rate, these guys have been a part of my hip-hop diet for almost a year now, and I was pumped to see them perform live. They did not disappoint.

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah (with Count Effectz DJ’ing)

That night was the first time Coptic and Johnny had performed live together, and I was incredibly impressed. The interplay between the two was great. Playing tracks they would normally perform individually, each knew the right moment to jump in and the right moment to hang back. As a result, the older songs sounded collaborative and fresh, but didn’t take anything away from the original.

The duo went through tracks from Johnny’s debut EP and Coptic’s The Sound of Wings. We even got to hear “I Hate Sleep” from The Sound of Wings 2, the acoustic release (which you should all buy by the way! – acoustic hip-hop sounds brilliant. I’ll have a review up soon). I was lucky enough to hear some of Johnny’s new songs too, which will hopefully feature on his debut album Handful of Gravel. They sounded brilliant, and I’m keen to hear the studio versions.

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah were a great support act, and despite the fact they didn’t have a live band like Mind Over Matter, they energy they put into the performance was amazing. Great songs performed by great musicians, with enough energy to get everyone pumped up. Count Effectz was DJ’ing for them and did a great job as well. Seeing these guys was a highlight of the night, and has only reinforced my belief that I Forget, Sorry! deserve more attention across Australia.

Mind Over Matter

Next up Mind Over Matter came on stage, and the crowd reacted incredibly well. I haven’t heard Just Like Fireworks yet, although I’ve heard good things about it. After seeing them live, I’m convinced I’ll enjoy it. The songs they played had amazing hooks and sing-a-long choruses (see “Be A Pirate”), and everyone really got into it.

The addition of a live band did the set wonders. Ernst Carter Jnr’s back-up vocals were amazing and added a whole new dimension to the songs. It really did sound great, and the live bass and drums gave the whole act more stage presence. Everyone had more to look at, and the way it all meshed together is a testament to their talents and preparation.

The general consensus from the media is that Mind Over Matter have really launched themselves into the Australian hip-hop scene with this album. Their live show reflects this in a way that you have to see to understand. I thought they were going to play longer, but I think noise restrictions came in or something. At any rate, they put on a great show, and for $10, I think everyone felt like they got more than their money’s worth.

Mind Over Matter

It’s a pity that brilliant artists like the ones that performed all night aren’t getting the recognition or airplay they deserve. I could go into a large rant about support of Australian musicians, but it’d detract from the review. Suffice to say, like Coptic and Johnny, Mind Over Matter put on an incredibly entertaining and engaging show. In my case, familiarity with the songs means that I personally enjoyed Coptic and Johnny a tiny bit more. In some cases familiarity can go a long way, but Mind Over Matter buck that trend. Despite the fact I knew only one or two songs they played, their show emphasised their talent as live artists, and these days that talent can be quite rare.

I Forget, Sorry! are a brilliant collective. Download the free mixtape I put together last year and give them a go.

Don’t forget to get over here and check out the rest of their dates. You should definitely head along.

REVIEW: Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks – “The Sound of Wings”

The pairing of Coptic Soldier’s rapping and Miriam Waks’ soulful vocals proves to be an effective combination on their debut EP. Coptic has shown he’s got something special after touring with artists like Bliss n Eso, The Herd, and even De La Soul.  Miriam has been nominated for the 2007 ACE Awards, the 2008 MO Awards, and has featured on Spit Syndicate’s “Towards the Light” (an ARIA nominated album). These two artists clearly have talent. So how does it turn out when they work together on “The Sound of Wings”?

Let me begin by saying that it’s very interesting, and I mean that in the best way possible. There are plenty of hip-hop artists out there who have used great singers like Miriam as backing vocalists before, but the way that they’re both balanced out evenly across the release works excellently, and is a testament to both of the duo’s skills. Not only vocally, but in an instrumental sense “The Sound of Wings” proves to be something a bit different. Drawing influences from various cultures, it brings in bright brass sections, subtle plucked-string riffs, and traditional hip-hop beats.

Opener “Why Suffer” is a perfect starting track for the EP. It’s up-beat vibe and the tension built up towards the end really make this track work well. While it doesn’t feel like any other track really returns to this kind of, almost “party” (for want of a better term) feeling, which is a slight disappointment, the rest of the EP is fairly solid.

Title track “The Sound of Wings” provides a brilliant bridge to the last few songs. It feels relaxing, and though it’s short, I feel like it’s a really important part of the EP. To me it felt like it was what the whole EP was built upon, in a thematic sense. Despite being so drastically different, “The Sound of Wings” is captivating and feels integral to the release.

Lyrically, some lines just don’t feel right. They either feel clichéd or forced. This is a rare occurrence, but when it happens it’s noticeable. For example: “I can feel it coming in the air tonight” from closer “In The Air Tonight”. Unfortunately lines like this make it difficult to listen to a song and hear it as it should be heard – as the artist intended.

The extreme contrast between the two vocalists really adds some variation to the melodies, and it gives the duo more room to expand their style. Although Coptic’s rapping feels very laid-back and casual, at times I feel like it could benefit from a bit more of a bite. The vocals though are generally quite good, but often the songs feel like they wander along and just don’t go anywhere. Sometimes there’s just nothing to grab my attention.

Despite all of the EP’s highs and lows, I feel like Coptic and Miriam have produced a solid debut EP. Musically, the cohesion between the different genres and cultural styles sounds effortless, providing enough contrast to hold interest without creating friction. Lyrically they deal with subjects they feel strongly about, like alcohol and religion, and this heartfelt outpouring of emotion shows some sincerity and artistic integrity. I can’t help but feel there are areas for improvement, but clearly Coptic Soldier and Miriam Waks have a dynamic way of creating music together, and I’m sure in the future they’ll refine their style. Until then, “The Sound of Wings” aint bad at all.

Verdict: Positive.

Check out some of their work, with other artists, in my I Forget, Sorry! mixtape here.

Or grab a couple of free songs from their triple j Unearthed page here.

MIXTAPE: On The Tune Mixtape Vol. 3 – I Forget, Sorry! mix

Hey everyone. I’m going to be doing some reviews for Aussie collective I Forget, Sorry! over the next few weeks, so I thought it’d be a good idea to introduce you all to some of their stuff.

They’re primarily a hip-hop collective, but they merge other genres and styles through their music, so it’s a pretty interesting listen. Check ‘em out.

Tracklist:

1. Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks – Why Suffer

2. Elgen and Johnny Utah – Matchbox ft. Phatchance & Steve Hollins

3. Mind Over Matter – It’s Not A Secret

4. Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks – No More Waiting feat. Phatchance

5. PhatchanceInvisible Queen

6. Elgen and Johnny Utah – When The Rain Hits ft. Steve Hollins

7. Mind Over Matter – Still Skinny (Konfuzion Remix)

8. Phatchance – Mountain Of Glass

Download

Size: 25.16 mb

Don’t know how to unzip stuff? Download 7zip here.
Don’t know which download link to click? I don’t know what .msi files are either. Do you use Windows? Try this one.

I’ve already reviewed Elgen and Johnny Utah’s “The Welcoming Party”, so look out for reviews of Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks, Mind Over Matter, and Phatchance over the next month.