So fresh off the track’s release, we caught up with both artists to chat all about it, the Sydney music scene, and what the future holds.
Hot off the release of their incredible new single Love Me No More, we caught up with Sydney-based artists Madame Wu and riverkid for a chat.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
MADAME WU: Hi, well thanks. I just arrived in Ireland, I’m going travelling for a couple of months.
RIVERKID: I’m about to head off too, to Indonesia for a couple of months for fieldwork in my PhD research. We’ll be working on the album separately and we’ll sew it all up when we’re back together in a few months.
HAPPY: We’re loving Love Me No More! How does it feel having the track out there in the world?
MADAME WU: Thank you! It’s a relief to have it finished and out there, and cool to see people’s responses to it. Someone from London said that the song summed up how he felt about London too, so I guess it’s a bit of a phenomenon in big cities where young people feel shut out.
HAPPY: As a bunch of people that work in a creative industry in Sydney… the track’s subject matter hits pretty close to home. Could you tell us a bit about your creative relationship with this city?
MADAME WU: I’m from South West Sydney, I’ve been emceeing in venues around Sydney for eight years now, and the changes from when I started out to now have been noticeable. When I started out, there were so many talented hip-hop artists from South West Sydney but no venues to perform in. We all used to head to the city where there were multiple venues willing to host live hip-hop. I ran my own monthly hip-hop night in Kings Cross back in 2011, it was easy to organise and it felt safe.
Now to see a really pumping gig, it’s likely going to be an underground gig in a warehouse somewhere that no one knows about unless you know someone performing. Hip-hop is being driven underground and this comes at personal risk to the people putting these nights on.
RIVERKID: I grew up in Sydney, first in Summer Hill and then on the North Shore, and I’ve been involved in a band, making solo music and beats for MCs, hosting radio and promoting events. This city has always been a source of inspiration, with diverse people and beautiful surrounds, but for a while, it has felt like we are lagging behind our potential. I’m happy that the squeeze on venues has spurred a real DIY ethos for some people; the main event I’m involved with is a yearly festival/party up in Peats Ridge called Lovefest and for ten years we have been putting it on and doing everything ourselves as a free party, collecting donations for a different charity each year. Justine and I met there in fact. I also love those crews who are doing shows in warehouses and in parks, guerilla soundsystems, creating experiences that we need to come together as a community. Shout out to SYD Def Jam and my dudes the RPK crew. Sadly it seems even these things are being squeezed out of existence recently.
HAPPY: The big conflict Sydney creatives seem to have is whether to move to another city where creativity is supported, or to stay and try to make things better in Sydney. What do you say to the people moving to Melbourne?
MADAME WU: There is so much talent in Sydney but live music is not structurally supported here. Performing live is one of the main income sources for musicians now music can be streamed for free. I can understand why moving might be a smarter move for some. There are still opportunities in Sydney, just less.
RIVERKID: I totally understand the people who do this, and I couldn’t be angry at anyone chasing greener pastures. We have to focus on the state governments, especially the current one, who have made things tough for creatives in Sydney. If we change the conditions, people will flock back.
HAPPY: Talking about Sydney… list five of your favourite Sydney acts, and five of your favourite Sydney live music venues.
MADAME WU: My top five Sydney acts are Urthboy, Stayfly Collective, the Beatlab, Sarah Blasko, and Astronomy Class. My top five Sydney venues are Hustle n Flow bar, Lansdowne Hotel, Manning Bar, Ching-a-Lings, and warehouses like Sashimi.
RIVERKID: Hosting a radio show for local hip-hop, I keep across a lot of the talent in the city, but I’ll just shoutout five Sydney acts/artists who are ON right now: P.Smurf (who just started his own label!), ChillinIt, Dobby, Dream Cities and The Regime.
I have to back up Justine on Hustle n Flow in Redfern, they are really supportive of local hip hop, such a godsend! Also Hideaway bar on Enmore Road, Lazybones Lounge and the Red Rattler in Marrickville, and if it counts as a ‘venue’, The Hub in Newtown!
HAPPY: The production and vocals on this track blend so well together. How did the collaboration between riverkid and Madame Wu come about?
MADAME WU: Thanks! I have always liked riverkid’s beats, they are so full of flavour. When I heard the Love Me No More beat I was instantly hooked. riverkid also has powerful vocals so it was an easy collaboration.
RIVERKID: We’ve done a couple of tracks together before but now we’re pushing to do a whole album. There’s a lot more to come!
HAPPY: What’s next for Madame Wu? Any other exciting plans in the works?
MADAME WU: Doing some gigs in Sweden and putting final touches to our album with riverkid that will be released this year. You can expect the same juiciness in the rest of riverkid’s production. Please feel free to give our the single a review on triple J unearthed!
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!
RIVERKID: Thank you for the opportunity.
Love Me No More is available now. Watch the video above.