There was a time in Australia when hip hop was so unheard of you’d be lucky to find one hip hop album in a CD store, let alone a whole section. It was during this time that Jonathon Notley (Bliss) moved from America and met Max MacKinnon (Eso), the only other guy in their high school to know what hip hop was.
“I was growing up in the States and everyone in school was into hip hop so I was just immersed in it. It just so happened when I came over in high school, only one other guy in the entire school knew what hip hop was and that was Eso, so we became friends,” Notley says.
MacKinnon later met Tarik Ejjamai (DJ Izm), who Notley describes as “the missing piece of the puzzle,” and the three formed Bliss n Eso.
From rehearsing in Ejjamai’s lounge room opposite a blank wall to performing in front of thousands of people, their 13-year journey has all been leading up to their latest album, ‘Circus In The Sky’.
“It’s a very diverse sounding record, lots of different moods, themes, topics and soundscapes. We’re all about variety when we make our albums, we like to take the listener on a journey but still maintain a cohesive record where all the songs fit together. This one in particular has expanded and evolved a little more on that whole philosophy. We’ve collaborated with quite a few different artists [including Nas, Drapht, Seth Sentry, 360, Pez, Sarah Blasko, Emma Louise and comedian Alex Williamson] on this one to paint this kind of metaphor…it’s all these sounds, artists, collaborators and vibes all coming together to paint this amazing circus in the sky.”
From their earliest days Bliss n Eso were adamant about keeping up a relentless touring schedule, travelling to places in Australia that hip hop had never been before.
“We’ve been touring for years now and some of the tracks have been in the playlist for a long time. Some of them we’re giving a little break to make way for some of the new songs on ‘Circus In The Sky’. This is the first time we’ve ever played these songs so we’re pretty excited, it’s always great when you’ve got a whole bank of new material.”
BY TARA CAPEL
Bliss N Eso hit the Enmore Theatre July 4 and 5 for two all-ages shows. Circus in the Sky is out now through Illusive/Mushroom.