Shan Frenzie chats with DJ Peril

Shan Frenzie chats with DJ Peril
Peril has been running things in Melbourne for as long as I can remember - One of the movers and shakers in the original generation of B Boys that came from the early to mid eighties period in the city. When I first started seeing his pieces (together with his graff partner Paris) on the train lines in the eighties it was immediately evident that his style was streets ahead of his contemporaries. He was one of the pinnacle of Melbourne kings who I looked up to back in the day. His transition into Djing (and eventually studio production) was fluid and evolutionary. Showing a keen respect for where the artform of Hip Hop came from he continued to set benchmarks for everyone in his wake. I sat down with one of Melbourne's original style masters and chatted about the long legacy he has built over the last thirty years.
FRENZIE: Your name has been synonymous with the duo of Paris & Peril since as far back as I can remember. How did you guys meet?
PERIL: We met through being out and about at a couple of really early legal murals when I was still in my crew SDA. It was myself (Eraser) and Ms-70. We were always hanging around the Belgrave & Lilydale train line it was only a matter of time until we met up. There was a big mural near Chatham station around 1985/86 before Paris was even putting up Paris on the regular. My man Ms-70 (SDA crew) was good friends with Bondy (USA crew) who was very good friends with Paris. I ended up going to school at Swinburne Tech in 1986 where Paris was going to school at along with Bondy, Prime Style (USA / FAB4), Skez (USA) and a little later on with Tame (DMA) - and so many other writer's of the time, the school was a real breeding ground for many writers in Melbourne in those years.
Melbourne City Square 1986
Melbourne City Square 1986

You were both members of DMA which is pretty much regarded as the most legendary Australian graff crew ever - But you also seemed a bit like lone wolfs at the same time, in that you both had your own crew Claim 2 fame. Tell me a bit about C2F.
I was getting down with Reem the founder of DMA all through 1985/86 and I introduced Paris to him. He made us go through a little initiation test in order to join DMA, which was to go all city and get the DMA name up all over the place - So that’s just what we did. On the underground scene we were repping DMA and on the Legal scene we were Claim Two Fame which we established in 1986.  We were moonlighting between both crews all at the same time.
In 1986 myself and Paris started going to school together at Swinburne Tech - and from that day forward let's just say we were getting busy. Lately Paris and myself painted a mural with New 2 from DMA when he was back in Melbourne a couple of months back. He now lives in Antwerp Belgium and is doing big things.
You guys were always so styling. I would see you at Swinburne Tech from time to time, as Paris was in the year above me. You guys would come in all dressed to the max: Cazals, jackets, dope tracksuit combos. Paris would have his art folio all freshly decorated. To me it was just the epitome of style back then. You guys had it on lock - and even at that young age you guys were local celebrities.
We were just young teenager's out to prove to the world we had what it take's (not unlike teenager's of today) - from the style of our letters and pieces to the music we were into. What we wore reflected what we were in to. We were out there back then - and lets just say we never had to much money but we were always looking a million dollars. Our sense of fashion was directly influenced by the the music and MC's we were listening to from New York who came up from far less than us - and we sort of caught the vibe. We were heavily influenced and drenched in the 80's hip hop fashion of the time, basically a 80's hip hop record front cover come to life - ha.
Peril & Paris - C2F 1988
Peril & Paris - C2F 1988
To be honest we weren't out to be local celebrities. What we wore was a homage to the love and devotion we had to Hip Hop. It was just a sign of the times and of our young age that we were back then. We still live up to our tradition even up until this day. You've heard the saying "fresh till death"? Well we're going to try to live up to that saying.
I think my most favourite wall of yours would have to be the production at Swan Auctions that you did with Paris & Hus. It must have been 1988 or 89. I would stand in front of that wall for the longest time, taking in every detail. It was so huge, clean, and was just dripping with funk. It must be the greatest production in the history of Australian graff, which is probably why it remained untouched for several years. How did that production come about?
The Swan Auctions wall was first pieced by the legendary USA crew (which Paris was heavily affiliated with) around 1985 and it lasted until about 1987 or so before peeps started slashing it. Some how Paris had the hook up. I think it was Paris' dad George that knew the owners of Swan Auctions - And that's how we got the legal.
I remember - That original production was with the Slick piece by Bondy USA, and character by Ransom. It had a bunch of first generation writers on there as well. I think Prime did a Vaughn Bode character. That was quite a production - but what Paris, Hus, and yourself did was take it to the next level. It was so ahead of its time.
We ended up going crazy on that mural and put many hours into it, as we were in our hey day. It was an important piece for Paris and myself, and for the evolution of Melbourne aerosole art at the time. We were just on some next level shit and out to show and prove we had what it takes to be worthy of all the hype. I'm not sure if we'll ever be as hungry as that again as we used a good 300 cans without any sponsorship. It was all for the love and we managed to make the front cover of the Sun Heard newspaper with the heading Art or Crime, which is the same thing question they have been asking ever since it started. It was a fun time indeed.
A segment of the Swan Auctions mural by Peril & Paris C2F, Melbourne 1988
A segment of the Swan Auctions mural by Peril & Paris C2F, Melbourne 1988
So at some stage around that era, like so many of us did, you inevitably got into deejaying. Were there any old school Melbourne DJs that you looked up to?
I just fell into deejaying from collecting records, and starting playing with mixing and it just went on from there. Producing music was just a natural evolution from djing, which all started from my brother giving me a 4 track recorder back in the mid eighties. As far as oldschool Melbourne deejays - I have to give props to DJ Breez, Choice Cuts, Steve Robbins just to name a few.
Were there any clubs that you used to frequent in the late eighties?
There were many clubs that I went to in the eighties with most of them being one off nights. There were a couple clubs around Chapel St,  and jams around the city square - as well as the jams that Central Station Records used to put on. I still have lots of flyer's from this era. These jams were very much a B-boys and graffiti artists paradise with only a couple of female's in the house. Krisy was always there of course. I think the fact that there were so many guys and not a whole lot of girls were a major factor as to why many of the underground hip hop clubs in the eighties didn't last long as they should have. There was always a little drama going down.
I remember going to some clubs in the late 80's and the DJ would play a great mix of De La Soul and Public Enemy mixed into early house music with groups like Soul II Soul in the middle of them all. I could go on and on about the clubs and spots as there were many. There is a lot old skool footage from early 80's music with some classic footage from the ABC music shows and even countdown.
Yes. The ABC channel had that morning kids show The Factory, and I remember they brought the cameras down to a few of the B Boy Jams, and did specials on the local Melbourne Hip Hop scene that was starting to form back then. They were really progressive in pushing aerosol art as a legitimate artform which was at odds with the governments stance at the time which was that it was trash and totally illiegal.
A year or so after that I finally got to meet you properly on my own terms. It was around that early radio period when there were shows like Wheels Of Steel on 3RRR. Slightly before the era DJ Krisy was on air. We would record these new demo tracks and get them played on the radio show. I would bump into you at the radio station from time to time. Your tracks were always showing signs of matured complexity even back then. The way you were using layered samples, and your cuts. You were always a dope scratcher. What equipment were you using at that time? 
Much thanks for the props. I was a regular guest on the Wheels Of Steel show, as well as Krisy's show Steppin To the AM. The community was much smaller back then with a more family type of vibe. I was using what ever I had at my disposal - A cheap DJ mixer from Tandy electronics, or a Gemini or Numark. I had some very primitive samplers and a Tascam 4 track tape recorder. Now it's much easier to get a great sound with the technology we have at our fingertips today, and I have many classic sampler's in my studio now that I couldn't afford back then.
There is actually a recording of you, Idem, and myself rapping over one of my loops at 3RRR. It must be 1990 and I think it’s called Three Deejays Rapping or something. Paz reminded me of its existence, and he thinks it's the greatest (ie. funniest) thing ever.
Really? I'd love to hear that. There is also a recording of Merda, Johny Duel and myself on a track making fun of all try hard gangsters that were into NWA at the time. That's floating out there somewhere - Ha!
It was actually a really progressive group of people who came through those radio shows in Melbourne. You had Reason and Voiteck, Raph, Idem & Seany B, Ennio Styles, Prowla, Ransom, Excel and his crew, myself and yourself. It was a real sense of friendly competitive rivalry. We all supported each other, but were also ready to step up and try and out-do each other - And then AKA dropped their first couple of joints and just changed the game. I just think it’s amazing that we all went on and not only remained active but also started running things in each of our lanes. There was a lot of talent being developed back then. 
Great days indeed. The Australian Hip Hip music scene was definitely in its infancy and we were all experimenting with styles and sounds which we were heavily influenced by the New York style of hip hop - Looking to define our own identity back then. Between Rise & Takee, AKA Brothers, Just Us, Park bench Royals, Def Wish Cast, Hills Posse just to name a few - they all helped elevate the game for sure. I was in a group called the Island Boys/Big Pacific with Nemo from PBR (Park bench Royals) & Nui in the same era. I still have the original unreleased tracks and recordings. I also had my own Radio show called The Joint with Rob Farley (and later Ken Walker) on KISS FM for the first 8 years of the station back in the early nineties.
Big Pacific 1988
Big Pacific 1988
Yeah, that kind of leads me on to my next point, as Rob Farley was a presenter for the Wheels Of Steel show on 3RRR for a little while - and he always pushed that urban club sound that was starting to come up at the time, which you were also pushing.  Infact, You were one of the first Melbourne DJs I knew that really embraced the more urban R&B sounds at that time, whilst still having a hand in raw Hip Hop. I remember it being kind of segregated back then, in the sense that a lot of Melbourne heads wouldn’t really get into the R&B stuff because they were trying to keep it real or something, which was completely dumb - Yet DJs like yourself and DJ C had pretty successful club nights going for several years. Did you ever feel any pressure to find that balance?
Hip hop head's in Australia back in the 80's had this thing about hating on Hip Hop tracks that had harmony's and singing over the top of it - But for peeps like me, I knew that R&B was a first cousin to Hip Hop, so I never had a problem with it. I could always play a straight up Hip Hop set or a R&B set, and later on mix them both together which peeps take for granted now as that isn't anything new now - but back in Australian Hip Hop in the early nineties the two genres didn't get along. The funk was always a staple diet in my sets as it still is until this day. You also need to understand that the American Hip Hop and the Australian Hip Hop experience come from two very different place's and backgrounds. In the US Hip Hop came from disco/funk/soul/reggae, whilst over hear it we started with rock music predominantly without the funk and soul. Only a few B-boy's and the ethnic kids over here understood the correlation that Hip Hop came from black music and the black experience.
Afrika Bambaataa the Godfather of Hip Hop was into every style of music. Planet rock was built from Kraftwork out of Germany, so he even borrowed from the europeans. I saw hip hop as almost a black punk if you will - very defiant and in your face with a lot of angst and a "fuck the establishment" type of message.
Melbourne's DJ C was very big in the new jack swing era, along with other deejays such as Jeff Holden, Puppet Ray, Shirley & Sef, Wayne Fernandez, Bobby Love just to name a few. I really was more on the Hip Hop/Funk/Soul side of the tracks, pushing the original source material for Hip Hop, and ran many smaller underground club night's and institutions such as the legendary Planet of the Break (1997/98) and Soulclap (established 2002) which is still running till this day. Before 1998 I was playing at many clubs around town with residencies at venues such as the old Melbourne Metro & Chasers.
DJ Peril, Chasers Nightclub Melbourne 1988
DJ Peril, Chasers Nightclub Melbourne 1988
Going back to your early productions. You mentioned you were jamming with the Island Boys / Big Pacific for a while - and if my memory serves me correct you and Ransom had a band called Blow running for a little while. I saw you guys at the Temple once or twice, and you would be up there cutting it up and playing bongos. It was dope!
Even before that I was among one of the first Hip Hop artists in Australia to experiment with live funk, reggae, Hip Hop & turntablism back around 1986 with a band called Drum Machine. The band Blow Sound Unit which ran from 1989 to 1993 was mine & Davey D's creation. Phil Ransom deejayed for us a couple of time's at Blunted. It was the band that I really cut my teeth on. Dave D was on bass, Danny D on guitar, Cameron on Drums, Nui TeKoha from the Island Boys did vocals for us, and I would go between the congas and turntables. We actually recorded an EP called Rocking the Establishment in 1990 which never saw the light of day, and had a flim clip out at the time. It was this group that got me primed to start 1200 Techniques later on in the nineties.
I was also in an early northside band with Dion & Elvis called Roller Coaster, which released a self titled ep in mid nineties and played many gigs at the Evelyn Hotel.
A number of years after that you started the label Street Elite, and notched up a few releases. Going through discogs I see that you put out a solo twelve inch Bang Dis. I never saw that one. It must have totally missed my radar. I’ll have to get that off you one day.
Bang Diss was something I did around 2004 at a time when J Wess's Mc Lipps had taken a cheap shot at us and called out 1200's on a track called Roll call. So I thought let's do a track called The Real Roll Call which had lots of local heavy hitter MC's of the time. I also featured DJ Samarai, Sub Int, Phrase, and even had Scribe on with the original recording. We ended up taking Scribe off the 12 inch release as his record company wasn't cool with it. We sold out 500 copies of the record in two days. It was just a bit of fun and I've seen J Wess since then and we laugh about it now. I also put out a solo album called DJ Peril's King Of The Beats in 2006, and have put out track's on various compilations over the years.
It’s been 10 years since 1200 Techniques released their award winning album. So what happened in those ten years? Why the break?
I just went back to doing what I always loved, and that was my Hip Hop and Funk deejaying, painting mural's around town, and producing music. Time just gets away from you and all of a sudden ten years has passed just like that! However I did release the Street Elite EP, as well as my solo Album King Of The Beats in that time.
Nfa stayed busy and kept recording and releasing albums and collaborating with many artists and went back overseas to the UK. My brother Kem went into fashion and kept busy with his label Extinct clothing which he still does to this day. He also recorded his own EP called Cybernetic Express. I've been trying to get us all together for a good 6 years or so, and we have finally come together to record our first EP in over ten years.
Yep, The new EP Time Has Come has just been released, and it's got a bunch of people excited that you're doing shows again.
The EP really paints the picture of were we came from and what happened to us inbetween and where were going in the future. I think our old fans will appreciate that we've still have maintained our sound and original flavour, and stuck to our Hip Hop, Funk, Electro, Blue's roots with a sprinkling of a new contemporary 1200's sound. I'd say were still the same same but different - Ha!
Our live show is still something well worth checking as we've been in the rehearsal studio going hard at it. If you haven't seen a 1200's show ever or you haven't seen one for over 10 years I suggest you come and see us next time we're in your neck of the woods. I think our live show was always our calling card, and it's even better now sonically than than back in the day. We've got our original line up with our Hip Hop drummer Richie C in the mix, Nfa on vocal, Kemstar on guitar, and myself on congas and turntables.
What’s next for Peril? What have you got lined up for the future?
More gallery shows & murals with Paris and myself, as well a 1200's Album - possibly with many exciting collaborations with artist from here and abroad. Look out for our next 1200's single coming out really soon called Switch which should be released in the next month. Our next 1200's live show is at the laundry on Saturday 14th March in Melbourne - and stay tuned for a Australian tour coming soon. If you haven't already grabbed yourself a copy of our Brand New EP Time Has Come on iTunes check it out now.

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Shan Frenzie

Shan Frenzie

Australian based deejay, radio presenter for 2SER FM, record collector, and chief rocker of Hip Hop, Soul, Funk, Disco and everything inbetween.

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