If you hang around the inner West of Sydney, you’ve probably bumped into Nick Lupi and Jimmy Nice, aka Spit Syndicate. This affable pair of gentlemen are always good for a chat or a fist bump and the attention they give their fans is repeatedly on display when trekking the country with their hugely popular One Day Sundays party.
I catch up with Lupi in his office. When not writing, recording or touring with Spit Syndicate, Lupi works for One Day Enterprises, a bunch of high school mates (including Horrorshow, Jackie Onassis and Joyride) that evolved into a monthly party and has now become a business that not only manages his group but puts on events like the Chasing Asylum screening of last year, along with continuing their regular get togethers around the country.
It’s probably just as well that the duo are managed by people close to them. “We’re pretty in control,” explains Lupi. “From our past experiences, it’s very rare to find great management and a fantastic label. No one’s going to care as much about your music as you are.”
It’s a self-evident statement, but one that can be forgotten in the fast paced music industry. Instead, the group have done things their way and taken four years to release One Good Shirt Had Us All Fly, their fourth album in over ten years of making music.
The album is an expertly crafted mix of well-considered lyrics, clever wordplay, slick production and notable cameos (including REMI and Thelma Plum), which has been ever-present in Spit Syndicate’s discography, but Lupi admits that it has been considerably pushed up a notch for this release. “Sunday Gentlemen was four years ago. The difference between the music we made then and now is huge. For us, this is the music we’ve been making for the past couple of years, but people haven’t heard it.”
It’s little wonder they’ve been pushing themselves. With acclaimed hip hop releases this year from Horrorshow and Thundamentals, the bar is shifting higher and higher by the month, and Lupi and Nice are not about to sit back and be overtaken, especially by their mates.
“These are our friends, [but] these are also our competitors. These are people that we look up to and admire. It’s a competitive game and we use it all to sharpen us as musicians.” They say that you should surround yourself with people that want to be great, and Lupi mentions his partner, Nice, as someone that inspires and pushes him to stand tall beside his talented associates.
When asked if he ever clashes with his rapping partner and old friend, Lupi doesn’t pull any punches. “We’re pretty headstrong, opinionated and just fiery, passionate people, so when we’re working on an album, we definitely clash. We clash with everyone in our crew. It’s very rare that you’ll get musicians together and they’ll just say, ‘Oh, I’ll go along with your opinion and not offer my own.’ That’s not really how it works.” He continues, “The real trick is how you turn that energy into music.”
One of more personal touches on the new album is the track, Mum. Nice – an only child of a single mother – drove the song and it’s these relatable and touching moments, contrasted with more traditional joints, like their collaboration with REMI on Houdini, that combine to create a well-balanced album.
Lupi explains how the song with REMI came together in a park in Melbourne “with a Bluetooth speaker and some weed.” This organic creation of collaborative songs along with reuniting with producers Styalz Fuego (Seth Sentry, Peking Duk) and Jono Graham (Left.) demonstrates a common vision which Lupi insists was a goal in the making of the record.
Following a great response from their support of Illy on his nation-wide tour along with pop-up listening parties along the way, Spit Syndicate have just announced an album tour for July, taking One Day buds, Jackie Onassis, along with them. This sees them join the aforementioned acts along with REMI, Sampa The Great and Allday all touring within five weeks of each other, creating a smorgasbord for hip hop fans over the cooler months.
We finish our chat discussing the changes in Aussie hip hop over the last ten years. “The most obvious change in Australian hip hop has been the growing diversity of the voices and the stories that are being heard, which is great, but there’s also been a real increase in the diversity of the audiences. It’s definitely not as white male-heavy as it used to be. It’s great to see the audience for the music that we make better reflect contemporary Australia, because Australia is diverse; it is multi-cultural and one of the coolest things about music is how it can really bring people from these different walks of life together.”
Spit Syndicate have just announced their album tour, hitting Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth with special guests, Jackie Onassis.
1 July, Howler, Melbourne
7 July, Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
8 July, Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
14 July, Fat Controller, Adelaide
15 July, Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth