Australian musician Allday is leading his own genre by mixing indie aesthetics of underground artists with laid-back hip-hop beats. After dropping out of art school to focus on music full time, Allday released multiple mixtapes and begun to take over Australia's major radio stations. Now he's gearing up to do his first ever US tour with Mod Sun in October and is making his official US album debut later this year.

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Describe your path to becoming involved in the music industry. How did you know you wanted to be a musician? How long have you been focusing on music full-time?

It kind of happened weirdly. I have always made songs but it was a bunch of coincidences that led to me making music full time. I won a battle when I was 17 and the prize was free recording time. I made a demo with that time. Then later a few people in my neighborhood were listening to those songs so I made another one. Then things kind of snowballed. I've been focusing on music since 2012.

How does where you grew up / and now where you live impact your creativity? Was creativity a part of your childhood?

It impacts me a lot. I went to kind of a hippy primary school, we used to do a lot of drama and art there. They would let us listen to Eminem albums in class. There weren't many rules, you could just walk out of class whenever you felt like it. So being raised in that environment I was never really cut out for a serious job.

Does your art expose, protect or heal you?

I guess it's supposed to do all three. I write to get through things mostly. I recently did a word count on all the rhymes I've written since 2012 and it was like 180,000 words. That's like, a few novels worth of lyrics. I think most of that is just writing for therapy.

Does it feel like writing music is something you've always had to do or is this something that you discovered along the way at some point?

I think I started so young that it's hard to separate music from myself. I started writing rhymes at like 10 years old, so I was basically a sperm. I think it's probably about as natural as anything can be to someone.

Can you identify the moment that made you realize your whole life had changed? A sort of aha moment.

Well quitting my job was the best moment ever, it's so fucking sick because I hated going there and working there made me try too hard with music. It was a call center and I was calling people and harassing them to do surveys. I know that making rap music for a living can't last forever, but I'm just trying to make use of the time I've been given.

Where do the lyrics come from? Where were you at physically, mentally when you wrote them? Was there an event or a specific timeframe where a large chunk of the lyricism came out?

My lyrics are all pretty much based off real things. Physically I am usually in Melbourne. Mentally, when I wrote Startup Cult I was probably in a bit of a weird place. In a relationship that was about to end, living in a small apartment above a fucking demon lady who would loudly gossip to her stupid friends on the phone all throughout the day and night. So if the album is kind of dark, blame the demon lady in the apartment below me.

Are you ever intentional when you sit down to write? Is there ever a "I'm going to write a song now" moment or is it more ephemeral, like you've been kicking something around in your head for days, weeks, months, and then suddenly it comes spilling out?

Both. When I sit down to write, I know something will come out if I sit there for long enough. I think of it as archeology, if you brush away the sand for long enough the dinosaur bones are down there, you just don't know exactly where. But sometimes things sit in your mind for months waiting for the right time.

Of course musicians are proud and enjoy the finished product of lyrics, but when you first start writing is writing something you enjoy doing?

It can be. I have to remind myself to have fun with it, sometimes the agony of trying to make something perfect can get me down. But it's definitely satisfying if not enjoyable.

Did the writing process change since the last time you sat down to write for a recording? Is that process something that's shifted for you over time?

I think at the moment I'm aware that I can rap well, and I'm trying to push myself in other directions. For me, complex lyrics are a competitive thing, but sometimes I'm not feeling competitive, sometimes I'm feeling artistic. So at the moment I'm just trying to make "art" that I like. But then someone will say "Allday can't rap" and I'll feel competitive again.

What was your favorite part about the writing / album creation process?

Just getting better. In the studio Charlie (my engineer) and I found better recording processes, our ears got better, we pushed ourselves harder. So that became the thrill and it's still the thrill at the moment. Also just hanging out in the studio with Charlie because we're good friends, so when we're not making songs I'm usually harassing him and putting it on Snapchat.

When and how did the album title Startup Cult come about in the album creation process?

I wanted to call the album Greasy Youth League at first, but as I was making the album I realized lots of the songs had a weird religious theme, and they weren't as much about "youth" as my earlier songs. At the same time, I had an epiphany that I don't want to be a cool artist, I'd rather be an artist with a following that is connected to me emotionally. Even if that following is smaller. I wanted to start a cult. So yeah. I thought Startup Cult would make sense.

With your artwork, how did you interact with the artist/designer? Did you contribute ideas or remain hands-off? Was there a revision process?

Well I took my girlfriend at the time to a fabric store and we looked through fabrics, I'm not sure which one of us found the fabric with the roses on it and we liked it. So when I went to shoot my cover photo, we hung it behind me and that became the theme of the design. I knocked up a shit version of the CD cover on Photoshop (which I do with every design, tour posters, merchandise etc) and we sent it to a designer to finish.

How important is it to you for the art that accompanies your music to represent the sound and the lyrics? Do you aim for a conversation between the two, or are you more interested in an aesthetically cool package?

I obviously want things to look cool but the art does match the music and that's deliberate. I'm a really visual thinker so things looking right is important to me. That's the reason I control it all.

What is your perspective on how you want to be represented throughout your band's press photographs?

I'm not good at photos, I don't like smiling because my teeth are shitty so I usually just stand there and look serious.

Have you had any mentors along the way?

There are a lot of people who help me, a lot of people on the team, but I'm my own mentor. I learn everything the hard way through many, many failures.

Has your vision of music changed at all since you first began? If so, how?

I think now I enjoy perfecting things, whereas when I began I just wanted to say hot lines that my friends would laugh at.

What/who do you think changed the music industry? Why?

I think the internet has changed it, albums get less of a chance now, and I think since Spotify, Apple Music etc, music videos are losing importance because YouTube is losing importance. I don't really give a fuck though, it's just the industry, I'll just make my songs and let the industry be the industry.


Watch the trailer for Startup Cult below.