If you're like me you might have caught the Under The Land radio show on The Flat fm www.theflatfm.co.nz and seen some of their interviews with some of Aucklands local rappers on Youtube. I'd seen the name on Facebook and had recently liked their page but to be honest I didn't know much about Under The Land so I caught up with Daniel Murray aka Shephurd to find out more about them.
What is Under The Land.
- A home for musicians first and foremost, Under The Land is based on the record label format where members have full creative options for their works. As long as there is passion and quality in each recording we back it up. A tight nit crew with various collaboration projects forming a web where anyone can jam with anyone to make anything. Under The Land recently has branched out and taken a new form as a radio show on The Flat FM where each week we play local and international chilled out Hip-Hop based music.
Where do you come from or what part of NZ does UTL represent?
- Auckland.. North shore and the Hibiscus Coast is where it started and has continued to be run from, except for a period of time when it was based in Perth, Australia.
UTL represents quality music created on a low budget. We don't chase the top 20 charts, we are all about making dope joints people can vibe to from a little mix up of genres.
Who started UTL and what inspired you to get involved in music?
- Shephurd (Daniel Murray) formed UTL in November 2007 as a bebo group, over the years evolving and becoming whatever it is today. I was sitting at my desk at work bored off my ass with the career I was chasing, Installed a DAW on my work computer, plugged in the headphones and started imitating the music I was listening to - Bone Thugs N Harmony notably. Once I realized that music is where I want to devote my life to I made sure every move I made in life would some how benefit the art.
What’s your vision for UTL?
- Really, just to make dope music that not only feels good to create and perform, but also something people would actually want to invest their money in to listen to it, to come to live performances etc.. Far from money hungry - we know what it is like to have no money, we know no one buys records these days.. UTL is driven to become that indie label that invests in the artists to the point we look like we could easily be rocking a major label, So we are set out to do dope music pressed to quality made CDs and Vinyl releases, Small scale to large gigs.. Investing our own money into top notch music videos and really just representing New Zealand music to the absolute fullest.
Tell us about UTL next release.
- On the re-launched Under The Land, Shephurd - Exit 420 EP is dropping first. Not a big release, just something to build up from. A small batch of CDs, test the waters with the Vinyl pressing perhaps. After Exit 420, the first full scale album we are dropping is a self-titled LP from 'The Escape' Which consists of myself (Shephurd) on the beat and MC-turned-singer Misaya. The Escape LP was recorded back in 2012 in two weeks.. We have been waiting for Under The Land to reach a level where we can mix it down professionally, press up CDs & Vinyls of a high quality and get some dope music videos under way to help promote it, all which we couldn't do in '12 at the standard were trying to set. After The Escape LP we have various small projects to drop which we are working on now.
What can we expect to see from UTL over the next year?
- The music we have been crafting to perfection over the last couple years. UTL's first music videos, pressed Vinyls and CDs, Online distribution. And Events.. UTL shows are coming back in a new way from what we used to put on when it was primarily a rap label.. So getting real nice with the live sound mix and lighting.. visuals etc.. Making a show, not just another club gig. Integrating the brand closer with The Flat FM now we are working with them.
What advice would you like to give to other aspiring rappers/producers?
- What I would expect of anyone who is attempting to make a life out of music is just that - It is a life style. Music.. the Hip-Hop culture especially.. It's a lifestyle.. You have to be willing to go hungry for the love of the music. sweat and bleed music as you go day by day making as many moves as possibly to make that end result come to fruit. If your going to rap, Don't be half assed about it. Learn how to work in a professional manner in the studio, perform without getting black out drunk.. re-write everything a couple times.. basically you want to create a product that will go down in history as a classic. If you are not striving to make this kind of work then perhaps keep it as a hobby. You are putting your time and energy into a piece of ART.. Make it count.
Producers have to switch it up and create some new shit.. There is a lot of dope work being made at the moment.. TDE is rocking it hard, Funk Volume is doing it big on the tours.. These are the kind or artists you need to compare your production levels to these days... This is the shit people want to hear. Get creative with the art direction of your productions, get your beats mixed by someone who knows what they are doing to make the hardest hitting kicks and snares etc.. sickest EQing on the riffs etc.. ballsy as bass.. Make some art, not just another fucking beat that sounds like everyone else on YouTube. ... Thats what it is. ART.
And in general - Everyone that is making music - Buy some damn studio time. If you cannot afford to invest your time and effort into saving up money to make the most top notch quality recordings and mixings, then what is the point? Work like the next song you are creating is going to be heard by Dr. Dre. .. You want that mans head to nod.
Shephurd sent me a sneak peak of his upcoming release Exit 420 an instrumental album. I would describe it as laid back electronic soundscapes mixing elements of Hip-Hop, Dub, Down Beat and Electronica. It's a pretty relaxing listen and I can see if getting love from Alt radio.