Pat Marks is a 31-year-old Melburnian, better known as Pataphysics. “Hip hop these days is just a voice of expression for people,” says Marks who’s just released an EP which sounds like some of the most original Aussie hip hop expression this year. The album is a combination of Pat’s efforts along with the guitarist Diego Villata and the singer project nRt. Pat started rapping in grade 2, at a predominantly white school where he developed an image of Chuck D as representative of someone with brown skin. “You can imagine the influence of someone like Chuck D on a young kid with the same skin colour,” he said to me. Pat can be seen at his live shows playing his MPC and, with the use of pedals, playing the base lines with his trumpet at the same time.
BYO: Do you remember what your first rhyme was?
B: What was it?
P: It was the night before Christmas, I was sitting under the tree.
I remembered the start of a RUN DMC rap and then I sort of made my own one. It’s like how when you’re first making something you sort of copy, you imitate and create at the same time.
B: That sort of process never really goes away does it. As an artist, you’re always sort of copying don’t you think?
P: I see that everyday in pop music.
B: You don’t think happens with you? You don’t copy and build, until you’ve reached your goal?
P: Well yes, stylistically i’m sure I’m heavily influenced by heaps of bands and styles you can hear that in my sound. But in my mind I’m creating something unique. It’s a good point because you hear people say that you can’t create anything new. Artists say that. It’s how you perceive that, how you think about that. I try to create something that’s my own. But obviously it’s heavily influenced; otherwise I’d be doing something that isn’t hip hop. Hip hop is built on the 4/4 time signature, the rapping, structures and multi-syllable raps, these are all stylistic principles of the genre.
“Having a good sense of timing was second nature to me,” Marks says lamenting on his Sri Lankan heritage, splaying the spoons and Bongos at family get-togethers. However ultimately Jazz seems to be the father to his style, and according to Marks himself, the grandfather to Hip Hop generally. He raises specifically Miles Davis’ last album, which was coated with Hip Hop characteristics, and raises that it remains, in some way, Jazz. He even went so far to suggest that the music he makes is Jazz, a mode of expression, improvised and “derived from blues that swings.” He cites, as personal influencers, artists like Clifford Brown, Coltrane, Monk, Duke and Miles, with a special shout out to Soweto Kinch who plays Saxophone and is also a battle MC. “People like that really inspire me to work harder and try new sounds,” Marks says of Kinch.
B: In terms of Australian Jazz, what’s your eye on?
P: Heaps, Scott Tinkler, Julian Wilson, Ian Chaplin, : his timing and his melody is choice. Within the Melbourne underground there are so crazy musicians doing some crazy things and mixing it with electronica as well.
B: What hip hop artists are you eyeing right now?
P: I really like a MC called Bambu; he’s iiiillllll. I’ve recently started listening to this cat called Dial Automatic.
B: What is you’re album about?
P: Well there’s a bit of my political beliefs that shapes that EP; the patterns that are carved out for us in society and in our lives, and the ways that we are inadvertently controlled.
B: It’s interesting how a lot of Australian Hip Hop is anti-government?
P: It’s interesting because Hip Hop came from an oppressed people. And they’d use it to talk about their oppression and their community. The government pretty much created hip hop when they cut music in classes, it came from the shit you know? That’s where hip hop was born! There is a consciousness of hip hop, and that’s always present in good rappers, from Ice-Cube to Mos Def. People who are influenced by American hip hop will be influenced by that consciousness. Questioning the government in the same way, finding the flaws, I think that revolutionary aspect (of doing what’s best for people) is a huge part of hip hop. Sometimes it can be a really simplistic application, where they just tick a box, but other times there can be artists that have really thought about it and I think I can always tell the difference between the two. I think any engagement with those issues is important, so long as you’re always evolving.
Check out Pataphysics video clip for Breathe In, which premiered on Home and Hosed.