As the calibre of Australian rappers begins to rise and diversify as the scene develops, so too does that of the producers and behind-the-scenes playmakers that make it all possible. As many musicians here look to expand and connect as far outwards as possible, it's still not often that we see projects completely materialise with the huge names we're accustomed to overseas - particularly from the United States. Canberra producer Ghosts In The Room has managed to do exactly that though, with the release of his latest single putting Sydney's emcee Kerser on the same boat as G-Unit's Young Buck and yes, you read it correctly - Future. We picked his brains about his thoughts on the industry and how his latest single was able to materialise between two different continents and three very different styles.
Give us a little history on Ghosts In The Room - how long have you been doing your thing for?
"I started producing in Canberra back in 2001. Canberra had a fairly small hip-hop scene and social media was in its early stages, so I relied on my mates to provide vocals. In 2004 I started reaching out to other artists through Myspace and produced a few songs, but it wasn't until 2010 that I started working under the name Ghosts In The Room - eventually releasing my first album in 2012. My debut had some big features like 360, Briggs, Maundz, Kool G Rap and Havoc (Mobb Deep), but it never gained much traction. I followed up with another release in 2013 and have been working on the new project ever since."
On your latest single titled 'Total Concentration', you've managed to pull Kerser next to one of the biggest names in trap/rap music - Future - as well as G-Unit veteran, Young Buck. This has really stunned a bunch of people, which is great. Tell us, how did this collaboration all come about?
"There's a lot of American artists who will give you a verse if the price is right and will 'phone' something in. I'll be the first to admit that some of my previous tracks have been made that way and I've learnt from that process. My new music has been a lot more collaborative though. I started working with Young Buck around 2 years ago and in this time we have worked on several tracks yet to be released. My work with Buck opened up the opportunity to get Future on the track and from there I reached out to Kerser. While the lineup is unexpected, I just make the music I want to hear and hope others can appreciate something different."
With 'Total Concentration' as a good introduction, have you got any current projects that you're working on that you can tell us about?
"My main focus is finishing my upcoming album Life, Death, Ghost. I won't give away the features yet, but if you enjoyed my previous albums and 'Total Concentration', then I think you'll love this project. There's a lot of work involved in coordinating a production album where there are so many artists involved, so I haven't been able to contribute to many other projects at the moment."
Who would you like to work with most on a record - your dream pick, so to speak?
As far as Australian artists go, I would love to work again with Maundz, Fluent Form and Tornts. I'm also keen to work with Rates at some point in the future, but my dream collaborations would have to be Lloyd Banks and Styles P."
What's your take on the Australian hip-hop community at present?
"I think hip-hop in Australia has reached the point where we no longer need to refer to it as 'aussie hip-hop'. There are so many artists and producers that are of an international standard and I think we can hold ourselves back at times by referring to it as a sub genre to hip-hop. That's no disrespect to the people who support the aussie hip-hop movement - we couldn't be where we are today without them - but to continue to grow, I think we need to respect those that came before us but also let the new artists do their thing - without getting caught up with the idea that their music might not fit the traditional mould of 'aussie hip-hop'.
Who do you have your eyes on?
"There's some quality stuff coming out of Brisbane with the likes of I AM D and locally here in Canberra you've got guys like Citizen Kay and Turquoise Prince. In Sydney, Mitchos Da Menace just dropped a crazy album, as well as in Perth, Mr Grevis' new album is doing big things and in Melbourne, Crate Cartel is consistently putting out high quality projects. From a production point of view, Must Volkoff and Discourse have released production albums in the last 12 months that can stand with anything put out internationally."
What can we expect from you in the near future?
"Following the release of my next album, I'll be working closely with Canberra based label Mudd Music on developing and releasing projects with new artists. I'm constantly making new music and will continue to release more collaborations with Australian and international artists alike."
You can find Ghosts In The Room on Facebook >here< as well as on Instagram (@ghostsintheroom)
Have a listen to Ghosts' thumping new release below.