Sunshine is located only 13-kilometers west of Melbourne’s downtown central business district, but it’s far enough past the Maribyrnong River to have developed its own multicultural identity and character.
Named after the industrial harvesting company that occupied much of the area at the turn of the century, Sunshine saw rapid post war migration and became a centre for Melbourne's Maltese community.
During the 80s clusters of railway and public housing popped up on derelict machinery paddocks and waves of Vietnamese, Sudanese and Indian migrants have since settled into the area making it one of the most multicultural diverse areas in Australia.
Adam Gauci, aka MC Raceless from Melbourne's long standing psychedelic/Dadaist hip hop crew Curse Ov Dialect, has lived in Sunshine for most of his life. The suburbs working class and cultural history has helped shape his obscenely positive outlook and sense of social justice that has flowed through to his music.
Renowned for their non-conformist costumery and political ethos Curse Ov Dialect have garnered a cult following and after a six-year hiatus are back with a socially conscious zonked-out album 'Twisted Strangers'.
Ahead of the Melbourne launch of 'Twisted Strangers' we asked Raceless how growing up in Sunshine has influenced his music and approach.
Rapping Out of Trouble
At Sunshine train station some Polynesian kids blasting commercial hip-hop from a boom box approached me asking me for a cigarette. I told them that I was on my way to the studio to make better hip-hop than what they were listening to. They laughed and started to beat box, so I freestyled about Sunshine. They seemed impressed and told me that if anyone messed with me from now on they would have my back. They’d give me positive nods of recognition for months afterwards.
Attention and Rebellion
An Asian friend was a super loud and boisterous guy who would make a point to be as out-there as possible in order to crush stereotypes that Asians were passive and quiet. We’d sit outside a coffee shop and scream 'Judge me! Judge me!' like a mantra. We’d also yell “You can’t even see me.” People would look at us like we were deranged.
As a Southern European Caucasian on a heavy dose of black-nationalist hip hop and living in non-Caucasian neighbourhood, I was obsessed with making sure people understood that I was not a racist. I’d listen to people talk in other languages, try to guess what they were speaking and approach them to ask if I was right. I started to get good at it and this drove me visiting the library to learn independently about heaps of the different cultures that surrounded me.
In order to find samples for early Curse Ov Dialect recordings, I’d ask mates of particular cultural backgrounds to take me to outer suburban music shops in the west that focused on particular types of cultural traditional music.
Usually people in the shop would assume I wanted pop music/love songs with cheesy 80s drum machines sounds and stuff but I’d be looking for any CD that’s cover included a couple getting married. This was always a good sign that it this would be the stuff with killer and strange folk sounds on it that I wanted to sample.
Extreme Lengths of Self-Awareness
I’d sometimes ride the train wearing a homemade t-shirt that said 'Stop Racism' in Chinese, Arabic and English. Many times it just started conversations with all sorts of people with pretty varied responses to it and a lot of different ethnicities. A lot of political punk types too!
‘Twisted Strangers’ is available March 11.
Curse Ov Dialect launch 'Twisted Strangers' at Melbourne’s Ding Dong Lounge May 13.