Serial photo snapper, and one-time Sneaker Freaker moshpit paparazzo, Michelle Grace Hunder has been slaving for two years to create Rise, a book of portraits of Australian hip hop artists. After getting the green light and greenback to publish it, thanks to a successful Pozible campaign, Michelle and some of the acts featured in the book are taking to the road for a bunch of live shows, which are sponsored by Puma. It’s probably the best touring lineup of Aussie rap in recent memory, with Briggs, Mantra, Grey Ghost and a bunch of other guys getting busy together all across the country. To celebrate the release of the book, which can be bought here, we’re giving away a copy of it and a double pass to the launch show in your city. To enter, just read the interview with Michelle below and answer the big question by midnight this Wednesday, August 20…
SF: The average donation was $85, that’s massive! Why do you think people were so interested in seeing this book made?
Michelle: I think for a few reasons, one being that nothing had yet been done quite so specific for the Australian Hip Hop scene, in terms of a photo documentary, that encompasses so many artists across Australia, so I guess that definitely helped. Also, the artists themselves were huge supporters of the project and really are instrumental in getting the word out to their fans, they really pumped up the project and got a lot of people excited about it, which was awesome.
Can you please tell us how the actual book is arranged, are there sections, is it just picture on picture? Why’d you put it together this way?
I was lucky enough to have the design talent of Grey Ghost (Jeremy Koren) on board for this project, which I was thrilled about. We really studied a lot of photography books and found inspiration in books that had been done really well, and we both loved the simplicity of books arranged purely for photo aesthetic. There is no order, or particular sections, each page layout has been chosen simply on its merit as a photo and what other photos complemented them. Also, there are no words or titles on the pages, just a contents page as a glossary at the back outlining who is in each spread. I like this because it means you really have to delve into the book to find out who people are, it makes people explore it and take their time with it a little more I think. It was definitely a process but I really love the end result.
Like in most Western countries, the hip hop scene here is incredibly diverse, but the JJJ and commercial radio supported pop rap artists define it to the general public – some would say it’s tarred by them. Can you foresee a new trend in Aussie hip hop going mainstream post ‘skip-hop barbecue rap’? Who’s next up?
Interestingly enough I personally don’t really find much negative about hip hop going a little more ‘pop’. I mean pop stands for popular, and it’s something that hip hop in this country struggled to be recognised as for so long. I think its means more people will be exposed to hip hop and therefore seek out other artists. We have an incredible amount of talent in this country and I feel to anyone that knows more than the surface about hip hop here, we shook that ‘skip hop’ title at least over 5 years ago (ed’s note: ooh slam!). There is an exciting breed of new up and coming artists who have helped that, Remi being a major one in terms of up and coming, but also guys who have been around for a while really pushing the envelope and producing quality music. Great examples of this is the One Day crew with their new album, N’fa Jones, Joelistics, the Thundamentals earlier in the year, Briggs’ new album, and obviously Hilltop Hoods’ new release.
How did you get to be involved with PUMA?
I actually got introduced to PUMA last year through a good friend of mine (and also RISE featured artist) Mz Rizk. She has been involved with them for a long time and suggested they might want to have a chat with me. Since that time they have been incredible, the RISE tour and exhibition being the first official project of mine that they have been involved in and it’s absolutely amazing. So much love for PUMA!