Thursday, 20 April 2017

Record Store Day: A rare red 7" of The Herd's 77%

Photo by Jen Ng

You gotta get your hands on this! To mark the exclusive release of The Herd's 77% on 7 " red vinyl for Record Store Day (Saturday April 22nd!), we caught up with some of the key players involved with the record and its release...

Shannon Kennedy (Ozi Batla), the songwriter behind 77%, takes us back 15 years to learn more about what inspired the song. Dale Harrison (Rok Poshtya), bass in The Herd and the champion behind the vinyl release and its design, shares his thoughts into why this track had to be revived for 2017. Jayteehazard gives us an insight into how he tackled the classic for the B side remix. 


We'll be officially launching the 7" at The Record Store, Darlinghurst, where our resident DJ and Herd member DGGZ will be playing a set of local vinyl from 12-1pm. More details of the event here.

You can also pick up this rare beauty in: 

Melbourne - Union Heights and Northside Records
Adelaide - clinic116

*Keep an eye out at our online store next week - there may be some available there ;)

Shannon Kennedy... 

What was happening in Australia at the time that inspired 77%?

I wrote 77% in response to the Howard government's Tampa Affair. There was growing division about Australia's response to the arrival of asylum seekers by boat, growing xenophobia as a result of the rise of Pauline Hanson and the federal government's hardline stance on refugees. It made me ashamed to call myself Australian.

Due to the politically changed nature of the song, did you have any concerns for its release ? 

I had no concerns about how the song would be received, I didn't write it to be popular. It was a cry of anguish from the heart. I wanted to make it a gut-punch of a song, I wanted to make listeners uncomfortable. I think we were all surprised when triple j picked up the song, and even more surprised when they chose to play the uncensored album cut. People were more politically engaged back then, and triple j was much more adventurous than it is now.

How do you feel the relationship between politics and music has changed over the past 15 years? 

Political music has taken a backseat over the past 15 years, for a couple of reasons. People have gradually disengaged from political awareness, even though they are probably getting screwed more than ever. The other thing that has happened, it is much harder to make money from music, so putting out a political song becomes a luxury musicians don't think they can afford. There have been some notable exceptions (A.B. Original). The other thing that deters people from expressing political opinion - not just in music, but overall - is the instant backlash they can expect online. If you don't really know what you're talking about aside from a couple of slogans, you're gonna get slammed.

15 years later, how does this song make you feel given the current refugee crisis today? 

We are on the brink of another war based on false pretences. We continue to deny that we owe the refugees of the world anything, despite blindly following the US into each and every act of aggression that destabilises the world and creates more refugees. We are still a selfish, cruel and mediocre country that tries to act tough and important on the world stage but then refuses to accept our responsibility for dealing with the fallout from fucking up the world.

Dale Harrison...

Why was 77% chosen for Record Store Day and why 7"?

I've been trying to get more 7"'s out as I really love the format. It's relatively inexpensive, fairly quick to produce and are great for something like this where you just want to commemorate a particular point in time. It's now 16 years since the lyrics were written - it was originally an Ozi Batla solo track that he self-produced immediately after the Tampa incident in August 2001. It eventually became a Herd song and we wrote the track around a cheeky rip of the Eric B. & Rakim track Paid In Full in 2002, and the song eventually came out in 2003.

It was also never released on vinyl so it made sense to do it as a Record Store Day release but minus the cynical reissue-everything-that-was-ever-released mentality that has characterised the last few years of RSD releases. Apart from that it's just so depressing that it's a song that is even more relevant than ever before - it should really have been consigned to the deep dark shameful past of the Howard era, but the effects of the Tampa are still felt today, both in terms of policy and the effect it has on people's lives.

Tell us about the Jayteehazard collab for the B side? 

We just love Jayteehazard, and his remix game is so strong we thought he would do a great job of bringing the song into a more modern palette. In the end he opted for a bit of a throwback golden era-type sound—so he pretty much did the opposite of what we expected. But it's still dope. We also got Dan Elleson (Koolism) to mix the track again from the original stems, so the original is a lot thicker and creamier than the version that was released on the CD.

How did you approach the vinyl art design? 

I just worked on the whole concept of info-graphically representing 77%. The song itself is so much more than a blasé statistic but when you put it down on paper it becomes so much more real. The front cover has the actual breakdown of 100 people - 77 of whom, when surveyed, agreed with the Howard Government's actions on board the MV Tampa. I also used only a few colours (red, black and white) to represent the deeply divisive aspect of this whole affair. Plus I didn't want to make it too linked to a historical moment in time - the song has resonated along the years and is still as relevant now as ever before. 


How did you approach this remix ? 

I usually start off a remix feeling super excited about having all these awesome different parts to work with, and also with a rough idea of how I think I’m going to approach it. However that nearly always all goes out the window pretty quick and I feel that dread of having that (totally made up) pressure of a remix compared to the original. In most cases I like to focus in on whatever element about the original song I like the most and build around that - the chorus of 77% is an all time classic so I started building around that. 

I then started thinking it just makes much more sense to keep the entire song intact lyrically and just flip the tone/vibe of the song to something a little more dark. The original has such a strong message over such a funky positive vibes beat - I gave the remix an ominous vibe just so it would be something completely different to the original. Also the fact that it is quite sad that the message from 77% is still relevant today, I think the vibe of this remix reflects that.

Why did you decide to keep all the original lyrics ?

I was given all the stems from the original session and composed a new beat under Batla’s acapella. It can be a little daunting to be asked to remix such a classic song so long after it has been released and already left a significant mark on the scene. I wanted to make sure I did it justice and figured it best not to attempt to skew the song too much or try and force it into another genre or anything. I also think context is everything. For example if I had just used the chorus it would have totally changed the intent of the entire song and I wouldn't have felt right about that.

Back to where it began...

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