Nico Ghost talks spirituality and the importance of self-belief
Melbourne based MC NICO GHOST is one of Australia’s most promising rising hip hop stars. Nico Ghost has been pushing the boundaries within the local scene through his unique ‘New Wave’ hip hop style. And at the ripe age of 21, he managed to land his first big tour with one of the World’s most acclaimed crews, WU TANG CLAN. Nico Ghost‘s tracks are edgy and really cut through the noise. He manages to effortlessly blend a variety of genres and bring together the different aspects of his cultural experience. Now, set to return to Brisbane for a special hip-hop night put on by Bedlam Records and Grain Zine on June 10th, we had a chat with Ghost about some of these things that influenced his development as an artist…
You made your start as one of the hardest working rappers in the game, working several jobs part time, then going home and making beats at nights. How important has it been for you to have music as an outlet?
Music is a big part of my life, but recognising that it isn’t the only part of my life allowed me to start creating in a different way. For me, it’s important to have multiple creative outlets, whether it’s a little bit of writing, jamming, collaging. It’s been more important to find other creative outlets.
You have quite a diverse background in music, from beat making, to hard core music, to more experimental styles- how would you say all these influences intersect and translate in the music that you produce today?
To be honest, I’m still finding out how all my influences interact. I’m inspired by a wide range of artists from BURIAL, to SADE, to THE SMITHS, so finding that balance in my music is still a work in progress. Right now I’m just focusing on making music that I connect with.
You’ve mentioned before that you’ve been influenced by a broad range of cultures, like American rap culture and Japanese anime culture. In what ways do you think this was influenced by Australia’s cultural diversity?
Well, I grew up in New Zealand between the ages of 5 and 9, and during that time we had Japanese and Korean students who would come and stay to learn English. I didn’t have any siblings so they became like siblings for a brief time. They introduced me to aspects of their culture and some of those things that I like [I] resonated and stuck with. I didn’t realise how multicultural Australia was until I moved to Melbourne.
America is suffering hard times in the wake of major political issues coming to a head, issues such as racism, class wars and extreme xenophobia have inspired some politically charged hip hop. Artists like Kendrick Lamar are using their lyrics to inspire change and fighting adversity, in what ways do artists like this inspire what you do as an artist?
I see these artists expressing themselves about things they are passionate about. Adversity comes in many forms and each day one of us goes through our own personal battles. I want to inspire people to fight for themselves, to know that they can win and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
You’ve been heavily inspired and shaped by American artists such as Kanye and Snoop, what was it like for you to tour with the prolific rap group Wu Tang on the Australian leg of their tour off the back of your single ‘Night Terrors’? Did you take anything away from those shows that you’ve used for your own career?
At first I was pretty star-struck. It was my first big tour, and the whole experience was incredibly surreal. Those shows definitely shaped the course of my life, and really helped to put things in perspective. I had to take a second to figure out what I really wanted to do and how I was going to execute it.
You were brought up in QLD after migrating to Australia. It was there you first discovered your passion for music, and spent time working with GXNXVS & Seywood developing your craft. How has your style evolved since moving to Melbourne and going out on your own?
Moving to Melbourne was a massive change. I moved away from my parents into a city that was completely strange to me, and not really knowing anyone. I was pushed into the deep end and I had to learn to swim. It’s been great though. The city is alive and I’m still seeing new things every day.
You’ve always been a strong advocate for self-belief, how do you think those kind of themes translated on your single ‘Who Dat’? Do you think that comes from a place that reflects your idols aka super confident affluent American rappers?
I would say that song is about embracing yourself. It’s about me embracing who I am, what I am and sharing journey of self discovery. Before you believe in yourself, you have to know yourself, and have a clear vision of yourself. I feel like it comes a more spiritual place rather than as a direct influence of ‘American Rappers.’ I’m inspired by Samurai and Jesus, you have to have faith in yourself. You have to have faith in where your sword will strike before you swing.
What’s next for Nico Ghost?
I’ve got lots in the works. I really appreciate all the love from my fans that have been waiting patiently, the wait for new material is almost over…
Catch Nico Ghost at Why Thank You with I AM D, G ELENIL and RARI
June 10th, The Foundry
Words by: ROSIE RAE