Hip hop artist Requiem (aka Clayton Bennett) has released new single “Treading Water”, the follow-up to his acclaimed album Louvres. Featuring Kathryn Rollins, “Treading Water” is a dark, brooding reflection on anxiety and control.
Requiem has come so far from the young MC recording demos onto CDRs in the schoolyard for mates. After honing his craft in the smoke-filled venues of mid-2000s Melbourne, Requiem threw caution to the wind and flew north to the sun-bleached streets of Darwin five years ago seeking new adventures.
Requiem’s experiences immersed in the Northern Territory culminated last year in new album Louvres. Gaining accolades from the Herald Sun (“…an exploratory – and imaginative – official debut”, 4 stars) and the Guardian Australia (“wry observations of a city which has clearly gotten under his skin”), Requiem went on to support giants of the Australian hip-hop quarter such as Illy, Drapht, Horrorshow, Jimblah, Seth Sentry and more.
“Treading Water” takes cues from Requiem’s self, rather than his surroundings – an internal battle of panic and uncertainty. The sultry downtempo single is heartfelt and intensely personal. Teaming up with renowned producer Cam Bluff (Hilltop Hoods, Illy, Allday), “Treading Water” has all the hallmarks of Requiem’s powerful output dialled up to eleven, ready to propel him to the next level.
Foldback Magazine had a quick chat with local Darwin artist Requiem about his new track and video ‘Treading Water’, dropped late last week, which has received national exposure. This track shows the emergence of a multi-dimensional, layered artist with a mood-shift to the darker side of the human condition.
FM: With a new track, a kickin’ video and national attention, it seems to me that you are doing anything but ‘treading water’. Is that the way you are feeling at the moment?
R: Thanks for checking out the clip. It’s not how I’m feeling now, but I guess it’s about how I’ve felt at certain times of my life. But when I feel a certain way I put it into music so that’s a cathartic way to express myself. I’m feeling good right now. The fact is, having the song out; I’m really excited and happy to have released it. I suppose I put out ‘Louvres’ a year ago now so its good to have some new music out.
FM: For sure. And I suppose that life isn’t always an upward or a downward trajectory, there are always bumps in the road?
R: That’s right and its kinda like a universal theme for a lot of people, go through different things and they might relate to the song in different ways, to their own personal things that they have gone through so if people can relate to it then that’s great.
FM: I think that people from a wide spread can relate to this, of all ages.
R: For sure. I think as you get older you might relate to it in a different way. Like what I might relate to at eighteen is different to me now which is turning thirty this year.
FM: I really like the symbolism in the video. The little tiny boat, is there anything in particular about that? Is it like a feeling of confinement?
R: That was just the boat the director could find (laughs).
FM: Oh okay! I was trying to find a deep and meaningful thing out of this.
R: That’s cool though, its good that people can see that and find something in it. Jesse Gohier-Fleet who’s the director, I let him kinda run with it a bit too. I gave him the overall idea of what the song is – talking about anxiety and control and different emotion and I really just said “what do you want to do with it?” and then he came up with a few ideas. I felt pretty guilty because his friend, the actor in the clip, actually had to fall into that water and it was at least ten degrees in Melbourne at the time so it was pretty bad but it was really great that people were willing to be part of it and we had a really good result.
FM: Speaking of getting people to be a part of it, you got Cam Bluff on board. How did that come about?
R: Cam’s a really good dude and I have really liked his stuff for years. He did some beats on ‘Louvres’ which was great and that was kinda our first time working together. The beats on Louvres which Cam produced are a bit more upbeat ‘cause that’s what the album was about, the laid-back life of the Territory and the Top End especially. But this time round I was looking at taking it in a different direction.
Louvres was a place in time, a shot in time but this (Treading Water) could be from anywhere so I talked to Cam about the kind of mood I was going for, kinda moody and dark and he came out with this beat and I’m pretty picky for beats. Even the best beat maker, I might take a while to find the kind of production I’m looking for, even if I know they’ve got some amazing beats, it might not fit the song in my head.
With this song I just loved it. As you might hear when the song kicks in, it starts off on kinda slow rhythm then, within a few seconds, kicks in to this kinda like glitchy, kinda strange hip-hop vibe so I really loved it.
FM: Kathryn Rollins, where did you know her from?
R: That was really strange, really interesting how life works I guess. Kathryn I met in 2014. I went to BigSound, the music conference in Brisbane. That was my first time doing that from Darwin. I was there pretty much by myself, there were a few people from Darwin, and NT contingent walking around but I ended up going to her showcase and being a hip-hop artist, I’m also a huge hip-hop fan. That’s the majority of what I listen to. It was kinda by chance. I didn’t know Kathryn at the time. I just happened to go to a gig at the Black Bear Lodge in Fortitude Valley and she had performed. She produces her own beats, she sings, she’s got the whole setup and she just blew me away. So I got to chatting with her and we hung out afterwards, kept in touch. She’s put out a couple of EPs over the last couple of years, building her name up. I kinda waited until the time was right and it was great to finally get together and work on a track.
FM: It’s good that the artist vibe comes through in that you two can meet and collaborate like that without rivalry, which is a real hip-hop thing in this country.
R: The vibe had to be right, the right song and mood. That’s why I waited a couple of years. I don’t think it would have worked on Louvres like it did on Treading Water. When I heard the beat and started writing the lyrics, I could picture her vocal on the chorus. She actually wrote the chorus so I said to her “I could probably write this to what I think but you are an amazing songwriter, I’d like to maybe do this as a full collaboration where we’re both writing some of the lyrics.” So yeah I gave the beat and the lyrics, my verses to her and she went off and came back and yeah the rest is history.
FM: Any more new stuff in the pipeline and are we going to see you back on stage any time soon?
R: I did a show back in November last year at the Happy Yess and since then I’ve taken time off to get this track out and now it’s out I’m looking forward to getting back on the live circuit. Hopefully do some shows in Darwin and look for what opportunities come up interstate. I’ve got a few tracks in the pipeline that are yet to be released but I’d love to just get treading Water out for now and get people to hear it and then I got a few loaded up ready to go for when the right moment for them comes around. There’s no timeline for when those other songs come out. With Treading Water, there has been a conscious intent to change the vibe and I want people to hear that and get on board first and then we’ll follow it up with some more.