Royalz is the owner and founder of GRHYME Productions, a Melbourne based label that has added to the list of dope contributions coming from Australia the past few years. After a series of remix projects and mix tapes, he dropped Live 95, his debut production album featuring a host of dope spitters like Roc Marciano, Conway and SmooVth. He just teamed up with SmooVth to bring you China White, their brand new collab project. He touches on those projects, his history in the game and much more.
RD: You are the third Aussie to do a piece with us. What is in the water over there?
R: Great Chinese food! Australia is a melting pot of so many cultures, hip-hop included. Australia is indigenous land, taken by the Europeans as a place to put their convicts. After the ‘White Australia’ policy was abolished the Chinese and Malaysians started immigrating in the 70s, then the Vietnamese in the 80s. Along with the good came the bad, and the bad was street gangs and heroin. That’s what inspired my next album China White.
RD: Talk to us about GRHYME Productions, the inner workings of the company and the spirit behind the music and visuals.
R: GRHYME Productions was founded on a strong DIY work ethic. From making our own beats to the artwork, it was born out of a hunger to create music but with no budget. It’s been a big learning curve, and over the past 14 years we’ve seen a lot of artists and labels come and go, but our strongest assets are determination and longevity. Internally we’ve had some changes but I’ve had my day one Angus Younga step up. I only surround myself with people as hungry as I am.
RD: After some dope remix projects, you dropped Live 95 last August. It was a unique blend of American standards Roc Marciano/SmooVth and Conway mixed with Aussies Nelson Dialect, Tornts and many others. Was that the format you had planned all along, or did things change in the journey to complete this project?
R: As a producer, a production album has always been something I was working towards. Live 95 was part of my 5 year plan (which took 6 years) that started with my remix project Man Vs Maschine Vol 1. I had the vision for Live 95 back in 2012 and got started on making the beats for it in 2016. Conway was the first artist I hit up and as it turns out at the right time, before him and Westside Gunn got signed to Shady. Roc Marci has been my #1 emcee for a while. That was a dream collab that I had to make happen when the situation presented itself. Then it was a matter of getting the best of the best from Australia and a couple of up and comers, sorta like the 1992 Dream Team. Every move I make is calculated and Live 95 was an almost perfect execution of that plan.
RD: The first two singles, Facts featuring Roc Marciano and Bundles featuring Conway each sold out very quickly. As did the Nintendo Gray edition of the Live 95 wax, did the demand for these physicals match your expectations?
R: They blew my expectations out of the park! Being so isolated on this big island called Australia, even with the internet, as a “new” artist it can be hard to gauge how you’ll be received. Streaming and follower figures does not always lead to sales and I’m in the lucky position where my sales are great even with a low stream/follower count. I pack all my product so I see each and every name that cops my shit and I’m forever grateful to the fans.
RD: If you could go back in time to 2017 and change anything about the process of making Live 95, what would you do?
R: It was actually a great learning process and while the 2 year process had its issues, I wouldn’t change much. The only thing I would change would be to pull the trigger on the Westside Gunn feature, and worry about the budget later.
RD: Do you handle your own post-production? If not, do you have a trusted engineer?
R: For Live 95 I had my man Phil Gektor handle the mix as I was so busy organizing the album and its release (He’s mixed Discourse and Flu’s albums). For China White, I went back to my DIY roots and handled the mixing duties myself as my beats have evolved by devolving. A while ago I made a mental change to stop listening to the critics and just started making shit I would want to hear. Everything has been stripped down and simplified which has made learning the mixing process easier for me. Soon enough I’ll be mastering my own shit. Given enough time and effort you can learn anything.
RD: China White is the latest venture, a joint project with SmooVth. You remixed him first, then had him on Live 95, now here we are with a whole project at hand. Did something develop during the making Deuce Tray that led to this? Or was this something you had planned years ago?
R: Having a release with one U.S artist was always the plan after Live 95, it was just a matter of who. Man, I just like SmooVth’s shit! I discovered him through a Hus Kingpin’s release Splash Brothers and was hooked. I did that remix then hit him up for the feature which turned out super gully. After that it was a no brainer for the next LP. Since we already had a good relationship and communicated well, it was a perfect match to create something together.
RD: How did your approach differ from working with multiple emcees? Did you have a more set sound you wanted to use for this, getting down to BPM and melody style?
R: After working with 12 emcees/groups on the same project I don’t think I’ll be doing another multi-artist production album for a long time. I already had a sound in mind for China White and actually shopped the sound locally 3 years ago, but no one here was ready for that type of production the slow soulful 70s era beats with hard raps. I had to reach out to NY for the right person with the right voice and life experience to craft the story I wanted to showcase for this album.
RD: What can collectors expect as far as physicals go?
R: I’ve linked up with Copenhagen Crates for the vinyl treatment which I’ve had good experiences with, from the quality of the vinyl to actually having stock in hand for release date. That’s important to me – I hate long pre-orders. I’ve also got cassettes and CDs (with lyric booklet) available via GRHYME Productions. Each physical release has a different bonus track which was fun to do.
RD: What tracks are getting the visual treatment, and when can we expect that?
R: The lead single is called Divide Cake. I’ve done a simple animated clip for this, similar to the one I did for Facts with Roc Marciano in 2017. Animation is new to me but I used to draw a lot in high school. Doing the drawing for my animated clips has renewed my love for drawing which I hope to incorporate into my cover art in the future.
RD: If there’s one thing you’d like listeners to take away from the project, what would it be?
R: Don’t do drugs kids, sell it.
GRHYME Productions Bandcamp https://grhymeproductions.bandcamp.com
Follow Royalz on Twitter @gryhmeproduct and IG @royalzog