Life

BAYANG (Tha Bushranger) Sucks: “I Used To Ark Up Way Too Quickly”

"The hardest lesson, which I don't think some people ever learn, is sticking to your ethics, even when it's difficult or when it's unpopular."

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Hearing Sydney artist BAYANG (Tha Bushranger) rap is like receiving repeated electric shocks.

He’s eclectic and prolific, mixing together elements of hip-hop, industrial, post-punk and whatever else his heart desires. Earlier this year, BAYANG teamed up with Sydney noise trio Bract for REDBRICKGOTHIK, and the first words you hear on the project are “this city is alive”. The following 30 minutes of music tear Sydney’s shiny façade to shreds, instead spotlighting the city’s festering (and often invisible) underbelly. Distortion and feedback seep through your speakers like maggots spilling out of a rotting carcass, while BAYANG’S bars cut through the walls of sound like razor-sharp shards of glass.

REDBRICKGOTHIK is a project for those that feel unrepresented by Sydney’s most visible cultural structures, and an ode to those striving to create and foster thriving countercultural communities. Junkee caught up with BAYANG to discover what keeps him going, and the result is a chat jam-packed with wisdom. As he explains, it sucks when good people get hurt because of our actions, but we’re always presented with a choice: learn from our mistakes, or continue on these paths of destruction. At the end of the day, love reigns supreme, but we can’t take the love we receive from our community for granted. That’s a lesson that BAYANG understands more than most. 

Junkee: A mistake that turned into an opportunity? 

Right when I was starting out, I definitely placed my trust in people before I knew what their character was, right when I was getting involved in music. I was like 18, 19, and yeah, didn’t know what I was doing, and in the process got myself hurt. Got a lot of people close to me hurt. But I always say I wouldn’t do it any other way because through something like that I learned who my real friends were. I learned what sticking together actually is. I learnt what my ethics were. The hardest lesson, which I don’t think some people ever learn, is sticking to your ethics, even when it’s difficult or when it’s unpopular.

Cringe quote you used to live by?

“Sleep when I’m dead”, “no days off in this shit”, there were a lot. I was on Tumblr a lot. There are a few, but those would be the most defining ones I think.

Worst advice you got and blindly followed?

“No days off in this shit”, that was the worst advice I ever got. It took crashing my car for me to slow down and actually figure out how much I could fit on my plate and start getting organised. You need days off in this shit. You need to sleep. I love napping, I love playing video games. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

The worst failure you’re up for sharing, and what you learned from it?

During that same real busy, disorganised, frantic, hectic period of my life, I let the important things fall to the wayside. In the process, I think I really neglected some of my important and close relationships. Hurt friends, hurt family. I was lucky that they were all kind enough to pull me up and really tell me what I was doing wrong. And now I’ve learnt you’ve just got to let love lead. Everything else can wait, but stuff works out when you do that.

Anything you used to be wrong about?

I used to ark up way too quickly. I used to turn benign conversations and human mistakes into full blown arguments and fights and that kind of stuff. And while I still keep that in my back pocket for when it’s necessary, it took me making human mistakes and being met with grace to realise that that’s worth more than arking up to anyone if you’re really trying to get your point across and really trying to build community, build bridges. It’s grace. It’s diplomacy. 

Embarrassing Internet habit?

Fucking YouTube video game playthroughs, games that I’ll never buy. Philosophy video essays from real cringy YouTube personalities. Doom scrolling. Internet junk food.

Ideal morning routine versus actual morning routine?

Well, my ideal morning routine is what I’m trying to set in now. So I’ve got my alarm set for four — I usually get up at five — and what I’m trying to do is like get up maybe do like 5-10 minutes of stretches, work on some music, have a slow start before I have to leave for work.

What I actually do is wait until the last minute, hit snooze a billion times, throw my pants on, suck on my vape for 45 minutes and then drive to work. Chug down a coffee, be a fucking pissed off idiot at all my workmates. It shapes your whole day, the morning. Yeah, I want to start slow for sure.

Something very off-brand for you?

Nothing is off-brand, bro. Nothing is off-brand. The real ones know. Even if it doesn’t make sense to some people on the outside, nothing’s off-brand at all. It’s all part of the whole.

Bad health decision?

I remember being 15, having my first ciggie, and being like ‘damn, I sure hope this doesn’t awaken something in me.’ Here we are, 12 years later, and I can’t kick them. Mates in NA and AA tell me it keeps you off the harder stuff, you know, whatever. It doesn’t matter too much. But it’s the last one and it’s hard to kick. It is hard to kick. 

What do you waste money on?

Shoes. Nikes. Yeah, I’ll waste money on that shit. I don’t need that shit, man. I’ve got Nikes that are still in the running. I don’t have space for that shit anymore, man. Why do I need like 10 different TNs? Why do I need 10 different 90s? I just collect everything I get into, like Pokemon cards, this and that. At the moment it’s Nikes. Waste of money. I probably spend more money on tattoos but that’s not a waste of money. That’s just permanent.

Worst procrastination habit?

Like everyone else, doom scrolling. Doom scrolling. Waking up, rolling over, grabbing your phone first thing before anything else. You get that brain rot feeling when you’ve hit it way too hard. Yeah, it’s just digital junk food man. Digital junk food. I hate it. I need to chuck my phone out the window, into the ocean. Fuck that. 

BAYANG (Tha Bushranger) and Bract are set to perform in Melbourne on Friday July 14 for a show alongside Too Birds and DNR, and they’re set to tear the roof off. Grab tickets here.

Editor’s note: This piece has been lightly edited for length and clarity.


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Illustration credit: Matt Lauricella, @pigeonboyart