Maintaining the ecosystem – BAYANG (tha Bushranger) on The Playlist

January 17th 2024

  • BAYANG (tha Bushranger) :: interview on the Playlist

By any conventional measure of success in the music industry, 2023 was a fruitful and prolific year for Western Sydney rapper and producer BAYANG (tha Bushranger). With the release of a debut mixtape, two impressive collaborations, and plenty of singles and features, it’s no surprise he scored not one but two Album of the Week mentions last year. Yet in addition to BAYANG’s many quantifiable achievements in 2023 he also reached some intangible but equally important realisations – overcoming his own “internal contradictions,” and fostering a local sonic “ecosystem.” The artist caught up with Lindsay Riley on The Playlist to discuss the past year and what’s to come.

Bayang’s first release of 2023 Redbrickgothik was a refreshingly brutal take on what it means to work and live in Sydney city. It’s as uplifting as it is unforgiving, a stark reminder of the harshness of the city and yet at the same time a display of Sydney’s ever expanding possibilities. For BAYANG, it was the mark of a new kind of dedication to music.

“[In 2023] there’s definitely been more of a consciousness of where I sit … being like, okay, you know, I guess this is it. Still trying to be an artist …  there is an internal contradiction there that you kind of have to resolve, you know? I think for ages I was not really admitting to myself how seriously I wanted to take music … it was just kind of like, well, I love making music, you know … let’s do it.”

‘Doing it’ is no easy feat – as BAYANG points out, in a city like Sydney there is a the tendency to see certain artists as ‘invalid’ purely because they haven’t ‘made it’, or seen commercial success. There’s simply not a proportionate amount of international or even national acknowledgement for what we have here; an undoubtedly impressive and valid music scene with a deep history, and consistent, creative, and meaningful collaboration. For BAYANG, a more appropriate definition is probably required when describing the world of Sydney music-making.

“My mates and I, you know, like Kal [of Slim Set], Sev [Sevy], like Grasps [of AGONY], Kuya Neil and Teether … we’ve all kind of started referring to it less as a ‘scene’ and more of an ecosystem, you know, and when you refer to it as an ecosystem … you’re less like, how successful is it? You’re more like, how healthy is it and how diverse is it, you know?”

BAYANG’s embrace of this idea of an “ecosystem” is clear in his collaborative work – both GUILD and Antarctica are impressive testaments to the diversity that Sydney has to offer. Originating from one night of spontaneous creative madness, a clear sense of community and solidarity – along with plain old fun (see: BAYANG’S recollection of a “weird young lean body pillow” being present for the production) – evidently runs deep. The resultant projects are lighthearted and refreshing but also symbolic of a deeper, more meaningful Sydney “scene”, characterised by a willingness and eagerness to band together against all odds.

Perhaps no artist more so than BAYANG (tha Bushranger) in 2023 made clear the strength and continuing perseverance and resilience of those who make underground music in Sydney – as he sums up in ‘GIMME UR LOVE’: “Out here with the finest / The ecosystem thrives.”

Listen back to BAYANG’s full interview with Lindsay Riley on The Playlist, where he touches on the historical parallels between hardcore punk and rap music and how this fits into his musical journey as well as his recent trip to South-East Asia, up top. Buy/stream his latest mixtape Antarctica below.