Elusive of All Expectation: An Interview with Kirklandd

Victor Tawagi Photography

Canberra isn’t known for its rap scene.

Yet.

In recent years we have seen a change, with a few determined people carving a niche into our city. One of these people is rapper Kirklandd, the new kid on the block who is making steady headway in the Aussie rap world. At the moment he is kicking it in Canberra, and feels that the best is yet to come, saying, “Next year is going to be a huge year for Canberra… we have a huge range of artists now who are pushing through, like a new age kind of sound and we are starting to find our identity”. Kirklandd has certainly felt the beginnings of this push, performing at two of Canberra’s largest creative events: Art not Apart earlier this year, and just recently at Fashfest. “The numbers were huge… it had the live impact that I’ve wanted to have for a while, with live instruments, proper lighting and great sound… the impact was definitely there and the response was phenomenal.”

Kirklandd, however, admits that he is still learning, and that he expects his music to evolve and change. He admits that part of this process is scary – not having a 100% clear view of what is happening next – but says he has a good idea of what kind of music he doesn’t want to make. He has made a point of moving away from what he calls ‘fuck bitches, get money rap’, passionately stating, “I think all of that shit is so contrived… it’s a terrible influence….” This resolve is clear throughout Kirklandd’s music, which revolves around his experiences as a young man. Talking about the best way to make genuine music, he says, “I keep myself in check when I write… it has to resonate with me… it has to be authentic to me as a person, and hip-hop as a genre.”

Kirklandd’s most recent songs – We On and Visions – show his exploration as an artist, and he admits to me that they are ‘polar opposites’ because he “didn’t want to get into the trap of that being what I do… you get labelled, so I made an opposite which is more soulful and raw.” Kirklandd loves the experimental side of his art, mixing genres and instruments to create a unique blend of sounds. As a younger gent he grew up on blues and R&B, however, after discovering the world of hip-hop and rap through artists such as Lupe Fiasco, Kirklandd hasn’t looked back.

He experiments further with mixing genres in his new track Rise, which he couldn’t tell me too much about just yet, outside of the promise of a combination of old school rap, live drums and a saxophone solo to top it all off. Rise, he feels, is his best track yet, and will really show the learning curve that he been on since 2014. “I have a long way to go,” he says, “I’m just trying to master my craft right now.”

Kirklandd has come a long way in just a few years, and when thinking back to finishing high school he states with a laugh, “my only goal at the time was to rap for my cousin, that was the end goal of everything.” From here his music has grown, and he is workshopping his sound constantly. Kirklandd is heading interstate for a while, picking up some gigs in Melbourne, however, he plans to return home soon so stay tuned.

To satisfy my own curiosity I ended our interview by asking him to sum up the burgeoning Canberra rap scene, he hesitated before thoughtfully responding, “elusive of all expectation.”