Dallas Woods: "Those small little wins are what I do it for"
© Ken Leanfore
Baker Boy's tour-mate steps into the spotlight with 64 bars of knowledge.
A connection to home, a connection to the ones who have come before, and a vision for what lay on the road ahead, has been at the centre of Dallas Woods’ musicianship. The Noongar man from the East Kimberley, who now calls Melbourne home, is part of a new wave of Australian hip-hop artists turning the genre on its head.
Touring with Baker Boy - an artist Woods took under his wing back in 2014 - has not only exposed fans to Woods’ electric stage presence, but further invited music fans to discover the rapper’s prowess on the mic and brash lyrical honesty. His music toys with the dark as well as light themes. A dynamic performer, Woods has incorporated his struggles, his evolution and the insatiable ambition he has an artist, into his music with exciting fervour.
As part of Red Bull Music’s 64 Bars series, Woods flexes on the mic, buoyed by a 00’s licked beat to take us back to his childhood and adolescence - the formative years that have made the man who he continues to develop into today.
What comes across so passionately with your 64 Bars, is a sense of nostalgia and reflection. How has growing up in a small town influenced your direction, making moves in your career?
I feel like, if you don’t know where you come from, how do you know where you’re going?
The person who I am today is a mixture of all these experiences that I’ve had as a kid growing up. When you grow up in a small town, there’s limitations to opportunities but when you’re young, you don’t see it like that. When you finally step out of from where you’re from you’re like, “Man, there are so many more opportunities,” but then you really do appreciate the little things that your town had, that the city doesn’t have. The freedom of a small town - you can really find yourself as a human there.
Have you found your views of home have changed now you’ve been gone for so long?
When I go back, I see a different place. You leave for a little bit and there’s a new generation who is going to take over. You see a difference in how my generation perceived and grew up with things, compared to this generation who would rather stay indoors and play games instead of being out on country and living how the old people used to leave. I didn’t even understand the extent of the place I was living in, the beauty of it.
You’re currently touring with Baker Boy, who is riding a whole wave of his own. What has it been like to see crowds respond to him, and by extension, the work your crew has been doing for some years now?
It’s crazy. I see it from two sides. Getting to travel around with Baker Boy, you get to see how Australia is loving this fresh air of hip-hop. Even an old hip-hop head will come up to me and say, "Lyrically, Australia needs someone like you," - those small little wins are what I do it for.
If you don’t know where you come from, how do you know where you’re going?
That’s the [overall] aim, to bring awareness with our artform that everyone listens to. At the end of the day, when I [first] heard Aussie hip hop, I wasn’t a big fan. But when I listen to the actual lyrics, I’m like, “These guys are doing their thing!” That really pushed me to go look at hip-hop in my country and obviously, their stories are a lot different to mine, but they’re stories nonetheless.
Who were you listening to, growing up?
When I was growing up I was listening to a lot of Tupac, 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ album was the one that got me. I was like, “Wow this is crazy.” As I got a little older, I started listening to a lot of Eminem and Nas; that quick storytelling style. My style of hip-hop was always [based] in the storytelling side of it. I like hearing and painting the picture you could only see in your head, or what you perceive the lyrics to be.
They’re a product of their environment and I love that they didn’t have to change who they were to make music that other people could actually relate to. Not everyone is going to be around places where there are guns popping off, but where the less fortunate and the forgotten about...that doesn’t see colour or culture.
What is it about music that keeps you going, and what is it about hip-hop in this country that is exciting you right now?
I’ve been on the road for the last ten years, really. I’ve gotten to see all of Australia, every state and territory, and I’ve been able to be amongst so many different circumstances and so much stuff that is alien to me in my own country! I didn’t have to travel the world to see those things.
With me, my biggest gift is my sense of awareness and ability to adapt to situations. Within that, I soak up all the energy I can; I watch and learn. You can’t be the voice for everyone, but I just want to be one of many.
If people are seeing you perform for the first time in 2019, if they’re hearing your music for the first time this year; what kind of impression do you want to leave them with? What is Dallas Woods striving for as an artist this year?
Just to be respected for being me. Not for trying to be anything that I’m not in order to gain respect in this hip hop world. Just by being me and being comfortable with what I’m bringing out and the music I’m making. I hope to resonate with other artists who feel the same way.