Gabadoo talks tragic loss, the thrill of performance and his love of Common

REPRESENTING CULTURE: Djiringanj rapper Gabadoo has taken the local festival circuit by storm in 2017. He will perform at the Grow the Music festival at Wallaga Lake on Friday, October 13. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

REPRESENTING CULTURE: Djiringanj rapper Gabadoo has taken the local festival circuit by storm in 2017. He will perform at the Grow the Music festival at Wallaga Lake on Friday, October 13. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

In Australia two genres have created a musical marriage usually only seen in the southern states of the US.

Rap and country have influenced many Australian artists.

Artists like Bermagui rapper and producer Gabadoo, also known as Eight Seven.

“When I was really young I’d listen to my parent’s playing country music around me,” the 29-year-old said.

"I sing about my deceased loved ones, and I with they were still here." - Gabadoo

“It was constant, but then when I heard rap and the way they sing I knew it was how I could tell my story.”

One day an older cousin introduced a young Gabadoo to the creative world of legendary American rappers Ice T, Easy E and Tupac Shakur.

“It was the way they sang the lyrics to the beat, it sounded unreal,” he said.

“What they were saying was harsh, but I loved their flows.

“It made me want to do it.

“By my mid-teens I wanted to record my voice and my dad had this old boombox and a speaker, so I started making tapes.”

At 15 he was hooked, and from that moment he knew what he wanted to do.

In 2006 the purchase of a computer spurred a new passion for audio software programs like Fruity Loops, Reason and Audacity.

In a place where record studios are almost non-existent, it allowed for easy recording and beat production, so Gabadoo went to work turning his thoughts into sound waves.

“My beats automatically tell a story,” he said.

“I have these sounds in my head that I have to get out, and tell a story.”

Heavily influenced by Chicago rapper Common St Louis’ Nelly, Gabadoo expresses his experiences as a Djiringanj man in modern Australia.

“I’m really stuck on Common at the moment,” he said.

The sound of rap and R&B resonates with the community, and it has become a way of telling stories, stories of land and culture.

“My lyrics share my experiences, and how I was raised,” he said.

“I love talking about Bermagui, it’s a beautiful place.”

Previously known as Eight Seven, his stage name Gabadoo stems back to his time growing up.

“My sister couldn’t say my name Gary when I was young, so she called me Gabadoo,” he said with a laugh.

Growing up surrounded by regular house parties, a young Gabadoo found it difficult to sleep, and violence was often nothing unusual.

“It was like that pretty much every day, and I used to wonder what was going on,” he said.

“It was a bit tough I’d say.

“Then music came into the picture, and I wanted to tell my story.”

With a string of live shows now under his belt, he’s come a long way since his first ever performance during last year’s festival.

“That was a bit nervous for me, being up on stage,” he said.

“But as I got up there I heard the family call out ‘come on Gabadoo’, which gave me some excitement.

“When I got off stage I wanted to come back on again,” he said with a laugh.

He’s spent years in the lab fine tuning his production sound, last year releasing music recorded alongside founding Warumpi Band member Neil Murray.

Tracks like Home on the Hill, Daddy’s Angel and Lost Without You see Gabadoo share his soul, and the family man’s love of those closest to his heart.

“I sing about my deceased loved ones, and I with they were still here,” he said.

“My first cousin William was really close to me, and he was stabbed at a party in Redfern.

“I can feel him with me.”

Fresh from his performance at Granite Town, Gabadoo is quickly carving out his own unique stage presence.

Entertaining crowds of punters is a long way from making beats in his Bermagui bedroom.

“It means a lot to me to be out there performing to everyone,” he said.

“I feel really good about it.

“It is a good feeling being out on the land, in front of your people.”

His daughter Requia is the next generation, and already holds a dream of following in her father’s footsteps.

The region’s elder statesman of the rap game Warren “WZA” Foster Sr says the genre is a confidence builder for the community.​

“Rap music is a big influence on our community because we can relate to a lot of the words,” he said.

“It's another positive thing to get the youths, or anyone, the creativity of using music and writing mad songs for themselves.

“It's also a confidence builder, like I been rapping since 1988, when I wrote my first rap song Dreamtime, and since then I’ve seen it grow to what it is today.

“As long as they express themselves in a positive way, I think it's all good, and as long as they know it's a new culture and ours is the oldest living culture in the world, then it's fine."

The Grow the Music program, run by  Emily White and Lizzy Rutten, has also fostered the talents of the Ngaardi Womens Choir at Wallaga Lake, and Foster says it helps rid the younger generation of what he describes as “the shame factor”, bringing with it feelings of positivity to the community.

“It also the wider community to come and see the positivity instead of the negativity,” he said.

“Bringing us altogether, so we can share and show our talent, instead of being shy and timid, which is the shame factor I was talking about.

“We’ve got a lot of talent, it's just about exposing them, while not exploiting what we got, and feeling good about ourselves when it's all done.

“I think it’s awesome that our community has these concerts.”

  • The Grow the Music Wallaga Lake Community Concert will be held on Friday, October 13 from 6pm at the Wallaga Lake Community Hall.
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