Why Milwaukee Banks Are Stuck In The Middle, Somewhere

9 March 2016 | 3:57 pm | Rip Nicholson

"I just wanted to go in and that was me going in. I had to dust those shoulders down, man."

Milwaukee Banks' first releases — Pluto Bounce (2013) and Sweater Made Of Gold (2014) off their Rose Water EP (2014) — had the DJ/MC duo fractured from the Australian hip hop scene, considered more of an electronic act with rap. However, listening to their upcoming debut LP Deep Into The Night (due 18 March) it's clear that the amalgam of Rafter's diverse ATL-style trap beats and the powerful flow of Thomas' raps is part both and somehow neither. The pair themselves figure its the listeners that will decide exactly where they lie on the genre map.

"I don't actually know where, yet. I think people are going to tell us rather than us dictating where we think we fit."

"I think you're correct to say that we're in a bit of a niche market because of that type of crossover that you talked about, and I suppose in Australia there aren't too many electronic acts that would have a rapper," agrees Rafter. "And, there aren't too many rap acts in Australia that go so electronic — so in that sense we are stuck in the middle somewhere. I don't actually know where, yet. I think people are going to tell us rather than us dictating where we think we fit."

Rafter explains that outside of their hometown gigs, audiences are split, and always present a surprise to the Melbourne-based pair. "Sometimes we get shows, particularly outside of Melbourne — because we know the audience that we are going to expect at a Milwaukee Banks show here in our own city — when we go to another city we're not entirely sure what we're gonna get. It can be interesting," admits Rafter. "We do see the rap fans and they all wanna talk to Dyl after a show. Like, they just wanna hear that rap. So you do get rap fans and electronica fans in their own little groups."

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"I do find that we get an equal split at a lot of shows," Thomas interjects. "We get the people that are into their electronica music because Edo's been doing that for so long and I've also been into hip hop for so long it sort of meets in the middle and I guess that's what Milwaukee Banks is and it reflects that with the crowds we draw at our shows."

That's not to say they can't lean a little more towards one or the other from time to time. Deep Into The Night track Reincarnated for example show Milwaukee Banks letting the EDM aspects fall aside so their hip hop side can stretch its legs. "I've been around rapping for a long time and with the EP I wanted to try different things and I wanted to have something on the album that people could sink their teeth into and say, 'this kid can spit'. I don't want them to forget that I can rap. So it's like a stamp in a way — but it's still within the Banks' framework," proclaims Thomas. "I just wanted to go in and that was me going in. I had to dust those shoulders down, man."

Deep Into The Night drops later this month, with lead track Faded — a noticeable departure from the sounds explored on their earlier EP — having already hit the live market. "We [were] actually playing Faded in the live set for quite a long time before it was released," explains Rafter. "It was a much-needed lift for the set anyway so people had noticed the difference and it got a really positive response from the get-go."