Embracing Perth & building up the West Australian hip-hop scene: The rise & growth of Gamirez
Artist, manager, A&R, WAVY TRAX co-founder and curator Gamirez has been involved in the West Australian music industry for over a decade. In that time, Gamirez has witnessed the growth of the hip-hop culture in Perth and become a vital part of the industry. His varied journey has allowed him to learn valuable lessons and to develop an understanding of what new hip-hop artists in this part of Australia should pursue to successfully build their music career and what they should avoid.
“I’ve been an artist for a long time. Those guys from GOAT 6K and 6KMC, I was there for the very first showcasings they ever had,” Gamirez says.
“I’ve known those guys who have been around for a long time because I was out and about in the scene doing open mics and things like that. I know the whole scene from way back in the day, we used to do so much stuff to grow the scene together because there was literally nothing.”
When he was studying at Curtin University, Gamirez took up a journalism unit and even temporarily considered following this career path.
“I ended up choosing a different stream but using just that one journalism unit, my cousin and I started up our WAVY TRAX blog, started interviewing people, starting writing blogs and we had a lot of submissions coming in.”
Gamirez says since there were no music magazines or online blogs reporting on Perth music, he was inspired to create his own.
“I wanted to get on a blog but there were no blogs around so I was like, cool we’re going to start our own blog so we can put the artists from the city and everyone else on. Tax return came and I literally spent all the money on buying equipment, I even bought a drone and everything. We bought the website domain and launched it then we started interviewing artists and doing all of that stuff because nobody else was, there were no other blogs around. It’s been a long journey.”
“WAVY TRAX blog would’ve been almost 11 years ago. It’s almost a humble brag that we went through a lot, early days of the Perth scene, that was literally us.” After Gamirez moved to Brisbane and his cousin and co-creator moved to Sydney, the workload became too overwhelming and unfortunately the WAVY TRAX blog fizzled out. “The blog just ended up dying and we turned it into playlisting on social media instead.”
Gamirez now works at Ditto Music in A&R (Artists and Repertoire) doing distribution alongside his own artist management agency 1 Demerit.
“That’s what I specialise in at the moment. 1 Demerit is run by myself and my business partner who is currently in Brisbane. We didn’t start it by thinking ‘hey I want to be a manager’, it was more that I had this expertise and I was wondering how I could utilise it to help other artists in similar positions.”
Gamirez commenced his work through 1 Demerit with Brisbane-based collective Swish Music first. “We worked on one release with them and the boys came back and asked us if we could manage them. Outside of Swish, there was of course Figuero Jones and we’ve also got Kheprii from Queensland. You know when I first started, I was super excited and everything but now it’s one of those things where I’m only picking key artists, like Kheprii and Swish and Unami. I’m not just looking for someone for the sake of managing. I think about it, asking myself does this person have the work ethic? Does this person have a sound I enjoy, and I can sell? And then I go from there.”
Despite not currently managing anyone in Perth, Gamirez has a lot to say about the west coast hip-hop music scene and the best way to tackle this industry as a newly established artist.
“Perth is a dope market. A lot of people over east are scared of touring in Perth, but once they actually get over here, they realise how amazing it is. There are a lot of artists in Perth who I think are not looking to build their foundations here, they’re always looking at a bigger picture. They’re thinking, ‘I want to make it over there, I want to make noise over in the eastern states because it’s almost seen as the best way to go. Meanwhile they’re not really taking pride in what makes them special, and more so from the industry standpoint or observation. If you’re a Perth artist, your unique selling point is the fact that you’re from Perth and that’s how – a lot of times – you cut through in terms of getting people’s attention.
“Being from Perth means the industry doesn’t put you in a box with the rest of the people over there in the eastern states. It’s like you almost have an advantage because even if your songs sound similar to someone, you would ultimately get looked at over that person in the east states because you’re not in competition in that state. You represent a different demographic, which is a unique selling point. Everyone who thinks, ‘Nah, I don’t care about the song plays from Perth. I don’t want to do a show at The Bird. I don’t want to do that. I want to do that (take their music to the eastern states).’ They can’t do that without really building any foundation. Sydney’s got roughly three times the population we have, but how many artists over there do they have that are making a really good living? Even though we are a small population, if you build that foundation and you really build a fanbase here, I’m telling you, you’re probably going to do better than a lot of other people in a similar predicament as you are over east.”
Gamirez says he believes a lot of artists see the eastern states as the place to go and to grow, but often times they are simply hypnotised by the “bright lights, big city” illusion. “It’s all good though, everyone can find out for themselves. If you’re a new artist starting out, maybe your goal is to be an international superstar. When you reach the next stage of your career or when you get a little older, you’ll learn a few things and lessons and your goals will be adjusted to being the biggest star in Australia. In reality, things change to a point where you may look back in hindsight and think maybe you should’ve kept your goals realistic and made both short term goals and long-term goals and then just sort of build up from there. Then even if you do end up getting to, let’s say the Kid Laroi level, then it’s all good.”
Gamirez uses Perth rapper Complete as an example of someone who didn’t overlook his city and put time and effort into growing a fanbase there without thinking about taking his career somewhere over east. “That’s why I have so much respect for artists like Complete. He’s alright even just touring in Perth, he doesn’t need to go over east, he doesn’t need to do anything like that because he has such a massive fanbase here that he’ll be okay regardless. He doesn’t need industry support, he doesn’t need to be on this playlist or that playlist or whatever it is, because he’s built such a big and organic fanbase in Perth that he’ll survive and tour and drop music for the rest of his life.”
The advice Gamirez would ultimately offer to young or new artists is to avoid rushing the beginning of their music career dreaming of bigger and better, to set both long term and short term music goals and to overall be grateful to be situated in the wildly growing, immensely creative and undeniably unique music scene in Perth.
Words by @livdaangel