When performing at this year’s Splendour in the Grass, Melbourne hip hop act Low Budget threw handfuls of chocolate coins and pairs of panties into the crowd in a shameless bid to win them over. A random act of kindness you may think, but one that proved extremely popular and not just with the semi-naked diabetics in the front row. In fact, their shameless bid to buy their audience with confectionery and lingered worked a treat and by the end of their set, the tent was packed with near on a thousand kids going mental in what would go down as the duos’ biggest gig to date. However, as we all know, such success is hard earned and we’d need to go back a number of years to see the humble origins of this, their most triumphant destination.
Eugene Doig aka MC Gentleman Gene and Henry Webber aka Debonair P met at school in St Kilda. Heavily into hip hop from the get go, they would go on combine their creative talents in a partnership that was simple yet effective. Simply speaking Webber makes the beats, gives them to Doig, who listens, writes and raps over the top of them. It’s the simple yet effective collaborative formula they’ve been using since day. ‘Henry’s a producer,’ explains Doig. ‘So I just let him do what he does. I might say a couple of things but essentially he’s producing the album and I’ve got a lot of trust in him.’ And so he should, for Webber’s beats are fresh, new and bursting with originality. The new album, Laserdisc has a solid hip-hop form with a big pair of swinging disco balls and a sprinkling of retro funk round the rim. ‘Henry is a big fan of disco boogie stuff,’ explains Doig. ‘A lot of the stuff from the early 80’s which has sort of been overlooked by a lot of people, I suppose because they don’t like writing to it. That was a pretty challenging thing for me as the beats are a lot faster.’
Doig’s lyrics are delivered with clarity and conviction, pretty impressive for a guy who, for a good number of years, wouldn’t dare utter his rhymes outside his bedroom. ‘I probably started writing when I was about 16 doing it on my own for a bit, while I tried to figure out what to do! I was a pretty shy dude when I was 16, pretty introvert, so I kept it in my bedroom. It was just for my mates really, I wasn’t trying to rock shows and rock crowds. I didn’t really have the confidence then for that kind of thing. But that was something that came later.’
The experience and confidence gained from live performances played a big part in the direction of the new album, which is a significantly more up beat than their debut. It’s been a successful change in direction and the new disco, funk, hip hop sound has proven to be a hit, securing the all-essential air play that acts like Low Budget need. ‘We had had airplay on local community radio which was awesome. They’ve always given us a lot of support – people like PBS and Triple R. Then Triple J finally picked up on a track from the album called Tailor Made and they absolutely flogged it! We ended up being entered into the Triple J Unearthed Splendour in the Grass competition and won!’ Part of the prize was the aforementioned gig at the festival, which the boys hope will act as a catalyst for more gigs in 2010 although they’re not getting carried away with it all. We’re not trying to blow up or be massive. We just want to make a record that someone can put on and have a real good time.’