1200 Techniques

Peril was active in Melbourne's hip-hop underground in the '80s as a b-boy, graff artist and turntablist, later gigging in bands. Legend is he formed 1200 Techniques after catching Perth brothers N'fa and Kabba MC-ing at Fitzroy's Evelyn Hotel. Kabba headed overseas and so in came Peril's sibling, Kemstar – a Hendrixian funk/rock guitarist. The 1200s, signing to local indie Rubber Records, hybridised hip-hop, electro, funk, soul, blues and psychedelia on 2001's debut EP, Infinite Styles, led by the triple j favourite Hard As Hell. "We always said, from day one, don't define us – we have '1200 techniques'," Peril asserts. Unusual for Oz hip-hoppers back then, the 1200s harnessed live instrumentation – they even recruited a drummer for shows – and ensured that their songs had "hooks".

The trio's first album, Choose One, cracked the Australian Top 20. The 1200s were nominated for ARIAs; their signature hit Karma scoring "Best Independent Release" and "Best Video". The posse's follow-up, Consistency Theory, revealed a more international orientation, its R&B-tinged Fork In The Road featuring Rashad Haughton, Aaliyah's talented older brother, who had been hanging out on the Melbourne set of Queen Of The Damned (N'fa was an extra). "That was pretty much the first neo-soul song recorded in Australia," Peril states.

As Australia's inaugural crossover hip-hoppers, 1200 Techniques not only opened the way for Hilltop Hoods, Bliss n Eso and 360, but also compelled major labels and commercial radio to acknowledge the surging urban movement. They were among the earliest homegrown hip-hop acts to join the festival circuit, being billed at Big Day Out. In the process, the 1200s challenged old "rock dogs". "We did break some barriers," concedes Peril.

Fork In The Road would be the 1200s' last single before they went on hiatus. However, the members didn't cease creating music. The nomadic N'fa delivered two solo albums, the most recent 2014's acclaimed Black + White Noise on Drapht's The Ayems, and collaborated widely (he rapped on Nick Thayer's smash EDM EP Like Boom). Peril DJ-ed in clubs, promoted nights, hosted radio shows, and presented his own blockbuster King Of The Beats via his Street Elite imprint. And last year Kemstar, who has the fashion line Extinct, issued an Italo-disco EP as Cybernetic Express. Periodically, the 1200s reconnected – and plotted. "You know some bands after 10 years, you got one out of retirement, one out of rehab?" Kemstar jokes. "It was never that."

Expecting a new incarnation of 1200 Techniques on Time Has Come? You shouldn't. "We jumped back on where we left off," Peril stresses. Adds Kemstar, "We're just doing our own thing – and trying to do a better version of what we did last time." The 1200s aren't inclined to ingratiate themselves with any urban sub-scene or emulate trendy sounds. Time Has Come is trap-free, classic 808 drums aside, "It hasn't come out of an instant sort of hip-hop pack – like, just add milk," Peril quips. The 1200s played all instruments, and relied on analogue studio gear, eschewing samples. As such, Time Has Come is "very musical," Peril notes. The 1200s have transcended their hip-hop history, expanding and evolving, but the groove is paramount. "It's gotta make your head bop!" Peril enthuses. Plus the 1200s remain inherently DIY, the DJ producing and mixing the EP in his bedroom. "There was no big money thrown into this." Importantly, the 1200s aren't preoccupied with past achievements. But they have nothing to prove to audiences, either. "At the end of the day, we're not making it for them to swing – we're making it for us to swing," Kemstar says.

Time Has Come will be released in CD, vinyl and cassette formats, the artwork referencing Peril's love of street art. The producer, who recruited Puzzle to design the 1200s' earlier forays, reached out to "ol' skool" aerosolist Paris and the emerging Adnate (he's behind a landmark-size mural of the band in Fitzroy, photos of which have gone viral on social media). What’s next for the 1200s? They're hitting the road again; live shows are their "forte", as Peril reminds us. "We're gonna get on stage and I'm gonna lose a kilo every time I play – 'cause we go off. We sweat."1200 Techniques is N’fa (lead vocals), DJ Peril (producer, beats, vocals, percussion) and Kemstar (guitar, bass, keys).

1200 Techniques - Choose One
1200 Techniques - Choose One $50.00
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1200 Techniques - Consistency Theory
1200 Techniques - Consistency Theory from $20.00
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“Flow is Trouble” feat Ghostface Killah
1200 Techniques - Flow Is Trouble (limited edition 7") $15.00
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1200 Techniques - Infinite Styles
1200 Techniques - Infinite Styles $10.00
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1200 Techniques - One Time Live (DVD)
1200 Techniques - One Time Live (DVD) $20.00
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1200 Techniques - Time Has Come (EP)
1200 Techniques - Time Has Come (EP) $15.00
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