Milwaukee Banks: "Trying New Things Is What's Driving Me"

Written By Donna Arendse on 03/16/2015


What happens when you pair a graphic designer and a business analyst and former librarian? Milwaukee Banks, that’s what.

Consisting of Melbourne based producer Adrian Rafter aka “Edo” and rapper Dyl Thomas, MB have had a pretty massive 2014 after their debut in late 2013. 2015 opened with the duo touring with Laneway Festival, as well as supporting Raury for his Sydney and Melbourne shows.

the interns caught up with the boys before their Raury show in Sydney, and amongst laughter and an impromptu “rap squat” photo shoot and history session, we learnt about their motivations, inspirations and even some family history.

First of all – what is the interview question you hate most, so I won’t ask you it?

Edo: I don’t mind, really. But we do get asked which one of you is Milwaukee and which one is Banks? (laughs)

Where did your name come from?

Dyl: it’s a long story, but when me and Edo were working on music at the start, and we got a little bit serious with it, we thought “man, we might need a name for this shit”, and he’s like “look, you look after the name ‘cause I know you’re a rapper and you write vocals and stuff, and you like coming up with names for shit.” I was like “sweet, leave it in my court, I got this”.

So I came up with a name that he only liked half of, and then he was like “what about we chuck Milwaukee in front of the Banks”, and I was like “fucking sick”, ‘cause you go for the Milwaukee Bucks, (basketball team). We were going to have another name, but yeah.

What was the original idea?

Dyl: Tyra Banks (laughs). That’s why I don’t like to say it. I had this big concept behind it, but if someone just heard that name and didn’t know the story and concept behind it, they would most probably go WTF. So it was probably a good idea that Edo chimed in.

How did you guys meet, start off making music?

Edo: We met through his girlfriend’s sister, 12 years ago or something. We were just mates back then. I used to do a lot of DJ’ing around town, did a lot of stuff in Melbourne with a group called Opulent. We used to run a club night, play international supports, do remixes, festivals, but I always wanted to just do production.

Dyl was also rapping and DJ’ing around then. I was just sending him my stuff to check out, and then 3 or 4 years ago now, I started sending him some beats that were in this electronic project I was doing called “Flight Tonight”. Dyl was like “I wanna rap on this”, and that ‘s sorta how we started. So I was just sending him demo beats and he was just rapping on them. It wasn’t until we got a little bit of a collection together that we thought maybe we should put these out.

What is the creative process, and do you both produce?

Dyl: Anyone who knows me knows I was making beats before I was rapping. I suppose it’s always been grounded in hip-hop. With Milwaukee, it started out with Edo making beats and sending them over to me. That’s sort of how I’d like to keep it as well, Edo is an awesome producer, I love the sound that he has. My sound is different to that as well, me wholly producing a song wouldn’t work as well. So he’ll send me stuff, I’ll work on it, I’ll give him feedback on a beat he’ll give me feedback on lyrics, and we work like that. The process is quite collaborative and fun. It’s always creative criticism.

We get where each other’s coming from – if Edo send sends me a beat, even if it’s a skeleton, I know if it’s going to work because I know where he can take it and what he can do with it.

How did you guys get the Raury support?

Through our booking agent. They (Raury’s team) got sent a couple of acts on their roster, and they picked us, which is really flattering. So we’re doing the Sydney and Melbourne show.

You’ve had a pretty massive year for a band just “casually” making music!

Yeah. Pluto and Sweater were 2 of the first tracks we did and we were just sorta sitting on them for a while, and around Nov/Dec 2013, we put those out just to see whether there was any interest. That’s when we decided to get involved with a few people to do it as a proper project.


You’ve done what seems like a steady stream of shows this past year. What would be your dream show/festival to play, and artists to support?

Edo: So many!

Dyl: Golden Plains is one of my dream festivals, and I get to play there soon.

Edo: I’ve already played there under a different name. It’s a pretty magical place, playing Meredith. Golden Plains is a big tick for me.

Any international ones?

Edo: Heaps.

Dyl: Fuji Rock

Edo: Yeah Fuji Rock is sick.

Dyl: I’d love to play Coachella, but yeah, Fuji Rock is sick.

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What are you favourite tracks from the EP?

Dyl: As a song, my favourite is Hazy. That’s a real good one for me. Also Van Gogh – I love that song. It’s a bit different but I love it, and love performing it.

Edo: Off the EP, either Hazy or Sweater. I think Sweater was the point it all came together, and I was like, “we can do something different, we can push ourselves in a new direction here”. As someone that’s making beats, after a while it can just become making beats. But when something comes together like that, yeah. We cross over and borrow from different influences.

All the genres are breaking down, the borders are breaking down. That’s what makes it so exciting, things move so quickly.

So you’re writing your debut album: how is that going? How many tracks?

Dyl: We don’t actually know how many yet, it’s not finalized.

Edo: We’ve written a lot of material. The writing process really started in Oct, and then in Nov I just worked on beats for like a month, and that’s when it really started.

Dyl: There’s one track that we’ve done that we perform at the moment, FADED. That’s the only really finished track that we’re happy to perform.

"Trying new things is what's driving me."

When are you releasing it?

Edo: We don’t actually know when it’s coming out, maybe like, April.

Do you do all your own production?

Yeah we collab a little bit, with a friend of ours Cameron, and a guy from Melb Andrei Eremin, who does all our mixing and mastering. We do all the production, but we open it up to a bit of a team.

Do you guys have any features on the album?

Yeahhh. We kinda keep them pretty quite for now. Just because some of them we aren’t sure are gonna happen.

What are your influences? What inspires you?

Edo: What inspires me is just trying to push ourselves a little further. We have a lot of friends and family in our environments that push us. Andrei’s a good example of a young guy, that just gets better everyday. The whole thing is like trying new things, and pushing the envelope a bit. Trying new things is what’s driving me.

Dyl: I second that.

Do you guys come from musical families?

Dyl: Both my brothers are musical, and my old man. I grew up with him playing guitar everyday but I never learnt to play guitar. I was more interested in drums and beats and shit. Every time I visited my aunty and uncle it was always in a band shed. Every time we’d be there the band would be jamming every weekend. I’d say relatively musical.

Edo: Probably just my mum ,“shout-out to my mum”. My mum is a singer, and has always been in choirs and musical theatre. She made me do a lot of that stuff from a young age, cracked the whip on me. She tried to make me do piano – I quit pretty early on.

Dyl: I loved it (piano), but I had this teacher who was friends with my nan. Her name was Mrs Foster and she was fucking lethal, like she was so fucking hardcore man. Aw it was intense, it’s bringing back bad memories.

Do you have day jobs and what are they?

Dyl: I’m a graphic designer by day.

Do you do MB stuff?

Dyl: No I don’t. I do some of the stuff. We collab with different artists, we’ve got another guy who keeps it all tight, and it means I don’t have to work on all the graphic stuff and just focus on the music.

Edo: I’m a business analyst. People would not recognise me during the day. I used to be a librarian for 2 or 3 years in a private corporate environment. I’ve also taught English in Japan.