Allday discusses his favourite musical team-ups!
This July sees Adelaide-via-Melbourne-via-LA rapper-turned-singer Allday make his triumphant return to Splendour in the Grass. There’s a twist, however – much like Dune Rats’ wild party from last year, this show is being billed as “Allday & Friends.” A myriad of collaborators and team-ups are expected for the set. This set to be Allday’s biggest festival performance to date.
Of course, Allday is no stranger to collaborations. He was one of the first artists to get behind Mallrat and work with her, and his 2017 collaboration with Japanese Wallpaper, “In Motion,” scored him some of the best reviews of his career. Through his back catalogue, you can also find collabs with artists as diverse as Amy Shark, Troye Sivan and Asta. His upcoming third studio album, Starry Night Over the Phone, will feature collaborations with fellow South Australian Lonelyspeck, a returning Japanese Wallpaper and even – believe it or not – The Veronicas.
With this in mind, we asked the man himself to pick out some of his favourite musical collaborations and talk a little about what he gets out of them.
“I really like this record. To me, Kurt Vile was one of those names that I kept seeing around, but for whatever reason never really investigated. It was always like, “Oh, I’ll get around to it one day.” Listening to Lotta Sea Lice was definitely the thing that spurred me onto getting into the rest of his albums. I love him now – I listen to him all the time. If anything, I have this record to thank for serving that performative function.”
“There’s a lot of stuff on this that’s collaborative. A bunch of people worked on the production, Ty [Dolla $ign] does the verse, and the drums you hear on it are actually by Havoc from Mobb Deep. Kanye is just the ultimate collaborator. I heard that when Kanye was making The Life of Pablo, which this is on, he had a sign up in the studio. The sign said “WHAT WOULD MOBB DEEP DO?” It was right up there on the wall – how cool is that?”
“This is such a beautiful album. It’s an album that was only able to happen because Paul was making music with somebody that he loved. When it’s that kind of collaboration, I feel as though you can really be free to experiment a lot more. There’s a real sense of comfort there, and I think that’s really cool. It’s funny because I wasn’t really into The Beatles as a kid – they were a bit too light for my mum, I think. [laughs] I got into them a bit later. It’s funny, given we’re talking about collaborations – The Beatles is a topic that Gab [Strum, AKA Japanese Wallpaper] and I talk about a lot. He’s sort of over his phase, but he still knows everything about them.”
“Dev is another one of those ultimate collaborators. Everyone remembers hearing “Losing You” [by Solange] for the first time – and a big part of that is his production work. I feel like he was one of the first people to really latch onto the idea that she was something really special. As far as this track goes, I don’t quite know the split between the two of them as collaborators – like, whether it was 50/50, 60/40 or whatever. All I can say is that the two of them working in the same creative space makes for something really special.
What I like about Sky is that she has this way to create songs that exist in this dreamy, nighttime haze. It almost feels imaginary, in a way… it’s hard to describe. When she’s at her best, it’s like she’s creating her own world. It feels weird to think of anyone intruding on that, but the way Dev produces – especially at this point in his career when they made the song – just works so perfectly. I think they both have that retro tinge to what they do. You can tell they’re both really inspired by the sounds of the 80s. That New Romantic thing is a big part of their sound. I’ve never met Dev, but I would really like to.”
“So, Bowie wrote this song for Mott the Hoople – like, literally, he sat down in front of their singer and just wrote it for the band. I’ve done a bit of writing for other artists, and that direct line of collaboration is really interesting. It can be freeing in a lot of ways – you’re not living with the expectations of putting out songs specifically associated with you. You’re just free to write – it’s not like you’re trying to inhabit the artist, and be like “What would they say here?” I feel that’s how Bowie wrote this song – and, almost by accident, he wrote one of his best songs ever.”
“Isn’t it crazy that both Andre  and Big Boi are so widely regarded as two of the best to ever do it, and they somehow still don’t get enough credit? There’s something so unique about what they do. They were representing hip-hop and represented the south, but they were subverting what people would have expected them to do at more or less every turn. At the same time, though, they were able to do all of that in a way that was relatable – and it was respected by and large by the culture that they came from.
They’ve always been boundary pushers, and “International Players Anthem” is a perfect example of that. I mean, think about it – it’s literally an anthem for players, and Andre’s verse is about him meeting someone and choosing not to be a player anymore. I feel like the way that they work has inspired me in more ways than I could ever know.”
“Not many people will know this one, but I would have to count it as one of my all-time favourite collaborations. It’s no surprise we’re going back to the Kanye well again. [laughs] Slum Village were originally the group that J Dilla was a part of. They were from Detroit, and Dilla produced a whole bunch of their stuff. They changed their line-up a couple of times, but they started having a couple of songs that charted in the early-to-mid 2000s. One of them was “Tainted,” with Dwele, but this one was with Kanye and John Legend.
They’re both megastars now, but at the time they were both really new. All of the collabs Kanye was doing around this point – we’re just on the cusp of The College Dropout– were all with pretty underground people. He did a track with Dilated Peoples (“This Way”), and one with Rell too (“Real Love”). “Selfish” was one of his best ones from that era, in my opinion. It was at a time where a lot of that chipmunk-soul stuff was on the cusp of commercial viability – Common was about to blow up, for instance – and it’s really cool to look back on this song as a gamechanger in its own way.