Bliss n Eso – Dopamine Feat. Thief – Lead Press Oct 2016 – Credit Dean Hammer
Picture: Dean Hammer

Bliss n Eso on their new album, overcoming alcoholism and the power of positive thinking

Having just released their latest album Off the Grid, and embarked on a huge Australian tour, Bliss n Eso are one of the busiest names in hip hop.

Off the Grid is the group’s sixth release, and as MC Max MacKinnon (aka Eso) explains, it’s more introspective than previous releases.

“I think this album was more of a therapeutic way of self-expression for me and Bliss,” he says down the phone from Sydney.

“It was really the kind of time to show the world who Jonathan and Matthew were, instead of this VIP celebrities world where we don’t have the same problems as an everyday person. That’s just not the reality of it.”

The album touches on alcohol abuse and MacKinnon’s experience of overcoming it.

“Over the last 10 years as the band has risen with success, a lot of demons have come with that,” he says.

“I feel like the music industry is this big machine that fuels the demons you already have coming into it. I was a big drinker and all of a sudden as the success came it was not just a six-pack to split between the boys anymore, it was five cases of this, six bottles of this – backstage, every show, night after night. You can get quite caught up in it all.”

The album has connected with a lot of people with similar issues, with “thousands” of people telling MacKinnon their personal stories, including other bands.

“They’re all just different bands that have been very open and honest with telling me their personal stories,” he says.

“It’s over the thousands, every week.”

With fans reaching out to the band with their own issues, it is obvious the band has a connection with their fan base.

“They have multiple lyrics of our songs inked on their bodies, front covers across their chest – they’ll fly a thousand kilometres to get to a show,” says MacKinnon.

“There is a connection there that’s really magical and I don’t think Bliss, myself and DJ Ism can even see it.”

MacKinnon attributes that connection to the “powers of the positive mind”.

McKinnon’s mother would tell Bliss and MacKinnon after school to place their wants and dreams into a jar and into the freezer “to keep the thoughts fresh”.

“If I could show what was on that first bit of paper I’d put in the freezer when I was fifteen, sixteen years old – it was to have someone to like our music and listen to it, just someone,” he says.

“For us to eventually do a live performance and be happy as a band – it was just so pure, it even takes me back further when I am five years old and all I know is a film called Electric Boogaloo.

MacKinnon met his hero and star of 1984 breakdancing flick Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo Adolfo ‘Shabba Doo’ Quiñones during a chance encounter on a trip to LA with his parents when he was five years old, and says the tale is an example of positive thinking.

“My mum says ‘stop the fucking car’, I jump out, run down the street, jump on Ozone and grab him. He takes me to his car, his restaurant. He signs these pictures for me, tells me his real name, Shabadoo. I walk away like, ‘Alright, what’s for dinner?’ I told my parents it was easy, I was going to Hollywood – you told me he was there so I am going to meet him. Boom. End of story.

“We have this positive thinking, fresh energy that we can manipulate our destinies into whatever want, we are gods of our own universes.”

On tour, MacKinnon says fans like likened meeting Bliss n Eso to his story with Ozone.

“I’ve had people listen to the song about Ozone, Life’s Midnight and said meeting me was like my story with Ozone,” he says.

“I think when I did meet Ozone it showed me one thing, to always respect someone when they’re coming up to you. I try to be open as I can and shake everyone’s hand that I am in front of at the show’s and meet as many people as possible – because you never know how much it could mean to that person.”

Bliss n Eso’s latest album Off the Grid is out now.

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