How do artists pick a setlist? Is it preconceived, or just about how they’re feeling on the day? Are there some songs that are unmovable, or is everything up for grabs? To find out we spoke to Los Angeles pop phenom Billie Eilish ahead of her set at Melbourne Laneway, which included songs from her debut EP Don’t Smile At Me and a song “everyone in the fucking world knows”.
Is there a lot of planning that goes into the setlist for you?
I think it’s all about dynamics really. Because I do have a lot of songs on the slower side, which I still love, but it’s so much more fun to play songs you can jump to and dance to. I really like moshing and I really like going to shows where you can mosh. I want people to have fun at my shows so it’s kinda [fun] separating the bigs and the lows in my setlist.
Is there a particular song you always open with?
I open with ‘Bellyache’ on this whole run. ‘Bellyache’ is the man.
Why that song in particular?
This is for the Laneway tour, obviously. But directly after this I fly to London. It’s a 24-hour flight. I fly to London and then I go on my tour which is obviously the same setlist, it’s the same tour. And the tour is called, “Where’s My Mind?”, which is a line from ‘Bellyache’ … ‘Bellyache’ is the theme of the tour. It has the insane asylum feel to it. I guess I just want people to go crazy, and the song is crazy.
Do you ever change the setlist depending on how you feel on the day?
I take some songs out sometimes, because I’m just like, “Fuck this song.” [Laughs] I mean, yesterday [at Laneway Adelaide] there were a lot of technical difficulties, so we didn’t do some songs because the computer was like, “Nope! Can’t do it.” But it depends.
Are there songs you’d never take out of the setlist?
I would never take out ‘COPYCAT’ ever. I love that song.
What song always gets the best response?
I think ‘COPYCAT’. People have a lot of fun with ‘COPYCAT’. Also ‘My Boy’ and ‘Ocean Eyes’ is the big one. That song when it turns on people go crazy, but the most fun is ‘COPYCAT’.
How long have you been copying ‘Hotline Bling’ for?
I did it the whole last tour. And I wasn’t going to do it again, but then i was like, “I’ll do it again.”
When did you start covering it?
Years ago. Basically when I learned how to play the ukulele well I literally made up the chords … [Brother/producer] Finneas came in and he’s like, “This is sick!” And I was like, “No, it’s not.” I remember at the time I couldn’t sing the chorus because it was way too high for me – I sing it every show now.
How does it go down with the crowd?
It’s cool because everyone in the fucking world knows ‘Hotline Bling’, so they always sing along which is sick.
How different is planning a festival show to a club date?
It’s not worse or better, it’s just different. One of the hardest things [about festivals] is that not everyone there came to see you. They’re just there. Maybe they were waiting for the next person after you, maybe they were just there for the person before you, or they don’t know anybody.
I’ve been to a lot of festivals, and I know that I’ve ended up in crowds going, “Who is this? I don’t want to be there. This is horrible.” So when you’re playing a festival you have to accept that…
It’s almost about proving them wrong or just letting it go and thinking, “Okay, I’m just going to have fun.” I’m really lucky to have the amount of supporters that come see me at these festivals. That’s really sick.
How do artists pick a setlist? Is it preconceived, or just about how they’re feeling on the day? Are there some songs that are unmovable, or is everything up for grabs? To find out we spoke to Amy Shark ahead of her main stage performance at Melbourne Laneway about the planning that’s gone into her song selections for the day. Spoiler alert: She covered Eminem.
Does a lot of planning go into the setlist?
That’s usually a big meltdown in my house. There’s a lot of arguments. But a lot of thought goes in. Like any band there’s a lot of thought goes into the setlist, because you have to factor in things like changing instruments – it’s very complex putting together a good show. And that’s my goal in life: putting on a good show. A lot of thought goes into.
How are you feeling about today?
Festivals are awesome. I’ve got some really fun songs to play off my EP and some old songs people are learning now and I’m hearing them singing it back to me. It’s really fun. Festivals are easy and they’re fun.
Any surprises today?
I don’t know if it’s a surprise … but I do a cover that I really like doing and that might be a surprise to some people and not to others. I do an Eminem song [‘Superman’] mixed in with D12.
What song gets the most reaction? We’re guessing it’s still ‘Adore’?
‘Adore’ gets some excitement happening but then again ‘Blood Brothers’ as well is really fun.
Do you always open with ‘Drive You Mad’?
I mean why wouldn’t you? That siren is like, “Get to the stage, like now.” [Laughs]
Is there a big difference in planning before headline shows as opposed to festival shows?
I’m so invested in my headline shows. I really want people to leave knowing a little bit about the songs and how my mind works. So I talk a lot more. There’s big energy, big lights, and my band is amazing. It’s similar, but I chat a bit more. I give a little bit more of myself because I have more time.
ONCE a month, somewhere in the world, a rapper releases a song called ‘No Limit’ that states they have “no limits”, maybe drops a reference to Master P, mentions the fact they’re a soldier, and if you’re lucky, they’ll throw in an “UHHHH” too.
One of the biggest (and shittiest) songs of 2017 is ‘No Limit’ by Oakland’s G-Eazy, a rapper who looks like a Fast and The Furious movie come to life, who only ticks the “I’m a soldier” box in his ‘No Limit’ song.
But at the peak of its late-’90s fame, Master P’s No Limit Records was an inescapable hip-hop brand, bleeding its way onto the radio all over America, into fashion and even into the sports world. 1998 saw the label release 23 albums through Universal, most of which sold millions.
Operating from a mansion in New Orleans, No Limit Records was the main rival to Cash Money Records (which featured in episode one of this podcast), and the two labels even had similar DIY beginnings. Except while Birdman and Slim were selling Cash Money tapes out of their cars in New Orleans, Master P and his brothers C-Murder and Silkk the Shocker were running a record store in Richmond, California.
Although born in New Orleans, Master P was raised by his grandparents in Richmond. After receiving a $10,000 payment due to medical negligence related to his grandfather’s death, P opened the No Limit Records Shop in the early-’90s and released his first tape as Master P shortly after.
While No Limit Records would be one of the defining sounds of late-’90s New Orleans rap, the label’s initial output had an unmistakably West Coast sound, unlike Cash Money who embraced New Orleans bounce in their first years as a label.
This month’s episode of Old Raps takes a look at the Richmond, California-era of No Limit Records from 1991 to 1995, focusing on the solo releases of Master P, plus his work with his brothers as TRU (The Real Untouchables). There’s also tracks from P’s wife Sonya C, TRU member E-A-Ski, and more Bay Area rappers.
It features incredible production from CMT, Ski and various other producers that P worked with before finding Beats by The Pound, the New Orleans-based production team who were responsible for eventually giving No Limit Records its signature sound.
So listen to an hour of music from a time that most have forgotten (complete with a Christmas song!) instead of the latest rap song called ‘No Limit’, featuring very little references to this incredibly important record label. – DJ Levins
Master P – Psycho Rhymes (excerpt)
Tom Waits – Underground
Master P – I Got The Dank
Master P – What’s Up With That (featuring Silkk The Shocker) (Street Mix)
TRu – Hangin’ In The Hood
Sonya C – Street Message
Sonya C – Married To The Mob (Part One)
E-A-Ski – 1 Step Ahead Y’all
Master P – Bloody Murder
TRU – Sweated By Da Po Po’s
Lil Ric – Playaz and Hustlaz
Cellski & U.N.L.V. – Stressed Out
Master P – The Ghetto’s Tryin To Kill Me
C-Murder & Master P – Christmas In Da Ghetto