You post music reviews at your Facebook group “Relentless Reviews With Corbz”. Were your earliest reviews of artists you were friends with or artists you found online?
Since I was young I’ve had this obsession with music. I always thought it was normal to study, learn and binge listen to music all day but I soon found out it wasn’t. I started actually three to four years ago just because I knew so much I thought why not!
My first attempt was called “Kaioken’s Knowledge Knock Outs” and the reviews I did were short and really bad. I cringe when I look back at them. Justin Hunte formerly of HipHopDx and The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fantano inspired me. To be honest, when I first started with my amateur take on reviews I was just reviewing the albums Anthony Fantano covered, so essentially I started off as a hack, haha.
Was “Kaioken’s Knowledge Knock Outs” on Facebook or was there an official website?
It was just random posts I made to my Facebook. I’m glad I never made that go viral! Haha.
When did you start “Relentless Reviews With Corbz” and how actively did you promote it?
I don’t remember, but the original name for the current group was “Kaioken’s Musical Debates and Reviews”; something like that. Then it was changed to what you see now.
How extensive was your study of music, and how did it help to satisfy your obsession with it?
I never actually had any official extensive study. All the knowledge I’ve acquired was from self-study, researching different artists and genres, taking time out to watch interviews and listen to new music to broaden my horizon!
How many genres were you studying before you became interested in reviewing? Where were most of the interviews you watched, and what pointers did you pick up from them?
I studied all genres, but the two genres I started off loving was Hip Hop and Heavy Metal. I guess watching various channels and interviews I picked up small stuff like: interesting questions, ability to keep the conversation going, room set up etc.
Were the channels you watched mostly on Youtube and other platforms like Facebook and Reverbnation? Where did you read the interviews you researched?
Yeah, mainly on YouTube. I use to watch everything from behind the scenes footage, interviews, Q and A’s, etc.
The one interview that stood out most to me was this interview with Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth) regarding his latest album (at the time) “Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa”. As the album is focused on the demon Lilith who in some variations of the bible is considered to be “the snake” that convinced Eve to eat the apple and cast her and Adam out of the Garden of Eden.
Anyway, Dani Filth described the album, “Lilith is such an interesting character, in fact religion as a whole is such a fun fairytale”.
Are you self-educated as a writer, or did your formal education in high school and college have a part in it?
I am self-educated, though I excelled in literature in high school which led to my passion for writing reviews down the line.
Who were the authors you were studying most often while taking literature in high school? Where did you make the connection between reading and reviewing?
None specifically. In literature we would write poetry, and the two poets I remember being fixated on most was the lead singer of the Finnish band HIM, Ville Valo, and the lead singer of UK band Cradle Of Filth, Dani Filth. Their various takes on dark poetry fascinated me most and the later one helped me learn new words as that band often uses complicated words.
How many poems did you compose in high school? Do you still have any of them in your possession?
I actually had a whole folder of dark poetry and rap lyrics. If I remember correctly it was all super moody, depressing, purposely controversial content as I was fighting a lot of emotional issues at the time and writing was my escape. I think it’s under my bed somewhere actually, haha.
Any examples of lyrics Ville Valo and Dani Filth wrote that you found inspirational, or do you generally appreciate all of their work?
From HIM it was: “The kiss of vanity blessed me with a spiritual murder/Fed the gods of war insatiable/Your home is where the dark is, I should have told her/Embraced the fire indestructible”. From Cradle Of Filth it was actually the whole song “The Cult of Venus Aversa”, the intro track to their album of the same name.
How did your professors respond to you presenting metal lyrics? Were the songs you shared taken seriously or was there bias to overcome?
I remember the one time I showed the HIM lyrics specifically to one of my teachers she was just confused and didn’t understand it at all. But I remember when I had to write a poem about this book for school the teacher Mr. Davidson said to me, “This wasn’t the format of poetry I was looking for but you have a rare writing talent that not many people in the world have.” I still remember those words to this day, haha.
Did you always want to write exclusively about music, or were there other mediums you were interested in at any point?
This was actually my last option, I originally wanted to be a rapper or a producer. But when that fell short I realized the only thing I was ever good at was writing so I decided to take my knowledge and my literature skills and start writing reviews!
How do you think you would have fared as a rapper if you had pursued it?
I always wonder this, and I feel I would have done horribly. I can only seem to think of one or two creative ideas at a time and I’m super inconsistent on any real material, haha.
Was writing poems ever an option when you were considering long term careers?
No, not really. It was only ever a hobby for me.
How cathartic was it to write the lyrics you preserved in your folder? How do you feel looking back on them now?
I was born into a religious Mormon household so to hear such passive atheism coming from my favorite singer at the time was crazy! Haha. I feel quite cringy to be honest, some of them I think were pretty cool, but a lot were dumb and over the top.
In fact I was so out of touch with reality that one time during this math test I had with this teacher I couldn’t stand I write down absolutely ridiculous nonsense in the answers like “go kill yourself” or “satan is king” which ended up getting me expelled if I’m not mistaken. I was really messed up back then and I’m just happy I grew into my love for writing and turned it into something proper.
How much of an impact did your Mormon upbringing have on you, and why did you feel you needed to rebel? In what ways did that rebellion shape who you are?
It had a massive impact on me, I mean don’t get me wrong it taught me a whole lot of useful stuff like how to tie a tie, wear a suit, how to be polite, manners etc and there were tons of extra-curricular activities that I really enjoyed.
But for me the toughest part was the censorship of everything, I mean we weren’t even allowed to watch ‘The Simpsons’ growing up let alone South Park or Family Guy.
If it had swearing we had to turn it off, so I had many clashes as a teenager with my music and especially as a moody teenager trying to piss off my parents so my music was extra explicit it’s was just a tough time for me (musically) at least.
But now as I’m older, Me and mum and dad have a super strong relationship and I just don’t bring up music with swearing to them or if I write a review or do an interview with someone with heavy swearing I just tell them beforehand not to tune in or read it, haha.
Were Justin Hunte and Anthony Fantano people you knew personally or artists you admired before you started reviewing?
Unfortunately, I had never met them. To me they were and still are rock stars in their own right and I still hope to meet them one day down the line!
You cover rap and metal on your Facebook profile. Since the late 80s/early 90s rap and metal have often crossed over (Anthrax and Public Enemy, Biohazard and Cypress Hill, Slayer and Ice T etc). Do you consider the two genres compatible?
I definitely think they can be! My top picks are normally Run DMC/Aerosmith – “Walk This Way” and Jay Z/Linkin Park – “Numb Encore”. I feel they showcase the best of both!
What about the way rap lyrics are penned speak to you? Are they similar to lyrics by metal bands?
I’m more fascinated by the wordplay aspect of rap. How many words can they fit to one sentence, how complicated can they make it? How creative? There are just so many ways a rapper can manipulate and work the lyrics; with Metal I’m always interested in the story aspect.
What kind of overall story or vibe can they give off? Cradle Of Filth did an excellent job at conceptual albums by telling these fairytale like fantasy stories in the albums with every song building the narrative stronger! HIM had the best “vibe” incorporated what they dubbed as “Love Metal” by making a name for themselves with moody, larger than life goth ballads. They really spoke to me with how much emotion was made in each song.
How do listeners of rap and metal respond to your reviews? Do you think you’re bridging the gap between both “camps”?
I feel they are very positive! When I write a metal review I tag and share it to all metal communities, but since my group is filled with a mixed bag of tastes you get the occasional reaction or share on a post that differs from their own personal taste! I chalk it down to out of support for my writing, but they could just like to be diverse so there’s that possibility.
Can metal and rap cross over today as when those songs by Run DMC/Aerosmith and Jay Z/Linkin Park were recorded?
I believe it can more than ever! I mean look at artists like Ghostmane, Scarlxrd and Denzel Curry to name a few who are making a career combining the two styles in various ways and it works! Plus you have the “Soundcloud era” of music which often features metal and hip hop influences!
Who are some of the artists you recently reviewed for your profile, and how much notice have the reviews gotten since they’ve been posted?
There was this one duo called Brick Da Foundation. I reviewed their album “Bell X Brick”. After a few days of the review being out, they said, their album appeared on the Apple Music charts! Not sure how much I had to do with that, but they seem to think it was a lot so I’ll take the compliment haha.
Have you considered starting a blog to post your reviews, and possibly expanding to interviewing bands and artists there?
I’m working on a podcast with a close friend who’s also a rapper, so there’s that. But I’m not sure yet I’m always down for anything!
Is there anything you can reveal to the readers about the podcast you’re working on? Is this podcast streaming now or is there a launch date? How did you come up with the idea and what will be aired on it?
At the moment not really, it’s really super into it. All I can say is that it will be featuring a guy called Bailey McLean. He’s a hip hop artist that goes by the name “Bayza” who is an Australian hip hop artist on the rise and a close friend of mine!
How well known a rap artist is Bayza in his home country? Are there sizable rap scenes over there?
Not too well known yet, but big things are on the rise for sure! It definitely has a cult following the Australian Hip Hop Scene, if I had to compare the sound it would be a combination of West Coast production mixed with UK Grime vocal performances. Definitely an acquired taste.
Which internet platforms are you considering airing the podcast on?
That I’m not sure of yet, we will have to wait and see!
Though writing poems was a hobby, if you were to start again, would you consider publishing them in a book or magazine?
Yes, I don’t see why not! If they were good enough, I haven’t tried writing poetry in a while but I’ve always had this concept for a book with this premise: A mysterious foreign man visits a town and comes across a woman who has a whole lot of troubles in her life, and he makes it so that she vents to him and he acts like her psychologist. After every session he converts her troubles into a musical overture, then at the end of the book he presents to the whole town his grant musical overture representing her life, troubles and redemption!
Do you ever think you would start writing that novel you described? Do you know of any publishing companies you would take the finished book to?
I hope I have the opportunity in the future, I would currently say it’s just a pipe dream but I never know what the future holds! And no I haven’t thought that far ahead with it.
You told me recently you’re writing an article to land a position with a major music magazine. Is there anything you can fill the readers in on about this?
Yes! Well I have the possible opportunity to be a freelancer for Rolling Stone Magazine if I can nail this article. It’s a big order but all I can do is put my best foot forward and see what happens!