Discovery: Milwaukee Banks


To find Milwaukee Banks on the Internet, you’ll need more than a band name. You’ll probably need more than the band name, the name of lyricist Dylan Thomas, and the name of Thomas’ former project Polo Club. Made up of two old friends from Melbourne, Australia—rapper Thomas, who goes by Dyl Thomas, and producer Adrian “Edo” Rafter—Milwaukee Banks falls somewhere between the ever-fracturing genres of glitch, electrosoul, lackadaisical hip-hop, and “post-dubstep.” As a producer and a DJ, Rafter has supported SBTRKT and Major Lazer, and his blissed-out beats certainly put him in a similar category as the former.

Currently, Milwaukee Banks only has a handful of tracks to their name, the forthcoming “Sweater Made of Gold” and “Pluto Bounce,” which we are pleased to premiere below. When we call Thomas and Rafter at home in Australia, however, they are celebrating finishing their first EP with some fish tacos and wine.

AGES: 28 (Dyl Thomas), 33 (Adrian Rafter)

HOMETOWN: Melbourne, Australia

STYLE OF MUSIC: Adrian Rafter: It’s very minimal production. We tried to do more of an electronic music project than a hip-hop project.

Dylan Thomas: To me it feels like late-night shit: dark, late-night, chill vibes.

CHILDHOOD AMBITIONS: Rafter: I wanted to be a pro-basketballer; that was my aim from about four or five years old until I was about 13 or 14. Then I realized I probably wasn’t good enough.

Thomas: I wanted to be in space—not be an astronaut, I just wanted to be in space or on another planet. And I still want to be there.

“PLUTO BOUNCE”: Thomas: The whole concept of Milwaukee Banks to me is the unspoken things and the darker side of life, but not being too direct with it. “Pluto Bounce” is little grabs and snapshots and little frames of stories of actual nights out that I’ve had and things that I’ve done. There’s a lyric where I’m talking about jumping off stairs and scuffing up shoes. What actually happened is that I jumped off the stairs and broke my ankle and ended up in a wheelchair. It’s just about memories.

UNGOOGLEABLE BAND NAMES: Rafter: It’s probably not the most easy band name to work with, but Dyl wanted to originally call the band “Tyra Banks” and I wasn’t happy with that idea. I just thought we couldn’t jack somebody’s name like that, so I made him change it to Milwaukee Banks ’cause he goes for Milwaukee in basketball.

Thomas: That was the leveling ground. We took half of what Adrian wanted and half of what I wanted and joined them together. Why did I want to use the name Tyra Banks? I thought it was quite cool, but obviously not that cool. It has nothing to do with anything that we were doing. She just sort of popped into my mind.

FIRST MEETINGS: Rafter: We’ve known each other 10 years or more. Dylan’s girlfriend is one of my friend’s sisters, so we met through the girls. I was DJing around town and playing a lot of hip-hop and stuff and they were like, “You should meet this guys Dylan, he’s a pretty cool dude.” It took us nine or 10 years to start to work together. We did a little bit of stuff [before].

Thomas: I released an album in 2006 that Edo did all the cuts and scratches for; but until now, we hadn’t really worked together. We’ve hung out and caught up and talked music shit and all that sort of stuff, but never actually worked together properly until this.

Rafter: I was sending Dylan music—”Yo, what do you think of this? You should check it out”—’cause I knew he was working on the Polo Club stuff. Then he was emailing me back, being like, “Know what your music needs… Raps.” [both laugh] “You need somebody to drop some verses on this.” And I was like, “No, no, it’s cool.” I kind of thought he was joking, but after two or three emails I realized he really wanted to jump on one of the tracks.

MELBOURNE MUSIC SCENE: Rafter: Melbourne’s really diverse. I think traditionally we’ve had a lot of rock venues—rock music has always been big here—but over the past 15 years, dance music has also been really big here as well. There’s a huge dance and deep disco scene here in Melbourne. A lot of late night parties.

Thomas: There’s lots of niches and pocket—lots of different scenes here.

In Australia, I think Sydney and Melbourne are pretty similar. Melbourne has got all the cool acts and Sydney’s got all the big name, big label type acts.

“I’VE GOT A SWEATER MADE OF GOLD AND SOME COOKIE IN MY NOSE”: Thomas: Does it mean cocaine? That’s up to the listener’s discretion.

Rafter: Yes, yes it does. It does.

Thomas: It’s actually “cokey.” All I did was grab coke and put “y” on the end and made it coke-y. I’ve sort of made up my own drug term there, haven’t I? “Sweater made of gold” is just a statement—that whole track is a bit dark and a bit dirty. I was trying to sort of capture being in a club and getting fucked up and feeling good.

“JELLY BEAN COLORED SOCKS”: Thomas: Yeah, I like socks. [laughs]

Rafter: Dyl likes wearing really loud socks. He wears a lot of colorful socks and he rolls his pants up so everyone can see his socks.

Thomas: I do like sick socks. It’s like, why not? Why not have cool socks? Do my socks having to be matching? I can’t have odd socks. I take that back. I can have odd socks if no one can see them.

Rafter: I’m really boring with my socks. I have a lot of just plain black socks. Basketball socks, really.

Thomas: That just shows that you’re very balanced as a person. I mean, I’m really unbalanced.

Rafter: I’m a bit practical. Too practical, maybe.

Thomas: Practical is good. That’s why your beats sound so amazing.

INFLUENTIAL ACTS: Thomas: God, there’s a few. I love any record from [London based hip-hop collective] Piff Gang—just the way they flow, the way they deliver their words, they way they write would be influential for me for this stuff. Even rappers like Drake. That Take Care album, since I’ve been working with Edo, is something I actually have listened to a lot, personally.

Rafter: Production-wise I’m influenced a lot by a group here in Melbourne—a bunch of guys in Melbourne that make beats for rappers over in the U.S. Their name is Kira Beats. They’ve been producing for a guy called Pepperboy and another guy called Dinero Ferrar. They’re some of my mates here in Melbourne. I’m pretty heavily influenced by a lot of Canadian producers that I’m really into, such as Jacques Greene and Grown Folk. Supreme Cuts from Chicago.