Radical Son speaks about his biggest struggles
Some of the greatest soul recordings come from dark places, and local singer Radical Son’s debut record Cause ‘n Affect might be one such record. It melds soul and R&B with dashes of hip hop, reggae and dub. As well as being a showcase of Radical’s gentle, soulful voice, it is also documentation of his difficult life journey so far. The result is triumphant.
For some artists life and its inherent difficulties can get in the way of making the art that you’re supposed to make. This is why it’s taken Radical until his 38th year to finally put his creativity to tape. Now that he’s found his voice he can’t wait to share his stories with the wider community.
When Radical joined me on Lunch recently, he spoke with such brutal honesty about his experiences. It is clear exactly why this album is so important to him.
Radical Son is huge. Rugby player huge. So it’s no surprise that his life journey began in the sporting arena at an early age. At the time, playing elite rugby was his dream. But unfortunately the experience left him mentally unprepared for other things life would throw at him.
"All my eggs were in one basket," he said of choosing to follow his sporting heart. "Back then I was (filmed) in a documentary when I was 14 and I said I wanted to be a rugby player and by 17 I fortunately made that happen. So there I was, playing with the Rabbitohs, but I had a lot of bad habits. By the time I was 19 I was in prison and by the time I got out I had a heroin habit and that stayed with me for about 14 years."
By the time I was 19 I was in prison and by the time I got out I had a heroin habit and that stayed with me for about 14 years."Radical Son
Radical’s love of music helped conquer a long struggle with drugs and addiction. He always knew he could sing but it was his desire to say something with his voice, both musically and intellectually, that saved him from a potential downward spiral. It wasn’t easy though.
"My biggest struggle was, what am I about? In the song 'Human Behaviour', I wanted to find out, what is this weakness within me? Why do I not have control of my own body? Why can’t I make it do the things I wanted to do?"
In fact, Radical hints that his love of music might possibly have saved his life.
"It gave me a voice," he said.
Once he found that voice, he wanted to use it well.
"I was a really quiet person, and I wasn’t happy with things I was seeing in our communities. Like the drugs and alcohol abuse and the violence. Even though I was a part of it and doing my fair share of it all, part of me inside was screaming that this has got to stop.
"So music kind of had me reflecting and looking within myself and realising that people were watching me and I didn’t want anyone to see me doing drugs and alcohol, as a role model. So it helped me to change in a lot of ways."
And what a turnaround it has been. Radical is now studying music at University, a fact he is very proud of.
"It’s been a rocky road and I’m here now so I’m just glad to be learning about music because of my experience up until now. So I’m really grateful to be a uni student now."
Radical Son plays Melbourne's Shebeen on Saturday 15 November as a part of AWME