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Bliss n Eso are a Multi Platinum ARIA Award-winning Australian hip hop band based in Sydney, and were originally known as Bliss N' Esoterikizm for their debut EP The Arrival. Bliss N Eso are currently signed to Melbourne record label Illusive Sounds, and are managed and booked by label co-founders Adam Jankie and Matt Gudinski. Bliss n Eso have released 5 studio albums which include two #1 debuts on the ARIA Charts. One of the members, Eso released a single entitled Sunny Days.
The trio consists of American MC Bliss (Jonathan Notley), Australian MC Eso (Max MacKinnon), and DJ Izm (Tarik Ejjamai) who is Arab, of Moroccan heritage. The three have been friends (and have rapped together) since they were in high school. Notley moved to Australia in 1992 when he was thirteen and met MacKinnon at the Glenaeon Steiner School in Sydney.
"When I got to Australia, I met Eso (MacKinnon) and he was the only guy at my school into hip-hop. It was so scarce you'd be lucky to find a hip-hop record in a store let alone a whole section." - Jonathan "Bliss" Notley
"Back then hip hop was basically non-existent; there was no urban or hip-hop section in the CD stores. You'd be lucky to find a couple of albums like a Public Enemy album or something if you went to the CD stores. So I guess that's one of the reasons why Max, who's Eso, and I kinda bonded at high school, I think, because he was really the only other guy in the school who was into hip-hop." - Jonathan "Bliss" Notley
MacKinnon later moved to Mosman High School, in NSW which is where he met Ejjamai. The group initially went by the name of 'Bliss N Esoterikizm', but that proved to be too much of a mouthful for most people.
In 2000 they issued their first release, the EP The Arrival, under the name 'Bliss N Esoterikizm', which was followed by a mixtape CD. They released their debut album, Flowers in the Pavement on Obese Records in 2004. Bliss N Eso were the winners in the Hip Hop category at the 2003 Music Oz Awards and nominees for Artist of the Year in 2004.
In December 2005 the trio performed as a support act for 50 Cent on his Get Rich or Die Tryin' tour together with G-Unit and Lil Jon.
The group then switched labels to Illusive Sounds and released their second official album, Day of the Dog, on 4 March 2006. The album features production from Bliss, Weapon X, Suffa, and MC Motley, among others. It also features guest spots from British emcees MC Motley and Mystro, as well as fellow Sydney MC, Hyjak.Day of the Dog debuted at #43 on the ARIA Albums Chart, making it the first Australian hip-hop release to debut in the top 50. The group undertook a national tour in March and April of that year to support the album.Day of the Dog was then entirely remixed by Gold Coast producer M-Phazes and released later that year as Day of the Dog: Phazed Out. The album was nominated for Best Urban Release at the 2007 ARIA Awards; the award was won by the Hilltop Hoods for The Hard Road: Restrung.
The group's third single, "Then Till Now", Produced by Weapon X contains elements from the same Renee Geyer song used by Hilltop Hoods on their track "Riding Under One Banner", received airplay on Triple J,rage and Video Hits. "Mad Tight", their fourth single, was played on radio stations Triple J,3RRR,PBS, and on FBi. The music video was shown on rage.
In 2007, Bliss N Eso played shows in the northwest of North America, including a performance at the Whistler 2007 Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
"We did a small run of the northwest states, around Portland area and then went up to Whistler in Canada and we did a sold out show in Whistler, which was unreal, to go all the way across the world and have a whole bunch of Aussies screaming at you" - Jonathan Notley
In October 2007 they released the first single of their album "Bullet and a Target", featuring the Connections Zulu Choir (a 21 piece choir from South Africa), which was recorded at Jimmy Barnes' home studio in Sydney and reached #46 on the ARIA Singles Chart. The track features a remixed version of Citizen Cope's song by the same title. 100% of all profits from the sale of the song goes to The Oaktree Foundation, Australia's only youth-run international aid and development organisation.
Following up on their collaboration with the choir, Bliss N Eso embarked on a journey in June 2007 with MTV and the Oaktree Foundation to some of the poorest regions in South Africa to complete the track and shoot the video clip for "Bullet and a Target". Bliss N Eso also shot a documentary with Evermore produced by MTV, aimed at creating awareness about the challenges faced by developing communities in Africa. The film clip and 30 minute documentary aired exclusively on MTV and received attention from the media and the public. Recently the group have been nominated for the 'Good Karma Award' for these efforts at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.
Bliss N Eso were one of the Australian hip hop artists featured in the documentary Words from the City, which aired on ABC Television in late 2007.
The group's third album, Flying Colours, was released on 26 April 2008 - coinciding with a national tour by the group, along with True Live, Funkoars and The Winnie Coopers. The album debuted a week later at #10 on the Australian ARIA Albums Chart, and it remained in the ARIA Top 100 for the following 12 weeks. The album was nominated for a J Award in August 2008, and also nominated for an ARIA award for Best Urban Release.
In August 2008 Bliss N Eso performed at the Splendour in the Grass festival and at the Trackside Festival in Canberra. In September they went on the road for their most successful national tour to date, with sell out performances across the country, concluding with a sold out home coming show at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney to a capacity crowd of 2500 patrons. They will be touring Canada at the end of the year and are planning to re-release Flying Colours in early 2009, with a bonus DVD. The DVD will contain a live performance that the band plan to film and record at The Metro Theatre in Sydney.
Bliss N Eso appeared for the first time in a Triple J Hottest 100 with three entries in the 2008 countdown; "Eye of the Storm" at number 40, "The Sea is Rising" at number 61 and "Woodstock 2008" at number 94. "Happy in My Hoody" failed to make the Hottest 100 but did come in at number 136.
In 2009 the success of Bliss N Eso continued with their Flying Colours album, which remained in the official ARIA charts for over a year. They also performed at the Sound Relief concert in front of 82,000 people at Melbourne's MCG on 14 March 2009. They were the only hip-hop act to perform at the concert, which raised over 8 million dollars for Victoria's bushfire victims.
In April 2009 Bliss N Eso announced a major city Australian tour which includes two shows at Melbourne's iconic Festival Hall as well as the largest venues they have played to date across the country. Their first show at Festival Hall sold out in four days making it the fastest selling Australian hip hop show of all time selling to a capacity of 5,100 patrons.
On 26 April 2009, Bliss N Eso became the first Australian hip hop act to perform on Rove, where they performed "Woodstock 2008" and "The Sea Is Rising" to a live television audience broadcast nationally on the Ten Network.
In May 2009 Bliss N Eso received two APRA award nominations in the category, 'Best Urban Works' for "The Sea is Rising" and "Woodstock 2008". On 14 June "Flying Colours" became only the second Australian hip hop album to be certified gold, after being in the ARIA Charts for 58 weeks. The group's song "Field of Dreams" has also been included on EA Sports boxing video game Fight Night Round 4.
"Basically, EA Australia can submit one track that's Australian for an international game. There hadn't been an Australian track on a release for a while actually and the 'Fight Night' opportunity came about and EA Australia really liked "Field of Dreams" and thought it worked well with the theme of the game, so they put it forward to the International EA and it got accepted! The fact that it's out there and a million people are going to be playing this thing - it's obviously a big game and the fact that our song's on there, we're stoked. It's pretty awesome, man!" - Jonathan Notley
Bliss N Eso released their live album Flying Colours Live in June 2009 to coincide with another national tour of Australia. The album features a bonus track, "On Tour", which has received significant airplay from Triple J and includes a DVD, featuring their MTV nominated documentary, 'Out of Africa', and the group's live performance at Sydney's Metro Theatre. Following their national tour they will be working in the recording studio on their fourth studio album, with producers M-Phazes and Hattori Hanzo.
In October 2009 the group embarked on a twenty-one-date tour with Canadian hip-hop group Swollen Members, together with Las Vegas MC BIG B and DJ Klaw. Their tour bus dubbed 'The Black Pearl' was later hit by a train and destroyed while on its way back to California at the end of the tour. Three people were on board but no one was injured.
On 17 May 2010, Bliss N Eso released "Down by the River", the first single off their upcoming fourth studio album, Running on Air. The single premiered on Triple J's "2010" new music show with Richard Kingsmill the night before. "Down by the River" was the fourth most added track to Australian radio on the weekend of 14 May, which included across the board airplay on Triple J nationally, Nova FM, Hot30 and many other community and commercial radio networks. In July 2010 Bliss N Eso released a free track called "Golden Years", also from Running on Air. Following the release of the single the band embarked on the "Down by the River" tour of Australia with sold out shows in major cities across the country.
On 30 July 2010 Bliss N Eso released their fourth studio album Running on Air. The album went straight to number one on the Australian iTunes album chart within minutes of its release. Triple J and Nova FM both featured several tracks from the album in the lead up to its release. The album garnered near perfect reviews across the board, with some even stating that "it may be the genre's finest release" (Time Off).
On 8 August 2010 Bliss N Eso's fourth studio album Running on Air debuted on the Australian ARIA charts at number one. It was the first album to knock Eminem off the top spot in 6 weeks and received significant acclaim for this feat. Bliss N Eso also had 2 albums and 3 singles in the Urban charts during this week. Less than 2 weeks after its release, Running on Air was certified Gold in Australia with sales in excess of 35,000. Shortly afterwards, Bliss N Eso embarked their sold-out Down by the River Australian tour, and before long the trio had their first platinum album in Running on Air. The Album went on to receive multiple awards nominations including the Triple J Album of the Year award, Channel V Australian Artist of the Year award, Independent Music Award, Multiple APRA Awards & two ARIA awards.
In late August Bliss n Eso announced they would be heading back over to America. The band teamed up with the legendary Kottonmouth Kings for a 26 date run across the USA. This was the bands 2nd US tour. Bliss n Eso have recently played and been announced for various Australian summer festivals including The Big Day Out, Fat as Butter, Southbound, Full Noise, Another World, Time Out, Groovin The Moo Festival and more.
In March 2011 Bliss n Eso were invited to play the highly acclaimed SXSW music conference in Austin Texas. The band also went on to play headline shows in LA, Las Vegas and New York before heading back to Australia and embarking on what would be a record breaking Australian Tour.
The Running On Air tour comprised 14 sold out shows across Australia in front of 60,000 people and cemented itself as the highest selling local hip-hop tour of all time. The shows were filmed for a DVD which is set to be released on 20 July 2012.
In March 2012 Bliss n Eso were once again invited to perform at the SXSW music conference in Austin. Directly after the music conference finished the band embarked on their first ever headline tour of the US and Canada. Playing 22 shows across the West Coast of both Countries in under a month the band has now cemented themselves a position in the international hip-hop scene.
In late 2012 Bliss n Eso ventured back into the studio to work on their 5th studio album - 'Circus in the Sky'. Recorded across Australia and Los Angeles, the band has continued to push the envelope, creating their most eclectic and progressive album to date. Featuring guest appearances and collaborations with some of the most celebrated names in hip-hop music, including the legendary Nas and a roll call of Australian rap royalty in 360, Pez, Seth Sentry and Drapht, as well as American recording artist Ceekay Jones and the multi-platinum production duo The Makerz. 'Circus In The Sky' has gone onto become one of the years biggest sensations in Australian music, debuting at Number 1 on the ARIA Album Chart, and trailing only Daft Punk in total album sales in Australia for 2013.
In March 2014 'Circus In The Sky' continued to maintain a strong chart position and was certified Platinum. Throughout April and May the Trio embarked on their biggest national tour to date. The 'Circus Under The Stars' tour would become the biggest local hip-hop tour of all time. The two month outdoor tour saw the band play 16 shows across Australia with attendances of up to 8,000 people.
Performances and appearances:
Back to the Top Snow Tour - Falls/Hotham/Jindabyne/Buller (AUS 2005/2006/2007/2008),
Flowers in the Pavement Tour - National (AUS 2004),
Day of the Dog Tour - National (AUS 2006),
Get Loose Tour - National (AUS 2006),
Unified Tour - National Uni Campuses (AUS 2008),
Flying Colours Tour - National (AUS 2008),
Flying Colours Live Tour - National (AUS 2009) - Highest selling Australian hip-hop tour, including 2 sold out shows at Melbourne's iconic Festival Hall.,
Armed to the Teeth USA/Canada Tour (2009),
Down by the River Tour - National (AUS 2010),
Running On Air Tour - National (AUS 2011),
Bliss n Eso North American tour (2012),
House Of Dreams National Tour (AUS 2013),
Canada National Tour (CANADA 2013),
Circus Under The Stars National Tour (AUS 2014),
Circus In The Snow Tour - Falls/Hotham/Buller (AUS 2014),
Good Life Underage Music Festival - Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne (2015),
The Big Pineapple Music Festival - Sunshine Coast (2014),
The Big Day Out - National (2014),
Rifflandia - Victoria BC (2013),
Fat as Butter Festival - Newcastle (2013),
River Sessions - Mackay (2013),
Breath Of Life - Tasmania (2013),
SXSW 2012 - Austin (2012),
Groovin' the Moo - National (2011),
MS Fest - Tasmania (2011),
The Big Day Out - National (2011),
Southbound Festival - Bussleton (2011),
Full Noise Festival - Townsville (2010),
Another World U18's Festival - Melbourne (2010),
MTV Snow Jam Festival - Thredbo (2010),
Newton's Nation Festival - Bathurst (2010),
Stonefest - Canberra (2010),
Fat as Butter Festival - Newcastle (2010),
Time Out Festival - Cairns (2010),
Solar Festival - Melbourne (2010),
MS Fest - Tasmania (2010),
Origin Festival - Perth (2010),
Fresh Fest - Gold Coast(2009),
Coaster Festival - Central Coast (2009),
Come Together Festival - Sydney (2009),
RIPE Noosa - Sunshine Coast (2009),
Sound Relief - MCG Melbourne (2009),
Bass in the Grass - Darwin (2009),
Quicksilver Pro - Duranbah Beach QLD (2009),
Homebake - The Domain Sydney (2008),
Trackside - Canberra (2008),
Southbound - Busselton WA (2008),
Splendour in the Grass - Byron Bay (2008),
Dusty Days Festival - Wagga Wagga (2008),
Oddyssey Festival - Goldcoast (2008),
Bass in the Dust - Alice Springs (2008),
Stylewars - Falls Creek (2008),
Telus World Festival - Whistler Canada (2007),
Make Poverty History - National (2007),
The Great Escape - The Barracks Sydney (2007),
MS Fest - Tasmania (2007),
Summadayze - Perth (2007),
Pyramid Rock Festival - Phillip Island Victoria (2007),
Dusty Days Festival - Wagga Wagga (2007),
Stylewars - Falls Creek (2007),
Coastal Vibes (2007),
Sonic Bloom - Sydney (2007),
Pushover - Melbourne (2007),
Narana Festival - Torquay Victoria (2007),
MS Fest - Tasmania (2006),
We Love Sounds - Sydney (2006),
Pyramid Rock Festival - Phillip Island Victoria (2005),
The Big Day Out - National (2005),
The Footy Show - Performed "My Life" with Ceekay Jones (2014),
ARIA Awards 2013 - Performed songs with Ceekay Jones (2013),
AFL - 2013 Finals Series promotional video - Channel 7 (2013),
Angry Boys - music & video usage: episode 3 (2011),
Hey Hey It's Saturday - album review (2010),
Dew Tour/Foxtel - music usage (2010),
Underbelly - music usage episode 8 (2010),
Rove Live - performance/interview (2009),
Blokesworld - interview/FMX (2009),
9AM show - interview (2008),
Fuel TV - interview + video game review (2008/2009),
Channel V - Interview/performance (2006/2008/2009/2010),
MTV - Interview/performance (2006/2007/2008/2009/2010),
JTV - Interview/performance (2006/2008),
Ballistyx Snowboard Show - interview (2008),
Rage - guest programming (2008),
"Recruits: paramedics" - Musical Usage of addicted,
Video Hits - interview/snowboarding (2007),
Rhythm and Poetry - Performance/Interview (2007),
Words from the City - Performance/Interview (2007),
Flying Colours Live Deluxe Edition - Performance (2009),
Out of Africa - The MTV Feature Documentary (2008),
Running On Air Live - Performance
BLISS N ESO