Gold Fang is all about the intrigue. The dancehall artist, and occasional model, is bunkered down in a warehouse space, sounds rebounding off stark white walls. “I’m currently at a shoot for something,” he tells NME. “I don’t really know if I can say it.” The Fang, as he calls himself, has to constantly break away from the call to farewell entourage. “Oh my days, I’m sorry.”
A Trinidadian based in Australia, Fang became a ‘next big thing’ in 2021 when he unleashed the diasporic anthem ‘Where Yuh From’ with Western Sydney’s Big Skeez, a local Afroswing trailblazer. Now Fang is dropping his debut mixtape, ‘Smoove Killa’, via Nina Las Vegas’ tastemaking NLV Records. The project’s singles showcase the vocalist’s affinity with traditional reggae, ragga, dancehall, hip-hop and R&B – starting with the Popcaan-ish heater ‘Wet’. “I’ve always been a different dude,” Fang says. “I never do the same thing.”
Looking fresh in a tropical white tank with layers of gold jewellery, Fang keeps up a bombastic image – but he’s more low-key in person. ‘Smoove Killa’ reflects this duality as Fang portrays both the gentleman and G. The musician spent the first 18 years of his life in Trinidad & Tobago in the East Caribbean. In 2015 he arrived in Australia to join his uncle Errol Renaud, a seasoned musician who gigged with the pioneering Sydney reggae band Un Tabu (Mum is still in Trinidad).
“I never been out of Trinidad before,” Fang shares. “It was a culture shock because I didn’t expect Australia to be like this, you know?” Rather, he imagined it’d be similar to the US. “America’s like a machine or whatever – that’s what’s in front of your face.”
Then pursuing sport, Fang switched focus after witnessing his uncle performing at the Sydney night Reggae Mondays. “I was fascinated by the lifestyle and the fact that he could create something like that for himself.”
“I experiment in terms of the feeling. But my flavour is still on the track”
Fang quickly forged connections in the wider music industry – randomly befriending The Delta Riggs’ frontman Elliott Hammond, who’d caught him live. “He said it was just refreshing to him to see someone young embracing what I embrace.”
Initially, Fang was unresponsive to Hammond’s invitations to meet. “I’m like, ‘Who’s this dude?’ I didn’t care about it too much. Then I was like, ‘Nah, let me hear what you have to say, I’m being an idiot.’ I went to lunch with him and we chopped it up and, before you know it, we just got real close.”
Fang accompanied The Riggs on tour as hypeman and contributed to the band’s dubby EP ‘Active Galactic Higher Than Before’. He jokes that Hammond is “Black on the inside,” explaining: “He’s a very cultured dude – he understands the music and he understands the culture… Our friendship is different. He’ll just text me the weirdest stuff, like a meme.”
During lockdown Fang began writing his own music, including ‘Where Yuh From’. “I heard the riddim and I was like, ‘Yeah, this riddim is crazy, let’s do something with it.'” But it wasn’t until Skeez added his “flavour” that he realised the track’s potential. “I was like, ‘Yeah, this one is gonna be big’ and straight off the bat it was.” Today Fang downplays talk of virality. “The response was cool. I mean, it was viral in Australia – I feel like the world hasn’t really heard it yet.”
“I love dancing and I love being vulnerable”
‘Smoove Killa’, then, is Fang’s first proper outing. The mixtape is revelatory for its range, Fang again working with ‘Where Yuh From’ producers Swick and Korky Buchek. ‘Spaceship’ is clubby ragga, while the toaster goes hard on ‘Caribbean Man’ and the previously released ‘Mi Nuh Like’. But Fang also expresses a softer, smoother side on the bouncy R&B ‘Drop’ with soulful Melbourne newcomer CD. “I love dancing and I love being vulnerable.”
In selecting tracks for ‘Smoove Killa’, Fang purposely sought to mix it up. “I was like, it’d be pretty stupid for me to not show all the things I do straight off the bat – ’cause I don’t want anyone to put me in a box. I don’t want anyone to look at me like, ‘Oh, he’s just this artist,’ you know?
“It’s very much me… It’s me experimenting – but you know how some people experiment and they go totally different? I feel like I experiment in terms of the feeling. But my flavour is still on the track.”
Fang approaches music with intent. That comes through on his smooth flip of Shabba Rank’s 1991 reggae fusion staple ‘Housecall (Your Body Can’t Lie To Me)’ featuring Maxi Priest, retitled ‘Remedy’. He’s in disbelief his version was approved, deeming it “ridiculous”. “I’m so proud of myself.”
Indeed, Fang is drawn towards classics over contemporary fare, which he doesn’t find particularly motivational. “I listen to what I always listened to – I think that’s how I stay true to my creativity,” he ponders. “I listen to very few artists, though – like Damian Marley, that’s my favourite artist, obviously… I listen to Elton John.
“The goal is just to work so hard that I’m so rich that I don’t worry about anything!”
“I just like staying in my pocket – which is like, I don’t wanna say ‘in my culture’, because I love exploring and stuff, but I love listening to old-school records that probably went over my head as a kid. I realise that a lot of times when I come back and I appreciate records that I didn’t appreciate back then.”
Australia has long had an appetite for dancehall – even in the ’90s Chaka Demus & Pliers, Shaggy and Diana King were popular – but the audience has grown. Fang, too, has mainstream aspirations. “I see myself as a worldwide artist,” he says. To that end, he’s forged a solid live profile, particularly impressing the industry set at BIGSOUND. In January, he opened for Lil Nas X in Sydney, recalling the ‘Old Town Road’ rapper as “a really nice dude” who introduced himself by his first name Montero. Fang is billed for Promiseland on the Gold Coast in September, and plans to tour behind ‘Smoove Killa’, but dates have been complicated by a mystery UK trip.
Fang’s ambitions for his musical career go hand in hand with his other priorities in life: taking care of his family and achieving financial independence. “I think that I wanna be able to fully work on music and not be worried about other things in my life,” he confides.
“I’m doing all right now, but I wanna be comfortable. So I feel like the goal for me is to be comfortable, bring my family out here from Trinidad and just have a better life – ’cause, even though I’m out here, my sister is back home. Most of my family’s back home. So it just feels a little bit wrong.”
Fang offers a final flex. “The goal is just to work so hard that I’m so rich that I don’t worry about anything!”
Gold Fang’s ‘Smoove Killa’ is out now via NLV Records