19 Jun 2024

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Often described as “legendary”, Insomniacs is where 3 of the underground's finest – Cyphanetik, Tourettes and Louie Knuxx - ended up to create their own form of comedic genius. A collection of their experiences, the music can be cynical, jarring, provocative and sometimes just plain offensive. All of this and more - its hard to speak on these musicians without insulting the essence of their art, without making it sound pretentious (which it most certainly is not) or hardcore (which it can be, but mostly is not). What we can discuss though, is the merits of the members of the crew. We can also give you some graphic descriptions of the kind of music they make, but we strongly suggest you listen to it yourself. It is surely some of the craziest hip hop to come out of the country in a long time, probably ever.

Cyphanetik and Tourettes started writing music together in 2001 - founding the original Insomniacs before Breakin WreckWordz even existed. Their first hit, Hey Kids was recorded after the group had been together for one week and became a B-Net smash, spending 6 weeks at no 1 and receiving nomination for Best Unreleased Song of the Year. The song also featured on Heads Up, a B-Net compilation of the best songs of the year. At this time they were living in Melbourne, honing MC skills in a foreign environment. On their return they hit the battle scene, Tourettes taking home the National title in 2003 and Cyphanetik in 2004. It was around this time the trio was completed with the addition of Louie Knuxx, moving up from New Plymouth he joined them for their second release, Super Heroes also picked up nationwide by B-net stations.

Since his entrance to the arena in 2004, their live gigs have become that much grimier. Louie’s unique sound has contributed to an effective trio combination, and helps give the group some grounding. A charming rogue, Louie Knuxx (Todd) is a long time lover and liver of hip hop and has been working on his MC game from the age of 15. An energetic itching to rap about some obscure (often offensive) topic is typical of his attitude to the music he creates. His sound is grimy but smooth (sort of like his general demeanor) and it has been turning heads for a long time. Founding member of old school group Dirtbag District in New Plymouth (with BWW crewmate Ethical), he moved up to Auckland to pursue his MC career and has worked with the best ever since. The release should show in full colour the many sides of Louie Knuxx. We recommend sunglasses.

Tourettes (Dom) released his solo debut- the artfully elusive Misadventures of Jonny Favourite – on BWW. The album received critical acclaim in various publications and has managed a crossover pop appeal too - Loveable Losers having major air play on radio and music TV - but there is no doubt he is unique in his position here. His style and flair is melodically compelling - called “backpacker” hip hop, it can also be friendly and accessible to New Zealanders – if they get to hear it.

Cyphanetik's album is on its way, expected to raise the lyrical bar and enhance the scene as only one of his calibre can do. Already, his solo efforts have gained him a seriously loyal following and intensified the wait for his solo release. Not just an MC he has laid the foundations for a collective like BWW, which is widely considered the best in the country. Through his career he has worked to elevate the hip hop community, and his strong artistic integrity has gained him a good rapport with all manner of people from students to other MC’s to the various people he has helped with his efforts. Jared Abbott is widely considered one of the cornerstones of the NZ scene.

You can find some of their best work on the Breakin Wreckwordz self titled album and on DJ Sir-Vere - Major Flavours 5. Having played numerous gigs around the country and on tour, they have gained a reputation for comedic live shows. They have also played support for other “backpackers” such as Sage Francis and Atmosphere, but don’t consider themselves solely part of this sub genre. Proponents of the scene for a seriously long time, they are initiates of a bigger movement than is realistically acknowledged outside the industry. Loaded with their experiences, their music maintains all the insanity that comes with being an “Insomniac”. A debut album is due sometime next year. In the meantime, we leave you with some advice.

Don’t expect hip pop – as chorus to the cheeky Bang Your Head explains, “Drunk rappers we don’t do club bangers, we bang clubbers with clubs till they dance covered in blood” – these guys don’t do this kind of music, ever. Do not expect to have anything resembling a “smooth” listen beginning to end because the album (if not just the few songs floating around on various releases) is guaranteed to hit you on the head and wake you up. If you were sleeping, please don’t. Sleep is for the weak, and Insomniacs don’t need it.

Band Members:
MC Tourettes
MC Cyphanetik
MC Muse
DJ Penfold

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