How Justice Crew turned reality TV win into 10-year career
A LOT has changed since Justice Crew first burst onto Australia's music scene.
These days, reality TV singing shows reign supreme, pumping out a seemingly endless supply of would-be stars.
Of course, this was exactly how the hip hop group got its big break, winning Australia's Got Talent in 2010.
The difference today, group member Lukas Bellesini (better known as Wildrok) says, is few seem to leverage reality TV fame into long-lasting success.
"In the past 10 years since we won Australia's Got Talent, we've seen so many acts come and go through the winning of those reality shows,” he said.
"Sadly a lot of them disappear right after the win.”
Justice Crew has proven it was not just a flash in the pan, this year celebrating 10 years since forming.
The group has toured relentlessly in that time and is currently in the midst of its 10-year anniversary X Tour.
Speaking to the Chronicle ahead of performing at Maryborough's Brolga Theatre tonight, Bellesini said a life of performing and touring never got old.
"This is all we have,” he said.
"This is what we're going to be doing until the day we die.”
The reality TV stigma never quite fades but Bellesini said the group had paved its own path since winning the hit show.
The show, Bellesini said, was the next platform the group needed to gain exposure after winning the national hip hop championships in Sydney in 2009.
This took Justice Crew to Las Vegas, which Bellesini credits as the group's turning point.
Carving out a decade-long career is not a sure bet for Australian musicians, especially those with a reality TV connection.
Bellesini said going independent and taking creative control was the secret to the group's longevity.
"Going independent, you'll find some of the material we're posting is just more us, because we don't have to answer to anybody else any more,” he said.
"The more organic it is, the better.”
This organic approach was indicative of the state of the Australian music industry at large, he said.
The accessibility of self-publishing platforms like YouTube meant more artists could get their work heard, and fans had access to a greater variety of music.
Bellesini said this had taken some of the power away from major stations and labels, paving the way for increased creativity.
"You can find your own music, so a lot of people are coming out of the woodwork,” he said.
"There's so much more to offer, and there's a better quality.”
Regional tours have played a significant role in the group's ongoing success, and helped cement its star status.
Not that any of it goes to the members' heads, though.
Bellesini said on tour, they were still just a bunch of mates, bantering in the car and nursing hangovers while they drove several hours a day.
"Our rider for the show is six waters and six Powerades,” he said.
"We don't take anything too seriously, which is why we've been doing it for so long.”
Justice Crew performs at Maryborough's Brolga Theatre tonight from 7pm.
A VIP sound check starts at 5pm.