"We sort of figured out ourselves at 16 the best way for us to identify with Australia and to write topical music about Australia was for us to use our own voices rather than adopting a New York accent." - Optamus
"We suddenly got asked to play gigs with Eskimo Joe and Beaverloop at the Grosvenor and actually gig as a band. At that point we used to play the gig with our beats recorded on a walkman that we'd plug through the PA" - Optamus
The group added a third MC, Dazastah (Darren Reutens), whom they met at Leederville TAFE, and DJ Armee (Damien Allia) on turntables, meeting him at the Hyde Park Hotel where he would DJ on Monday nights. Later, the group expanded to the current line-up with percussionist Salvatore (Salvatore Pizzata) (ex-Beaverloop) and Cheeky (Mat Cheetham) (ex-Circus Murders) on keyboards, loops & samples joining the group. Cheetham recalls:
"I was in Tokyo hanging out and got a call from my mate Sal, he's playing drums with these guys Downsyde and he said 'when you come back you should have a crack at sampling stuff for them.' So I came back, met the guys and the next thing I know I was in the band. My first show was at the Big Day Out." - Cheeky
For four years Downsyde produced beats and rhymes and played at hundreds of gigs, parties, and MC battles culminating in the September 2000 release of their debut album, Epinonimous - recordings made by the band from 1996 to 2000. Their first single, "Gifted Life", was released two years later. "Gifted Life" was nominated as 'Best Single' at the 2003 Australian Dance Music Awards. In the same year, Downsyde won the Best Debut Artist at the Dance Music Awards.
The group has performed alongside groups including Jurassic 5, Cypress Hill, Grandmaster Flash, The Black Eyed Peas, and The Roots. They also performed with Australian acts like Hilltop Hoods, Resin Dogs, and Koolism. The band has also performed at a number of festivals, including Big Day Out,Splendour in the Grass,Rock-It, Falls Festival,Homebake, Good Vibrations and the Southbound Festival.
Downsyde signed with Obese Records and in 2004 released a single, "Lesfortunate", which they followed up with a third album,When the Dust Settles, in December. The album was nominated for the 2005 J Award.
Pizzata was replaced by Catastrophe, Dazastah's brother on drums between 2005 and 2006. Catastrophe was a short term member and filled in to do the late 2005 "When The Dust Settles" Australian Tour and performances up to mid 2006. Steve Curyer (aka Hi-Hat), Downsyde's current drummer, joined in early 2007.
Dazastah (Reutens) is a prominent local record producer. Optamus (Griffiths) runs his own label, Opt Shop records. Armee (Allia) has toured with Fdel and DJ'd at many prominent clubs in Asia. Cheeky (Cheetham) is a member of dub group the Sunshine Brothers and has a solo project 'Rooster Police'.
In 2007 the band signed with Illusive Records and commenced recording their next album, once the final tracks were down on tape they then headed off to India to play a couple of shows for the Mumbai Festival.
"We've changed labels every album. We did Epinonimous independently, Land of the Giants on EMI/Hydrofunk and When the Dust Settles on Obese. After When the Dust Settles was released, we need to take time away from touring and a whole lotta other stuff to do with the industry; we felt there was a whole lotta pressure for us to release another album a year and a half later and to do all of this stuff mechanically, which creatively didn't feel right. We specifically sign one album deals, whereas a lotta artists get bullied into three album deals and get shockingly ripped off, spat out and are not a musician two years later. We sent 'this' album out to countless labels and we got back countless deals back. It just happened that Illusive came back with a very interesting way of marketing Downsyde, plus we have the common goal of elevating us as a band and not Australian hip hop per se." - Optamus
"It's taken a while to get it out. We're all organised and we're getting our live show together. We've got some tours coming up, we're just like, 'fucking let's go." - Cheeky
The first single from the album "Fortune and Fame" (featuring Howling John Stone), released on 1 September, together with the accompanying video produced by West Australian production company The Penguin Empire has received significant airplay.
Optamus released his debut solo album Forever & A Day in June 2010, with keyboardist Chris 'Imposter' Foster and multi-instrumentalist Moondog. Dazastah is embarking on a talent project called "Natural Dazastahs" in which he will be uploading beats online for the public to rhyme over, with the best entries being compiled for release. Although members are working on these various solo projects the group is still working on a fifth album.
As Downsyde, we've got about eight or nine tracks in demo form for the new album, which we're hoping to finish - at least written-wise - by the end of the year.-- Scott Griffiths (Optamus)
Downsyde have been on a five-year hiatus however in 2015 they have been recording sixth studio album, Classic ILL. The first single, "Only Got Now" from the album is scheduled for release in late 2016. The music video to the single was directed by Aaron McCann.