JAHKOY talks about the Canadian Hip Hop scene, coming to America, and how signing with Def Jam has affected his career.
So you grew up in Canada, is that right?
Yes, born and raised in Toronto.
How did growing up in Canada affect your perception of hip hop?
It affected the way I listened, the thing is, I think growing up in Canada we were exposed to the two different textures of hip hop, the hip hop coming from Canada and coming from the United States. So we had two different perspectives on hip hop and seeing the difference and being a part of the difference and its two different places, people come from different environments, different ways of living, so it’s the way that the environment and the way it operates, it’s totally different, and coming to America and seeing that…*laughs*. I’m from Canada and I still listen to a lot of Canadian music, Canadian radio plays 70% of Canadian music so I do listen to a lot of artists that you may not even know like Richie Sosa…just some names to say, and the way that we were exposed to hip hop was very cool because it was in our environment and it was around us, and it was something we got to experience at a young age, and now coming to America, seeing most people that were popular in Canada weren’t necessarily popular in the United States and we would all assume that if someone is fairly popular in the United States, they would be popular anywhere in the world, and that’s because America is the market people try to break into, to gain success. Coming to America and seeing the different ways that people make music and the different communities within the music world in America is definitely something that I adapted to while being here, so it definitely changed a lot of the way that I see music. We don’t go to Canada to make music, so it’s really cool to see and be here and being a part of the songwriter world, and the diversity is complicated to unite.
That’s fair to say, so speaking of diversity, we’ve seen your personal description of your music as “bipolar sound” and we can definitely see that in your music when we listen to it, but we’d like to hear in your own words…
When using the term, I like to just describe something that’s very mood changing. There’s times when its up tempo, there’s times where it’s laid back, it’s a little bit of everything. I’ve stopped using the term because the term is very sensitive considering it is a condition that some people deal with, so I’ve stopped using that term, and just expressing it as music that is part of a mood swing from time to time just to express, to showcase the different levels that I like to experiment with.
That’s very nice of you to take into consideration the people who suffer from that condition.
I mean, at the time when I decided it was just kind of something that my friends were like “Yea! Bipolar sound!” but when you really think about it, you can’t use that, it could be very offensive.
That’s definitely something to take into account and be sensitive to, and that’s awesome. So kind of bouncing off of that bipolar sound, how do you think this style of music fits into what is currently hot today?
I feel like it doesn’t fit into what’s currently hot today. I feel like that’s different and that’s what I’m trying to bring to the table, something that’s not hot today so that it brings something that’s fresh. Sometimes I feel that people don’t know they like something until it is right in front of their face, and so I’m trying to bring something that’s fresh and exciting. I grew up in a generation where any new artist that came out, they brought some freshness to the table to get the listeners and consumers excited that’s coming out, that’s happening. And now it’s like a lot of the same stuff is going on so I feel like it would be kind of awesome if the music world today could have some difference and healthy balance between what’s considered hot and what’s able to stand out and still be hot.
So we saw that you recently signed with Def Jam records. Are you still able to have that sort of trailblazing musical style under a major label?
Yes, coming to the label, many times artists get approached by a label because they have great covers on YouTube or something along the lines of having the potential of not knowing where the want to take things. When I went to the label I had my vision and my creative all ready set. I knew what I wanted, I just needed someone to partner up with so we could execute. So Def Jam felt like a perfect fit and they are a perfect fit: we’ve been rocking ever since and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made, and so far right now I’m working on my upcoming album to top off the year and I just dropped Foreign Water so I’m just going for the top.
Well, thank you very much, these are all great answers and it was definitely a pleasure to get a chance to get to speak with you, and it’s definitely also been very exciting to see you rise up as this new star and it’s been very exciting to see how your sound has been taking American music a well as Canadian music by storm, and it’s been a pleasure seeing that and a pleasure seeing where it’s going to go, and good luck with everything going on in your career, man!
I appreciate that and thank you so much, I appreciate you giving me a call. Thank you Kyle, I really appreciate it.