An Interview with Shad
Vans Warped Festival Toronto
By Aaron Binder
Photos by Robyn Cumming
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN FAZER MAGAZINE
During the more wily days of my youth, (yes, I have the unfortunate tattoo to prove it) I was against everything but punk-raaaawk. As time went on though, I found I was tempted by the delights of a much wider variety of musical tastes; their aromatic scents gracing my musical nostrils, enticing me, slipping sweet words into my ears, demanding that I try something other than the same bland white bread.
Inevitably, my high level of curiosity won out and I started listening to classic 80’s rap – Public Enemy, The Next School, Run-DMC, and way more. It started out as an experiment in exaggerated irony and ended with me really loving the rap genre by the time I was exiting my teenage years.
Jump forward a few years and I can probably tell you more about Easy-E than you ever wanted to know. On a recent music binge I was trying to search out some new tunes to groove to and found this young Toronto rapper by the name of Shad that had just recently released an album. Not only was the flow incredibly smooth, but the beats were introspective and the timing was an incredible thing to behold.
Fast forward a few months later and I found myself at Warped Tour and sitting across from this young guy. He seemed almost nervous, it was his first press day on the tour, and I was his first interview. Shad is obviously an intellectual, and his outward demeanour is relaxed even when he’s likely tense. His eyes are always focused on something, adistant goal, his next project, more than anything, success.
Here’s the conversation we had.
Aaron: You’ve been doing a ton of touring lately, lots of festival shows, how have they been?
Shad: It’s cool, it’s been cool. Festival shows, you never really know what to expect when you’re outside. I think people feel a little less inhibited when they’re outside, but it’s definitely been cool.
Aaron: Any good experiences with any bands? Is there anyone you’ve seen on Warped that you’ve really liked?
Shad: Ya know what; there’s been a whole bunch. A lot of the bands I catch are on my stage, a lot of them are really cool and really different. It’s been pretty dope.
Aaron: Just to go back a couple of years, you won a contest on a radio station. Where do you think you’d be without that?
Shad: Man, nowhere. I don’t know, it was a huge opportunity and I think I would have tried to seek out a way to record myself but it would have been a lot harder so I’m definitely grateful for that opportunity. But, sometimes it’s nice to have deadlines and stuff and things you need to have done, and people that are just forcing you to get it done.
Aaron: In reference to that, where do you think you fit into the scene right now?
Shad: I can’t really tell you, I’ve been fortunate to find an audience with a few different…I hate to say it, demographics. Not like numbers, but people that are just into music and that kind of thing. I don’t really know where to place myself but I’m glad of the things that I have.
Aaron: It seems like you’re more cerebral than most rappers.
Shad: What I try to do is not really comment on the state of hip-hop. I really try just to make music that I would want to listen to as opposed to making music that is purposely anti-something else. That’s not really what I’m about, I’m more about making the kind of music I want to listen to and that I can relate to and comes naturally to me, that’s what I’m about.
Aaron: So you’re basically doing everything you want with the current stuff you’re working on obviously.
Shad: Yeah, I’ve been fortunate to be able to make some music that I believe in and work hard at. And hopefully I keep making better music and keep it creative.
Aaron: So where does the cerebral side come in for you?
Shad: For me, a lot of the tools I have to engage people are lyrics and trying to put things in a way that’s creative or interesting or funny, just engaging people that way.
Aaron: Speaking of engaging, I’ve heard you’re a great free-stylist. When you’re getting into a flow, what’s running through your mind there?
Shad: Oh man, really, the biggest thing is just nothing is running through your mind, you’re just having fun and not worrying about what’s coming out of your month.
Aaron: So what’s coming up over the next six months for you?
Shad: This tour and then hopefully I’m getting back to Toronto in the fall and working on a new one.
Aaron: Is there any info you can give us now?
Shad: Not really, I’m still in the brainstorming stages. When I get back to town I’ll be working with a bunch of different people, my DJ and my bass player. I’ll be working with a ton of other people that I’ve worked with before.
Aaron: Cool, thanks for chatting.
Shad: Yeah, no problem.