Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist of the Month is Es! This Toronto-based hip-hop artist is on the rise after winning ‘Best Urban Artist’ at the 2015 Toronto Independent Music Awards. Es is a true student of the genre and keep its beats and raw essence alive in his work. Check out our exclusive Q&A with him to learn more!
1) You’re inspired by classic hip-hop & have been writing rhymes for awhile now. What influences do you draw on when you create music?
I gain my inspiration from my family, life and music. I’d say that’s the core of where my subject matter comes from.
2) What’s the music scene like in the Toronto area?
The scene is great out here. There is so much amazing talent in all genres of music grinding to get their voices heard. Toronto has been a city on the rise for such a long time. Be on the lookout for more noise to come out of Toronto.
3) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
The best piece of advice I think I’ve ever gotten was to just be myself and not compromise my integrity. This piece of advice has gotten me to where I am. Though the road has been long, I wouldn’t change it for anything. It just makes the forward progress that I make that much more rewarding.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
That is a tough one. I’d have to give you 2. I’d say Phonte, formerly of Little Brother and my other pick Common. Two of my favourite emcees. Both insanely talented and posess that soulful hip-hop vibe that I was and am still inspired by.
5) What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
Haha. I don’t really do the karaoke thing, but if I did, it would probably be something retro 80’s. No one song or artist in particular. Too many oldies hits I catch myself singing along to when I got my Sirius FM on the 80’s on 8 channel. LOL. I swear the 80’s was a great era for pop and rock music. I don’t really check either these days, but in the 80’s it was some good stuff. I miss the 80’s. Ha!
6) WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
My advice to aspiring artists would be 3 things: (1) Work on your craft & be a student of your genre and learn from the greats that came before you (2) Be true to yourself and make sure the message you put out there is a true representation of you (3) Build relationships within your target demographic. Establish a connection with supporters, promoters, media outlets and peers in your respective genre. Once you do these 3 things, many doors will open. These 3 things have worked well for me thus far. #1 and #3 are a work in progress for me. I’m trying to continually improve in those arenas.
7) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
One thing I would change is restoring balance. Way too often, I find we are constantly being forcefed the same repetitive themes and imagery. Music is supposed to be a reflection of society and the people in it. Nowadays it seems as though only a small segment of the population is being represented. The industry powers-that-be are dictating what people should hear and see. This is dangerous in my opinion. It seemed like there was more balance of the positive and negative back in the early 90’s music, and that’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed that era.
8) What is the best way you’ve found to market yourself as an artist?
One of the best ways I’ve found to market myself is building relationships via the various social media outlets. Creating the music is the “easy” part. Getting it out there and connecting with the right people and opportunities to expand its reach is a whole other ballgame. Whether it be something as simple as connecting on a human level with a supporter or submitting music to blogs, podcasts, radio etc the internet has made the world accessible by the click of a few keys on your keyboard.
9) Tell us about your last EP ‘Aspire to Inspire’?
Aspire To Inspire was an album that I released in 2014. It is an album that is dedicated to any and everybody that prides themselves on following their goals and dreams regardless of the obstacles that come in your way. This album also symbolized my growth and journey as an artist. From student and fan aspiring to do what my favourite emcees did to being the man creating the music to inspire others. Aspire To Inspire. I really enjoyed creating this album. I felt I put together a really cohesive project that embodies who I am as a person and emcee. Just some good ol’ positive, soulful hiphop music. It is still available digitally on bandcamp, iTunes and any other digital retailer out there.
10) What next on the horizon for you (shows/new tracks/in the studio etc.)?
Next on the horizon, I’m currently working on a new album which is going to be called “We Are Only Getting Older”. It will be an album where I reflect on the role age plays in today’s society and musical climate. Much of today’s music caters to the younger crowd. I also engage the listener on where someone like myself fits in, in today’s youth dominated landscape. Should be a good one. I look forward to sharing this one with the world. I’ve got some great production on it from different parts of the world. Grown man rap. Apart from working on this new project, I’m continuing to do shows in and around Toronto, releasing singles, working on getting on some festivals and collaborating with like-minded artists across the globe. Be on the lookout! Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for updates.