D-Sisive: Run With The Creeps [Interview]
Vancouver, B.C. – Currently on a Canadian tour with the brand new album Run With The Creeps dropping this week, D-Sisive has come a long way from the haunting trials and tribulations he faced a few years ago. Also known as Derek (from Northcliffe) Christoff, D-Sisive talks to HipHopCanada about his views on the Canadian hip-hop scene, his inspirations, and his personal story.
HipHopCanada: You’re currently on the Creeps tour, how is it going so far?
D-Sisive: Well we’ve done Whistler, and tonight Vancouver. So far so good, but it has only just begun. I love being in Vancouver though, I would move here for the sushi alone. You guys have the best sushi in the world. It’s a beautiful city.
HipHopCanada: Run With The Creeps is your brand new album. Tell us a little bit about the progression you’ve had as an artist from previous efforts to this new album.
D-Sisive: Basically I find that my writing is getting a lot stronger with each release. When I go back to a record like The Book, which I released in 2008, it was very raw in a sense and not very structured. Myself as an artist is evolving and I’m just trying to improve as far as my song writing is concerned, and the lyric writing, and just the quality. Run With the Creeps definitely has more of a sonically stronger impact than my other records.
HipHopCanada: Being from Toronto, how has your hometown influenced your music?
D-Sisive: Toronto is my home, it’s where I’m from, it’s where I discovered music. It’s where I discovered Canadian hip-hop. Toronto hip-hop, to be more specific, artists like Choclair, Saukrates and Kardinal have been major influences to me. I remember when I was young and I figured out that this is what I wanted to pursue, those were the guys that I would look up to. I would be obsessed with their music and I would listen to what they’re doing and it would blow my mind. 15 years later I’m kind of in a position in where I’m working with my idols, and I can consider them peers. I now absorb their music from a different angle. Not so much as a competitor, but more like “what are you doing that could help what I’m doing”. I’ve been able to work with Saukatres and Choclair, things that I would dream about when I was 15 or 16 years old. To be able to do that now is an amazing feeling. To be able to consider myself a part of that world now is just great. Their music is always influencing my music. Toronto always influences my music. But you also can’t ignore the rest of the country. We have an amazing country with amazing artists, and I find that Toronto tends to kind of look at themselves on a pedestal. It’s not the case. There is a whole other world outside that city and there is amazing art that is being created that should not be ignored.
HipHopCanada: What does the Canadian hip-hop scene we need to do to be on par with the American hip-hop scene?
D-Sisive: I think what the Canadian scene needs to do to be on par with the American scene is to STOP trying to be on par with the American scene. The more you emulate and the more you want to be a part of that club, the more ridiculous you look. You look at what Drake is doing right now, who is phenomenal, he’s an amazing artist and deserves everything that is happening to him right now. But, I just don’t get when people are like “Drake’s doing it now, Toronto’s on the map!” Well, not necessarily. Toronto’s on the map in the sense that Drake will wear a Blue Jay’s hat on the Vibe cover, and every journalist that mentions him is going to mention Canada, or Toronto; writers tend to do that. I just do not believe that there are A and R’s out there in the states that are saying, “Drake’s doing big numbers, who else is from Toronto?” Drake is Drake. He is doing what he does because he’s him and he’s doing it. He’s great. I don’t think that the city where you’re from is the reason why anyone is going to sell records. It even stems back to when Choclair signed with Interscope and put out Ice Cold through them, everyone thought the doors were broken down and Canadian rappers were on the rise. Remember all those guys were on the cover of Rap Pages? That was the time when everyone said, “it’s time”. And then what happened? Here we are now again saying thanks to Drake, “it’s time!” Drake’s been out now for two years, and maybe a handful of Canadian artists have done anything. You could count them on one hand. Also, you cannot forget the contributions Kardinal has had towards this scene. He was really the first guy to crack into the states, you know, “Dangerous” was a major hit. I feel like when Drake came out, people forgot that. It kind of eclipsed what Kardinal did. He was the first to work with Timbaland and the Neptunes. He repped Toronto and Canada harder than anyone did. The first half of my career was spent trying to impress everybody in my city. The second half was not giving a shit, and making new music that I wanted to make. That got me a lot farther than anything I’ve ever done in previous years. Just be yourself, who cares.
HipHopCanada: You mentioned that you’ve already worked with a handful of your idols, who would be your next dream collaboration?
D-Sisive: Well, if its hip-hop it would probably have to be Andre 3000. He’s probably my favorite rapper. Well, Jay Z is my favorite rapper, but I don’t know if it would be my dream collaboration. I would not turn it down, and I would jump around if given the opportunity, but Andre 3000 is the best, ever. He’s an incredible writer and he’s courageous and he does not give a fuck what anyone thinks. Truthfully. You can have a lot of the tough guy rappers, screaming, “I don’t give a fuck”, but you kind of give a fuck because you’re just copying an image that a million other people do. Andre 3000 is responsible for things no one has ever done. Maybe some things no one should ever do, but you can’t win them all, they can’t be all home runs, but he’s a genius. It would definitely be him. Outside of hip hop, probably an artist like Tom Wakes or Rufus Wainwright. One of my dreams was to work with Ron Sexsmith, who is a Canadian singer songwriter, a legend, and I was able to do that two records ago. That dream was achieved.
HipHopCanada: On your website you have a open anonymous questionnaire/comment section, and two words your fans used most to describe your lyrics were “thoughtful” and “intelligent”. With that being said, how would you describe the current state of other hip-hop?
D-Sisive: I don’t know if I really could describe the current state of hip-hop because I don’t really pay attention to the current state of hip-hop. I love hip-hop. I’m not a follower like I used to be; I’m not a die-hard hip-hop guy. I’ll take in certain things; some I think are shit, some I think are great. That kind of goes with everything. I recently discovered Aesop Rock, I think he’s opening for Drake on his upcoming tour, he’s pretty dope. He’s insane. Mac Miller, his record is on my computer now, I’m going to check that out. The new Drake is fucking dope. But I don’t know, people tell me that my lyrics are more intelligent than most but I don’t really like using that word when describing myself. I don’t think it’s a matter of intelligence, I just write differently than everyone else. I’m in my own lane, and I’m trying to create my own lane. If it’s separating myself from everyone, that’s great. That’s what I’m really trying to achieve. I’ll take those compliments; I love hearing that, who doesn’t like hearing compliments. I just think my head’s in a different space than most writers, which most writers should be. I won’t pat myself on the back for that, I’m just being who I am.
HipHopCanada: What can we hear from Run With the Creeps that we won’t be able to hear anywhere else?
D-Sisive: My story. We all have our own stories. My upbringing is very different from your upbringing. The people I’m surrounded by are very different than the ones you’re surrounded by. You talk about the happy times, you talk about the sad times, but at the same time, my story is mine. His story is his and yours is yours. Everyone has his or her own hardships and happy times. I think that is what will separate mine from everyone else’s. I think where people will relate is when I speak a lot about my frustrations with the music industry and my career. I preach the same gospel as a lot of what other upcoming emcees are going through. I think they will be able to relate. This is how I see it, through my eyes.
HipHipCanada: What can your fans expect to see from you next?
D-Sisive: Run With the Creeps. Run With the Creeps is all I’m pushing right now. In the past I’ve gotten ahead of myself a lot. I’d be pushing a certain album, while already starting work on another one; I’d start talking about the new one. I can’t do that now. Now my head is in Run With the Creeps mode, which comes out November 15th. I’m currently on the Creeps tour right now. Runwiththecreeps.com, come ask me questions and we’ll be friends.
Interview conducted by Christina Parihar for HipHopCanada
Photography by Rene Artiga
Thanks to Outline Agency for help in setting this up.