From Humble Beginnings | Battleaxe’s Cityreal [Interview]
Ottawa, ON - Battleaxe Warrior Cityreal made his second appearance in the nation’s capital on April 17 in support of the Swollen Members Beautiful Death Machine Tour at Ritual Nightclub, courtesy of Kapacity Entertainment.
The three-time Western Canadian Music Award nominee recently released his collaborative hip-hop/blues fusion project entitled Good Morning Blues with Wes Mackey, featuring Canadian star-power by Swollen Members’ Mad Child and Toronto’s JUNO Award-nominated D-Sisive.
Between throwing out free CD’s to fans, embracing the capital city crowd and setting the stage to Swollen Members’ finale act with an eclectic performance, the Vancouver rapper-producer found the time to sit down with HipHopCanada to discuss the contemporariness of his career and the drive behind his artistic effort.
Check out the full interview after the jump.
Interview conducted by Zack Noureddine for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: Welcome to Ottawa for your second time.
Cityreal: Thank you [Ottawa] for having me.
HipHopCanada: What does the Battleaxe movement mean to you at this stage? What has it been like to tour across Canada with Swollen Members?
Cityreal: It’s been amazing, a huge learning experience. This is my fourth time touring with them, I’ve been fortunate enough to go across Western Canada with them a few times. [Swollen Members] brought me along with them to the States as well, for a few dates.
I’ve met a lot of new people along the way. Being with Mad Child, Prevail and Rob the Viking on tour has taught me a lot about live performances, the drive and business aspect it takes to get better and the production side of things. I’ve really picked up a lot of things from them over the past year. They’re the best mentors I can ask for and I can’t say enough positive things, it’s just been great.
HipHopCanada: I don’t want you to speak too soon because you’ve still got the show in Vancouver and Whistler the following night. But in retrospect, what has been the highlight of this tour (Interview was conducted on April 17)?
Cityreal: So far, the Toronto show was one of the best no doubt. I mean every show was amazing, but I really enjoyed the Toronto performance atmosphere. Also, playing in front of a sold-out crowd at The Pyramid in Winnipeg really stood out for me. It’s been non-stop sell-outs out West. It’s really hard to pinpoint specific highlights but those two shows really drove the momentum of things on the road.
HipHopCanada: What’s been the driving force behind your career as an artist thus far?
Cityreal: I guess it would have to be getting a glimpse of the potential I have with music. Going out on tour with Swollen Members gave me a surreal opportunity at seeing the world. I was in Los Angeles with the group not long ago and seeing The Key Club on Sunset Boulevard was a big eye-opener to what music can really bring to my life. It’s one thing to see it from your home town, but to be there to see the appreciation [Swollen Members] get from all over the world really drives me to dream big and go above-and-beyond with my work. Hopefully with the next couple of moves, my budget and the grants I’ve been blessed with I can make a notable impact on the scene. The constant progression and the good people that have come in to my life really inspire me. For now I’ll keep moving forward. Once I see a halt in the growth as an artist, which I’ll work hard to avoid, I’ll go back to square one and reassess, or go back to school or something.
HipHopCanada: Go back to school? What was your area of study before music became a full-time passion?
Cityreal: I studied political science at the University of Winnipeg. I went to Winnipeg for school and did that for about two-and-a-half years. I had an interest in elective politics at a young age and enjoyed learning about it. Elective politics are supposed to represent the people of the world, but eventually I came to the realization that the people who truly represent the world and its ideas aren’t politicians at all. I was making beats on the side as well and doing production work for a bunch of people and one thing led to another.
HipHopCanada: So rapping was not your initial venture in to music – you started producing before rapping?
Cityreal: Yeah, that’s exactly how it went. I make all my own beats as well, that’s what keeps music at a competitive level for me and I love it that way. Every beat to every song I played on the [Beautiful Death Machine tour] was produced by me.
I’m going to be working with the Vancouver Film Orchestra, they have worked with Bryan Adams and Michael Buble. We’re going to have a string and brass section on the album, it’s going to be exciting to hear them on about 80 per cent of the songs. I really wanted a unique approach on this album. Given the grant I have been blessed with I’ll be able to make my vision of vivid instrumentation mixed with hip-hop happen.
HipHopCanada: Who else can fans expect to hear on the project?
Cityreal: A lot of Swollen Members and Saukrates.
HipHopCanada: Moving on, what’s your relationship with D-Sisive like?
Cityreal: D-Sisive is actually a really good friend of mine, we were hanging out in Toronto during our time there. I was on tour with him before that, out East as well. He has also been a big influence on my musical career. I think he’s one of the better rappers this country has to offer.
HipHopCanada: How do you feel about CBC’s Top 25 Greatest Canadian Rappers list?
Cityreal: I honestly can’t say much about it. Obviously, it represented a lot of true Canadian talent and hip-hop pioneers but I felt it didn’t show much love for the West.
HipHopCanada: Who would you like to thank?
Cityreal: I’d like to thank LRG Clothing for supporting me and being real good to me and my art, Swollen Members and Battle Axe and the entire movement for everything. And last but not least, I want to thank HipHopCanada for all the love they’ve been showing me over the years.
Interview conducted by Zack Noureddine (@ZackNoureddine) for HipHopCanada.