Droppin’ Science with Cam Smith [Interview]
Halifax, NS – Dartmouth’s Cam Smith recently performed a live show in downtown Halifax for Droppin Science, a bi-weekly hip-hop showcase put on by Halifax rapper Ambition and DJ Uncle Fester at The Company House. Smith combined his set with friend and fellow upcoming East Coast artist Alfie, and killed the stage with their original beats and lyrics. After the performance, HipHopCanada’s own Kyah Sparks caught up with the East Coast Music Award winner to talk about how he feels performing for small crowds, as well his latest album in the works, Cannon. Click the jump for our exclusive interview with Cam Smith.
Cam Smith: Q&A
Written by Kyah Sparks for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: How do you prepare yourself moments before a show?
Cam Smith: The main thing is to mentally get focused on the task at hand. I guess I stay away from everyone, stay in the back of the room, sometimes I’ll put my iPod in and I’ll listen to what I’m about to do. I like to keep my mind clear because sometimes if you get your mind caught up on what’s going on before performing, it makes its way on stage with you.
HipHopCanada: Do you ever get nervous before going on stage?
Cam Smith: Yeah! I would think that with the level of shows, from stadium to ten people in the room, I would assume that you would have some sort of nervousness, because if you’re not nervous, you’re not really on your toes, you’re not ready to go out there and kick it. I feel like if you have a bit of nervousness inside of you it makes you a bit better of a performer. You are kind of worried. You want to make sure you do the best you can do. I would never say I got nervous to the Eight Mile puking point, but I definitely get the butterflies. Anything that keeps me on my toes when I’m out there, I actually do a good job, I don’t want to screw up for my friends and supporters.
HipHopCanada: What makes you the most nervous?
Cam Smith: Honestly, It’s the smaller shows that I get the most nervous for, because there are not too many people there and it’s hard. Let’s say if I do a big show at The Palace with a big artist that comes in town, it’s pretty easy to have those people in the palm of your hand. Once you have 1000 people it’s easy to say “move your hands this way” and “move them that way,” but when you have a crowd of 100 people it’s hard to say “come out on the dance floor” or “move that way,” because everyone is so shy they want to sit back and play the cool character, they don’t want to look like an idiot.
HipHopCanada: Does it kill your vibe when you ask people to “get out of their seats and move” and no one responds?
Cam Smith: I would honestly say, not really. Most people wouldn’t know this but when you’re on stage, it is hard to see, aha. Like I can’t really tell what’s going on out there because it’s so bright. Every once in a while, I’ll get a glimpse of someone, but for the most part, there are so many times that I almost fell off the stage because’ it’s so bright up there. It could be 10 people or a 100 people, I really don’t know, so it really doesn’t kill my atmosphere. I’m just trying not to screw up the next line.
HipHopCanada: When it comes to your style and choosing wardrobe for a show, where do your inspirations come from?
Cam Smith: When it comes to that stuff it depends on what type of show. For Droppin Science, I wanted to be more personable really. Kind of fun or funny so, I picked something and kind of worked with that. The clothing company I was wearing last night just sent me a box full of clothes about a week or so ago, so I just wanted to rock some of the new stuff they sent, some funnier attire. I don’t know, you can’t be serious when it comes to such small shows like that. You kinda have to be the funny guy and stand out, ’cause if you look too serious, that’s how people are going to take it, and they aren’t going to have fun. If I can come on stage and wear something crazy like a zebra shirt and still make some jokes out of it, it makes you relax, you know what I mean. That’s like, the whole point when having small shows, making people relax. I’ll be doing some festivals this summer, so I wanna make sure I have some nice gear for that. For Quakes show, I ordered a hella expensive Ian Conner Will Fry Jersey. I have little fine details for all these shows, but I just pick something and work with it.
HipHopCanada: As a rapper, there are many stereotypes, one being the “live fast, die young” lifestyle. Is this something you support and agree with?
Cam Smith: I want to live slow and die old. I guess it all depends. The industry that I’m in, that’s kind of the motto. Even though that is how some of us live, it’s not the best way to do it. I mean you want to stretch out all your options, you want to stretch out the money, stretch out the shows, and stretch out your career almost. So yeah, I can’t say I want to live exactly by that motto, but the industry I’m in does live by that motto. It’s all about getting them to live by how you feel.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about your upcoming album Cannon. Why did you choose that name?
Cam Smith: I don’t know, it’s always been a name that existed with me, and it felt right. At first I was just going to continue Ocean Blue, it was going to be “Ocean Blue 2,” but after a while, the music I was making didn’t feel that way. It didn’t justify Ocean Blue 2, it wasn’t that type of music. It was something totally different: aggressive, in your face. It’s a different sound, so I didn’t want to go with another Ocean Blue, because if you were expecting Ocean Blue and you got that, you’d be like, “Oh, this doesn’t sound like the first Ocean Blue,” you know what I mean. So I wanted to give it a new name and I just felt that was something short. It’s always been kind of stuck in my head and I just felt like it kind of worked for the sound, you know that bang sound.”
HipHopCanada: Do you have an official release date?
Cam Smith: Not official yet. We got some more singles in the works. I’m going to say sometime in August will be the best time for it to release. I don’t have the exact date, and it all really depends on the videos and the singles and once we get all those going. If something goes really well, we might keep pushing the date to let that song or video ride.
HipHopCanada: Will “Nonsense” be the album’s first single?
Cam Smith: Yeah. We had a good discussion a couple weeks after it was released. We felt like it was the best single, but now that we’re looking at the other music, I don’t know. There are all kinds of different ways to take it. I would say officially, it’s the first single, but I think there are even better things to come, with amazing videos and amazing production. We’re going to attack it in a really different way than we did with Ocean Blue.
HipHopCanada: What styles can we look forward to hearing in your upcoming album, production and feature wise?
Cam Smith: So far, honestly, I have been doing all the production, which I usually do but I kinda branched out to Corey Lerue, who did pretty much all of Quake’s Corrado album. He’s part of Hello, Click, he’s done a lot of local things over the past few years. For a lot of the production, I’ll do it all and then go to his place and we’ll kind of rethink it, add new instruments, and new sounds come back. I’ll do more tweekin’, then we just keep going back and forth until it’s there. We both went to NSCC for the Recording Arts Program. He was a year after me, but he has a more electronic sound. I have heavy bass, so when we come together and keep going back and forth like that, he adds his elements and then I add mine. You’re getting some really heavy, hard-hitting stuff that’s in your face, but you’re also getting the cool delays on my voice, and reverbs, and all the other stuff that you may hear on the radio, without being the stuff on the radio, you know what I mean. I think that’s been going really good. As far as features, we’re going to reach out to some people. I’d love to get Rich Kidd from Toronto on the album. I’m definitely going to have Quake and Kayo for sure, and I don’t know, we’re just going to have to see if some songs feel right for certain people.
Written by Kyah Sparks for HipHopCanada