Conflicts Of My Soul: Tory Lanez decodes new project, his brand & more [Interview]
Toronto – Tory Lanez may be a native of Toronto but his reach extends far beyond the city limits. As much as Tory has held onto his roots, he’s well aware that to be successful in the music industry you need to branch out, and expand your platform to a larger audience (which, in my opinion, many artists can’t seem to master). Over the past few years, Tory Lanez has been travelling (and living) back and forth between Toronto to the States in order to get his music into the hands of the right people. It’s obviously paid off, because he’s gained an overflow of recognition in the States – just go and search his name on any of the popular American based magazines and blogs and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
One of the wild things about Tory, which I didn’t find out until I spoke with him, is despite being only 20 years of age he has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments. He not only raps and sings (well, might I add), but also self-produces his music and he directs his own videos. Literally, he does it all.
In 2012, Tory released a mixtape entitled Sincerely Tory which hit over 20,000 downloads on DatPiff and was well-received by the industry. Essentially, this tape really got the ball rolling for him. From that point until just recently, Tory has been pretty quiet, releasing little to no music at all. His reasoning behind this was that he wanted to get to a particular place with his sound where he was comfortable and to do that, he really had to focus on producing the best material he could.
Yesterday, August 27, Tory dropped his highly anticipated new project, Conflicts Of My Soul: The 416 Story [download] which is more than just a mixtape; in the words of Tory it’s an “audio movie.” This project presents the struggles Tory has gone through over the past year. The title, Conflicts of my Soul, is literal in the sense that Tory’s actual soul was conflicted over many different aspects of his life and the tape represents that period of time. He also has a couple of dope guests on the project; Roscoe Dash and Kirko Bangz, along with production from The Mekanics, DJ Mustard and himself. The icing on the cake is that the tape is hosted by DJ Drama – now that’s a great look! Conflicts of my Soul really proves Tory’s tireless work ethic and hunger to be the best in this industry.
HipHopCanada had the opportunity to speak in-depth with Tory about his new project, which also opened the door for discussions around other things, including, his brand, his team, Toronto, the influence the States has had on his music, the importance of God and more. You can read the full interview after the jump.
Tory Lanez: Q&A
Written by Natasha Paolini for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: First things first, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I really appreciate it.
Tory Lanez: Oh, it’s an honour. It’s an honour and a pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
HipHopCanada: I want talk about your new mixtape Conflicts Of My Soul: The 416 Story but let’s start with Sincerely Tory, which you released over a year ago, and it did well. Since then you didn’t release any music, except for featuring on a few tracks, but now you’re back with your new project. Can you tell me why you took that approach?
Tory Lanez: Honestly, I did Sincerely Tory with the mindset of trying to be different. As a human being, when you try to be different, you think it’s cool for the moment, but then when you try to be different it’s like you’re trying too hard. So, with me, it was one of those situations where it was a re-evaluation, because even though I love that tape, I always feel there’s always room for improvement with every project. With that project I look back, because this was my 4th or 5th mixtape, it comes to the point where as the underdog of the whole situation I just wanted to make sure that the next time I strike, they understand the full potential. I didn’t think that anything else was more important than that; then me making sure that my sound is solidified and that it’s naturally just me. And this is what this new one is, so that’s really why I took so long and why I did that approach.
HipHopCanada: When did you first begin working on Conflicts Of My Soul: The 416 Story?
Tory Lanez: I started working on it in early October of last year. I went to L.A. and I was going through a whole bunch of crazy things; with the label that I was with at the time and certain things just going on in my life. I wanted to come out with some music that represents every emotion and every feeling of what I’m going through right now and something that’s real. And I decided that this would be the tape Conflicts Of My Soul because that’s what was going on in my life, but not just ordinary, everyday conflicts, but conflicts of my actual soul.
HipHopCanada: It sounds deep. What was the overall vision for this new project?
Tory Lanez: I’m glad you just called it a project, instead of a mixtape, because I don’t really want people to look at it as a mixtape, I want them to look at it as an audio movie or an audio film. The way that the tape is put together, the way that the records go into each other, certain transitions from record to record – it’s actually a story, it’s actually a movie, it’s actually something that represents a time in my life. It has a lot of meaning behind it and I just want people to realize that my overall vision for it is a movie and not just a mixtape.
HipHopCanada: Nice, sounds cool. What producers did you work with?
Tory Lanez: Mainly with The Mekanics, who is this dude, well it used to be two dudes but now it’s only one now. But, I worked with him, he recorded the tape as well and he also engineered it. I did everything with him production wise, because I produce too. I had came originally with my own set of beats for the project and I ended up not using them. I ended up creating every single thing from scratch. So, I actually wrote the mixtape twice, and then when I seen him, and started working with him, I scratched everything that I wrote and we worked together to create everything. But I also have DJ Mustard on the project, this dude named Maurice Griffin and Rory TruStory and Davo. Rory TruStory and Davo are crazy – They are also a part of my new team.
HipHopCanada: We’ll touch on your team after, but I wanted to talk about the track you did with Kirko Bangz “Know What’s Up.” How did that connection take place and what was it like working with him?
Tory Lanez: Honestly, it was awesome. The way it happened was I had been in Houston, spending some time, when I first started writing the tape. And I was with a dude who is well known – his name is Mr. Rogers; he’s a DJ out there. We had been going place to place, and we ended up in the strip club. I think it was called ‘Dreams.’ I saw Kirko in there and I went up to him and I was like “Yo, what’s up man, I’m Tory Lanez” and before I finished my name, he was like “Nah, nah I already know who you are.” He’s like “We gotta work!” He was real humble, and real down to earth and everything. And I was just like “For sure.” I took down his number and then a couple weeks later, when I started recording, I made sure that I got everything ready – I wanted to make sure I had a record to send to him that was dope. I made the first verse – I actually freestyled the whole song. It’s crazy because I don’t really write, so I went in the booth and freestyled. And once I did it, I knew that this was it, and this is what we needed to send to him. So I sent it to him and he felt me. He didn’t ask me for any bread, nothing, he was just like “alright, let’s do it” … just out of love.
HipHopCanada: What sets this one apart from your other projects?
Tory Lanez: It’s really just the growing into my own sound. I feel that all my previous projects has been me trying to find the sound and trying to find where I belong and making music that I’m comfortable with and trying to find that music. I feel that I’ve finally reached that plateau of growing into my own sound. I feel like that is why I’m so happy about it and it’s something that I’m so comfortable with, and I know that because I’m comfortable with it, all the people that are like me are going to love it.
HipHopCanada: Right. Nice. You’re originally from Toronto, and now you’re living in the States, right?
Tory Lanez: Yes, I live in Texas from time to time, but I still have a condo in Toronto. I’m back and forth.
HipHopCanada: How has living in the States changed or impacted your music career?
Tory Lanez: It’s really just meeting people and going to their hometowns and being at the right places at the right time. I feel like the States has those types of opportunities, but it really depends if you’re confident enough to take them. Being in the States sets that standard between whether or not I’m just gonna make great music or whether or not I’m gonna make great music and be able to get into the hands of the right people. It’s really opened that door of me getting to other artists and connecting.
HipHopCanada: What are the distinct differences that you can point out from the Toronto music scene and the scene in the States?
Tory Lanez: I feel like Toronto is the city of very golden gems [Laughing] – if that makes any sense. I feel like Toronto is a place where there’s a lot of diamonds in the dirt. It may sound crazy, but every now and then somebody out of Toronto will just pop up – and it’s like wow, this person is incredible. I don’t know what it is in the water but the people out here are low-key incredible. There are a lot of new types of sounds in Toronto that I haven’t heard. I’m not saying that L.A. and all these other places don’t have new sounds because music around the world is evolving, but at the same time you have to understand that regardless of what hometown you’re from and you’re producing new sound that has never been heard before. It’s crazy because for years Toronto has never had a solidified sound but I feel like now we’re beginning to come into that sound that is us; that northern, that foreign, crazy sound. That’s how I feel about it.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, Toronto’s becoming the place to be. Everyone wants to come here now to work on music and to work with our artists. It’s pretty cool. I don’t want to take up to much of your time but … [Tory interjects]
Tory Lanez: Oh no, don’t even trip! You can take up as much of my time as you want.
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] Okay… You mentioned your team earlier – Can you talk a bit about the people that are with you day-to-day, what they do with you and how you met them?
Tory Lanez: The team is originally my brothers, my three blood brothers and together we’re the ‘One Umbrella.’ The ‘One Umbrella’ is the mob, it’s the whole family, and it’s the stem that keeps everything together. ‘S.L.S’ is my special thing under the umbrella and it stands for ‘Sex, Life and Swave.’ ‘Swavey’ is a word that I created, but we’ll get more into that later. The umbrella basically has people that do different things and do it to a serious, serious ability. They are people that are able to do more than one thing. You know when you have an umbrella, an actual physical umbrella, if you open it into the sky and then you close it; you have to have all those little stems that keep the umbrella up to make it stay up. So, that’s why it’s called ‘One Umbrella,’ because no matter how many businesses are under ours, it will always stay up with each and every single business being connected through each other through ‘One Umbrella.’
There are other artists in ‘One Umbrella’ – all my brothers do music first of all – Sos Couture, Yoko Gold and Brooks, and we’re all incredible. Then I have two other brothers, who aren’t really my blood brothers: Davo and Rory TruStory. They’re actually sons of one of the wailers who used to play in the Bob Marley band. They have crazy roots; they play guitar, they direct, they sing, they rap…it’s dope. And then there’s Jae Fresco, but he just likes to be called Jae [Laughing]. He’s a dude that keeps everybody together, keeps everybody on point and makes sure that everything is going right and everybody is at the places they’re supposed to be. He’s like the team coordinator. But, the main player on my team though, is a dude out of Texas named Sascha Stone. He’s a fucking mastermind. You’ll see him out in L.A. – he’s my L.A. connect and does everything for me out in L.A.
HipHopCanada: You mentioned the term ‘Swavey’ – Where did that originate?
Tory Lanez: ‘Swavey’ originated when I was thinking one day about how talented I was – as weird as that sounds. I was in a room and I was thinking, “What am I supposed to label myself? If I have so many talents, what can I be labelled as?” I can’t call myself just hip-hop because people are only gonna think I rap, I can’t call myself R&B because people will think that I only sing. So, I came up with a genre of music and called it ‘Swavey’ which allows me to create whatever I want to create under my own brand and call it my own. It’s being able to be yourself and not being chained in a box. The meaning and definition behind ‘Swavey’ is to be able to fuse two genres of something and put them all together. And that’s what creates ‘Swave.’
HipHopCanada: That’s cool. What did you start doing first; rapping or singing?
Tory Lanez: I started rapping before anything. I picked up singing when I was 17 or 18 – I’m 20 now. I taught myself how to sing – I never had a vocal coach or anything because I couldn’t afford it. But, I feel like I managed well. And also, after I started singing I got into producing because I was more in touch with melodies at that point. And lastly I started directing my own videos, because nobody would shoot me.
HipHopCanada: Gotta do it yourself sometimes…
Tory Lanez: [Laughing] Exactly.
HipHopCanada: Did you have a mentor or do you have a mentor?
Tory Lanez: Honestly, my father is my mentor, in life. He’s the guy who’s never been wrong in my life. Even though, in all aspects I haven’t seen him in my life because he’s traveled a lot in his life and I’ve also traveled a lot in my life, so we haven’t seen each other at every single juncture. But, he’s been the realest person to me, and never ever been wrong about anything.
HipHopCanada: That’s nice. Is there something that you live by, like a motto or a quote?
Tory Lanez: Well ‘Swavey’ is one of them, but personally I live by the quote ‘Live life, love God’ – I got it tatted on my chest, like right across my neck. I feel like you should live life, and you should love God through everything you do. People in life, they go on these award shows, and they thank God and some people may go that extra step and pray for grace, and some people go to church every Sunday. But it’s like “do you really love God, though?” “Do you really fear and love God and want to see your Father proud?” I feel like you should always live by that, because through all your doing, He’s going to be there.
HipHopCanada: Agreed. You’re still so young, only 20 years old – What advice do you have for young artists that are trying to do what you’re doing?
Tory Lanez: Be consistent, and go harder than everybody. I don’t mean be more talented than everybody, because some things are inevitable, but at the same time I feel like you can always be better if you make yourself better, if you take the time to make yourself better. You have to look at music just like you’re working out; the more time you put into your body, and resisting the temptations to put into your body, it’s going to make you look better at the end of the day. And this is how music is; the more you are strict with your music, the more you’re on top of your game with music, the more you’re writing is going to benefit you as an artist and make you better. As well, taking in music is just as important as creating it. You have to take in music to gain melodies, you have to listen to melodies to gain melodies and you have to listen to rap to gain rap. You can’t just think you can do all these things if you don’t listen to the music itself.
HipHopCanada: That’s really good advice actually.
Tory Lanez: Thank you, I appreciate that. I hope someone takes it and does something good with their life.
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] For sure. Well, I think we covered everything, unless you have anything else you wanted to share.
Tory Lanez: Nope, I think we got it all. But, thank you for calling me and interviewing me. I’ve been a fan of the site since I was younger.
HipHopCanada: Nice! Well, this was definitely overdue.
Tory Lanez: Thank you again. I appreciate it.
Written by Natasha Paolini for HipHopCanada
Photography provided by Tory Lanez
Tweets by @HipHopCanada