10 at 10 Spotlight: Evrlove Music [Interview]
Calgary, AB – It’s that time of the month; time for the HipHopCanada 10 at 10 Spotlight. Here’s how it all goes down: Every month we pick one of our favourite performers from Calgary’s monthly hip-hop showcase to feature here on HipHopCanada. Before we get into the spotlight at-hand, though, y’all should know that we unanimously agreed that Volume 32 of 10 at 10 last month was probably the best 10 at 10 that’s ever happened. Ya heard? The best 10 at 10 that ever happened. Every single artist that hit the stage at Commonwealth Bar & Stage last month was of piffery smithery status. So much love for this city right now. You don’t even know.
So back to the spotlight. This month we’re spotlighting Evrlove Music. Evrlove is based out in Edmonton. But the crew’s lead MC – Evrlove Blake – currently lives in Calgary because he’s attending business school. The crew opens most of the major shows out in Edmonton, but they had yet to make a debut in Calgary. That’s what 10 at 10 is for, though, am I right? So Evrlove Artafacts, Evrlove Mac, and Evrlove Oakley came down from the YEG to grace the 10 at 10 stage with Blake. Unfortunately the crew’s fifth member – Evrlove Corey F (who happens to be an Evrlove secret weapon, of sorts – due to his ability to rap and sing) – was unable to make it out for the night. Corey F’s absence put Evrlove in a bit of a bind. But Artafacts stepped up to take on the vocals, and the squad turned Commonwealth Bar & Stage all the way up.
“It’s nice to see that the scene’s growing. And to be a part of it – or to be involved in it – it’s humbling.” – Evrlove Blake
So let me back-track for a minute, here. When I heard that Evrlove was going to be on the 10 at 10 roster for May, I geeked right out for several reasons:
A) Evrlove are all sorts of good people. I recently spent four months up in Edmonton and finally linked up with the fam when they opened up for Trinidad Jame$ at Encore. And then I caught them again when they opened at Iron Mic Music Festival. They are some of the friendliest, realest dudes I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. They run the crew like a family ; I mean, they are actually all family, anyways. But Evrlove is all about combining the respective talents of all five members to bring shine to one another.
B) Evrlove has mastered the art of stage presence. As I mentioned, they opened pretty much every major show in Edmonton recently; from MGK to French Montana, and even Wu-Tang. Plus, there are five of them. They feed off one another. So their on-stage enthusiasm is off the Richter scale.
C) Evrlove Blake’s Triangles, Circles & Squares is one of my favourite Canadian project releases of 2014, so far. It just is. It was all degrees of fresh.
So I caught up with Evrlove Blake in Calgary this week for a chop-up over some sheesha. Cherry cola sheesha, to be specific. Because it matters. Former Torontonian MC Versatylez was there, too. He’s been working alongside Evrlove, lately. And he’s all sorts of good company to be had. Chatting with both of them at once is an experience to be had; their enthusiasm and drive towards the craft is infectious. I caught a few minutes to interview Blake for the spotlight, here, and he revealed all sorts rap-game knowledge.
Evrlove Blake: Q&A
Interview conducted by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: What was the 10 at 10 experience like for you?
Evrlove Blake: 10 at 10. The environment. The crowd. The energy. [It] was real dope. It was very tight-knit. You can tell they’re very supportive, regardless. I think that’s great for inspiring up-and-coming artists. It gives them the confidence to keep pushing their art. I was really impressed with that – just the way it was put together. I would definitely do the show again. 100 per cent.
HipHopCanada: What’d you guys learn from doing your 10 at 10 performance? I know Corey [F] wasn’t there…
Evrlove Blake: For myself – what I learned – was obviously being out there and networking without my right-hand man – that was a first-time thing for me…one of the first times. But there’s a lot of support here. That’s what I truly learned. I was like, “Oh. Calgary doesn’t really have much of a scene, bla bla bla.” I was kind of ignorant to the idea of it. And then I got introduced to 10 at 10, and I was like, “Damn.” It’s nice to see that the scene’s growing. And to be a part of it – or to be involved in it – it’s humbling. The city is starting to support.
HipHopCanada: How would you compare Calgary’s scene, versus Edmonton’s scene; not necessarily what’s good and what’s bad, but how they differ?
Evrlove Blake: Calgary’s more indie. It’s more – I’m not going to use the word soft – but it’s more softer underground… It’s poetic. Calgary is very poetic, right? You go to Edmonton – it’s grimy, it’s dirty, it’s battle, it’s “I’m the best,” “I’m competitive.” Everyone is competing with each other. It’s hard. The D-Boys come out of the woodwork in Edmonton. [laughs] It’s more jagged; rougher. Calgary’s definitely more poetic…I love that shit, though.
HipHopCanada: So on a local level, provincial level, national level, global level – who are some artists that you think Evrlove would like to work with?
Evrlove Blake: Locally [from Calgary], I would have to say Justine [Tyrell]. And also Sargeant. They’re really dope. They got a really cool vibe. [Sargeant] kind of reminded me of SZA. I think that would be really cool. When it comes to the rapping portion, [Calgary’s] got some dope dudes. Like New’L is dope. I’m open to working with anyone. Nationally, I want to record and do music with some dudes like Jimmy Johnson, Devon Tracy… I think SonReal would be dope, to be completely honest.
HipHopCanada: What about Rich Kidd? I could see you on some Rich Kidd ish.
Evrlove Blake: Rich Kidd’s got a cool vibe. I feel like we could have a track going hard together. Definitely. Realistically, I really want to try and branch out and collab with a lot of different genres.
HipHopCanada: I get the sense, too, that you’re less interested in [featuring] other rappers, but more [into] getting something else that’s not necessarily rap. And working that into your music.
Evrlove Blake: 100 per cent. 100 per cent. [laughs] I would love to be able to work with people just strictly out-of-the-box. And different sounds. And come up together. And incorporate their genre with the hip-hop. I think some dope records could be made that way. That’s what really attracts me. 100 per cent. I like different.
HipHopCanada: It’s more than hip-hop. It’s about music, right?
Evrlove Blake: Exactly. That’s what I’m into: music. We’re driving up here listening to SZA; she’s dope as hell. But I like music like that. I like music. I like an artist that really just tries to step out-of-the-box and create something so creative. And different. You don’t know if you’re going to accept it right away and it has to resonate with you. And then all of a sudden, you love their music. You’re like, “F**k. They’re geniuses.”
HipHopCanada: What have been some of the obstacles that Evrlove has faced, and how have you guys overcome those?
Evrlove Blake: Honestly, I would have to say being accepted. With my sound, I have no limits. Corey F – I know – he doesn’t have limits, either. So lots of my sounds; it’s not hip-hop. It’s not all straight hip-hop…
HipHopCanada: But hip-hop’s an arbitrary term…
Evrlove Blake: Exactly. How about…[my sound is] not rap? Lots of my sounds – and our sounds – they’re branched off through all of the influences we grew up with. Realistically. Nothing is really straight hip-hop-this, or underground, or stuff like that. The obstacle is being accepted. Lots of guys – I’ve noticed – they’re so into the underground. I had a dude approach me and he was like, “Yo. I listened to your mixtape. It was really dope. But I’m not really into that kind of music.” And I said to him, “What do you mean, ‘that kind of music’?” And he’s like, “You know – the whole American sound, and da-da-da-da-da-da.” But I was like, “It’s just music, dog. Why does it have to be classified? Why do you have to feel that I’m trying to be like I’m from Atlanta, or L.A., or something?” I’m just an artist. I make music off of my own influences. I just think that’s twisted. I think that’s the downfall for Canadian music: hip-hop [and] rap. ‘Cause guys are so concentrated on trying to…
HipHopCanada: …fit into a genre?
Evrlove Blake: …to fit into everything. No artist is finding themselves. They’re so complacent with, “I got the best lyrics,” [or] “I got the best bars.” But then they forget the structure. They forget the hooks. They forget the depth of the music. And then… it’s just a song. I truly feel there’s a huge different between making a record and a song. You don’t have to sell-out to make a record. Just because I’m sitting there and you feel like my music sounds mainstream, or [that] Corey F’s music sounds mainstream – it’s not mainstream. It’s all our own influences from the music that we like. I see it changing a lot. There’s a lot of dope new artists that are developing their own sounds. [But] I’m bored. I want to [see other artists] push the limits and create sounds that are your sounds. You do music for you [and] – obviously – for the people that support you. But I mean, when you’re creating your own sound, you want them to accept you for who you are. I’m not going to go and start trying to rap like underground cats; like Mos Def, or something. That’s not who I am. Would I listen to it? Yes. Would I enjoy it? Of course. There’s substance. It’s good music. Good music is good music.
HipHopCanada: Mos Def is one of my #1 MCs. So I’m glad you didn’t just diss him. Otherwise this interview would be over.
Evrlove Blake: [laughs] No. He’s a genius. I love him. But that’s a huge obstacle for us. People feel like we’re trying to sell out or be a certain way or copy what’s hot. Nah. [Our music] is just what my ears are telling me. Or Corey F’s ears are telling him. Straight up.
HipHopCanada: What have been some of your biggest successes, lately?
Evrlove Blake: We’ve had some successes travelling. We went out to Toronto and won a contest [where] no one knew our name or anything about us [at the 9-0-Nickel’s 10th Annual Urban Festival]. But we were able to make the whole room move. We were able to come out on top after sacrificing to go out there. Another huge success I feel like we’ve done is [my debut] Triangles, Circles & Squares. That’s opened up a lot of doors for us. Now we’re sitting here with Atlanta DJs and all these guys contacting us, and wanting to network with us. And helping us push our movement. We’re going to be down there soon doing music and tours and stuff like that, with artists like Waka [Flocka Flame], and stuff like that. That’s huge for us. It’s not that we’re trying to just leave, or anything. We’ve found success in networking. We’re just going to keep pushing. That’s the value of what we’re doing. It’s opening up doors for us. I’m hoping we can bring experiences further than just our backyard. As a crew – we’re focused on being heard. We’re not trying to be local stars.
HipHopCanada: Any last plugs you’d like to make?
Evrlove Blake: Triangles, Circles & Squares. It’s on DatPiff. My goal is 10,000 downloads. Right now, I’m like 40 downloads away…
HipHopCanada: That’s huge!
Evrlove Blake: I know! For a first project… So we’re really trying to push that. But most of all, we have an EP coming up. Me and Corey F are hella excited about that. We’re actually working on that with Peter Jackson out in Toronto. We also have a mixtape coming up, as well, featuring different artists like Versatylez, Evrlove Corey F. [Lots of] different features. It’s called Four Pyramids. I’m really excited about that, as well. And Artafacts did a lot of production on that.
HipHopCanada: Any upcoming shows we should know about?
Evrlove Blake: We have Rick Ross next week. That’s on Wednesday the 18th in Edmonton. We have a show out in Vancouver. We’re doing Future out in Vancouver. And we have a showcase out there with an artist called Juvi Dizzle. He’s a really dope artist. I’m excited about that.
HipHopCanada: Any last words or shout-outs?
Evrlove Blake: I want to shout-out everyone doing their thing. The whole scene. I’d love to see it grow: YEG and YYC. Obviously, my squad. Gold regime. Evrlove Music. Evrlove Corey F. Evrlove Oak. Evrlove Mac. Evrlove Artafacts. Janay [Thomas] – my cousin who just actually won Hot Factor out in Edmonton. Congrats to her. She’s a dope artist, as well. She’s Evrlove fam. And shout-out to Beni J.
Make sure you follow the Evrlove fam on Facebook and YouTube. And keep up with all things 10 at 10 via Facebook. And you may as well add them up on Twitter and Instagram while you’re at it. And take a peep at the brand spankin’ new 10 at 10 website.
Interview conducted by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
Photography by Kelly Hofer for 10 at 10 Hip-Hop Showcase