Faint and Uncertain Though They Were: cannonhead breaks down their brand new EP
Montreal, QC – Last week Montreal’s cannonhead duo (Freddie 5ive and Jay Lindsay) released a brand new five-track EP titled Faint and Uncertain Though They Were.
The EP’s title stems from a Tesla quote and basically sums up the idea of being unconsciously conscious. The project’s track listing has been a long time in the making, and was made over the duration of the last few years. It serves as a stamp in time for the guys. Every one of the five tracks can be traced back to a very specific point in time; whether it was a night of drugs and good vibes, an attempt to reach an ex-girlfriend, or just trying to throw down some rap shit.
We’ve already seen the releases of “Why Would I Lie, Why Would I Lie” and “This Place Is Built.” But the guys opted to put remixes of the singles on this EP, instead of the original mixes. Faint and Uncertain Though They Were kicks off with “Wisdom Teeth” (which was initially intended as a track for vocalist Celina Wolfe), and goes through a cinematic sonic journey to end with the Sugar Hill remix of “This Place is Built” (which is a low-key nostalgic nod to Freddie shitting all over Nas, and Jay fantasizing about AZ sugar mountains).
Take in the EP below, scope our Q&A with Freddie and Jay after the jump, and check the guys’ in-depth track-by-track breakdown of the project.
“I’ve always believed people are more aware than we know. Like the brain is constantly just storing all this random information that we’re not paying attention to. It’s like how when you’re writing music you often don’t really know what you’re saying until you finish it…”
– Freddie 5ive
HipHopCanada: Start off by telling me what this project means to each of you on a personal level.
Freddie: For me it’s kind of a letting go. There’s a couple of songs on here that we held on to for so long for whatever reasons. There’s this dope release you get when you let go of shit, even if there were no negative feelings involved. So there’s that, coupled with just being excited about the new shit we got on here. It’s a really good starting point into what we do.
Jay: These songs were all recorded during different stages of our lives the last couple of years; each one from it’s own little era. I heard someone say recently that you never know who you are in the present, it’s only when you look back that you’re able to have a clear understanding of who you were. When you grow along with your music, you can look back at your work and it’ll show you.
HipHopCanada: Explain the significance of the title Faint And Uncertain Though They Were.
Freddie: It’s actually something Tesla said; the inventor-scientist, not the car. It’s from this letter he wrote after he was asked in 1900 to predict man’s greatest coming achievement. His answer was kind of bugged out but inside his response he dropped that line and I thought it was fly as shit. He was basically saying that he had picked up weird signals from space and blah, blah, blah… What we’re referring to though is the idea of being open and aware of disturbances in energy no matter how small or inexplicable they may be. I’ve always believed people are more aware than we know. Like the brain is constantly just storing all this random information that we’re not paying attention to. It’s like how when you’re writing music you often don’t really know what you’re saying until you finish it and sometimes it can even seem as if you’re articulating something to yourself for the first time. But all you’re doing is letting out all this subconscious shit that you haven’t been addressing. We all spend a lot of time not addressing shit. This is like anti all that shit.
HipHopCanada: Tell me about the concept and direction of the project. It’s a very cinematic body of work. I feel like “Wisdom Teeth” kicks it all off as this reflective, this-is-what-I-have-learned-along-the-way kind of commentary. And then it goes through this journey and wraps with “This Place Is Built”.
Jay: “Wisdom Teeth” started as a song I was trying to produce for a singer friend of mine, Celina Wolfe. I’m a big fan of hers, mostly because when I hear her sing it makes me smile and cry at the same time, which I love. So I wanted to make something for her that moved me in the same way. I found a chord progression that I thought worked as a starting point and sent it to her and asked if she wanted to come by later that day to work on it. She sent me a message back saying that she was recovering from having her wisdom teeth pulled. I decided to try some rough vocals as an example of what I envisioned her singing. As I was recording myself freestyling different melodies, I tried to tune my frame of mind to fit the happy-sad vibe I was going for. After a couple minutes of gibberish, the words that were coming out of me started turning into these large-scale realizations about my life. When I heard myself say “Until I get control of the things that I don’t get / I won’t have a home, no no, I won’t have a bed” I lost it. Tears just streaming down my face. I had to stop and listen to it over and over. It made something that seemed so complicated, so simple. The rest of the process is a blur but long story long, once I saw that 5ive liked it we decided to keep it for ourselves. Haha! But that’s the reason it’s called “Wisdom Teeth”.
Freddie: As far as the cinematic nature, we have a version of the EP that’s held together by these wordless interludes between the songs that you can hear on SoundCloud. It was an idea that we’d been sitting on for a while after wondering what really makes an album. You can get romantic about it but once you get past all that, it’s just a collection of songs. You can call that shit an album, a mixtape, a playlist, there’s no fucking difference. So we wanted to make a version of the EP that kind of forced you to listen to it as one. We discovered the biggest challenge was that as far as interludes go, skits are hella corny. And musical ones are really just more songs. Which is how we landed on the concept of an aural journey… but you know… in a hella literal sense. Haha! I personally love that kinda shit, it reminds me of Pink Floyd albums that I’ve hated. I remember once listening to this record by Pink Floyd and after a song ended I sat there listening to birds for five minutes. I looked out the window and no fucking birds. Five minutes is way too long, but also… respect.
“I remember once listening to this record by Pink Floyd and after a song ended I sat there listening to birds for five minutes. I looked out the window and no fucking birds. Five minutes is way too long, but also… respect.”
– Freddie 5ive
HipHopCanada: Talk to me a bit about the direction that your music’s production took on this EP. Also, I heard that you guys have parted ways with SkinDeep and your DEEPHEAD trio for the time being. I heard it’s still all love between you. But I’m curious as to how that’s going to impact your sound and artistry.
Freddie: Well DEEPHEAD was always kind of a side project for both of us that just ran its eventual course. Skinny is still the homeboy though. It’s like my pops used to say: “You can’t say amigo without the ego!” Haha. Musically, we co-produced all the DEEPHEAD stuff and we’ve always produced most of our own shit so it’s kind of like que sera sera, nahmean?
Jay: Que sera sera. Maybe down the road we could collaborate on a television pilot or something. I got a couple of ideas that could be dope. How about this: an MTV car makeover show called Skin Deep Pimps Jeeps?
HipHopCanada: I’m curious as to why you chose to use remixes of your two singles “Why Would I Lie, Why Would I Lie” and “This Place Is Built” on this, as opposed to the original mixes you dropped.
Freddie: The original “This Place is Built” is too old. Haha! But also I just always loved the idea of having multiple versions of a track so you could choose one depending on the mood.
Jay: I love that shit too. My favorite example of this is Red and Meth’s “How High” single. That shit had a Bad Boy remix and a RZA remix. If you were smoking weed with a bunch of girls in powder-blue velour tracksuits, you went with the Bad Boy. If you were smoking weed by yourself in a dark, stinky basement… RZA all day.
“Red and Meth’s “How High”… had a Bad Boy remix and a RZA remix. If you were smoking weed with a bunch of girls in powder-blue velour tracksuits, you went with the Bad Boy. If you were smoking weed by yourself in a dark, stinky basement… RZA all day.”
– Jay Lindsay
HipHopCanada: For each of you… which song on this EP is most significant to you and why?
Freddie: Hmmm… I don’t know. They all kind of mean different things to me. But then again, I’ve definitely taken varying degrees of satisfaction from them so it should be pretty easy to rank them by significance. Let’s see… “This Place is Built” got in a video game. But I don’t really play video games like that. “Iz U Wit Me” had a weird timing thing on the loop and I expertly chopped it to make it work. But I have to tell people that for anyone to know. “Good People” reminds me of a lit night but I can’t really remember the night at all. “Wisdom Teeth” is a Canadian classic but no one’s ranking Canadian classics like that. “Why Would I Lie, Why Would I Lie” has two versions; one that’s dope and another one that’s even doper, yet generally the same shit. I think I’m going to go with “Why Would I Lie, Why Would I Lie” because of super efficient songwriting.
Jay: Each song feels like a different version of myself that my body had temporarily hosted. “Why Would I Lie, Why Would I lie” and “Wisdom Teeth” are significant to me because with those songs, I feel like I was taking everything the “This Place/Good People/Iz U Wit Me” versions of me left behind and put it all away somewhere not in my field of vision. The process ended up very important for me looking ahead. I will say though… those “This Place/Good People/Iz U Wit Me” versions of me sure knew how to have a good time. That’s just my own personal connection though, which is really only half of it. The other half I share with 5ive. What’s significant about that is that when we’re done with this shit, we’ll have our songs as evidence that we shared something that was deeply personal to both of us individually. We can look at each other with the silent respect that comes part in parcel. And [I] know we’re probably thinking the same thing: “That Bossa-Nova album we dropped in 2021 ruined our careers, baaaad, bad idea. Let’s go find some robots to have sex with us.”
Faint and Uncertain Though They Were: A track-by-track breakdown
Freddie: The most recent song on the record. Probably the most representative of where cannonhead is, though not really fully representative. Haha. Jay had most of the beat and the intro part of his vocals done by the time I first heard it. I thought that shit was sad fire. All I could picture was a dark room, lit up every few seconds like a strobe light, as in the corner a self-destructive monster cries flaming tears of lava. All I had to do was lay drums on that motherfucker. Just the idea of “wisdom teeth” in general made it feel like a perfect opener for the EP. They’re just these hidden parts of you that sit there quietly your whole life and then one day pop up like issues and fuck up your whole shit.
Jay: Haha. Ya, writing a song like that is risky business. What usually happens is you finish writing your tragic masterpiece and because of how important it is to you, you think it’s the greatest song ever… until you play it for someone else. And when it’s over they don’t say “sad fire”… they say “….sad” while looking at their phone uncomfortably.
“Iz U Wit Me”
Jay: My ex-girlfriend and I used to play Scrabble all the time. I start my verse with “What’s a seven-letter word for when you bet against the world? Cynical would work…”. I wrote that with her in mind, hoping she’d eventually hear it, understand my reference and ultimately regret breaking up with such a talented lyricist. Haha. After I wrote the first part, it took me fucking weeks to actually think of a seven-letter word that fit.
Freddie: Rap shit. Rap shit. Rap shit. I don’t wanna go full Kanye but If you’re a rap fan and you don’t dig my verse on this shit, you are tripping. An important note is that when I say “These [are] impressions of god” I don’t mean like putting on a fake white beard and robe and throwing some bass in your voice; I mean like craters from meteorites or rocky cliffs being beat back by roaring seas and shit like that.
Freddie: We made this beat and two thirds of the song one night before going somewhere. I don’t remember where but I do remember someone was hella stressed about leaving. I also recall being high as a kite on synthetic drugs. Man I really can’t remember where we went.
Jay: At some point during the session I looked up and noticed 5ive and City with these huge smiles, just having a blast. I thought to myself “Man, I have really great friends. Who says that good people are hard find? Look at these guys, they’re the best”…..which was definitely the drugs talking, but also isn’t false.
“Why Would I Lie, Why Would I Lie (Me & You Mix)”
Freddie: We called it “Me & You Mix” ’cause one of the synth sounds reminds me of ATLiens era Dungeon Fam production. On this version of the song I played everything a step down from the original, which is some fancy shit. Though I don’t know if I’m using the term “step down” correctly.
Jay: This song in unique because it was the first time that we both assumed very specific roles in the process of making it, which was fun. 5ive made a dope beat I found while I was alone at the studio. I wrote a song to it that he dug. And from that point forward, he was Jimmy Jam and I was Janet Jackson. Usually I’ll be like 60% Janet and 40% Jimmy… on another song I’ll be 70% Jimmy and 30% Janet…sometimes… we’re both 100% Janet… and that’s cool too.
“This Place is Built (Sugar Hill Mix)”
Jay: I’m proud to say that when I see Sugar Hill, the first thing that registers is the AZ song “Sugar Hill”. I had the AZ tape as a kid and I had no idea what it meant but thought it was cool…“We’re going to chilllllll, on Sugar Hilllllll”. I would listen to that shit and fantasize about running up and down these gigantic mountains of sugar.
Freddie: Haha. I love that song. AZ was my shit in my pre-pubescent days. I used to love to just hang around and shit on Nas all day, often using AZ as a counterpoint. Actually, it was very similar to the way Skip Bayless uses Kyrie to shit on Lebron.
Twitter: @fred5cannonhead | @Jaycannonhead
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