We talked to Gov about collaborating with Toronto’s rising artists and his debut EP, Nights
Toronto, ON – With Toronto going through its’ own renaissance and rising status in the international music market, there’s never been a greater time to be a rapper or producer on the come-up in central Canada. Not only is there a plethora of notable artists making their mark on the changing scene, but there’s also a high saturation of truly talented individuals in close proximity to each other. The results are unsurprisingly collaborations and artistic endeavours that are pushing the boundaries that define Canadian rap and hip-hop.
Toronto-based artist Gov released his debut EP, Nights in the midst of Toronto’s creative surge. Although his project came out a year ago, taking a closer look at the EP today is even more informative about the development of his popularity and identity as a Canadian artist (as well as the way Toronto has been moving for some time now). Originally from London, UK, the rapper easily combines his perspectives to produce a hybrid of the best components that each city sonically has to offer.
Toronto’s multi-culturalism has similarly been recognized as a melting pot of international sounds and ethnicities. With features from some of Toronto’s high-profile rising artists, such as: Ye Ali, and Amir Obe, it’s no wonder that the debut EP was well-received within the industry. It only made sense to connect with the rapper to get his reflections on the project now, as well as Toronto culture in general. Catch our conversation after the drop.
HipHopCanada: With a year behind us since the release of your EP, Nights, what do you feel like that project accomplished for you as an artist?
Gov: Nights was my first project, so I mean just off the bat it marked that for me. I felt like I made a strong show with the project as a whole in the sense that I feel like the project is quite well-rounded. There’s a range of music on there for everyone’s tastes. I have songs for girls on there, songs to drive to, songs to play at parties, etc. So in terms of accomplishment, I would say it allowed me to showcase how diverse I can be in terms of sound and content.
HipHopCanada: With music listeners taking such a strong interest in the music and culture coming from the UK, did you predict that Toronto and London would bridge that collaborative gap when you were creating Nights?
Gov: To be honest, even before Nights, I spent a lot of time in Toronto, my first visit being in 2012. And even as early as then I noticed the cultural differences, or lack thereof, like Toronto felt more or less like the same bubbling pot of backgrounds and culture. So I kinda saw it coming, but didn’t predict it to the level it’s happening now and so quick too! But that being said, artists like Tre Mission (from Toronto) and Wiley (from London) have been a part of bridging that gap on a grime tip for a while now.
HipHopCanada: The influence of the UK for you is obviously present in this project, and in your accent you still carry from living in London. In what regards have both Toronto and the UK influenced your sound and your direction with your music?
Gov: On Nights the general sound was that down-tempo, gloomy sound that has been labelled a “Toronto sound.” In terms of the UK influencing my music, it’s not so much the music on Nights that was influenced by the UK but rather the creation of the project. With the exception of “Faded,” the rest of the project was written and recorded in the UK. Going forward, however, there is a distinct UK influence on the sound and direction as a whole.
HipHopCanada: The use of Toronto-based high profiles features like Ye Alie and Amir Obe really make this project feel like it’s a culture piece for the city. How did the collaborations for “Wrong One/Reflectin'” and “Only for the Night” come about?
Gov: Amir and I actually connected when he was touring the UK with PARTYNEXTDOOR in like, May 2015, and we met through a mutual friend over at PARTY’s camp. After that, we talked music and bounced back ideas until “Wrong One/Reflectin” was born a few months later. And Ye Ali – he and I actually connected over Twitter. I’d heard his record “Tingz” and tweeted it. We started DMing, and I ended up doing the remix for “Tingz.” After that took off we decided to work on “Only For The Night.”
HipHopCanada: You also worked with Keffaleng, and a list of notable producers. How did you decide who you wanted to bring on the project, and what sounds you were looking for?
Gov: To be honest, all the features and people who worked on the project happened organically. We would just vibe and then something would spark and that would be that. Keffa and I actually spent a lot of time working on a few records – some of which didn’t get finished, etc. I wouldn’t say there was a specific “sound” I was looking for, but I just made music that I enjoyed listening to and crafted a project around that.
HipHopCanada: For new listeners that might be listening to this for the first time, how do you describe your sound and your style?
Gov: I’d describe the sound on Nights as a vibrant take on the downtown Toronto sound, and my style I would say is again, very neon and vibrant, but still quite down-tempo.
HipHopCanada: What life experiences were the strongest influences during the creative process for this EP, and what’s your overall writing process like?
Gov: To be honest, the project as a whole was shaped around my time in Toronto, like prior to moving and just after moving to Toronto. I was shown a lot of new things, a lot of new experiences with women, the nightlife, etc. Essentially, I like to think of it as a ‘Night in the life of…’ That’s probably the best way of describing it. My producers and I normally lock in a session in the studio, and we’ll start the melodies. I then sit in a corner somewhere isolated and just work on the vocal melodies, then build the words around that.
HipHopCanada: What did this project mean to you, and which track was the most fulfilling for you to create?
Gov: It meant a lot in the sense of it being my first project, me being able to hold my own, and people really taking to the project and enjoying it. In terms of which track I found most fulfilling to create, it’s hard to choose one. But probably “Only For The Night” and “Seasons / Lay Down.” Those were both made on the same day/night and I enjoyed the process that my producer E.Y and I had whilst making those.
HipHopCanada: Throughout this last year, and since the release, has your approach to music changed at all?
Gov: I wouldn’t say my approach has changed, but I’m a little more mature in the sound and the songs I’m making. Now I like to create a song, and really sit with it and find new pockets for my vocals to sit in. I like to think of it as non-conventional ways to incorporate new melodies.
HipHopCanada: What can fans look forward to and expect from you in the near future?
Gov: Well I’m releasing a new EP called The Roses which is a very different direction from Nights. And I just started work on another project which I’m keeping close to my chest right now, but all will be revealed in due time.
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