The Drew Yorke Show: Toronto-creative discusses new podcast, covering Canadian hip-hop, emerging artists & more
The Canadian Hip-Hop music industry continues to expand at a rapid pace without any signs of slowing down.
And while having a large pool of talent is important for the development of local hip-hop, it’s equally as important to have a strong supporting case working behind the scenes. Having honest music lovers who use their platforms to critique, promote and create opportunities for emerging artists is priceless.
One individual who strives to shine a light on upcoming Canadian talent is Ottawa-born Drew Yorke, known by many for the great work he continues to put in here in the 6ix. Drew is the Toronto Editor for Sidewalk Hustle, a writer at Red Bull Music, and a professional photographer who has worked with countless underground artists and industry organizations including budding star Just John, and Flow 93.5FM’s Made In Toronto.
Recently, Drew has interviewed the likes of 6lack, TOBi, Langston Francis, Nue and many more. With an impressive catalogue of content already under his belt, it came at no surprise that the accomplished photog and writer would launch a new podcast. The Drew Yorke Show allows him to gain deeper insight on both emerging and established artists in a more meaningful way, which is something he’s been looking for.
With an upcoming NXNE showcase on the horizon, it felt like the perfect time to sit down with Drew to discuss his comeup, and what he’s got coming. He discusses his love for hip-hop, artists he’s currently checking for, and more.
You can peep our Q&A with Drew below along with the latest episodes of The Drew Yorke Show (hosted and produced by Drew Yorke).
Q&A: Drew Yorke
HipHopCanada: My first question is how did you get into music?
Drew Yorke: Well, my parents are both music teachers. My dad is a composer, he runs a community jazz band in Ottawa and several school band festivals as well. So I grew up in concert halls, practice rooms. I’ve always been surrounded by it all the time, whether it was in the house or following them around at work.
HipHopCanada: How did you get into photography?
DY: Well, I was also spending all my free time going to concerts. After moving from Ottawa, I would be spending ten dollars here, twenty dollars there… it eventually got to a place where I was super broke and I couldn’t go to anymore shows, so I started trying to figure out how I could somehow finesse my way into these shows. I remember having a moment in class where I realized that photographers at the shows, they don’t have to pay to be there; they are most likely are being asked to be there. I just started looking at all the concerts coming to Toronto just because there are so many artists touring. At the time I had developed a big book of concerts, parties and anything happening within the city. So I started sending out mass emails to promoters, venues and whoever I could to pitch myself as a photographer. At the time I wanted to shoot for the Humber newspaper because I was enrolled there for Media Studies. The pitching went on for months before I received a response from Father’s manager at the time, asking for some photos. However, I realized that I didn’t really have any professional photos to send to them. So I sent over photos I took on my phone and shortly after that he asked me to come shoot at a show. Ironically enough, I couldn’t make it to that show for some reason but I used that same mentality that had landed me that opportunity, I eventually got a chance to shoot for Fat Sean. I showed up super early for that gig and ended up meeting him while he was sitting at the bar drinking a beer. I told him I was a huge fan, he gave me his email and asked me to send him some after the show so he could post it.
HipHopCanada: What influenced you to get into writing?
DY: Just not saying no. I shot for what felt like a million things such as The Come Up Show and all these other free publications. Eventually big platforms like HypeBeast started reposting my photos, which was a big thing a couple of years ago when Instagram wasn’t really popping. HypeBeast itself wasn’t really posting everyday either. They were posting like ten things a day but it had an effect because that’s how I got into working with SideWalk Hustle originally. [Sidewalk Hustle] was the first real publication in Toronto that reached out to me after seeing my work being posted on HypeBeast to see if I’d be interested in joining their team… especially since I was based in Toronto. Eventually it got to the point where they asked if I wrote. After that they just kept presenting opportunities and I kept not saying no.
HipHopCanada: What have been some of your favorite interviews or pieces you’ve written?
DY: There’s one that I wrote on TOBi the soul singer. It’s an important one because it’s the longest piece that I’ve ever written. It’s about fifteen hundred words and it’s about everything except for his album. We didn’t speak about music once, we spoke about everything else, which is interesting because I feel like he’s had automatic industry co-signs. You can look at blog posts or articles about him, there’s enough things to tick off the checklist. He’s from Toronto, he makes fantastic music, he has great visuals, he’s been interviewed by Ebro, he’s been co-signed by Snoop Dogg as well as Jamie Foxx and people are basically like, “That’s enough for me,” but they tend to leave out his back story. Such as, his family having immigrated to Canada from Lagos (Nigeria, West Africa) and them having to go from great jobs to having to get shit jobs. He’s had to fight to get to where he is in music, he’s put out 9 mixtapes, as well as studied Biology in university. Another one is Bad Child who’s out of kitchener and signed to Universal. Or Hollywood Sos who I recently interviewed on my podcast The Drew Yorke Show. He’d never had been interviewed before, so I’d ask him really basic questions and he’d give these elaborate answers just due to no one really asking him about his life before. But there was a lot to tell because he was around when they founded One Umberella; he was one of the founding guys. He worked at the Tory Lanez store, he’s like his oldest brother because he’s been around since the beginning. It’s one of my favourite recent interviews.
HipHopCanada: Speaking of the Drew Yorke Podcast, I want to switch gears and touch on that for a moment. Where did the inspiration for the podcast come from? Because when it popped up it caught everyone’s attention, including mine.
DY: It was a mix of things. Obviously I interview a lot of artists and I recently had the opportunity to interview 6lack; which is huge but I kept getting fed up with just having fifteen minutes with these artists and not getting to really know them or documenting the interviews. When special guests like Pressa or Houdini come out at the Mod Club, everyone would lose their minds and that’s because we don’t know them. If they were accessible, we would have built these connections and had a different kind of love towards these artists. I feel like with these new artists you don’t have that emotional connections, it’s still a mysterious hype and I feel like we need to document these things, that’s where I think it would stem from. I love the Breakfast Club and real adult conversations. I love when it’s raw and feels real. I’ve been wanting to do something like that for the longest time and it just took forever to figure out how to put the pieces together and what the pieces actually were that I needed. The name itself was the last thing, I just didn’t have a name for it. I had mics, guests booked and everything ready I just didn’t have a name so I just decided to call it The Drew Yorke Show for the moment. There’s so many cool moments that need to be properly documented that will get lost if we don’t.
HipHopCanada: Who are some of your favourite artists?
DY: Da Baby, not even his new music, I like to listen to his old music because he has so much music. He hasn’t popped for so long, he has a huge catalogue and a lot of artists don’t have that so its really unique to be able to go back and listen to his music. There’s a kid from Vancouver named Ankle God, he’s a new Vancouver kid to bring melodic trap music to the table. He’s kind of like Nessly, I like him a lot. I like NorthSideBenji a lot. There’s a new artist I’m working with called Denver, he’s my favorite new artist right now. Boy Pape (also known as Brick) is exciting to me. There’s just something different with what he’s doing right now; the music he’s making right now is a more realized version of what he was trying to make before. He’s trying to connect with the issues and struggles in his life and trying to illustrate them in stories for people to connect with. I think before it was harder with the Brick connotations but now it’s like he’s freed himself up to make whatever type of music he wants. He’s singing now. As of a year ago it would’ve been a lower pitch and almost rapping but now he’s making pop music and singing on tracks.
HipHopCanada: I really like Boy Pape, he’s one of those standout artists in Toronto. With everything you’ve been able to be a part of are there any memorable moments that you’ve experienced?
DY: There’s been some big shoots. I’ve done one where Drake has come out. Mariah Carey at the Sachs & Fifth Christmas show. It’s so hard to think of some more because it’s all a blur. I’m always so focused on what the next thing is. I definitely can think about it and get back to you because there’s numerous experiences.
HipHopCanada: What is some advice you can give to hip-hop music industry newcomers?
DY: Don’t say no to opportunities that present themselves, but not to a fault. One thing I try to keep in mind is, “if you’re going to be working for someone they have to be working for you.” It has to be an exchange, it can’t be a one way street no matter what and that can be a form of anything. Whether they’re paying you or giving you exposure or giving you connections that you couldn’t get on your own that would help you to get to where you want to go. I’ve done a lot of photography for free because I know that it would put me in a room where I wouldn’t be normally. Like I shot Kardinal’s christmas charity event for free. I ended up meeting Dave Chapelle, Hollywood Sosa and others. Also, be entrepreneurial. If you’re a go-getter or an ambitious person, set your own shifts and book yourself but know when to set breaks for yourself.
HipHopCanada: My last question for you is what can our readers and the hip-hop community expect from you in the near future?
DY: I have about ten weeks of interviews booked for The Drew York Show. Some weeks I’ll have two or three guests in a week, so I’ll have content for the next two months at least. That’s intentional because I can’t work 24/7. The Drew York Show will get more visually appealing. I’m working on a bunch of interviews where Christian Fortino is following me with a camera and filming on location with a bunch of different artists. I’m going to be doing stickers and t-shirts; I’m going to be teaming up with NXNE for an upcoming show as well as continue to work with other festivals. I’m going to continue to work with all the artists I’m currently working with and try to push them. Artists like Joyia, Boy Pape, Just John, Nue, Vellow, So Loki and Denver, which is a new one.
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