k-os breaks down the 2016 Juno Awards: Why this year was the #BestJunosYet
Canadian artist and 2016 nominee for Rap Recording of the Year, k-os says that the 2016 Juno Awards in Calgary were the best Juno Awards he has ever attended.
From a spectator stand-point, the feeling was mutual: this was definitely the best Juno Awards appearance k-os has ever had. He spent the whole weekend wearing a white bathrobe from the Fairmont Hotel. He also performed one of the most talked about sets of JUNOfest 2016. Instead of performing a rap show, k-os opted to play a DJ set at Hifi Club. His set was basically just a shuffling of songs that k-os wanted to play. He didn’t DJ so much as he just played whatever records he felt like playing. The following day he showed up on the red carpet in his bathrobe with a cigarette in his mouth and a bottle of Stella in his hand. Then he photobombed Shawn Mendes.
“We carpet-bombed the Junos. Maybe we offended some people. But we also cheered like fan boys for bands that had stellar performances and swag. Protocol? What’s that? We do not care!” – k-os
This was exactly what the 2016 Juno Awards needed. The awards may be one of the most major Canadian music industry events of the year, but they’re unapologetically stuck in the ’90s. The awards themselves promote a back-asswards mindset that discredits many of the key players in the Canadian music industry; if you want to matter at the Junos, you need to appeal to the masses.
But that is exactly why k-os pretty much won the Juno Awards this year – he didn’t care about appealing to the masses. He just did what he wanted to do. He hung out with his friends and was able to share the spotlight with his squad.
So we caught up with k-os after Juno Week to find out more about his appearance at the 2016 Juno Awards, the story behind the infamous Fairmont Hotel bathrobe he wore all weekend, and the reason behind why – exactly – this year delivered the #BestJunosYet.
HipHopCanada: Start off by telling me the situation with the bathrobe and why you wore it all weekend. I heard a rumour that your luggage got lost or something. So why’d you opt to wear the Fairmont Hotel bathrobe?
k-os: Are you telling me here are rumours about “the bathrobe”? That’s far out, man. No, no… my luggage was not lost. There was no unfortunate incident that occurred forcing me to wear the Fairmont bathrobe all weekend. After the Juno gala I got back to the hotel and took a nap. When I woke up to DJ at Hifi, I was trying to figure out what to wear and I saw “the bathrobe” just hanging there, looking like the most comfortable thing to sport. I knew it was my destiny. The weather was mild so it all made sense. Once upon a time, being a musician meant being original – dressing like your self and expressing your own personal sense of style. But nowadays people wear a uniform. Most of the individuals who are considered celebrities today have teams of people to dress them. You know – they have glam squads and all that malarky. The bathrobe made me feel comfortable; just like I was at home. And I liked that type of feeling in the midst of all the Juno festivities so I just went with it and kept it on all weekend.
HipHopCanada: You were nominated for Rap Recording of the Year but you chose to perform a DJ set for JunoFest. Why did you opt to perform a DJ set?
k-os: Probably because when I DJ I feel I can give more. Its not necessarily just about me and my musical catalog. The Junos are already a whole weekend dedicated to the artists and what we’ve achieved, yada-yada-yada. Playing my favourite songs is way more fun and mischievously allows me to break the laws of my own musical personality. Like… Yo! Here’s this random record you didn’t expect me to play. Please take it in.
HipHopCanada: Your DJ set was really unexpected…but at the same time exactly what I would have expected from you. Phantom Planet, The Journey, The Beatles, the vocals from “A Milli”…it was just kind of all over the place. BPMs were all over. Mixing was minimal. What was your process for putting together the set for the night?
k-os: Let me just say – for the record – I am NO DJ. Skratch Bastid, A-Track, and Lil Jaz are DJs. And although Lil Jaz taught me all I know about the craft, I still would never ever actually call myself a DJ. I think I am more of what you call a selector. From a reggae perspective I like selecting tunes that get people to sing along, bring joy to the party, and start fun. One of my best friends in the world is Hayden Christensen and we went to a party during TIFF in 2008 where DJ AM was the headliner. AM hailed me up, called me over and we had a great conversation – such a good dude. Since he let me stand there and watch, I just absorbed what he was doing until he dropped the theme song from the TV show “Cheers”. I couldn’t believe people were singing it word-for-word and note-for-note. When I asked him, “Yo. What am I seeing riiiiight now?” he was like “Kevin look at those people’s faces. Look at those drinks in the air. I can play anything.” That moment kind of defines how I want to DJ. I just try to read people. That night at Hifi, “California” by Phantom Planet went over great. Everyone sang along and I thought of Adam [DJ AM].
HipHopCanada: I know back in 2007 you said the Juno Awards were propaganda. What are your thoughts on that now, nearly a decade later? Is that still the case? If so, is it fixable? Or how can CARAS and the Juno Awards fix it?
k-os: Ha ha. You do your research, eh? I did say that. Who would have ever thought the Internet would have flipped it so that artists became the propagandists? Because that is surely what’s happening now. Everyone is making three minute jingles to sell their lifestyle. It’s kinda gross – That ain’t musicianship or art. That’s what Prince called “Thieves in the Temple”. I have NO problem with CARAS. I already got my Junos. CARAS has been good to k-os. When I go to the Junos, it’s not just to get more hardware; it’s for the experience and to see what these people are gong to do – what they reward and how people react to the announcements in the room. This is my trade and I love it to death. I always want to learn more about the industry and how it works. I don’t wanna know TOO MUCH – but just enough to keep putting my music out there for people to consume. You can’t fix the world. You can’t fix people.You can only fix your self. And even the self trying to fix the self is tricky.
HipHopCanada: You showed up on the red carpet with your bathrobe, cigarette, and Stella and it was an amazing entrance – basically a middle finger flipped at red carpet protocol. What was that all about?
k-os: The dudes around me had a lot to do with that. Ryan Steward, Ryan Goodwin and Snakedust are some Vancouver Boys who are rock ‘n roll to the bone. They also have held me down out here in Van for the last five years as my best friends. I brought them out to the Junos because I wanted to have fun and not get caught up in the posturing. OH YES – We carpet-bombed the Junos. Maybe we offended some people. But we also cheered like fan boys for bands that had stellar performances and swag. Protocol? What’s that? WE DO NOT CARE. The music industry isn’t the army but it’s becoming like one because the people behind-the-scenes want to be cooler than the artists and they want to control what kind of personalities are projected to the masses. Therefore, no new exotic flowers are being allowed to bloom… BORING! We were the exotic flowers budding through the concrete at the Junos. That’s what that was about.
HipHopCanada: On the red carpet you spoke about how Calgary was a city that likes to party. Which is funny because Calgary is a lame party city. That being said, you spent most of Saturday at Hifi and Hifi is one of the best places in Calgary. Tell me about your Saturday after-party experience there. Did you stick around to watch HUMANS?
k-os: I don’t live in Calgary so I don’t know the day to day party life. BUT I have played the Calgary Stampede twice and NO ONE can tell me that YYC doesn’t know how to party. NO ONE. The HUMANS are my boys so of course we hung out. Club Hifi is it, will continue to be it, and is the best place to jam in Calgary. As far as the other parties … we walked through them like a hallway, then hit the hotel.
HipHopCanada: On Twitter you said that this was the #BestJunosYet. Why was that?
k-os: To be honest – not to sound corny, but – #BestJunosYET was because I was there with my friends. Everything started from the BAND. From one single idea… everything appeared here. EVERYTHING IN THIS MUSIC INDUSTRY STARTED FROM BAND CULTURE! The band is the mob, the gang, the posse, and the heart of it all. The Internet has made artists insular and self-absorbed because they all have personal websites. So BAND CULTURE IS DYING. This was the best Junos yet because me and my dudes want to bring band culture back, so we descended upon the Junos like a band of good ol’ boys ready to devour the spotlight TOGETHER. We had fun amongst ourselves and laughed the real belly laughs.
HipHopCanada: Break it down for me: what was the best thing that happened at the Juno Awards and what was the worst thing that happened at the Juno Awards?
k-os: [The] best thing [was] my dude Ryan Goody singing and jamming with Sean Mendez as Sean shredded on mandolin and his father held it down on guitar. [The] worst thing [was] Camerican Jock Riders with salty tongues who can’t really dance.
HipHopCanada: Talk to me about the role of support within the music industry. I know you brought your squad with you to the Junos and shouted them out with that Sam Roberts quotable on Instagram. But I also saw a lot of support from guys like Kardinal Offishall and Skratch, who both showed up to watch you DJ. Even the up-and-coming dudes like POMO came through Hifi to peep your set.
k-os: Yo! To see all those people at my DJ set got me excited and amped to do a good job. I am happy you brought this up because I sat at table with SonReal and Kardi at the Junos, and we were all nominated and competing for the same award. For some reason it didn’t feel weird. I felt safe and among friends. When it all comes down to it, all of us artists are more alike than we are different and we certainly ain’t like most of the corporate uptight ones. Thus, we should never let their opinions affect our relationships! WHO CARES what they think. If you win an award, thank people and keep it moving. It doesn’t mean anything between you and the other artists; you are not BETTER. It’s not like Andre 3000 or Neil Young voted for you to win the award. Support your fellow Canadians – bolster self esteem and civic pride. The whole game of human existence is that we are all pretending to be individuals, but we are not. There are no separate events in nature. For someone to win, someone has to lose. This means you have to thank the loser for helping you win. You can’t be the best without what’s considered the worst. It’s impossible. How could you know you had a number one hit without the 99 people behind you on the chart? You could not. You need them. When we – as a human race – realize that we are pretending to be separate from each other just for the experience of feeling like “an ego person” because we are bored of living forever and ever, then the world will change. Until then, every generation will blame the one before and every adult will forget what it’s like to be a child. That’s why I love hip-hop. It allows me to never ever forget. I’ll be a kid FOREVER.
Interview conducted by Sarah Jay for HipHopCanada
Follow @kosinception on Twitter.