Only adults are admitted. Nobody younger than 18 can hire or listen to Psykhomantus in the club or your speakers with this rating. The DJ under this category do not have limitation on the bad language that is used. Hard Beats are generally allowed, and strong Scratchin/Beat Juggling along with Body Tricks activity is also allowed. Scenes of strong real sex may be permitted if justified by a fly groupie.
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
On The Q&A Tip with Xolisa
Psykhomantus: Welcome to the Q&A tip, where I try to pick your brian and drive you insane, but before I hit you off with ten Question's, just for the readers. Can you tell us who is who you are and what do you do?
Xolisa: Who am I? I am a 25 year old, Toronto born, Toronto raised woman- born to proud Trinidadian parents, writing and producing my own music full-time, offering my own contribution and approach to Hip Hop- who happens to be pretty dope at what she does and works hard for. I am an emcee. I am a producer. I'm a lover of music - period.
Psykhomantus: As Sanaa Lathan would say in the movie "Brown Sugar", When did you fall in love with Hip Hop?
Xolisa: I fell in love with Hip Hop when I first heard Tribe's, "Electric Relaxation". Then when I first heard Camp Lo's, "Luchini" and "Coolie High"...and "Park Joint". It was when I heard Lauryn's, “Lost Ones" and Tribe's, "Bonita Applebum", “1nce Again” and “Mind Power”; MF Doom's, "Money Folder", "Bada Bing"...I can't go on with Doom, he's just on a level of his own… When I heard Scanz', "Travellin", ODB's' "Brooklyn Zoo", when I heard Kendrick's entire Good Kid album, when I first absorbed Black Star...It consciously began with A Tribe Called Quest, but the love was there before and after them. I feel like I fall in love with Hip Hop over and over again as I hear new music, revisit old music and create my own music.
Everyone has that one track that solidified their tie with Hip Hop, that one track that they’ll always hold close and I've never thought about it till answering this question, but I guess I've always been searching for new music (whether it's actually a new song, or an old song that I’m hearing for the first time) that'll allow me to feel that feeling again- that feeling of falling in love with Hip Hop. I guess that's what allows me to make the songs I do, because each of them in ways different from each other, has made me fall in love with Hip Hop again. Man, that's probably the driving force of why certain songs of mine don't make it to the public.
This is very interesting because I was thinking about this the other day. I was wondering what it was within me that gives that green light to invest in completing a song. The creation process is just that, a process. I usually know within the first few minutes of creating a beat, whether it's something I want to commit to, write to and eventually share, or not. Thank you for asking this question, I feel like a room of light bulbs just went off simultaneously.
Like an addict seeking their next high, I create in order to seek that feeling of falling in love with Hip Hop- or I guess music period, which is a high in itself and it's recreated in new ways, every time.
Psykhomantus: What inspires you to write your rhymes?
Xolisa: The inspiration for the rhymes I write varies. I feel like as I evolve as an artist, the inspiration will in-turn continue to vary. With this current EP, "Rhyme Until My Spirit Needs No Words To Fly", what inspired me was my own personal growth and understanding of my self during the EP’s creation. As I learnt knew things about me emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally- I wanted to write about it. It's a very self-reflective project, the songs were written about my observations on myself. I'll probably always write about myself in some capacity- I’m introspective by nature.
What also inspires my rhymes are situations and interactions with people.
I like trying to put the situations or emotions that aren't the easiest to sum up, into words. It's easy to say, "I'm happy" or, "me and my boyfriend just broke up"- that's simple. You ever feel that feeling of being on your way to being happy? That in-between grey space of being in the tunnel where you can see the light, but you aren't quite there yet? That healing process? Or what about that space when you and your boyfriend (or girl) are on the way to being over- when nothing’s been admitted to one another or to yourself even, when outwardly things seem to be the same but the energy shared between you two is just screaming that things are off - but no one's saying a word.
That's a part of our human experience as well, those in-between moments that can't be neatly folded, fit and compartmentalized into a category. I like the challenge of trying to capture those moments in words and in sound- I mean those are transition moments, how can they really be summed up in words that describe a feeling, or a combination of feelings that leave you very uncomfortable. It's difficult, but it's real.
Psykhomantus: I see that you also produce your own songs, what are your main tools when your making a beat. What do you use?
Xolisa: I sure do. My tool of choice is Logic. I produce, record and mix in there. The very first program I put my hands on was Cubase, it was during a high school course I was in, appropriately titled, "Music and Computers". Since then I’ve dabbled a bit in Pro Tools, Reason, FL- but yeah man, I'm at home with Logic.
Every self-produced track of mine was made in Logic and it amazes me because there is still so much to learn with that program. I've seen windows and screens pulled up in Logic I never even knew existed! Which is why I choose to continue with it, to understand it further as my music evolves. When coming to making beats, I usually start off with whatever sound is the inspiration in that moment, or whatever is "haunting" me as I call it lol. Then, things build around that.
Psykhomantus: How long did it take to make the EP "Rhyme Until My Spirt Needs No Words To Fly"?
Xolisa: I begun making "Rhyme Until..." in about March/April of 2014. Although, at that time I didn't know I was building the foundations of an EP. I began writing the verse of "Arrivals/Departures" first and left it alone for quite sometime before a very rough version of what the beat has turned into, was created. The lyrics and production for "Dig Me"- again, a very bare bones sounding version of it compared to how it turned out, came about in May or early June. At the time I started writing "Dig Me", which wasn't even titled, "Dig Me" at that time (it had no title), I knew I wanted to begin working on a second project. I didn't exactly know how it would sound, or if those two songs would even be on it, but I applied for a grant with CUE Art Projects (cueartprojects.ca) (which also happens to be the very first grant I’ve ever applied for and received) and I got through! This brings us to late June. Once I got the green light with CUE for partial funding of the project, that's when I consciously began mapping out the music for the EP.
Interesting fact: although "Arrivals/Departures" was the first song I technically began working on, it was the very last song to be recorded and almost didn't make it on the project.
Psykhomantus: Can you name one song by another artist you wish you written?
Xolisa: Hmmm, that's a good one. So many songs flash through my mind…the one I’m going to go with is a song by the alternative rock group, Incubus (my favourite band). They have a song called “Dig” which I believe was written by the bands front man, Brandon Boyd. That song was one of the sources of inspiration for my song, “Dig Me”- but his lyricism is so real. He’s explaining to whoever he wrote the song for; his significant other, best friend- whoever, that when sadness, depression and negativity overall overtake me- which it will, and I put up my walls and shut you and the rest of the world out- which I will, please don’t give up on me. Remember these words, I need you to dig me out of this and not turn away. Those lyrics hit a major chord for me because I know that feeling way too well. I practiced it a lot as a teen lol- shutting the world out, treating those around me coldly and putting up massive guards around myself, but secretly not wanting the ones closest to me to stop trying (without me having to tell them of course, I just expected that they'd know). It wasn’t a test or anything either. I just knew I needed to be alone to cope and sort through my own pain and was firm about needing that space, but didn’t want my loved ones to give up on loving me.
Psykhomantus: Is there been a performance that you've done and said to yourself that you could of done that better?
Xolisa: Yes, there are many. And I know I can be pretty hard on myself after performances and this question probably doesn't help matters lol, but the first one that comes to mind is the "Rhyme Until..." EP release party show. The thing about it though, when I look back at my performances, there is always something I can say I learnt from any given show. I believe they go the way they do for a reason and those reasons have helped to shape a stronger performer.
That night sticks out in my mind though. I remember I was sick very early that morning and was completely, physically out of it. I had basically pulled an all nighter online with my engineer, finishing up some last minute details with the EP and I was just hit with a serious stomachache. By the time the show came around that evening, my energy wasn't at its highest and I was still shaky from a full morning and afternoon of nausea and all that follows as a result of nausea. I know it was an enjoyable show but I have seen how I throw down when I’m at full energy- so have my listeners. It's still a show I wish was stronger. I want to be able to give my 100% at live shows so knowing that I didn't give it- but gave what I could at that moment… it’s a bittersweet kind of show experience that remains in my mind.
Psykhomantus: If you did a world tour, which other two artists would you bring with you and why?
Xolisa: If I did a world tour, it would be me along side my DJ, DJ Afroditee right off the bat- so that doesn't count as one of my choices. I would bring fellow Toronto emcee’s, Theo Process and Dynesti Williams (who is also a singer) and I'm going to go ahead and throw in a 3rd- Erik Flow and a 4th- Progress. Although there are so many artists to choose from, I would choose these 4 because they each are so incredibly different- yet live and breathe the same breath of Hip Hop. I respect each of them as individuals first and foremost as well as their grind for their art and their music. I've worked with each of them already on some capacity- so there's already a foundation set and I think we’d contrast and compliment each other very well.
Psykhomantus: My favourite question (as i am known to be a trouble maker) Is there an Rapper you feel that should just put the mic down?
Xolisa: You’re definitely a troublemaker. I’ll say this: I hold a lot of respect and admiration for rappers who’ve started at an early age and can maintain the essence of their fire, that raw energy, their flow and most importantly- that hunger that they began their career with. We age, times change, fads and trends come and go and you sit and watch artists try to maintain relevancy- it’s hard to watch at times, and I’m sure it’s hard to do. Some switch up their styles completely so that they are making music that’s popular today and that’s mainstream. Some stick to what they’ve always done and been known for. While others try to find creative ways with their team, to stick to their sound- but also be relevant to the times as well. I get that the hunger you start off with, especially if you entered this arena at a young age, it wanes as you get older and as you gain money and success. The things you use to be rapping about at 18 or 19, by the age of 30- you’ve probably outgrown, achieved and overcome- that’s part of what drives that hunger. But there are rappers who although they may have received a lot of success, and may not be in the same frame of mind as they were when they begun, I can listen to their music and still feel that grit, that fire.
Take Kendrick for example, fast forward 5 or 10 years in the future to the music he’s making. I may look at him and say “damn…where’s that rapper who when he’d spit, I could literally feel the saliva spray off of his syllables? The rapper who I would be so intrigued by the multiple personalities and freedom he’d allow to enter and be a part of his tracks?” or, maybe I won’t have to question it. Maybe those elements that he’s become known for, will still exist in his music but will have just evolved. Who knows?
Psykhomantus: Last question. What will we be expecting in the future from you?
Xolisa: In the long run, I have no idea- all I can say is that it will be dope and it will be made with 100% love behind it. I take my steps following my gut, or at least trying my best to. Sometimes my choices are impulsive, other times more calculated. I realize that once I’ve completed working on one thing, there’s always a creative spark to begin working on something else and that’s how I’ve been moving thus far, letting the creativity as well as the drive in what I want to accomplish, guide me. Looking out on a short-term span, I will be continuing to create music videos for the “Rhyme Until…” EP. It's a 6 part visual journey the director, Mr. Asante and I are creating. The first is already out, for the first song on the EP, entitled, "Dig Me". And the rest will follow. This year I'll also be focusing heavily on taking my music out on the road, performing in and out of Toronto and growing my circle of listeners.
Performing live brings an element that pressing play on a cd, or online cannot deliver and I'm incredibly excited to see how the music is received as I continue to hit up new venues, new cities and play around with my live sets.