Toronto-based rap and hip-hop artist, Aspektz, is filled with energy and taps that into his effervescent collage of musical rap lyrics, branding and business development. He prides his business sense from his family, because growing up in a busy family kept his good sense of work ethic. His music has been featured in video games, themes song on television, and had two singles reach the Top 5 for US college radio.
Aspektz just released a new music video for his "Avion," featuring Briol. We chatted with Aspektz about his influences, the filming for "Avion" and his collaboration with Briol, his new and recently released album, Academic Probation, and much more. Read on to discover more about this engaging artist:
Who are your musical influences?
Aspektz: I draw inspiration from all genres and arts. In music, I'm inspired by people who take risks and roll the dice to leave a legacy. People like Diplo who transcend the parameters of one genre to be true artists and 'create' by coloring outside of the lines. Outkast is another big musical influence because of how they stood up for their region (the South) before it was respected and were able to contribute to the sound that now defines it.
What prepared you for the recording of your new album, Academic Probation?
Aspektz: Learning to take the time to soak in experiences changed how I absorb life. I used to work so hard on the music that I would forget to sit back and pay attention to what was going on around me. Taking the time to actually be present, whether its at my sisters wedding or at a concert where everyone else is holding up a cellphone to videotape something they probably won't ever watch again. It's definitely a lost skill in our generation because it seems like we'd rather make an experience into a social media update and we really forfeit the opportunity when we decide to do that.
You just released your video, 'Avion' from your forthcoming LP debut. How was the filming for that, and how did the collaboration with Briol come about?
Aspektz: The Avion video shoot was insane. We rocked at Wakestock 2013 on the course, the XL Events Porch Crawler Pub Crawl in a dozen bars around the city and finished off with a massive house party at the end. Even with the police trying to shut us down, we pulled out an insane video. Our director, Sean Litteljohn, was able to keep everyone under control and calm down the authorities so that it all worked out. Briol is a close friend and we actually kicked it for a few years before I found out how talented he was as an artist. The friendship was there before everything else and when we needed someone on the track, there was really no doubt who could add that perfect twist to it.
What are your tour plans?
Aspektz: Right now we're hosting release parties to get people amped up about the AP4 mixtape and the Academic Probation album in cities across Ontario. For the top of 2014 we will be expanding that and touring across Canada to promote the album and really connect with the fans. My goal with the touring is to create moments at every show so that when you hear those songs in two years, or in five years, you'll be able to remember those moments vividly.
What was your first album on CD, cassette and/or vinyl?
Aspektz: Back in the day, I remember saving up my paper route money to grab the cassette for Prodigy's Fat of the Land and biking to the record store with my sister to grab it. The "Smack My B*** Up" video was the most bad-a** concept my 11 year old brain could handle. After that it was straight into Wu-Tang Forever and then catching up on the back catalogue with 36 Chambers. Needless to say I knew the words to every Wu-Tang record before I was 13.
Who are the top five artists/bands or albums you wouldn't want to live without?
Aspektz: Any roadtrip is going to include the BBC 1 Essential Mix catalogue, Redman & Method Man, Currensy, Barrington Levy and I will sneak some Sade into there for when the traffic gets intense.
Who was your first concert and do you have a favorite?
Aspektz: When I was 12 or 13 I hit the Hard Knock Life Tour with Jay-Z, Red and Meth, DMX and some other artists. DMX had just dropped two platinum albums in one year and Jay was already on his way to becoming the man we know today. Redman and Method Man had the jumpsuits-on-strings that flew them over the crowd. Leaving the Air Canada Center that night basically cemented the dream of being a recording artist.
What is your guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
Aspektz: Back in the day, I remember listening to some unapologetic pop tracks and renaming them on my phone so people wouldn't crack jokes. As a songwriter though, I've definitely embraced the art of writing hit records and love to study all kinds of music. A specific track that you might catch me screaming at the top of my lungs coming down the 401 would be Alicia Keys "Unforgettable" which I still think is one of the hottest tracks of the decade.
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