With the MMVAs last night of course we are all thinking who is the next artist to keep our eye on for the next big thing.
I had a chance to interview Deji better known as ESQXR about his music and his life.
Q: How did you come up with the name ?
A: Lupe Fiasco was giving an interview on why he thought the best rappers always had two names. His interviewer asked him at one point ‘ Are you going to go the route everyone is going and shorten your name – and he said if anything I will extend it, maybe to like Lupe Fiasco Esquire.’ When I first heard that I looked up the definition and it’s based in medieval times similar to the position of a knight. I gravitated towards that name. Since then everyone has been calling me esquire.
Q: Who are some people who inspire you?
A: Charlamagne Tha God is one of my biggest inspirations right now just because of what he is doing for radio and media. I also host a podcast called “For The Culture”. It is based in Toronto, and we try to talk a lot about pop culture. Drake of course, he has done a lot of things for the city. PartyNextDoor, I really studies his production and it swayed my musical influence and also Jay Z.
Q: What music got you into rapping ?
A: OutKast, there was a song they put out with Sleepy Brown called I Can’t Wait . Andre 3000’s verse is what inspired me to start writing. I listened to a lot of Wu-Tang Clan, and the original members. I try to keep every songs very different and very unique.
Q: Are there any places in Toronto that you go to get inspired and write?
A: When I am driving especially during the evening or at night I am usually playing some music, that is where I can random bits of inspiration. So I will pull over and park and write a few ideas down.
Q: When did you start writing and rapping ?
A: I started when I was in high school a decade a go just for fun. It was mainly just my high school friends and after school, we would go to my friend Miles’ house and record random stuff. And that early stuff is important because when you first start out you don’t really know what your voice sounds like.
Q: What would you say is the phrase that you live by.
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Throughout the week I will be testing out these fabulous products and posting reviews.
Anyone who grew up in the 90s immediately will recognize any O-Town song, as soon as it starts playing. Having been an avid listener of their music from their first 2 albums O-Town (2001) and O2 (2002), to Lines and Circles (2014), I was so glad to know that they were coming to Toronto. Having their songs such as All or Nothing, or These Are The Days played at many a school dance, it was always something I shared with my friends. Now 10 years later, as the band has released their new album, I am always glad to put on some O-Town, from any of the 3 albums on my phone between my commute. I was so glad to have the opportunity to chat with them before the show on Monday Dec 9th . I talked to the guys about going from their beginning from before Making the Band to Lines and Circles today.
Q. “What are some memories you’ve had from listening to the first album(s) to today ?” A. “We get to sing a bunch of the songs now on stage and those songs mean a lot to us because those are the ones that are fans first got a chance to listen to. I think singing songs like All or Nothing, we can see how much of an impact they have.” ( Erik )
Q. “Many of your fans love the song ‘Liquid Dreams’. I know you have said that ‘Chasing After You’ is kind of a new version of that. Who are some females that have inspired that song ?” A. “I love Emily Ratajkowski. I think she is too pretty for words ( Jacob )
Of course Katy Perry and Jennifer Lawrence we reference in the song ( Trevor ) I have been married for over 10 years, so of course my wife ( Dan )”
Q. “What does the title Lines and Circles mean to you?” A. ” We have all made our own lines, our own paths, over the last 10 years of being apart , 10 being a line and a circle, and then circling back to be together after 10 years , the lines within the song were taken directly from the guys. It doesn’t necessarily correlate with the next line, it does resonate with each of the guys, so lets say something that Jacob would sing, but Trevor wouldn’t mind singing either ( Erik ) “
I am so so glad to have had the opportunity to chat with them and cannot wait for an upcoming album. Because after this show, with a sold-out Lee’s Palace, it shows how they are truly loved in Toronto.
Finding great music is almost as difficult as finding an electrical outlet to plug in your phone when it is low on battery. Which is why when I came across the tunes of Jesse Macht, especially It’s Me Tonight, I was glad to have the opportunity to chat with him. This is especially amazing because his new LP is out TODAY !
Jesse Macht chatted with me about the amazing people he’s worked with ( including past fellow songwriter Sean Douglas, brother Gabriel Macht, more commonly known as Harvey Specter of Suits ) and how Jesse Macht stays inspired in writing raw and honest emotive music.
Q: How did you come to get the title of the record to be Suitcase Heart ?
A: It is kind of an amalgamation of a bunch of moments, but the song is written generally about how we have moments in our lives and how we move forward with that baggage. Instead of baggage. suitcase . So when I had written that song with Tyler he had come to the session and said oh, I am thinking about this idea and we came to Suitcase Heart, as something that we wanted to follow through on the song. I wrote that song with him and I didn’t really know … I mean I knew I would write a record eventually but I didn’t know what it would be called. I didn’t know how I was going to put it together.
I had this heart procedure because my heart would beat up to 260 bpm , when we workout it’s like 160. So I had that surgery procedure, and then I had a very heavy break-up with a girl I was very much in love with so reckoning with both of those things at the same time. And then starting to go into work writing music, it is sort of where my head was at, is at. And it all sort of bled into the same song of Suitcase Heart and I thought this is exactly what this song is about. It’s about everything that happens to us and it just makes a lot of sense since my heart was literally and figuratively broken. In that same time period I just felt like that is what I should call the record. Suitcase Heart
Q: Are you a musical family ? Are you the most musical ?
A: I will definitely take the credit on being on the reigns of music. That being said there is no way I would have been interested in music had it not been for Gabriel and my other brother Ari, and my cousin Greg. Gabriel is 10 years older and Ari 15 years older, so they were much older than me. They would have these music jams when I was a kid, with their friends, and we still do them. I was invited as an 11,12, 13, 14, 15 , 16 year old, pretty much all the way through puberty, through high school. I was the much younger kid, I was 13 and they were 30. I was playing drums, and piano and guitar and they were singing and playing guitar and it was sort of this just jam of whatever would happen but it was so influential to me getting excited about music, and being able to play it every week. I definitely feel like I am more interested in how to do music and getting better at it, and all of that. But if not for them I never would have.
Q: What have you taken from working in a band to now working solo ?
A: The guy who I was writing songs with in Burn Down the Mission Sean Douglas , who was one of my best friends for a really long time. That band was our baby. He is no longer an artist, he is a songwriter. He has written huge songs. He helped write Demi Lovato’s Heart Attack , he wrote Jason Derulo’s Talk Dirty and he has written a bunch of other songs. Just growing up with him, as my first songwriter to work with and learn from was probably the most invaluable experience. I always knew how talented he was when I met him when he was 18. He and I sort of learned the craft of songwriting together , being in that band together for 8 years and when we split ways, it was sad and hard for me. But looking back it was good because we had learned to grow together and then it was just time for us to write and grow on our own. He wants to write, and I want to continue being an artist and a songwriter. Sean was the best songwriter to work with as a young guy. I feel like I learned so much from him.
Q: Where would be a dream to have your music ?
A: I watch a lot of TV as everyone does, so if an HBO show picks up one of my songs, that would be really cool. I hope that one of the directors from one of those shows would be inspired by what I do.
And obviously it would be a kick to see if I got a song in Suits. Gabriel is doing so well on the show, I am so proud of him. As an actor he doesn’t have any ability to put the song into it so hopefully maybe Aaron will come across my music someday and think that it’s appropriate and if he does then that’s cool. It would be cool to be a part of Gabriel’s success in that way and support the show.
Q: Where do you find best inspires you to write ?
A: My room, or in my studio is definitely love to write. I’ve got a piano in here, some family photos, a lot of great books and lyric and songwriting books, and I am very lucky I have a nice big bed. I have a lot of space in my room and I look out onto my backyard with orange trees and it is just a good quiet vibe, for me to write in here.
I want to write songs that appeal to as many people as possible. The goal of my songwriting is to come from as genuine a place as possible. When I write something that I am truly honest about and that I truly like and think is cool, I find that other people think it is cool too. But when I think a lot of people will like it and I don’t like it, then it doesn’t get a great response. And then the songs, that I like, and think that no one else will like, usually that is the song that most people like. I am trying to stay true to that philosophy and write music that I am truly proud of.
Q: It’s Me Tonight is one of the songs that drew me most to your music
A: That is exactly an example of a song that I wasn’t sure that people would like. It told a story. I wrote that song initially because I was just talking on the phone one day with my mom and we were talking about Gabriel’s success and that the show was starting to blow up and she said “Why don’t you write a song for Gabriel to sing on the show?” And I started laughing because that is a ridiculous thing to do. Harvey would never sing a song , but I appreciate it. And then in the next few weeks I was talking with Gabriel and catching up and I had mentioned what my mom said and we were laughing and joking and teasing that she had no idea but being very sweet and supportive. And then at the end of the conversation, Gabriel sort of said, “You know, if you do want to write a song, I will sing it and we can put it out and if that will help you let’s do it”. And Gabriel does have a very good voice, but it’s just not trained. And I thought that would be cool. maybe , If a few of his Twitter followers liked the song then that is great. That’s all I am trying to do is just write songs for people to hear. So we went for it. And at first I was like, “ What would Gabriel sing?” and I started to do that but it didn’t work. It has to come from an honest place for me, and if it does he is my brother and a good song will just come through. And I think I wrote it from my honest place. But what ended up working, is that Gabriel had this success and this sort of celebrity thing that comes with being a star on a show, and in the song I likened him to the man on the moon. And it doesn’t matter if you’re the man on the moon , a soldier at war, or a little girl in her room who’s parents are arguing, whatever it is, some days we all have really hard nights. Feel a little insane, and don’t know our place in the world and it is important to recognize that is what you are going through in that moment and it will be okay someday. Time will turn, no matter what life will change in a different way. But it is also important to acknowledge that today sucks. And that is what that song is about. Today is my bad night and everybody knows that is can be anybody that night, no matter how big or small you think you are. And it works perfectly.
The only unfortunate thing is that Gabriel didn’t have the time to record it properly and do it the right but I wanted to record it.
Jesse Macht says he will be in Toronto for some House Concerts in November and plans to come back for the new year.
Known most famously for their Liquid Dreams and All or Nothing or from every 20-something’s grade school dances, O-Town is making a return to the music scene with their new album out today. Having loved their older music, I was so happy when fellow friends and bloggers were telling me that O-Town was coming to Toronto ( of which I already have my tickets ! ) at Lee’s Palace. I was so happy to have had the chance to chat with O-Town about their music, what they all bring to this new album and what we can expect in the future.
Canada is one of the first places that they went gold and platinum, says Jacob. He also said that there is a special spot in the midwest on their radar.
Trevor said that their new song is one that they have a lot to do with. It was not just handed to them, and it shows how they have all grown as artists.
As four people from different walks of life, says Dan, what they bring to the music (table) varies. Even with their older albums. It is not really a coesive sound, more electric and hip-hop, and takes a lot of time to produce.
The album Lines and Circles comes out today. This is the first time that the band is back together in 10 years, which is an incredible thing to do. You may have already heard their song Skydive, which is nostalgic of their older music but with a modern take.
Hope to see you at their show in December in Toronto. Tickets can be purchased here
Musicals are some of the best experiences a person can have.. much better than simply watching a movie. I told my dad what I wanted for Christmas was Tony Awards tickets. I was partially joking because they aren’t even on sale yet. Him, as well as my boyfriend’s parents got us Mirvish tickets which I was SO EXCITED about ! I love a great musical . The first show this year was to watch Les Miserables. And wow was it amazing.
Having watched the movie half-way through , I knew that the story would be sad, but I did not expect it to be so moving. Also I was glad that the character played in the movie by Russel Crowe, Javert , could sing ( yes, I said it ) , and the rest of it, not to give away too much to those who still haven’t seen it , it between a father and daughter, mother and daughter, and a love triangle which is more of a slanted love slope. The key themes I found where that of redemption, love and always fighting for what you believe is the right thing to do. Not for yourself, but for the greater good.
Sadly, there was not a lot at the Merch Booth that caught my eye, so I will have to make my way to HMV or iTunes to pick up the soundtrack as it was quite lovely. I truly understand why it is the longest running musical of all time.