Philosophy, Hip Hop and Good Times.
Rare is the chance for fans to be part of the creative process of their favorite bands. But for Montreal experimental hip hop group Dead Obies, it felt like natural evolution to invite audiences into the experience as the band records their sophomore album in a series of live concerts at the Phi Centre (October 14, 15 and 16).
MCs Snail Kid, 20Some, Yes Mccan, O.G. Bear, RCA and producer VNCE got the idea to create a more intimate relationship between Dead Obies and their fans. The idea sparked as the group contemplated the follow-up to their acclaimed 2013 debut Montréal $ud (Bonsound), and came upon French philosopher Guy Debord's famous 1967 book, La Société du Spectacle.
"It's this whole analogy where he uses the spectacle of the show as a form of social interaction between people," Yes Mccan explains. "His theory is based around [the idea that] everything that was real in life is now mediated through the lens of spectacle, and is a representation of something… So we decided to start from that, and explore the notion of representation and concert and spectacle. We thought, 'Why not just record the whole album live in front of the people and toy around with those ideas?'"
Mccan also points out that before the advent of recorded music, music was a live thing. "A recording of a piece of music was not considered the piece of music; but an interpretation or a rendition of it. But the way the industry developed, now the live show is considered the interpretation of the particular piece. I think that's going to change, maybe a new cycle [is starting]," he says. "The new music economy is more centered around shows than it is around the sales of proper albums. It used to be the contrary, it used to be you tour to promote your album, but now you make an album to promote your tour."
Contrast—a concept fundamental to the book, he says—is another inspiration behind the new record, which will consist of entirely new songs. Not only between audience and performer, but the contrast between real and fake, live and produced, and so much more.
These leaders of the Quebec rap scene feel the influence of contrast comes across in their music. "Being from a background both French and English, Caucasian and racially mixed… [and] we live without boundaries on the Internet. The micro and the macro are constantly expanding to the point where both notions meet one other. The whole world is contained in my computer, information is accessible, but in the meantime it makes me such a small human being inside of a huge world."
Yet philosophy aside, "the focus is first and foremost on the music and people having a good time! One of our things is to try to just 'catch' what's around us and put it in our music."
When it comes to their approach, "We want to offer a total experience in the way our music is produced and done and distributed. We do everything from writing the songs to producing the beats, recording them, mixing them, engineering them and promoting them with the help of our label. The next album is really the maturing of those experiences that we've acquired over time… I really can't wait to just do it and put it out. I feel an album that you release is always a snapshot of the past. It's always a picture of you a year or two ago. And in the last year or so, we grew so much. For me, the new material is better, more mature and more complete than everything we've done in the past. So it's going to be real fun."