From topping national charts as part of hip hop legends Swollen Members, to creating a thriving cult following with a series of successful solo albums, Madchild is one of the most recognizable names in Canadian rap today. Ahead of his return to Newfoundland on June 23rd, the industry vet caught up with The Herald to talk overcoming demons, becoming a road warrior and his anticipated return to The Rock.
Q: It seems like your tours get longer and more intensive as the years progressive. At this stage of your career – nearly two decades in – how do you feel about life on the road?
Madchild: I love touring. I tell a lot of rappers that you have to make a decision at some point in your career, because being a road dog or whatever you want to call it, someone who lives on the road and out of hotels, driving and flying every day, it’s a grueling grind. You have to love it, you have to make the decision to love it. If you’re not going to love it, I guess you could be a SoundCloud rapper or a YouTube sensation. But if you’re not going to get out there and hit the road and connect with your fans, supporters and listeners and get familiar with them and be there then you’re not going to have that longevity. I still believe to this day touring is a big part of why I still have relevancy and why I’m still able to continue what I’m doing after 19 years.
Q: You mention the idea of YouTube artists. What’s your thoughts on the new wave of social media, streaming platform artists? Do you feel it offers new modes to get music out there, or has it led more to oversaturation?
Madchild: I had mixed feelings about it as it was happening. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s great. Think about how many more people get to live their dream now. Yes, there is the oversaturation side of it, but then there’s a whole bunch more success stories than we’ve ever had. Some of those success stories might not be as long lived, but at least they got to experience it in some degree. I think that’s great. We’re kind of going back to what Andy Warhol said, “Everybody is going to become famous for 15 minutes.” It’s not quite 15 minutes – people having two, three great year runs and people pop up for eight months and their gone and some will ride the distance and have their 20-30 year careers from this. I think it’s great that so many kids and people are getting the opportunity to blow up and be rock stars or whatever you want to call it. I guess it’s up to them if they’re going to figure out how to maintain it and keep it going.
Q: You’re heading back to St. John’s on June 23rd, a place – and province – you’ve performed in many times as a solo artist and with Swollen Members. What’s your immediate thoughts when you think of Newfoundland and Labrador?
Madchild: Just great people. I love the aesthetic and landscape of the whole area. It’s really beautiful and different then the rest of Canada. I especially love it when I get to come in the summer, so this is going to be awesome. It’s just so pretty out there. The people are so great, the energy of the crowd and when I get to meet all the fans, everyone has this cool positive attitude. I’ve always had a blast coming out there.
Q: Touring in support of your 2017 record The Darkest Hour, it has been said that this is some of the most mature and deep work of your career. What was your headspace at the time of putting together this album?
Madchild: I think that album really reflects on the dark times I was going through, and I did just come out of a dark patch. I’m so happy now and I’m so happy to have a feeling of purpose and feel like I’m being a true artist again and to be active. I think sometimes in life, at least speaking for myself, I have to go through these dark times to come back out and be re-energized and come back out and kick ass for another five years. Hopefully it doesn’t have to happen again, because I’m not going to be able to build things up and then have these times of darkness again. There’s no more room for that in my life. Hopefully that was the last round of it, but I think I’ve figured a lot of things out this last period of trials and tribulations and just the bad things that have happened in the last couple of years in life that happens to all of us. I see through different eyes now. I see things differently, see more clearly. My head is on tighter than it’s been in a long time. I’m hoping that’s going to show in my music and performance and just overall way that I conduct myself.
Q: Swollen Members have recently released some new singles online. Do you see a new EP or LP being in the works, or are you guys content to drop singles when required at this stage?
Madchild: I think we’re O.G.’s in the game. We’ll definitely put out singles, but for us getting back in the studio together organically making an album, that’s what we’ve all decided we’re going to do. Its been a minute since we’ve all got together and made music, but you just have to let things happen as they’re supposed to happen. Everyone is on the same page. We have some time booked out that we’re going to go into Robs studio. I’m excited to make a whole new record with the guys. I love making albums. I’m cool with putting out singles because that’s a big part with how the industry is ran today, but I still love a great album. That’s probably just because I’m old school.
Q: You have a strong fanbase in Newfoundland. What can fans of yours expect out of this tour?
Madchild: Just raw uncut energy bro. Just going to come out there and crush it. I don’t know, I think one of my strong points is my show. I don’t do anything particularly thought out or pre-planned. I just go out and I feel like every show is an experience. I feel it’s important to play songs people are familiar with. I think that’s always a better time. If you like you can drop in a couple of newer ones, but mostly I like to hit people with the music that I feel resonates with most of the crowd in the room. It always turns into a wild party. I can’t explain it except that I love intimate shows, I love playing in clubs and being in front of 500-600 people. Those are my favourite shows. Sometimes you can literally feel the energy bouncing off the walls and circulating around the room. When everyone connects and becomes one, that’s a magical moment. That’s my goal to bring to the table and I’m pretty sure if it’s going to happen anywhere it’s going to happen in St. John’s.
Tickets are available now to see Madchild and guests at The Rockhouse on June 23rd.