INTERVIEW WITH POOKS

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Pooks is a Toronto singer and producer whose star is on the rise. Coming off of the recent premiere of his catchy dancehall tune, “Glo On,” Pooks is working hard to get his name out there. He’ll be performing at The Iscream’s upcoming show Whiskey Kisses IV on September 2nd. We chatted with him about his sound, his time in Nova Scotia and his past life as a track star.

How would you describe your sound?

Very alternative R&B sound. It’s not traditional R&B, because I do like to pull inspiration from deep house music, hip hop music, soul—whatever I’m feeling at the time, being that I’m a producer as well. So I do like to experiment, but it always comes back to melodic R&B kind of vibe.

What artists do you draw inspiration from?

I listen to so much, such a broad amount of music. I just get lost on Soundcloud or something. I just listen to random shit, you know what I mean? And when I get to producing myself, sometimes I’ll pull inspiration from what I hear if I’m listening to deep house—I don’t really listen to specific house artists or anything like that. Influences growing up would be a lot of hip hop. Like late nineties, early 2000’s. A lot of the Bad Boy era, like Mase and Biggie. Also neo-soul as well like Bilal Oliver influenced me when I first heard his stuff. D’Angelo. Yeah those are my main ones.

Tell us a little about your new track “Glo On”

Basically every artist—I think—needs to have a fun, summer track for their fans and I just thought when I made the instrumental, this is a perfect time for me to have a fun track. At the time, I was at a party and I was just thinking about all the girls-I don’t know. It wasn’t anything too specific. I was just trying to make a fun summer track and this dancehall beat was just the perfect thing I thought of. It was right before Carabana too, so that was an influence as well.

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Are you from Toronto?

I was born in Toronto, but I didn’t grow up too much here. I was just born here but I grew up around the GTA. High school years allin Brampton. Before that Missisauga, Malton area. But I did a lot of moving around. After high school, I went away to Halifax for university—Dalhousie. So I went to Dal and finished up there, then moved back to Toronto.

Do you find the Toronto music community welcoming to new artists?

I definitely find it welcoming to new artists. There’s so many little open mics and clubs are so welcoming. But I’m just trying to get more exposure right now.

Compared to where I was before in Halifax, it’s definitely a lot easier [for artists to get exposure] because there if you don’t have a guitar...you know what I mean? I can’t do shit. I have to know somebody there and I didn’t know anybody there and connections, so it’s definitely a better scene over here—for my type of music at least. It just has shows with my style and other artists with my style. If I go to an open mic over there, it’ll be like I’m the only R&B/hip hop artist and then there’ll be a bunch of country artists—the crowd just wouldn’t be into it anyways.

Tell us something surprising about yourself!

I used to be a track star. I went away to university to go run track and field and that was like my big thing before.

So what was your distance?

It was mid-distance, so 400 and 800 metres.

Shit, I am not athletic, 800 metres sounds so far!

It is! I didn’t even like it but I was just good at it, and then I’m like man what am I putting myself through—fuck!

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Robyn Bell