INTERVIEW: SPEK WON
[ I was supposed to meet with Spek Won at a coffee shop on Yonge street that is usually pretty quiet, but when I arrived there happened to be a whole 5 piece indie band playing live, so that was a no no. We walked together and chatted till we arrived at the new Ryerson Building. I figured 'perfect this is going to be quiet.' Once we settle in, a drill goes off. Great, construction is happening inside the building and Spek Won is very soft spoken. Despite the constant fear of not hearing shit post interview, we went with it, and the result is beautiful]What inspired you to make Sofa King Amazing?
Life basically. The experiences that were happening after my father passed away and after I released my first project, getting notoriety within Toronto. Everything happening at that time led up to the release.
You wrote most of it yourself aye?
Everything that you heard me say, I wrote my self.
How long have you been doing the music thing in Toronto?
Officially now for five years and the city has changed musically and it's become better. The death of local radio and Flow 93.5 being sold and what not. And much music doesn’t really play much of up and coming artists' work and to be honest most urban musicians don’t have music videos to submit. With the surface of social media, we can do everything ourselves. That and the fact that eyes are on Toronto now. If you are able to hustle and really work at it, you are able to do something.
But why did you call it Sofa King Amazing?
I really liked the secret name within the name. I liked how it is a double negative. Sofa and king, but kings don’t sit on sofas they sit on thrones. There is that opposite. Also because when I started writing and recording music, I was in a group with a friend of mine he was a producer called Yummy and it was called 'Sofa King Amazing'. A lot of the music we created together has never been released. He was so ahead of his time and so talented. He inspired me so much.
You decided to do a Music Video for Black Body that touched on the topics of violence against black people from the police. But instead of outrage and protest, you decided to go with a more chill vibe for the video. Why was that?
I feel like I don’t need to shoot a video of violence against black people from the police. You see that all over online already. You see it on your timeline, on twitter, on everything . I wanted to focus more on the self-love and the healing process of it. There is the outrage and the protest, there is the anger, but after that there needs to be healing. There will always be injustices in different areas and different ways. Just like Nina Simone says, "Art should reflect what is happening in society at that time." So as long as this is happening, my art will definitely be reflective of it.
So will you be voting?
Probably not. I am not into politics at all. You can't really trust either side. I disagree with voting for the side that suits your needs the most. I don’t like the concept behind 'these are your options and your only options. Choose one.'
How is this body of work different from your earlier releases?
First project I worked on was 5 years ago and it was a mixtape called Preemo Donna. And what I did was I took a bunch of DJ Premier beats and stitched them together, with the exception of one song that was produced by my dude Lordquest? Called hip life that was featured on Flow 93.5. The biggest difference between the two projects is that Sofa King Amazing is less mixtape-ish and is all original work. I have gotten way more experimental. It has grown artistically, I actually produced on this album. I had to pay more attention to detail because I created it from scratch. I criticize it at least 50 times before I know it’s finished.
Let’s say right now I gave you the option to work with any artist ever. Which would it be?
I could only choose one?
Ok fine you can have two. Maybe three.
Believe it or not I have no desire to work with people I look up to. If it happens organically I would love it. I want my legends to be who they are, I don’t feel like I need to mix in with them . I want to admire their work from afar. So anyone I would want on my next project would be people that I listen to now like a friend of mine named Iman Omari, a young R&B singer named Jahvonte, a few producers too like Tall Black Guy. But yeah.
You are getting a lot of hype from this project too. Why do you think that is?
I took my time. First one I did I wasn’t even trying to get noticed. I had no plan, no follow through. This time around because I managed the project strategically, it is easier for people to accept it when they are processing it. I don’t have a big machine behind me pushing it for me you know it's just word of mouth. It is well planned out and I made it easier to digest. My music is me and it’s authentic. It is all factual and I am not trying to be something I am not. People are smart enough to know what is real and what is not.
You said that the music scene has changed for the better over the last 5 years in Toronto. Yet I know a lot of artist are still feeling unheard.
There are gatekeepers and taste-makers who are responsible for what is fed to Toronto music wise. The people in these positions need to be more connected within the arts community. I feel like there is huge disconnect between those people and what is actually happening in the city. There are people up there who can put artist in Toronto on display but they go with what is safe instead. They go with the rapper who was hot 10 years ago, not with who is hot right now, because it is safe. That’s who they remember, that is who they know. But there are artist right now who are working right now and are the wave right now.
True and who are relevant.
Sometimes I don’t like using the word relevant. It is a tricky situation. I can't say that someone who was hot 10 years ago is irrelevant but he may not have that connection with this generation
Yeah but think about it this way Snoop Dogg is still relevant.
Yeah and so is Jay Z and Nas.
Exactly and they have been relevant throughout out their careers and still able to connect with the youth. So if someone was hot 10 years ago and is irrelevant now, that is on them.
Right, and not because of the times but because they didn’t adapt with the times. You can't stop time, you make time.
How are you closing off 2015?
I want to do a few more shows, it felt good to be back on stage at Manifesto. I loved connecting with my fans. Nothing is official right now, but there is talks of touring next year.
Shoutouts: My partner Shi Wisdom and my Son, they are my tribe.