EDISUNN: "Yeah, go listen to my music because I actually like it"
Written by Juliette Coleman
We spoke to up and coming Hip-Hop artist, Edisunn as he shares what led him to process of creating his first, yet to be released, solo project "Thinking Over Thinking".
Could you give us a bit of context about who you are as an artist and what led you to that point?
I guess I've always been interested in music, my interest was definitely sparked by seeing my sister in bands and thinking it was really cool. I joined her band called “I Eat Kids” as the bass player when I was like 5, because whenever she had practice at a friends house I would end up being there. I thought it was really fun, but I was driven away by what I saw as the mundane parts like theory and solo practice. By the time I was in grade seven I had been interested in music and was listening to tons of rap so I just kind of started getting into writing and because I didn't need any formal knowledge and just had to be clever or something I started making songs with my step brother. We had a duo called "gold ass drone" and then we changed it to "get a drone" because we didn't want ass in our name. This was when I was in grade nine and you know doing rap and being not only young but just like a white guy, it always felt like you had to make sure you weren't taking yourself too seriously. I feel like I was super judgmental about rappers being corny or gentrifying the sound or seeming like they weren't participating so much in a culture but instead making it something else or co-opting it. So at first, we just wanted to make stuff that was kind of funny and not taking itself too seriously because there was a self-consciousness there. And I was making lots of really trappy influenced music with auto tune and a lot of that stuff can be a bit of a mask because you don't really have to be yourself because it's so easy to sound like someone else. Obviously over time I got more comfortable with the idea of myself as an artist and just in the past, I'd say two years I've been really honing in on my craft and trying to make something that actually reflects what I'm like, and something that I can be proud of.
How have you dealt with insecurities as an artist and do you think you are at a place where you are confident about what you create?
I don't feel like I've really gotten over that yet. In the past I always found that even if people liked the music I was making, I wouldn't want to show it to anyone. With the last project I struggled with not being super confident as an artist. When having to work with these somewhat professionals who were sound engineers, and not really knowing how to say what I want because I'm like "well these are the professionals". Because I didn't learn a lot of theory, I've always been drawn away from acting like I know more than I do. With this new project, "Thinking Over Thinking", I felt like I got in a good headspace and was inspired and as soon as I just made one song I was like "wow this feels honest". I didn't feel like it was pretending to be anything else and I wasn't just saying something, because that's what rappers say or I wasn't just talking about how sick I am, this is actually a reflection of what I was going through at the time. And the positive responses from my friends definitely gave me the confidence to tap into that headspace. I was just really dying to put something out that I could stand behind and be able to say, "Yeah, go listen to my music because I actually like it". You know, if you want other people to like your music you have to be confident about it and you have to be able to present it with enthusiasm. I feel like something I still need to overcome is the tendency to somewhat rely on the approval of others to really know if what I’m creating is good. So, I never really got over the confidence thing, it kind of goes in waves and it just depends where I'm at and what's going on.
"...there are people who will look up to you whether you realize it or not and If you believe it and you agree with these issues then why not just let people know, especially when it's something that feels like we need all hands on deck for".
Over the last 5 months we have seen the hit of the pandemic, the rise of the Back Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd and most recently, the calling out of Toronto (Rosedale) abusers and the demand for accountability by our communities. What realizations have you made during all of these necessary local and global movements?
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about during this time is the importance of embracing the discomfort that you feel as a white person, especially a straight white guy and I would say that white men are probably the most uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. All of these long overdue discussions being had about the persistence of systemic racism, white supremacy, rape culture and other horrible things are easy to not think about when they don’t directly impact you. Obviously it isn’t pleasant to reflect on the ways that you have benefitted from/enabled/contributed to unjust systems and dynamics, and it may be tempting to check out, but understanding that the option to “check out” from these conversations is itself a privilege and a huge problem, and is something that us white guys in particular really need to remember. A lot of these issues really started to come to light on social media as I was/am still getting used to being active online to promote my music. I felt kinda weird posting about the protests and stuff when I didn’t feel like an authoritative voice, or someone who should be looked at to really educate people on social issues, especially when there are so many other people that would be better to listen to. While part of me still feels that way, I realized that it’s better to show support, amplify voices, and have difficult conversations, especially with my other white friends. Because there are people who will look up to you whether you realize it or not and If you believe it and you agree with these issues then why not just let people know, especially when it's something that feels like we need all hands on deck for. I think It’s just really important to do your part and not leave that job only to marginalized people who are dealing with enough shit right now.
Check out Edisunn's new single "Up to Chance" https://open.spotify.com/artist/0IFRMeKwprl5RRQ7f6h5xy?si=qUNGudK0RAG7pbrP6B7zdQ
Could you tell us a bit about your new project what the process of creating it was like?
I've been working with a producer and friend of mine, Kieran Cousins over the past year on the project that I'm releasing now “Thinking Over Thinking”. Before that we were working on another project called “Silver Linings” which we got professionally recorded when I was 17 or 16, but I loafted on finishing it. You grow so much during those years that I kind of grew out of it and eventually we just put it on the back burner and me and Kieran set up a little studio in my basement and we made a project from the ground up. The first song from the project that was fully finished was "Can't Stay", which is already out and he (Kieran) did a rough mix of it and I don't know, it just sounded good so then we were like okay maybe we can actually do this. Having no engineer to pay for and just not having to be on the clock allowed us to hone in and work in the space which definitely felt like the best way for me to do it; not to rush something and try to make it reflect who I am as an artist or just where I'm at.
There was a struggle there by having presented myself in the past as someone who didn't take themselves too seriously with my previous music. So, I found it really difficult to reach out and collaborate with other people that I didn't already know well so the vast majority of the project was done just by Kieran and I. Near the end I got to collaborate with some artists; like I did a song with Lillian Blue Makin; she's a good friend of mine and Danie; another friend of mine. I love collaborating with people, just in every way and I think it's so interesting to work with other artists and I've been using this project to try and reach out and get involved in the community. I was really trying to meet new artists that I could form relationships and work with because there's so many talented people in Toronto and the more you get out there the more you see. And it can kind of be hard to connect because Toronto can be a bit cold, kind of like cliquey and not so community oriented or I don't know, it can kind of feel that way. But, I'm just really excited because there's so many people in Toronto that have inspired me and I'm so excited to see what we can do in the time coming.