One thing that I've realized after four years of living in Montreal is that musicians truly do abound in this creative haven. In fact, even if you've spent your four years cloistered within the McGill Ghetto, you're more likely than not to actually know one – or many – of them. Case in point: I met Anthony Salvo, the producer behind the local Hip-Hop duo THe LYONZ, last summer during a random, daytime pre-drink – really the only way to prep for Piknic Électronik, if you ask me. A few months later, I ran into both him and Terrell, the lyrical half of the group, during a closing shift spent languishingly finger-spacing racks of clothing. As we chatted, Anthony mentioned that they had just come from doing something related to their musical project. Upon hearing the words "musical project," my interest was instantly piqued, and my inner radio-host-slash-relentless-self-promoter came alive. Naturally, I had to casually mention I had a radio show that focuses on showcasing local talent, and would thus love to check out their material. So, business cards were exchanged, and egos – mine, notably – flattered.
Admittedly, Anthony's card remained firmly lodged in my wallet, an unmoved testament to how unaccustomed I still am to handling business cards. Many months later, my sister came home after a night out, and told me she had attended a show that was opened by a terrific local Hip-Hop outfit. Knowing that I'm always looking to listen to Montreal artists, she suggested I check out THe LYONZ. With that, I knew it was high time I get my shit together and stop using business cards as wallet fillers. So, that night, I spent my study session cramming to the sounds of their debut release, "Peace Beyond The Pines."
And, the rest is pretty much history: I instantly became hooked. After a week of on-repeat listens, I invited them to my show so I could gush on air about how much I enjoy their music – and prove that I too can network with business cards.
In truth, I think what I love most about their music is how it's tinged with a general air of melancholy and nostalgia. And, by that, I don't mean an overwhelming sense of sorrow or dismay, but rather a peaceful and truly pleasant pensiveness – one that calls for introspection and reminiscence. For me, the cool, calm, and collected confidence that exudes from their craft brings to mind the intricate composition of many of the 90s Hip-Hop gems I've increasingly found myself running back to, from the experimental sounds of Outkast to the evocative lyricism of Nas.
While those a quite some big shoes to fill, when you listen to their music, you can't help but remark that the potential certainly is there. With Anthony's training in electro-acoustics and proclivity for organic sampling, coupled with Terrell's penchant for self-reflective storytelling, it's obvious that THe LYONZ are going about developing their own particular sound in a manner that is authentic to them. By creating the type of music they'd actually like to listen to, their music offers listeners a much-needed alternative to the undifferentiated strain of infectious "turn up" music that has come to overpower both our speakers and senses – yes, I too hate myself for jamming to Panda.
Rather than relying on the "factory-farmed beats and cosmetic verse" that have proven to be so commercially successful, THe LYONZ are challenging themselves to produce content that truly inspires them, music that they love. Simply put, they're creating art that speaks for itself, in all its peaceful, soul-searching beauty.
Peep the interview below:
Jhené Aiko - Mirrors (Rey Ruccio Remix)
Kendrick Lamar - untitled 07
PARTYNEXTDOOR - Wus Good Curious
Da-P - Sunset Ride
No Kliché feat. Gabe 'Nandez - Up (Shoressound)
Toro y Moi feat. Kool AD - Real Love
Hieroglyphics - Make Your Move
The Beta Band - Dry The Rain
Omar S - Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself
Wax Doctor - Heat
Here are a few of my favourite quotes pulled from the interview:
On whether they go about creating music with the intent to be more reflective vs. commercial:
That’s just what we’re into personally. The music we listen to does that, so it’s just natural for us to do it ourselves. When I sit down and make something, that’s how it comes out; it doesn’t come out like a club hit. [...] We make the music that we love. We don’t half-ass anything that we do, we really want to go the extra mile if needed to create something that is really sonically beautiful to us. That’s just what we’re going for. We’re not trying to be the best, we’re just trying to make stuff that we can listen to.
On creating for the purpose of selfish self-consumption:
It’s way more beautiful than selfish. I’m not listening [to my own music] to be like, "Yo, I’m the shit." I’m listening because I feel good listening to it, and that’s why I do it. [...] So, when I approach a song, I’m trying to make a feeling, and I feel it when I listen to it. You can call me selfish, but it’s beautiful.
On organic sampling:
There’s so much that those sounds bring with them. So if you can get them to fit into a tune, it just adds this whole new dimension to it. [...] Sometimes if I’m hitting a wall, it’s nice to go out and record some stuff; you find music in that. […] I’ve used sounds from myself stepping on snow [when] it gets super crunchy, that’s a good one! [laughs] Recently, [I've used] drone-y air sounds, just running those through certain plug-ins and doing some grainy stuff with it for textures.
On writing based off personal experiences:
All the verses are almost like a diary. It’s all really personal: I name drop, I talk about things that have happened, things that I want to happen, dreams that I’ve had, things that I want to paint. It comes out in a personal way.
I get to go into this crazy place that I can only feel by doing the performance, and I get lost. It’s crazy 'cause I don’t think about where I am and what I’m doing. If I do, it’ll probably throw me off, 'cause I’m thinking so hard like, "Oh my God, I’m in front of all these people doing this." But, I get lost when I’m just playing it instead. Man, I just go crazy; I just go into this world, bring people in, and they either vibe with it or they don’t.
On the creative process behind their debut, "Peace Beyond the Pines":
[We] brought the gear, went to the countryside for a week, and were one with the nature. It’s [called] "Peace Beyond The Pines" because we were beyond the pines, and that’s where we found our peace.
My favourite tracks: Shingalang; Feel The Pain; I Think, You Say It; Violet