advertisement
FYI

Five Questions With… Danger Grove's Jesse Dangerously

Along with Colorado-based beatmaker/producer Lizard “Liz” Grove, this Canadian alt-rapper is releasing a debut Danger Grove album on Friday. Here he reflects upon their long-distance collaboration, his healthier emotional state, a love of Labi Siffre, and a desire for full musical communism.

Five Questions With… Danger Grove's Jesse Dangerously

By Jason Schneider

It began with a straightforward remix. Colorado-based beatmaker/producer Lizard “Liz” Grove stumbled upon a track by Ottawa-via-Halifax alt-rapper Jesse Dangerously she liked, applied her magical treatment and sent it back to him, much to his approval. Sounds innocent enough, huh?


Well, that spontaneous gesture soon exploded into the full-fledged collaboration known as Danger Grove, and a 10-track debut album called Want, For Nothing that is sure to make waves within the Canadian hip-hop scene. With Liz providing the sonic foundation for Jesse’s often brutally confessional rhymes, the pair builds on their mutual love of groundbreaking artists such as Aesop Rock and spin it off into strange, new worlds where it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to hear Drake rapping with Neutral Milk Hotel.

advertisement

To back up a bit, Danger Grove coalesced through the Nerdcore Hip-Hop Facebook group, which holds an annual competition that challenges a producer/vocalist team to create five original tracks in three-week intervals to be judged by their panel of experts. Despite facing stiff competition each round, Danger Grove was voted the overall winner for 2017, with the next logical step to release those five songs as an EP.

However, with their creative juices now flowing, the pair put together additional tracks—several graciously featuring their Nerdcore Hip-Hop contemporaries—to flesh out a full album. What makes Danger Grove truly work is how these two artists who met online complement each other’s strengths so well. Danger Grove’s Want, For Nothing, is out Oct. 19 on Coax Records. They are currently on tour in Ontario and play Lee’s Palace in Toronto on Oct. 18. For more info go to dangerously.ca.

 

What makes Danger Grove stand apart from your previous work?

The incredible production of Lizard Grove! Her style is different from mine, and not too similar to most other producers I've ever worked with. The other thing is, over the last two years working on very open and emotional music together, we've grown close—even working long distance—and shared a lot of personal things that have conditioned the direction of what I try to address in the lyrics.

advertisement

What songs on the album are you particularly proud of and why?

“Against Dreaming” is one of only the songs I've ever written first on my homemade banjolele—named Branjelina—and because it's almost all sung, rather than rapped, I used uncommon restraint, writing way fewer words than I usually do. But I still feel like I gave enough shading to create an atmosphere without overstating it. And Liz took my acoustic demo and spiraled it into space.

There are also places on a few songs, like “Salversan Pick-Me-Up” and the bonus track “Boogie Champ Superstar,” where I get prickles every time I hear the little flourishes and especially string parts Liz programmed. Oh, and the mournful horns under the vocals in “neverhome.” The first time I heard them I thought, oh this album is gonna be good ACTUALLY.

What's been the most significant change in your life over the past year?

advertisement

It's the chicken and egg thing, but I finished three albums in 2017, did some therapy, changed my workday, and started Prozac. I feel more myself than I have in a solid decade. I was so much more present in my own daily life that I made deals with independent labels for both albums, so I didn't have to do everything myself. I don't know if exorcizing the artwork unstuck my limbs or if getting emotionally healthier unjammed my rap cannon, but I'm so much less miserable now that I'm gonna have to think of something else to write about for the next record! Just kidding!

advertisement

What song by another artist do you wish you had written?

I wish I'd written "I Got The" by Labi Siffre because it's gorgeous and soaring and queer and loving and it bumps. And if I’d written it, I'd get a chunk of publishing off that crummy old Eminem single that interpolates it. When Eminem circumvented the content stipulations against homophobic violence in the lyrics, I would have bought a ticket to see him just to come and whip his ass.

If you could fix anything about the music industry, what would it be?

Given the democratization of production and distribution, and the decline of curated avenues of discovery like community radio, independent magazines, and even blogs, there's more music available than ever, but it's harder than ever to make it sustainably. Part of that is ongoing economic depression and conservative austerity stripping arts funding, but also there needs to be a rejigging of infrastructure to reduce the consolidation of income to smaller and smaller fractions of the highest echelons of what's popular.

I guess what I'm saying is: full musical communism, as soon as possible! Socialize Spotify and institute a base living wage through all playlist placements! Thank god I've drafted this legislation in such great detail.

advertisement
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Joey Martinez

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Concerts

Neil Young, Nickelback, Nas & 50 Cent to Play Ottawa Bluesfest's 30th Anniversary

For its 30th birthday, the capital city festival is also getting major acts like country group Zac Brown Band, pop hitmakers Maroon 5, and one of the last shows by Tokyo Police Club.

Ottawa Bluesfest, the eclectic festival held annually in Canada's capital city, is planning a nine-day celebration for its 30th birthday.

The festival has revealed its full lineup, with Canadian stars Neil Young and Nickelback joining previously announced headliners Mötley Crüe and Tyler Childers, as well as hip-hop legends Nas and 50 Cent, country rockers Zac Brown Band, and chart-toppers Maroon 5.

keep readingShow less
advertisement