interviews | LYFSTYL

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Toronto’s Michael Imperial recently released the follow up to his outstanding 2011 release ‘Secret Drugs: Volume 1’. LYFSTYL recently had the chance to catch up with him to discuss the inspiration behind Secret Drugs: Volume 2 and some of his previous musical endeavours.

If you had to categorize your music, what genre would it best fit in and why?

I want to say Post Future Step, but I’m just on some Toronto shit.

As a child growing up, music surrounds us; what type of music did you hear the most back then? How does it differ from what you listen to now?

I was raised in a home with a great appreciation of rock, which is very much a key influence in my musical sensibilities; Santana’s rhythms, The Doors’ energy, the Beatles’ song writing. Then I followed a strange musical path of Nirvana, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang, Cassius, Def Jux, Jon Brion, Zero 7, Jorge Ben Jor, Peter Bjorn & John, Gui Boratto. Jamie XX.

Have you been part of any other music projects?

I have a rock album I did with my older brother Art Imperial (an uber-talented songwriter), as Strider Hero. And a rap EP, that was a 100 cd pressing. Please don’t go searching for the rap EP, I do highly recommend the Strider Hero EP.

Tell us a little bit about your secret drugs volume 2 release. What were your main inspiration behind this body of work?

Volume 1 was about vulnerability, Volume 2 is about revelry. Volume 3 will be about my love for salted fish chicken fried rice. As for my inspiration for music it’s my girlfriend, my family, my friends.

What can we expect from you in 2013?

Secret Drugs Volume 3 & maybe 4, more mixes & more gigs. Also a collaboration with my homie, George Jetson.

Lyfstyl caught up with singer/songwriter Craig Stickland before his concert at the Drake Hotel, Toronto on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012. 

Stickland was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, but moved to Markham, Ontario at the age of 3. He realized that music was his passion when he was 16, as he became less interested in sports and school and gravitated towards playing instruments. He alternates between playing guitar, piano and the harmonica at his shows but also plays bass and trumpet. 

When and how did you know that music was it for you?

It’s something you discover; I’m not sure when it actually happened for me but definitely around puberty. I wrote my first song when I was 16 years old.

How do you describe your sound?

Harmony driven introspective pop.

Is it frustrating to have to cover artists like Taylor Swift to help promote your own music on YouTube?

I don’t think it’s frustrating, there’s opportunity there for sure. I feel like the state of the music industry, the popular mainstream, is at a very strange place, and dealing with those same experiences with people in bars… I have a hard time relating to the music being played in bars. But it is that music that has the most search-ability on Google and YouTube. So it works; I mean, it’s slowly working. If you look at a band like The Beatles, they barely have any YouTube traffic at all compared to someone like Justin Bieber, but they’ve sold way more records.

So it sounds to me like you’ve had your heart broken. Is that what has inspired most of your recent music?

I have! A large number of songs were written after a heartbreak. There’s times when you can be in love with somebody and be let down by them and have a moment of weakness where I find music pours out more so than when I’m in a happy go lucky mood. I’m not the guy that sits down and writes the happiest songs all the time. But my inspiration changes week to week. It’s not all about heartbreak, a lot of it is just my take on situations and things I’ve observed.

What can we expect from you in 2013?

World domination. (Laughter) …and my debut album in the first quarter and I want to shoot a music video for every single one of my songs.

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Interviewed by: @princessa_the1

It probably does not come as a surprise that Kodak To Graph is a buddy of mine you probably caught on with the share amount of Kodak related posts. Kodak To Graph and I have worked on countless projects for various compilations, and continuously share music back and fourth via Facebook. So you would think that by now we would have already done an interview with him. Well thats not the case as you can see by this post. I reached out to Kodak during one of our many convos with these 5 Questions for LYFSTYL’s little interview series. 

Here is this conversation:

Tell us about your music. How did you develop your sound?
Kodak to graph began as a post-rock project back in high school and has slowly evolved into it’s current form. It was the logical outlet for me to turn to electronic music coming from making that type of music. It made more sense as a solo artist to be making electronic music being that its a much easier and faster process in regards to spilling out ideas and/or emotions. I think ultimately my ‘sound’ takes from everything that I come across. More or less, its just a huge collage of daily activities, going on trips, getting sick, meeting new people, hearing rustling around the house, listening to hip-hop, jazz, mo-town, drone, etc. It’s my sponge-like tendencies of soaking everything up that has created my sound, which i’m not sure i’ve found yet or ever going to find. Its going to be something that is consistently evolving and never staying the same, which could either be a good or bad thing.
If you had to describe your music in three or four words, how would you describe it?

Excavating ruins at dusk.

What do you think makes you and your type of music unique from other artist?

I think for the most part, you will always be taken somewhere new. I try my hardest to bring in new elements with every idea/or song. Im always all over the place with genre’s and try not to give myself boundaries. I promise that you will never hear the same song twice from me, but will keep the common thread flowing. I believe its important that an artist should let the thread take new form over time.

When you started producing music did you ever imagine that you’d be on tour and playing music professionally so to speak?When I first started this project I would have never imagined touring, making a living off of music or even seeing it grow as much as it has. Im incredibly thankful to the people who have been into the music, supported me and/or even given it a chance. I am constantly blown away at the fact that I have the opportunity to share my music to people across the globe; when people are receptive to it, it helps bring meaning to this. Its what keeps me making music, to know that maybe someone out there will find something in the music that speaks directly to them or help them get through hard times.

What’s coming up for you in late 2012 or 2013?

Im going to leak out a single from my full length, featuring some remixes, sometime around January, then working on getting my band “isle’s” record out to the public sometime around late spring, and have a collaboration album in the works right now. If all goes as looking forward to an exciting and productive 2013 of music! Working on getting some US and EU dates in there as well!

Azekel is the Nigerian-born, alternative pop artist based out of East London. His music is laced with experimental beats and soulful melodies. For a fairly new artist Azekel already has numerous achievements under his belt. He was featured on the Mercedes-Benz Mix-Tape, opening for a number of UK acts, and performing on the Roundhouse Rising Festival 2012. LYFSTYL had the opportunity to ask this talented song writer 5 questions, this is what we came up with.

What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
When I was around 12 watching a Little Richard performance on a old tv show. I was amazed by how his music had an influence on me and the audience. Once I got started in song writing, I wanted to do the same.

If you had to describe your music in three or four words, how would you describe it?
Alternative. Raw. Soulful. Pop. What do you think makes you and your type of music unique from other artist? I express myself in my music. I believe that as long as I present my true individual self in my art, it’ll be unique because were all uniquely created.
As a child growing up, music surrounds us; what type of music did you hear the most back then? How does it differ from what you listen to now?Back then as a child I heard alot of afro beat and Gospel because of my parents, nowadays I listen to anything and everything worth listening to, from Rick Ross to Peggy Lee to the XX. But I guess when listening back to my music, the music I heard when I was a child has had an influence.

When can we expect an EP or LP?

My E.P is finished, It will be out in some months tim. Its called The Visit, its sounds dope. Just for fun….fill in the blanks!

  1. Without music, I would be “A robot”
  2. Music is “Spelt cisum backwards”
  3. My music makes me feel “Lighter”
  4. I write the songs because “I’m suppose to”
  5. Support music because  ”Supporting artist makes the world go round”

LYFSTYL (Lifestyle) is an online magazine with a focus on new, emerging artists. We write articles about what is amazing in the world of new music, as well as stuff that will just make you think.

We believe that’s what music does to you. It makes you think. If you don’t think, you cease to exist. So, dive in, open your ears, open your eyes, and open your mind to LYFSTYL. Because this isn’t just another music publication.


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