Evil Ebenezer – Interview
Vancouver, BC is home to some outstanding hip hop. It has grown to become (in my eyes) the foremost hub in Canada for diversifying style from it’s amazing underground artists, but seems to have a problem with it’s representation, not only in Vancouver but also across the rest of this country and into the U.S. Maybe the problem lies with the constant struggle within. An abundance of artists almost working against each other to obtain the same goal, rather than helping to elevate the music by bringing the scene together. One man standing above this, trying to break that mould, is Evil Ebenezer.
With a decade in the hip hop game he’s seen the highs and lows, which comes across full force in every lyric he delivers. With two full length albums, ‘Call Me Evil’ and his most recent ‘The Wanderer’, Evil Ebenezer is on a constant path of personal growth and development while still trying to maintain close ties with the hip hop community he represents. ‘Call Me Evil’, which was released on Camobear Records, is littered with guest appearances that stretch across whatever closed cliques there might be here. An open mind and a heart that gets poured into every song delivered; he is what he raps, no question about that.
With his production crew, the Draft Dodgers, he has taken the cliche of hip hop and flipped it, delivering each album with it’s own unique feel. Proving that he knows no boundaries when it comes to what hip hop “should” sound like. In fact, he’s working on a new album titled ‘Evil Eye’ which is slotted to come out summer 2009 with a couple new producers, ensuring another new sound. Never one to be lumped into the “it just sounds like his last album” category.
It doesn’t end there. Evil Ebenezer and Spit 36 are also set to release a six song EP titled ‘Weekend at Dilly’s’ in May. Also he’s been working with Moka Only on a Draft Dodgers production titled ‘Zzbra’ which has yet to see a release date. He also has some big tours under his belt with artists like Josh Martinez, Sweatshop Union, R.A the Rugged Man and his most recent with Australia’s Bliss N Eso.
From his songs it’s apparent there is a dark side to him, but honestly who doesn’t have that? Evil Ebenezer just has found his outlet, a way of projecting his evil side in the form of music. In person he’s a really laid back, fun and interesting person to talk to, only proving you can never judge an artist solely by their work. He loves what he does and is happy with where he is now, but that will never slow him down from always trying to achieve more. You have to respect that kind of dedication.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with him to discuss a bit about his past, future and some of what lies in between.
So let’s start this off, how long have you been making music?
Ten years, but for the first four years of those ten you’re working at it, but I didn’t have a release. ‘Call Me Evil’ was the first…. Well, I did this release just called ‘The Draft Dodgers present: Evil’ and we pressed that one up ourselves in 2004. For the first couple years you’re just sort of experimenting, then after a bit it was time to come out with something.
Did that have a lot of the songs that were on ‘Call Me Evil’?
Ya and then Josh Martinez heard it and said “Cool, you want to put it out on Camobear?” So we did up a couple more songs, one with him, I did ‘HA HA HA’ and an outro. Just spiced it up a little bit. Me and Stu Ray, who always worked together hooked up with Vaughn Oliver (DJ U-Tern) and he really helped us out with our sound and cleaning it up cause he was going to engineering school.
How did you and Stu Ray meet?
High School in Chilliwack.
Ahh….A Chilliwack boy.
Ya, well I was born and raised in Vancouver and when I was about fifteen my mom and dad split up. My mom moved away to Europe and my dad was teaching Sociology at University of Fraser Valley and he was living at Cultus Lake so I moved out there. So I did the last couple years of high school out there, met Stu and spent another four or five years out there and then came back out here.
Is it you and Stu Ray that have Draft Dodgers, or what’s with that?
It’s a production crew, but I do work with them. I’m actually working on a new album and while they will still be involved I’m trying to spread out and work with some different people. I’m working with a brand new guy named Whalley Wonka, a new up and coming producer. We’ve already been making some cuts and working on an album for a summer release and it’s called ‘Evil Eye’, so that’s what I’m doing right now.
In ‘The Wanderer’ liner notes there’s mention of another release ‘Zzbra’ with you and Moka Only.
Ya, that’s a Draft Dodgers record and Stu’s the executive producer. He’s got something worked out and it’s done just waiting on release. That album’s got some big tunes on it too and I’ve been really wanting it to come out.
I also read something about ‘Weekend at Dilly’s’.
That’s me and Spit 36, who’s a rapper from Kelowna that’s been doing his thing for a minute. I started doing some stuff with him and we went up to Kelowna for a show and he had a friend up there that he’d done music with that has a studio. So we went there and recorded a six song EP in like a day and half while just hanging out at his house. It’s going to be a soft release, hand to hand in like May. We’ll be out touring with it.
You recently just got off a tour, right?
Well in the fall I went out with R.A the Rugged Man and Snak the Ripper and in December I did the tour with Bliss N Eso from Australia, which was really cool. I’m trying to go to Australia and Europe this year.
How do you find things like promotion in Vancouver with the underground scene, is it hard to get anything really going?
It’s a really small community. Well, it’s a big city, but the hip hop scene is very small.
It’s seems like unless you’re on the inside you don’t really know what’s going on.
Ya, and it’s like in a re-building stage too. I’ve seen it’s ups and downs too. I’ve been there in the heart of the Rascalz and Swollen Members era and ready to do that, loving it. It’s just sort of crashed and burned since then and I think it’s because there’s just not enough industry. It’s a business and the music business part of it is kind of fucked up, but it’s starting to get more things like Grounded TV. There’s just some more things happening which is giving a more positive vibe, but sometimes feels as though it’s every man for himself.
Ok, well I’ve got to get a little personal.. Your songs are on a very personal level, speaking a lot about yourself, do you ever feel vulnerable about how others might perceive what you’re saying?
No, I don’t actually ever think about that. I don’t know if that’s self centered but it’s just like the music is therapy, you know? It’s me, I just do it for me. I am aware of making a song that a wide range of people will like, that’s catchy or whatever, but at the same time I don’t try to censor myself. I guess that’s what I like about hip hop, rapping, the art of freestyle, you’re just in the flow of it. I’ve never stopped myself because you can’t and you might say something that’s hurtful or personal to yourself or you might say something that’s stupid and doesn’t make any sense, but it’s just the fact that you’re doing it, you’re living it and making it happen. When I’m in the zone and writing a song I really like to write about myself because I find I like listening to other people when they do that.
You get to know them a little bit more.
Ya, they’re not just a brick wall reciting a grocery list of words. I want some feeling, some emotion. I want to feel what that person is like. Like, what’s a day in the life of that person, their relationship with their parents, or whatever. I’m a fan of that and like artists that can do that.
Very cool. Any last words?
Ya, if you don’t have it yet get ‘Call Me Evil’. Pick up ‘The Wanderer’. I’m not trying to do the same album each time. I don’t want ‘The Wanderer’ to be ‘Call Me Evil’ and that’s why I made it different. This ‘Evil Eye’ is also really different sounding, it’s got more pop tunes, more singing. It’s just more straight ahead hip hop. I don’t know, I’m feeling good. I’ve just got a whole new energy.
Again many thanks to Evil Ebenezer for taking the time. Check him out on his myspace at www.myspace.com/evildraftdodgers and here’s some songs to give you a little taste.