In Conversation With . . . Gescha, Part I

Gescha is a young Canadian hip hop artist who has shared the stage with Tech9, Classified, and Sweatshop Union, among others. His single ?Love Pirates? made #8 on the Canadian singles sales charts the week it debuted. After years of struggling with a self-destructive lifestyle, Gescha now mentors youth in an attempt to prevent others from repeating his mistakes. His new album, Crayon Politics, came out of his desire to channel his personal pain in a positive way through creative expression.

?A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.?

James Joyce

Lessons from the Early Years

My childhood had one foot placed in two separate worlds. Coming from an immigrant family but born to this country, I witnessed the struggles and triumphs of building a life and family from nothing. I also learned of the nature of a Canadian upbringing. While witnessing a clash of cultural traditions and moral standards, my childhood experienced addictions, abuse, trauma, beauty, laughter?none of which I think differs from a million other stories out there. My childhood was perfect in the way that it created the lens in which I see the world today.

As a child I had taken piano lessons for few years, and that was enough to [give] me a foundation in theory and the ability to read music when later as teen I began to take it more seriously.

My musical career began in high school with the creation of The Intelligentlemen, a rap crew involving four emcees, two producers, and a DJ. We put out two records and an EP over the span of seven or eight years together. We just recently took the time to work on our own projects over the last few years. We started recording on tape decks over jacked beats in my parents? basement and eventually got a little digital recording unit and some production equipment. The rest is history.

A Weight Lifted

One of my favorite moments playing music would have been last year playing my CD release in Saskatoon. It was the first time I had played the song ?The Wind? live, the band had left the stage, and I was alone on the keys, about to play a song that is very vulnerable and personal about my relationship with my father. My mother was in the crowd, the first show of mine that she had attended in nearly a decade, and my anxieties about playing this song live had built up over the past few weeks?not to mention that the rehearsal for the track the night before had been a disaster.

But I put my fingers to the keys and all the weight was lifted. As the song was coming to a close I looked into the crowd and noticed a number of people crying. As a hip hop artist this was something I had never been able to accomplish and I’d like to think It’s fairly rare for the genre, so there was a sense of accomplishment!

Crayon Politics

?Crayon Politics? was actually a title for the song before it became a title for the album. The song was written about racism and looking at the concept of ?color? as being childish. The systemic racial issues within institutions and governance fall under the same childish category. When it came to applying the title to the entire album, I felt it was representative of the diversity of the album, not just thinking of politics in terms of democracy, neo-liberalism, or governance, but the politics of life and the way our lives interact within a political world.

Inspiration comes from the fact that art imitates life. I walk around and live day to day and then songs come out.

Rehearsals

I have two versions of my show, the band version and the DJ version. The band version is pretty free-flowing; often we end up adding new elements to the songs as we are rehearsing, and the live show becomes an evolution of the album. When rehearsing for the DJ shows, DJ Known and I will typically go through the tracks, find our drop points, and try to build a set that will keep the energy high, mixing in some DJ showcase-type segments and [letting] him tear up the turntables for a while.

To be continued . . .

Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.

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