Catching Up With Slakah the Beatchild
Toronto-based artist and producer Slakah the Beatchild has a style that simply cannot be put into a box. When you listen to his music, you will likely notice that some songs have a smooth soul vibe, while others have an obvious hip-hop flavor. Slakah pulls his inspiration from multiple genres and a variety of sounds. In fact, his mother gave him the name Beatchild after she saw him bouncing to the rhythm of a washing machine when he was a baby. At that young age, he was on beat with the washer.
The name Beatchild fits perfectly for Slakah, as he has released two albums as an artist (Soul Movement Vol. 1 and Something Forever) and he has worked with several great artists including Glenn Lewis, Drake, Ebrahim, Melanie Durrant, Ayah and Divine Brown to name a few. His hit song B-Boy Beef was just featured on the debut episode of The Game on BET, which received over seven million viewers. Slakah has even more music on the way with his group, the Slakadeliqs.
We chatted last week about his experiences as an artist and his knack for creating good songs.
Mimi: Your Twitter bio says that you’re a preserver of real music. What does the term “real music” mean to you?
Slakah: Well, I can make the comparison to food. There’s natural food that’s good for you and then you have food that tastes good but might not be good for you like fast food for example. It might taste really good but a lot of the ingredients are artificial. I think the same goes for music. Artistic expression is the inspiration first and foremost – that’s what music is. Music is an art. So to me, that’s real because it’s coming from a genuine place, not from a place of profit.
Mimi: How do you create such a fresh style of music?
Slakah: Well, just like how you are what you eat, what I listen to is a reflection of the music I make. It’s with anything; whatever you surround yourself with and take in is what’s gonna come out.
I listen to and appreciate a lot of different styles of music. Right now, I’m in my country phase. I’m listening to a lot of country because the lyrics are great. When I make music, I don’t make it with a specific sound in mind. So, if I’m doing a reggae strum and then I feel like finding an accordion sound because it sounds right, I’m gonna use it. So, I think combining all those different styles and sound influences makes for a mosaic of sound. And, hopefully people will like it.
Mimi: How do you determine whether you’re going to sing or flow on a track?
Slakah: I have an idea about what I want to do before the song is even done but for the most part, I let the music dictate that. How I write the music is I’ll put the music on loud and I’ll just sing as if I’m performing it. Whatever comes out the most natural is what I usually tend to veer toward when I’m writing the lyrics.
Mimi: What three words would you use to describe what you’re like when you’re in the studio?
Slakah: zoned-out, focused, and in-my-element. Will that work? (laughing)
Mimi: (laughing) Sure, we can include hyphenated words. When you’ve written a great “feel-good” song like Enjoy Ya Self, how do you know it will have such mass appeal? Do you have a test audience?
Slakah: That’s an interesting question. When I finish writing a song, my closest friends are always the first ones to hear it because they’re fans of my music. They’re honest. The song gets played for about 7-10 people and I get a reaction from them. But, at the end of the day, their response is just a small portion of the gauge. At the point when the song has been mastered and is ready, it’s probably a year old. A lot of time goes by before my music is actually released.
Mimi: Speaking of good songs, congratulations on the success of B-Boy Beef. Did you actually watch the episode of The Game when it debuted?
Slakah: I didn’t even know. I was in Austria when I got calls saying that B-Boy Beef was playing. I was like “Really?” So, that was cool. I wish more people could hear it but I think in time it will make its rounds, just like Enjoy Ya Self. B-Boy Beef is not being pushed on a commercial level so it gets spread by word of mouth. I hope it reaches the ears that need to hear it.
Mimi: Why did you choose the name Something Forever for your current album?
Slakah: Well, when I make music, I try to make it timeless. When I write lyrics and create melodies, I try to come up with progressions and themes that will still be relevant or understood in 50-70 years. So, I try to make timeless music and I named it Something Forever because I want it to be something forever.
Mimi: Something Forever – Special Edition, which has four additional songs, was just released here as an import. Could you tell us more about the lead single, The Cure?
Slakah: Yes. It’s a song about how you can really be dependent on somebody that you really love, so much so that they’re a cure for you feeling bad. But, just like anything, like a drug, you can get addicted to that too. So, that same thing that you need to make you feel better could actually kill you. I put it in the form of a love song. Hopefully we’ll be shooting the video for it in the next week.
Mimi: Ok I’m going to do a play on the words something and forever. I’ll give you a phrase and you say the first thing that comes to mind.
Slakah: (laughing) Ok
Mimi: Something that you could eat every day
Mimi: Something that always makes you laugh
Slakah: Chuck Norris jokes
Mimi: Something that you never travel without
Mimi: Something you want people to remember about your music after they hear it
Slakah: How it made them feel
Mimi: Something that you will cherish forever
Slakah: The feeling of being in love with that special person
Mimi: If you had to part with all of your music except for three albums, which three would you have to keep?
Slakah: Slum Village – Fantastic Volume 2, Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and Bob Marley – Exodus
Mimi: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Slakah: Yes, I’d say follow your dreams. At the end of the day, you are in control. So, don’t settle for anything less. No one else is living your life. If you want to get to destination C, you may fail at trying to get there one way but there are multiple ways of achieving something. Always go for it no matter what and really learn from your failures; really appreciate them for what they are. Look at failure as a vantage point and use it to better yourself and further yourself.
Mimi: What else can we expect from you this year?
Slakah: The Slakadeliqs album is hopefully coming out this year.
Thanks Slakah for a great interview! You can pick up Something Forever – Special Edition from Amazon. Check out two songs from the project, The Cure and Things I Do (For Her) below and check out Slakah’s EPK to hear more about his music.