1) My man Cee how are you?
Yoooo what’s good fam? Chillin’ out here (literally), getting ready for baby Jesus’ born day in a couple sleeps, tryina rest the liver up before things get real lol. You good?
2) Born in Melbourne, Australia and now grinding smartly in Montréal, Canada, that’s a great story to tell ! Let my readers know who you are a little bit.
Yessir! So I was born and raised in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, in the south of Australia (fun fact: it’s not that far from Antarctica). I was always into music; dancing to MJ in the living room with my brother as kids, jamming to everything on the radio. I got my first guitar at 9 but then discovered Hip Hop at 12, so I kinda put that shit down quick (though I had an indie rock phase from like 2009 to 2011 so I picked it up again). I never would have expected that Hip Hop would have taken me this far – literally as far away from home as I could possibly get. It just kinda took over my life, I just absorbed the culture however I could get it, even from a place that couldn’t be further from where it began. I used to pay like $15 for The Source magazine, three months later than that edition came out; I used to pay at least $40 for import CDs (‘import’ meaning that the particular project never got an official release in Australia) and had to trek across the city to find the spots with the best selection; and the only Hip Hop influenced fashion we could get was shit like two seasons behind the US, and probably only the stuff that didn’t sell well haha. But it truly made me appreciate it that much more than those who had it available to them wherever they went. I think this was part of the reason I always wanted to live in North America – just to be closer to where the culture started, where more people live it and understand it. I was always the only dude in my year level at school into Hip Hop, and my problem was I wore it on my sleeve. I’d come to school on free dress days wearing baggy ass jeans, Fugees tshirts, oversized jackets and shit lol. I was a skinny little kid, but I didn’t give a fuck, I represented and fucking suffered for this shit – the things people said to me every fucking day man, damn. I almost got into a ton of (admittedly one-sided) fights over it.
Anyway, fast forward to 2004. I had been rapping, recording and performing for about 2 years, and I went to live in Toronto for 12 months. Man that shit changed my life. All the things I mentioned above that I could never get as a kid, it was just everywhere. It blew my mind. So I knew for sure that I had to relocate there permanently. In 2008, my brother and I did a radio tour of the US, Canada and New Zealand. When we hit Toronto, something inside me said ‘I’m moving here’. So I checked out the Working Holiday Visa again, the rules had changed since 2004 and bang, we moved back in 2010. We had a rough start, so things didn’t go so well musically at first. I moved to Montreal in 2012 with my girlfriend and things have been crazy ever since.
3) We’ve been introduced to each other by the great blogger and friend J Rizzle. What’s your opinion about the Internet : gift of curse ?
Ah bro, J is the man. This is what I love about Hip Hop, or any given common interest that brings people together. As with anything, the internet most definitely is both a gift and a curse. For me personally, it’s been nothing but a gift. It’s allowed me to connect with people like yourself and J. Rizzle, in other countries, different scenes, different languages, and just build. Man, my album charted in the Top 10 in two countries and I never left my desk in Montreal – THAT is the best example of the power of the internet. And with social media, it allows musicians to get in touch directly with their fans and build a legitimate, unique relationship that will last. So many artists got their break from YouTube or Twitter or Vine or mediums like that, it’s crazy. The power is now in our hands – we can build a fanbase, book a fucking world tour, sell music and merch, get sync and licensing deals and release videos, all without leaving the crib. To me, that’s beautiful, man.
It’s only really a curse for the major labels who tried to resist and not move with the times.
4) Precisely, you seem to have a precise strategy on social medias and all that, ain’t it ? Is it a way to run your career and the whole TMF team at the same time ?
Absolutely, social strategy is key. My girlfriend and I are social media consultants and strategists by trade, so we take it super serious. We actively build our social media following daily, constantly talk about what we should start to do, what we should stop doing, all that type of stuff. And yeah, it allows me to manage Notion and I, the whole label, everything, all from my iPhone. I see that a lot of artists have really embraced social media, which is dope, though there are a lot of folks who really aren’t using it properly. I couldn’t tell you how many DMs I get every day with rappers spamming their ‘hot fire’ mixtape and all that shit. Folks don’t even try to build relationships before sending music without a personal message. I guess that kinda shows my age, as I’m from the era where we didn’t come up with SoundCloud or YouTube. We had to go to open mic nights to meet people, we had to hit up record stores and convince them to sell our product, shooting a video cost like $5k minimum lol. I guess those cats will either get with the program or disappear soon enough.
5) TMF. Let’s talk about it. A family thing?
Damn right. The Movement Fam started out as a crew, and slowly merged into a label and production house. Everyone wants to be in a crew, yeah? So it was Notion, Bekah, Tommy Gunnz and myself. I came up with the name, and we settled on it in like 2008. We had a bunch of other homies heavily involved – I think in like 2009/2010, there was like 8 or 9 official members. But that got too hectic – it was almost impossible to organize anything, most cats weren’t dedicated enough, it was just a bit of fun to them. But Notion and I stuck with it, trimmed the fat and now it’s just the two of us. My girlfriend Tiffany is also a partner in the label, she’s instrumental on the PR and social media side, along with styling, merch and design. We’re now about to sign a close homie out here in Montreal, he’s a legend in the city and we’re honoured to be working with him. We only work with fam – at the end of the day, if my heart isn’t 100% behind the project or the artist, it’s not gonna work. As the name has grown over the past year or so, I’ve been getting hit up almost daily by artists just tryina get on, without even doing any research on the label. That’s a great look for us I guess, though artists truly need to step it up, bruh!
6) Over the clever moves, you have these ill skills on the MIC. How would you describe Cee as an emcee ?
Respect my dude. Man, I just try to be as real and honest as possible. I’m super heavily influenced by a lot of the conscious artists – dead prez, early Kanye, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Phonte. I came up on underground jawns heavy, so I try to represent that in the technical side of my rhymes, while keeping it a little accessible and just doing me. I’ve been trying to touch on subject matter that I deal with in my everyday life – craft beer (‘BrewHeads‘), veganism (‘Be Healthy 2014‘), and the struggle we’re dealing with as Australian immigrants in Canada trying to make it in Hip Hop (pretty much every other song I’ve ever released lol). I went in on the political themed jams a few years back and realized that most people just aren’t ready for that – folks were just staring at me like I was crazy at the shows haha. That was before things got nuts in the real world though, so we’ll see but there’s always that undertone through anything I write.
7) There is no doubt that these skills helped you to push your first album where it is, but the beat choice is very mature too. Why and how do you pick up a beat ?
Cheers bro! Dude, I’m a fucking asshole when it comes to beats. Producers hate me lol. I’m just so damn picky. Either it moves me, or it doesn’t. That’s it. I rarely grow to love a beat that I end up rapping on. My main influence is ‘The College Dropout’ so the soul samples are my shit. I’m trying to not automatically just go for that these days but it’s tough haha. My album was actually pieced together from the beats I collected for the Cee & Bekah album (a group I was in pre-2011), so most of them were from that project – I was going for super soulful stuff that would sound dope with both rapping and singing. I very much try not to follow trends – like you don’t hear us rapping over Rick Ross style trap shit (we’ve done a couple trap joints lately for the fuck of it, though you’ll never find it on our albums lol). We seem to have inadvertently created a lane for ourselves with the soulful, raw, organic, real shit and we plan to stay in that lane while experimenting a little as we go. I find it tough to be sent a bunch of beats and just pick one from there. I much prefer them to either have been made just for me, or to be in the studio with the producer either when they make it, or when they play it to me so I can really get a feel for it on the big speaker, see how they move to it, all that shit. The body language is key. Music is supposed to move you, right?
8) So for what projects will you apply this recipe in 2015 ?
Well 2014 was my year; 2015 is all about Notion. We plan to get his acoustic EP ‘Out The Basement’ ready at the same time as his debut album ‘Heart On My Sleeve Music’; both are scheduled for a 2nd quarter release at this point. He had a busy yet quiet 2014 on the solo tip, so we wanna get his LP out, hopefully beat any records we set with my project, and take it from there. We’re also pushing the mixing side of the label heavily – we wanna get regular work for Notion so he can cut down his hours at his job, and bring in some extra money to the label to finance the projects. Once we confirm the signing of the Montreal MC, we’ll be releasing an EP from him, along with a collab EP with him and I, so I’m excited for that. We’re planning a tour in late February of just small towns in Ontario, and our goal is to do at least one national Canadian tour this coming year. And for myself, I just need to find a producer for my second album – I’m looking for something that’s a bit different, I wanna touch on that Soulection style a little, open up my audience a bit, try and get some of those grants through the label, make some serious videos. All that good stuff. I’m excited.
9) It’s time to say cheers ! Let’s talk about this Brew Heads movement !
Cheers! Man, that’s been a trip. So back in 2011, when I was dealing with my first Canadian winter, I got bored and decided to take up the 365 Days of Beer challenge that some of my mates back in Australia were doing. Basically, you had to drink 365 different beers in one year (not one a day, just 365 beers), and you had to be in a photo with the bottle or labelled pint glass to prove you drank it. Sounds tough, eh? I had no faith at all that I would be able to complete it, let alone be at over 1600 beers almost 4 years later! As this went on and I got more into beer, I linked with Phil of BrewHeads on Instagram. BrewHeads is a craft beer clothing and merchandise company based out of Phoenix, AZ. He was a fan of the music and I was a fan of the brand, so naturally we connected. He sent me some gear to rock at shows and in videos, and I represented hard. In late 2013, we were talking about doing a merch collab, and I got this beat from Dr. MaD for my album and I wrote a song called ‘BrewHeads’ to it. We figured that we’d fly Phil out to Montreal and shoot a video for the track over a week in the summer, which we did, and it was amazing. We spent 7 days filming, drinking beer at 10am lol (it’s a hard life, eh), hitting up all sorts of breweries, brewpubs, dépanneurs and brew shops. We released a custom Cee x BrewHeads 100% Made in America snapback and a 22k gold printed Bière Sommelier glass in this wicked black and gold box (still available!). Once we sell out, we’ll gather the profits and put that back into the next project. Craft beer was the next obsession after Hip Hop to change my life.
10) Any last words my brother ?
Man, I’m super grateful for the opportunity, thank you! I’m stoked we connected and really looking forward to working on something more than just a track. I wanna shout out all the people who support TMF – we appreciate y’all more than I can say. Without people holding us down, there’s literally no point doing this so it’s a blessing that people care about the music we’re making. We’re gonna go extra hard for y’all in 2015. Hit up the kid on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, SoundCloud, Bandcamp – all that) – I wanna see what beers you’re drinking! Respect!