Purveyor of: conscious hip-hop, nerd rap
File next to: Mega Ran, DijahSB, Masta Ace, Star Trek
Playing: Thursday, April 29th at 8pm on our YouTube channel. Tune in here.
More Or Les is a rapper, storyteller, producer and DJ from Toronto, Ontario. His newest album, The Human Condition is a glimpse into topics such as mental and emotional health, the challenges of changing everyday life, and recognizing who are the assholes and who are the friends. It’s personal, relatable and authentic. In More Or Les’ words (taken from his bandcamp), The Human Condition is to “get people to think a little more, ignore their own needs for the sake of others a little less, and “chill the f— out and just max” a whole lot more…!”
Sarafina Bortolon-Vettor had the chance to learn more about More Or Les’ new record, how to overcome creative block and what sci-fi and fantasy shows are his faves.
The Human Condition is like having a real conversation with oneself while also questioning the many issues happening right now. It is personal, authentic and beautifully blunt. What conversations led you to write The Human Condition?
In a way, writing this project started with a previous one – the EP Post Millennium Tension had songs about stresses of life, but mostly related to technology and “big city” living. Through writing that, I realized I wanted to expand further beyond those concepts and discuss mental and emotional stresses in a way that is rarely if ever discussed in rap songs (eg. “Why had I never heard of a rap song about getting help? I’ll write one!”). A few other projects were in the pipeline already, so I had time to ruminate on this one and put it together in a more deliberate way than usual.
What was your creative approach to the album? Did certain collaborations, experiences or gear direct you towards specific compositional choices?
A few years ago and projects back, I came to the firm decision that every single project has to be distinctively different from the ones that come before it, even if the choices are just subtle and the listeners don’t catch everything. This album was no exception. For half of the beats made by me, around 95% of the creative work was done on my phone, via the music production app Caustic (so anyone saying that music can’t be made on an Android device is very uninformed). This opened me up to creating things in new and unexpected ways, incorporating instruments I wouldn’t normally choose, among other new options….
How do you overcome creative blocks and do you have any suggestions for artists experiencing a lack of creative motivation?
With this pandemic hanging over each and every one of our heads, it’s completely understandable that being creative at this time can be difficult, so I would say having patience and respect for the process taking time and experiencing a lack of motivation is the first and most important thing to be aware of. Start with being forgiving of yourself and then of others. After that, I would say gently setting some goals for yourself is beneficial– a creative block-breaker fav of mine is to try making music that sounds like someone else’s that I admire. It’s a guarantee that your results won’t sound anything like that other person’s work – because you’re not them– and will give you some insight into your own style and process– I always find it to be a useful learning experience!
You have produced several acclaimed records that convey a wide range of concepts, themes and feelings. From super nerdy and humorous to totally serious. In what ways does humour and nerdcore play an integral role in your storytelling?
The humour just speaks to my nature. I can’t help but throw in some horrible puns or “Easter eggs” to generate a laugh now and then, because we all need it. And life in general isn’t serious for everybody all of the time, and I like to create relatable songs– relating to someone’s life or their personal interests. Which is partly where the nerdcore culture comes in. That stuff also speaks to my creativity and imagination. Anyone can rhyme words together talking about how better they are than everyone else at rapping, but being imaginative with it by referencing culture in your metaphors and similes (see: Redman) is the most impressive to me. And with my cultural interests being of a “nerdy” nature, to be me in the most original way possible is to reference Worf (Star Trek: TNG), or Asuka Langley Soryu (Neon Genesis Evangelion) or the Ultimate Nullifier (Galactus, Marvel Comics) in a song. And, oh yeah, Brunch.
How did you get into turntablism and do you have any advice for those starting out?
I learned how to mix records around the age of 13 by way of my older brother. Any sibling with an older brother knows this is typical behaviour. Younger siblings always absorb what the older brother is into, since it will appear to be cooler than anything they could come up with on their own. And my advice to anyone interested in trying this is “practice, practice, practice.” You don’t need to wait to have the best, shiniest equipment either. Get started with whatever you’ve got/can afford. A pro can benefit from fancy tools, but no fancy tool can turn you into a pro.
What are your top 5 favourite comics?
NOTE: This list changes constantly!
(in no particular order)
1) Paper Girls – Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang
2) The Sword – Luna Brothers
3) The Ultimates 1 & 2 TPB – Mark Millar & Jonathan Hickman
4) Global Frequency – Warren Ellis & various artists
5) X-Men – early 1980’s run with Chris Claremont & John Byrne
What are your top 5 favourite sci-fi series or films?
(I’m including Fantasy genre here)
1) Doctor Who (1963 & 2005 series)
2) Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan
3) Star Trek TOS & TNG
4) Big Trouble In Little China
5) Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (animated series)
Bonus) X-Men, TAS
What can the audience expect at your show on April 29th? New songs? Old songs? A mix of your discography?
Definitely a mix of old, recent and maybe even unreleased songs (you never know). Over the last few years, my catalogue has become big enough that I can do a decent-sized set playing only one song from each release, so I’m able and excited to bring it on the 29th!!
Catch More Or Les this Thursday April 29th at 8PM EDT on the Wavelength Youtube Channel! More info here.