Cadence Weapon: The WL Interview

Purveyor Of: The cerebral hip-hop soundtrack for your gamified life.

File Next To: Deltron 3030, Kaytranada

Playing: Wavelength Summer Music and Arts Festival Night One, Saturday, August 17th @ Stackt. Get tickets here!

Cadence Weapon is a pillar of Canadian hip-hop. His 15-year career has produced four full-length albums, three of which have ended up on Polaris Prize lists both long and short. His latest, 2018’s self-titled effort, saw him dive deeper into the dark-electronica and video-game soundtrack influences that support his astute lyrical flow. This former Poet Laureate of Edmonton has consistently rejected trends in commercial hip-hop, instead trusting his creative instincts to produce some of the most compelling beat-based lyrical music heard on this side of the year 2000. Wavelength’s Po Karim connected with Cadence to get caught up.

What is the essential thing that potential new fans need to know about Cadence Weapon ahead of the Wavelength Summer Music & Arts Festival?

Expect the unexpected.

After three critically acclaimed albums, your fourth in 2018 was self-titled. Can you talk about the motivation to “re-introduce” yourself to your audience at this point in your career?

I try to approach the album process differently each time. With my self-titled album, I hadn’t put out an album in a while, so I saw it as an opportunity to start from scratch. I feel like I was able to present my worldview in a clearer, more concise way on this album than I had done in the past.

Throughout your albums, the production appears to draw a lot from dark electronica. There are compressed, almost industrial drum sounds; heavy synths and arpeggiators, and lots of atmospheric touches. Can you identify some of the sources of where and when these influences may have came from? What were you listening to in your formative years that may have informed the sounds you explore in your art?

Video game music. I was obsessed with the music from the Mega Man series in particular. Growing up with that and rap at the same time, I always wondered why someone hadn’t combined these sounds together before. Discovering Aphex Twin changed my life. That took me into an IDM wormhole where I got into Squarepusher and it just took off from there. I’ve always gravitated towards strange sounds.

In the creative process, are you fairly certain of the intention behind a song or piece of music and go into the studio to execute the plan, or do you find yourself starting off with wild experiments and then paring those down into something more useable for a finished song?

On my first few albums, I’d start with the concepts and song titles and make music based around them. But lately I’ve been getting in the room with other producers and artists and just seeing what happens organically. Something that may seem like a random idea might lead to something more substantial. Experimentation is key to my process.

The 2018 self-titled record features more collaborators than your previous records. What was the motivation to include more artists into your creative process? How did the collaboration affect the way you work, and do you see yourself working this way more often moving forward?

Moving to Montreal and becoming part of a large creative community really opened me up to collaboration. But I think it truly manifested itself when I moved to Toronto. I started to see how being in the room with other people made me think differently about what it meant to make “my music.” The results are warmer and have more life, the vibe has been transmitted directly from the social experience around the music. I think collaboration will factor into my music more and more as I continue.

Which contemporary Canadian artist(s) would you love to collaborate with, if given the chance?

Marie Davidson, Yves Jarvis, Kara-Lis Coverdale, ANAMAI, Dan Snaith, Jeremy Greenspan.

If someone were to put on your headphones right now, what would they hear?

Right now it would be one of these albums:


Baby Keem – Die For My Bitch

Teejayx6 – Under Pressure

Mina – Flight Paths

Equiknoxx – Eternal Children

If you were not a hip-hop artist but were still creating music, what would that music sound like? If you were not making music at all, what other form of art would you pursue?

I’d be a folk singer. Or I’d produce house music. Maybe both. Maybe there’s still time. If I wasn’t making music at all, I’d be a painter. Might still do that.

If you were able to use technology to augment any of your skills or senses, what type of augmentation would you opt for and why?

In-ear Shazam so I can cut out the middle man.