Interview with Musical artist Borelson
Today on What On What’s Good with Jovin Tardif, I am here with Toronto-based rapper Borelson. He grew up in central Africa (Gabon, Congo) and spent time in France. He recently released his highly anticipated debut album ‘As Far As Eye Can See’. In our interview, we discuss musical influences, performing at festivals, his latest album ‘As Far As Eye Can See’ and more.
1. Describe how you got into music and how you pursued it?
It was in high school that the idea of making a career in music seriously crossed my mind, but I have always been passionate about music as far as the eye can remember. Although 2012 was the year I professionally/officially started releasing music.
2. Did you have any musical influences growing up? Please describe.
2Pac, Nas, and Outkast were among my biggest influences. Beethoven as well, and some (pan)African artists like Pierre-Claver Akendengue (from Gabon). The main reasons being their versatility, activism, and dedication. Beethoven and PCA are geniuses to me.
3. On your journey, you lived & performed in multiple places around the world including for example Central Africa and France. Can you describe how that influenced your unique sound?
I’ve always wanted to find the perfect way to blend my (pan)African culture with Hip-Hop culture, as I grew up being equally influenced by both. Travelling and performing across the world is always an opportunity to share and learn, then create new sounds.
4. You work collaboratively with an all-star cast of Toronto-based producers, beat-makers, and composers including Junia-T (Jessie Reyez, Little Simz), Nate Smith (Tobi, Faiza), Ric Notes/Mr. Ouici (Keys N Krates, Shad) and Truss (TRP.P). Any fun stories from behind-the-scenes that you would like to share about the production process?
The all-star cast of Toronto-based producers, beat-makers, and composers included Junia-T (Jessie Reyez, Little Simz), Nate Smith (Tobi, Faiza), Ric Notes/Mr. Ouici (Keys N Krates, Shad) and Truss (TRP.P).
With Junia-T, we created Down 2 Roll pretty unexpectedly and we originally planned to work on one track only (while remaining open/flexible), Do What You Like. While I was packing my stuff to leave the studio, Junia started composing a new beat. It was just a loop that he then posted on his IG story. It got stuck in my mind and I played the loop that night all night and the next morning I told Junia we need to complete this track, which became Down 2 Roll.
With Nate Smith, I remember sending him a vocal note with the Acappella hook for this FAR. He came to my place one day and played different beats. When he played a specific one, I knew straight it would match perfectly that hook I sent him. I just wanted the hook to be even more powerful, an anthem, I then composed the wind section (horns) part, that I brass band arranged and recorded in the studio with me and Nate, a great experience.
5. How would you describe your latest album As Far As Eye Can See?
A bold afro-futuristic album, Black Panther (T’Challa) meets Coming To America (Prince Akeem Joffer)!
6. You have performed for festivals including SXSW (USA), AfroChic (Ghana), African Cup of Nations (Gabon), Afro Fest (Toronto), Toronto Biennial of Art, Nuit Blanche, and Fashion Art Toronto. Just out of curiosity, how do you typically prepare for a festival?
I like to know the city, the venue, the capacity, and what the stage would look like (and sound like) as early as possible. It helps me visualize how I will move around and share my best energy with the public. I also make sure I stay hydrated (ginger juice included)!