Duckwrth cannot be pinned down. The 28-year-old rapper, born Jared Lee in South Central, landed like a splash of mixed paints with his debut full-length I’m Uugly in fall 2016. Its 10 elastic tracks stretch across hip hop, chill wave, funk, and punk, all shrouded in a soft-focused haze. He aptly calls this impressionistic concoction “psych rap.”
Early last November, Duckwrth released An Xtra Uugly Mixtape. Whereas I’m Uugly exalted the beauty that lives within the harshness and griminess of everyday life – from the physical to the political to the socioeconomic – An Xtra Uugly Mixtape encourages being unapologetically you. It is, as Duckwrth writes on his Soundcloud page, “the anthem for your rebellion.” Fittingly, the tape is higher in energy; the guitar sounds are cranked. An Xtra Uugly Mixtape is his attempt to put hip hop and rock on equal footing within the same piece of music. An Xtra Ugly Mixtape is also a gradual step towards fulfilling his stadium rock ambitions.
Duckwrth had one of his most formative musical experiences at a stadium show. “I used to do the whole protest [thing] and be more politically driven,” he says. “But then there was a time when I was in a Metallica mosh pit, and I was in with a whole bunch of different ethnicities, and I was even in there with skinheads. And during that moment,” he further recalls, “we were throwing hands and going crazy, and racism just dissipated. Everybody was just going crazy and just having fun.” Ever since then, Duckwrth has devoted himself to keeping that vibe alive, to “put people in a certain place where you dance, and you groove, and you have fun, and you sing, and all that disappears.” But he aims to do more than foster escapism. “Maybe conversations could be had [at shows]. Maybe people could find ways to unite.”
The belief that change starts with conversation ties into Duckwrth’s enthusiasm about the potential of technology. However, he says, “Right now, we’re just spreading messages, having conversations, before anything really awesome happens or crazy happens, good or bad…. Let’s actually take our technology and do something about what the fuck is happening.” Regardless of what that something is, Duckwrth plainly declares his intention: “I would like to be able to build up enough and just [have] a hand in culture that I can be able to move and shake shit in the future.”
With a DIY mindset born of his love of punk music, Duckwrth has his hands in every aspect of his creative output ranging from music to album art to apparel. But he understands that everyone in a collaborative process is an artist. “[Y]ou have to respect them ‘cause they have their own skillsets, they have their own ideas, and they’re geniuses. And the reason you work with them is because obviously you appreciate their work.” As for hiring a crew to capture what he wants and then personally editing that material to further conform to his vision, “That’s really doable,” he admits, “but it also disconnects the director from everything else…. [I]t’s something different when it has a certain fluidity where the director can work with the DP [director of photography], and the director can work with the editor because the director will see something I don’t.”
Reflecting on one music video, Duckwrth says, “I had to learn that with [director] Young Man because we had a big-ass disagreement with ‘I’m Dead’. But we finally came to the middle at the end where we were just like, ‘Okay, we can both work with this.’ It was a big lesson for the both of us, just to open yourself and just trust that person; I gotta trust the director, and the director gotta trust me.”
Everywhere Duckwrth has lived has left an indelible impression on him. He frequently proclaims South Central raised him, San Francisco expanded his mind, and New York taught him how to hustle. However well-rounded he seems though, he knows life’s lessons do not end at the US’ borders. “I want to live in Paris, and I want to learn French,” he says. “I just want go to different countries, different continents, different cities, and learn. Really, it could be anything, just be outside of America and my comforts of being American.” He would also like to live in “Africa in general because that’s my ethnicity, at the roots of my ethnicity.” As a deep admirer of Japanese art and culture, Tokyo is another obvious choice for him. “Their colours are amazing, super vibrant.” He even loves katakana. “It’s all beautiful.”
The meaning of Jazz Cartier’s Fleurever is rooted in duality. In the two years since his sophomore mixtape, Hotel Paranoia, the artist has had to “[battle] the balances of love and money, risks and rewards, right and wrong, or living and dying”, alongside coming to terms with the throes of wealth and fame. Subsequently Fleurever—or, as he calls it, his “third project”—explores Cartier’s personal growth in the years following. With his newfound maturity in tow, Toronto’s rising rap star is on course to start a music revolution—well, that’s the idea anyway. Georgie caught up with Cartier to talk about gratitude, the rapper’s personal transformation, and the driving force behind Fleurever. G—Can you tell us a bit about your latest album Fleurever and the inspiration behind it? JC—Most of the inspiration came from growth, and a bit from my departure from Toronto. A lot of the record was made in my last days in Toronto, and just having that cloud over my head and knowing that I’d be leaving soon—it was more so showing my affection for the city that pretty much shaped my sound. G—Did you have a vision in mind when you started writing this album? JC—For the most part Fleurever is just myself and my
When asked to describe herself in three words, Nina Nesbitt didn’t hesitate. “Introverted, creative, and driven”. While you wouldn’t guess the former from her edgy, empowering tracks—her latest single “Loyal To Me” is a girl-power anthem, rallying women to ditch their unfaithful partners—the latter two can’t be questioned. In the six years since she was discovered in an unplanned encounter with Ed Sheeran, Nesbitt has released three EPs and one full length album; toured with Sheeran, Justin Bieber, and U.K rapper Example; and carved her way into the alt-pop scene with a harmonious blend of groove and grit. Earlier this year, the Edinborough-native was one of three emerging female artists chosen to partake in Spotify’s “Louder Together” initiative, recording the first collaborative Spotify single (“Psychopath”) with Sasha Sloan and Charlotte Lawrence, and showcasing her signature style of thoughtful messages pulsating atop hook-driven melodies. With her sophomore album ready to drop, Georgie spoke with Nesbitt about her experience being thrust into the spotlight and maintaining her creative independence throughout it all. G—You’ve been touring a lot this year, specifically in North America. How have your North American audiences been receiving your shows? Is it different than performing for UK audiences?
Named for the Toronto area they grew up in, The Beaches are a far cry from a placid day on the lake. Led by singer/bassist Jordan Miller—with her sister and guitarist Kylie Miller, guitarist/keyboardist Leandra Earl and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel—the Canadian four-piece burst out of Toronto with their 2018 debut, Late Show, and have since built up an aura of dissident swagger. Taking home this year’s Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, the all-fem rock quartet is bringing grunge, gloss, and 70s glamour to a predominantly male genre. Georgie caught up with Leandra to talk about the band’s latest music video, taking charge of their music, and three simple ways to keep women in the industry. G—Did you grow up together in Toronto? LE—Yeah, I met the girls in high school. Jordan and Kylie are sisters, so they’ve known each other a bit longer, but they grew up with Eliza in Toronto’s Beaches area. G—What kind of music were you listening to at that time? LE—We grew up listening to all of the music our parents listened to. That definitely influenced us while writing our debut album since we drew from a lot of the 70’s music that our