AntiFrantik - 10 Questions Music Interview
Hailing from the "North end of the city," AntiFrantik is not your average rapper. His voice and orchestral, and often euphonic, production represents an acute dichotomy. His lyricism dips into everything from profound storytelling to stream-of-conscious. AntiFrantik blends smooth and classic jazz standards with gritty and anarchic saw-tooth synthesis. It is not uncommon to find booming metallic drums accompanied by classical strings and piano; or doom, over-driven bass mixed with angelic, gospel vocal-hooks. His works draw inspiration from anime, Afro-culture, politics and fashion - aptly-doused in metaphor and delivered with his signature straight-eights and double-time flow. AntiFrantik is a multi-talented artist who refuses to limit himself to the single facet of MCing. When he isn’t painting vivid scenes over crisp, dark production or sculpting conceptual hip-hop symphonies; he is directing music videos for fellow artist’s around the city, participating in The Lateshift Cypher, avidly supporting local talent, collaborating with controversial fashion designers or smoking a blunt while revisiting his J Dilla collection.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I actually got into writing music in a truly random fashion: it was through a project for high school social studies class. I ended up writing a rap verse about the Galileo affair. It had started out as just a joke, but as I started to put together the bars, rhyme after rhyme, I felt this undeniable excitement well up within me. I realized that I found fashioning raps to be one of the most exhilarating exercises I had ever come across. And then performing said raps? Hearing how excited they made other people? Indescribable.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
My music escapades have been pretty low-key in a relative sense. Outside of experiencing the odd bar fight, or having the hotel room raided by police officers, things have remained pretty tame.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I've had a few high points in my career that I'm very proud of. For one, having the opportunity to perform at #BIGTICKET and $5 Rap Show -- at the time two of the most prominent underground rap shows in the local scene -- within the span of six months was very exciting. In addition, being the film nerd that I am, having one of my songs headline the soundtrack for a short film that premiered at TIFF was pretty huge, as well. Lastly, it's always a blast to have my music grace the runways at Fashion Art Toronto and beyond whenever L'Uomo Strano debuts a collection.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I like to approach songwriting from as many different angles as I can, and I often find that collaborating with others helps me get out of my comfort zone and reveal different avenues to take. When left to my own devices, I tend to first gravitate towards a particular character, archetype, theme, world, whatever -- something bigger than myself that resonates deeply on an emotional or experiential level -- that I can then piggy-back off of to ultimately tell a story about myself. For example, the title of my latest album, 'Outer Space Smells Like Barbeque', is precisely what resonated: that this statement is a scientific fact blew my mind. I then fashioned a story about a star-ship captain to illustrate how I had struggled and persevered through personal failure.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
That's a great question. If I were to take a look at my own journey as an Indie Artist, I would say that resources and other types of support are most needed. Residencies, incubators, retreats, workshops, mentorships...these hands-on sorts of support can really help an artist mature not only creatively, but also in the understanding that they have to cultivate themselves as more than just an artist, as unfortunate as that may be at times. Furthermore, artists need the ability to pursue these resources without having to look over their shoulders for fear of any financial repercussions. I personally had to turn down a handful of producers and mentors simply because I couldn't afford to take the time to pursue those options.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I'd love to share the stage with acts like Childish Gambino, Madlib, Gary Clark Jr. or Alabama Shakes.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
When I have an impending live show, I try to practice everyday. Going through the set, trimming things, adding things, trying out different ways to say each line, visualizing how I'm going to connect with the crowd and connect with the music, how I'm going to move around on the stage, as well as work on my cardio.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
That's a great question. I'd have to go with 'Concerto No. 1', a project that I worked on in concert with the fashion brand L'Uomo Strano. When I started it, I didn't know much about concertos at all, so adapting them for Hip-Hop in any small form or fashion was an immense challenge. Finding ways to shift the different musical instrumentals, coming as close as I possibly could to constructing different "movements", really pushed me to my creative limits, especially considering that there happened to also be a time crunch. There were a lot of long days and nights -- a lot of wine and a fair bit of weed -- spent building that monster of a track measure by measure, focusing on each and every note for each and every instrument. Even now, when I go back and check it out, I often find myself bewildered, asking: "How the heck did I make this?"
What's coming up in the future?
Musically, next up is a show that'll be occurring on Friday, November 29th at the Tranzac Club here in Toronto, entitled "Cheers, to Twenty Shineteen". It'll be a show celebrating and commemorating the year that was, a year that saw a lot of my friends and I go through a lot of hardships, but also experience a lot of exhilaration and a lot of success. I'll also be releasing some new singles at that time, so keep your ears peeled! I'm also working on another solo project, as well as a joint project with a New York-based producer known as Mimar Sinan that I'm really excited about. Speaking of New York, I'm also looking forward to taking my music on the road to the United States and beyond. I love writing in all its forms, so I'm looking to expand more into other forms of art, especially film. I'm writing several short film and television scripts, as well as a novel. In addition, I'm excited to get back into podcasting, as well.
Tell us where fans can access your music?