Jan. 12, 2011 - Issue #795 : Great Indoors
Not your average Joe
Joe Gurba is set to Float or Fail with his new album
Sitting down with Joe Gurba, the Edmonton rapper otherwise known as The Joe, it's easy to keep the conversation flowing: from his favourite rappers to his period of being fed up with rap, his hippie-commune childhood to his conversion to Christianity, Bob Dylan to Busdriver, or his label mates on his artist label Old Ugly. The kid is all over the place.
The hard part is keeping the energetic artist on point about the release of his upcoming record Float or Flail—even the timeline of it is hard to keep track of.
"Half that album was written in late 2006, the other half in 2008," he explains. "For that year in between , I didn't buy a rap record for eight months. I started listening to experimental hip hop and getting back into folk music from my childhood—everyone from Bob Dylan to Pantera ... so some of those songs are five years old! Those songs are good, and they're really fun to play, they have good choruses ... [2009's] Ut Oh had none of that," he points out, before adding, "Some of those songs, I just wrote verses so I had a reason to play the beats at a show. These are the songs I got popular with in Edmonton."
A quick timeline: Float or Flail was recorded in 2008, but Gurba was unable to finance its release. In order to fund FOF properly, he quickly recorded and released Ut Oh. The success of Ut Oh having paid for FOF, he's set to finally release it. Confused?
"It's a very backwards thing," Gurba confesses. "It feels like going a certain direction with Ut Oh and then having to backtrack down a road to Float or Flail ... I just wanted to show everyone I was a good rapper, so [FOF] was long rhymes, really fast, complicated flows, the content isn't as important as just showing you how good I can rap," he states, without any sense of undeserved ego.
"I like rap because there's so much room for the personality to come through. Some of the greatest musicians, their personalities are so important. If Dylan's personality wasn't there, or Bowie's, they'd be gone ... but the people who have this strong, interesting personality, they can't help but bring that out, and that's what's great about rap," he muses. "It's a vessel for personality, and that's why I think I can do well at rap. At the end of the day, I can be a good rapper or a bad rapper, it wouldn't matter. As long as I have an interesting personality, I'm not afraid to be a little vulnerable. Ultimately, I'd like to compare myself more to someone like David Bowie than ... some famous rappers." V
Fri, Jan 14 (8 pm)
With Mitchmatic, Bike Month, Raccoon Suit
Haven Social Club, $8
What The Joe was getting vibed off: 2006/'07
1. Busdriver, Fear of a Black Tangent: avant garde, intelligent, hella rhymey and nerd swagged from LA to the icy outter moons of rap originality.
2. M83, Before the Dawn Heals Us: a canon to the clouds, balancing spinning plates of austerity, elation and quietude like a russian pilgrim jesus prayer on slow burn.
3. Prefuse 73, One Word Extinguisher: bad-ass glitch hop, this record kicked my ass every time I rode public transit. I wanted nothing more than to buy beats from this genius.
4. Edan, Primitive Plus: I learned inflection from this guy. Half of Float or Flail was directly inspired by Edan's complete jettison of continuity in favour of his whatever, rap-for-fun, ethic.
5. Lady Sovereign, Vertically Challenged: I'm almost embarrassed of this one, but her little EP came out of Britain and right into my loins. All I wanted was that bass.
What The Joe gets vibed to now: how things have changed
1. Mount Eerie / The Microphones: Phil Elvrum's signature folk noir has changed the way I listen to music. So full of the elements, his music moves and breathes, transforming to greet me anew again and again.
2. múm, Finally We Are No One: My constant companion on Greyhounds, trains and aeroplanes. I want nothing more than to be lullaby'd. This is why God made múm.
3. Daniel Johnston, Songs of Pain: Childish naivety and lunatic sincerity that continues to make me question everything about art and what it means to be an artist.
4. Built To Spill, There's Nothing Wrong With Love: Sincerity, sincerity, sincerity, genuine sincerity. Corny? Perhaps at times. But oh so sincere.
5. Bob Dylan, Blonde On Blonde: Old faithful standby. I can always count on Bob's ballads to carry me out of darkness when lingering gloom clouds my periphery. Vvueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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