After speaking with Erik Flowchild for an hour, the Brampton, Ontario born artist remains very laid back with his answers, but warns that he, “turns it to a different beast on stage.” In his mind, the blueprint of his career is already mapped. For example, he shares an example of having mentioning the title of his 2014 released mixtape, Child’s Play, in a 2010 interview. The almost 25-year-old rising star is gearing up his second appearance on the #BigTicket stage, this time as part of the event’s two-year anniversary. It’s just another planned move on the journey of his career.
WHAT DID YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT RECORDING CHILD’S PLAY? I think Child’s Play was like an opportunity for me to understand myself as an artist. I enjoyed discovering myself through that project in a sense. I learned how to record better than before. I’ve mixed and mastered almost the entire project. My favourite thing for sure was the fact that I discovered a lot of talents within myself that I already had, but Child’s Play was the way for me to execute that. I was pretty much the executive producer and I took a lot of the music and I was able to dissect it, arrange it and got people to add instruments. It all came from me.
I THINK THE SONG “I MEAN BUSINESS” REALLY SETS THE TONE FOR THE PROJECT. That was something I planned on doing. I didn’t try to make something that would hit you right away; this is literally an emotional journey. This is something I’m here to do. It’s funny because I hear a lot of people tell me they want more of “I Mean Business” and I understand that people just want me to go off, but I try and use art as a tool for myself. If I’m making music for me, but I know people are listening, I have to find the middle ground.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE REACTIONS TO THE PROJECT? It’s been mixed, but I’ll tell you that I expected that. The project definitely stands out for some people; they say it has more of a classy record than a lot of hip-hop out there. I think what they really mean to say is that it sounds more mature and the content is so true to my life, almost to the point where some people don’t like it. A lot of the project is talking about things I’ve gone through and things I plan on doing. Some people really don’t want to hear that, they just want to hear music that makes them feel good about themselves, but I tried to make this project for the people who tried to get to know me.
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT PERFORMING ON STAGE? I love the idea of people really understanding what I try to say on wax. When people listen to my music they may or may not feel me in that moment because it’s just a recording, but when I’m on stage, the way I articulate my thoughts and rhymes, this is my opportunity to get you to understand what I meant what I wrote. I like to think that I’m a very good performer on stage or at least I’m very aware that what I’m doing is a performance.
HAVE YOU STUDIED YOUR PERFORMANCES AND TRIED TO FIND ERRORS TO CORRECT? For sure. I know that I could be a top performer. I’m still trying to find a way to give myself more control on the stage. As soon as I touch the stage something happens where everything I told myself I would do in terms of voice control, keeping calm and trying to be cool, it leaves for some strange reason. I think the more I perform, the better I’ll get at that.
WHEN YOU’RE ON THE STAGE, WHAT EMOTIONS OR THOUGHTS ARE GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND? I’m wondering what I want to communicate to the audience. It’s weird, but I’m not there to make the audience happy, I’m there to make the audience aware of what I’m going through and because I consider myself an artist, I have a hard time going to different spaces and performing because the audience might not be susceptible to that. The other thing I think about is the lyrics, I’m actually worried constantly that I’ll forget the lyrics to my songs. I would never want to be the person who comes off very unprofessional and I don’t know the lyrics to my songs.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME YOU PERFORMED IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE? I remember the first time it mattered. It was grade nine and I did the performance for a Black History assembly. I think there were 2,000 people in my high school. It was my first attempt at letting people know I was an emcee. Being in grade nine, you’re technically the bottom of the food chain and I just tried to make people understand that I’m somebody with talent who would be worth having around. It was crazy because I remember going on stage to audition and I stood there with my eyes closed just rapping this Black History rap hoping that once I open my eyes I would still be alive. The reception was “Oh! You’re actually kind of talented.” That’s when I realized I could do this.
I think that people need to see Erik Flowchild at 25 because what their perspective is of me is probably wrong. Whatever they might have heard or whatever image they may have, 80 per cent of the time you’re wrong.
YOU’RE PERFORMING FOR THE JULY #BIGTICKET AND IT ACTUALLY FALLS ON YOUR BIRTHDAY. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE COME OUT AND SEE YOU? I think that people need to see Erik Flowchild at 25 because what their perspective is of me is probably wrong. Whatever they might have heard or whatever image they may have, 80 per cent of the time you’re wrong. I don’t want to send people music anymore, I want them to see me on stage and if they do, I think that night will be a way for me to connect with the city.
YOU HAVE A SONG CALLED “BOUT TIME”, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT’S ABOUT TIME US PEOPLE START DOING? I think it’s about time we take control of our lives. I still think it’s something that happens too often. Day by day I talk to people that seem to be stuck in a rut or stuck in work that they don’t want to be a part of. People are scared to be entrepreneurs and live out dreams. It sounds corny, but it’s true. When you’re an artist and you look at the world a certain way and say, “I’m going to do what I want,” when you see people not doing that, it’s weird. It doesn’t mean you have to be an artist, I think collectively as a culture people have to change. It could be something as simple as going to the gym.
Catch Erik Flowchild at the 2-Year Anniversary celebration of The Big Ticket, July 11, inside Toronto’s Wrongbar (1279 Queen St. W.).
Interview By. Cameron Da Silva + Photos By. Janelle Scott-Johnson