Erica Dee is no stranger to the West Coast Bass Scene. Whether hosting the hip hop showcase at Shambhala, performing at a local club or headlining festivals in Canada and the US, she’s been a busy woman. Last year she self released her introductory Golden, featuring a musical journey through hip hop, soul and disco. She’s produced tracks with the Fungineers, DJ Numark and a Tribe Called Quest to name a few of the powerhouses.
AYNiB was pleased to sit down with her at Shambhala 2012 to talk with her about what Shambhala and Nelson means to her, working with DJ NuMark in LA and her future plans.
Thanks for sitting down with All you need is Bass, we really appreciate it.
E: For sure!
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]it’s my 4th year booking, running and stage-managing it [Hip-Hop Showcase][/quote] How’s your Shambhala going?
E: Amazing! Every year it just gets so much better.
AYNIB: The hip-hop showcase was good!
E: Yeah the hip-hop showcase was great this year! I think it’s my 4th year booking, running and stage-managing it. This year they opened the stage up at the Village so we got to do the live band thing, which added a whole new element to the hip-hop showcase, which was really fun. And with the break-dancers, instead of on the floor we had them on the stage as well, so that was cool. I’m really happy with how it went. It was great!
AYNIB: It’s good now that the Village has the whole bigger stage area that maybe more bands and larger acts can come out. Rather than having to pull the old rickety stage back and forth.
E: Exactly, yeah yeah I used to have hard time jumping between the bass bins and the stage back in the day.
You grew up in Nelson?
E: That’s right.
But, you’re not from Nelson?
E: No, I was born in Boston, Massachusetts. When I was 3 my Father, Mom, Sister and I – we all moved to Nelson because my Dad was starting the music program at Selkirk College. They were all teaching at Berkley and they moved to Nelson to start the College.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I’ve been coming to Shambhala since I was 11 years old.[/quote] Then really it’s sort of been a family affair with Shambhala because didn’t Shambhala donate some money to Selkirk College?
E: Yes that’s true they did. They just invested back into their performance space. So, that’s pretty awesome as well. But yeah, I’ve been coming to Shambhala since I was 11 years old.
So, Shambhala is like home to you?
E: Yeah, exactly. I remember the first year I was here there was only 2 stages and 2 food vendors. I came up with my Mom’s friend. I was like the little kid. I remember when the hip-hop showcase used to be at the Rockpit Stage and Dayleen used to help run it. She’s a little break dancer girl – and my first time I ever got on a mic at Shambhala was probably 2000… maybe a bit later than that 2002 or 2003. And I got to do a little spoken word accapella thing there. And then it’s just been a really beautiful process.
Growing up in Nelson, being a solo vocalist MC and having the DJ rave alternative music scene be my platform, my culture and my experience – it’s been really really good. I definitely have a family here – Sara and Hula have helped me to get on the stage and to do all the things. I just remember them handing me a mic at that first hip-hop showcase. And since then I just kept trying and trying to perform at Shambhala and one year – Sara Spicer – Lion S from the beach stage – she just was like – “I’m going to give you a talent pass y’know and you can sing whenever you want to sing or don’t sing or whatever – just do your thing.” And I basically was so excited to have a laminate with my picture on it, and I performed 5 times that year. That was the year that Skream was here and it was the first time I ever experienced dubstep music and it was just epic. Basically, after that I was contacting Jeremy from the Village being like “ Can I perform at the hip hop showcase, can I do this, can I do that?” and he’s like “You know, how do you feel like just working the hip hop showcase and running it?” And I was like “uhhh yeah!”
So, the first year I had a tiny budget and I just made it happen. We had Maestro Fresh West as our headliner.
AYNIB: That’s a pretty good headliner for your first year!
E: The first year I did it, yeah.
And so it just kind of got more and more epic after that. And each year, you know I get ideas and more different innovative ways to have crowd participation and make people feel involved.
It’s always awesome down at the hip-hop showcase. Is that how you met Nu-Mark? I saw a video online of you working with him.
E: I actually met Nu-Mark on a tour with my project Luscious Beats – which is me and Melissa M3 from Wasabi collective. We were playing this crazy music festival in the middle of Golden – or something like that – and it was -40 out and NuMark was on before us. If it wasn’t for him I would’ve left and not performed but he ended up going on before us. And then we rocked our set after him and he was so excited – he was reaching from around me and doing the cuts on the mixer. Cuz I was DJ’ing, rapping and singing. He just loved us and we basically just started building from there. He invited us down to work with him down in his studio and that’s when we recorded that track with J-Live.
AYNIB: That’s pretty outstanding. How was that whole experience? Was it in LA?
E: In LA yes. I’ve been actually living in LA for the last year and a half.
AYNIB: That’s a bit different from Nelson. How’s that treating you?
E: Very different.
How did you get hooked up with the Fungineers?
E: That’s also a really great story. The first time I ever played the Sunshine Coast – that’s where their headquarters is – I taught a vocal workshop. Kyrian and Jody – Jefe’s wife who’s one of the Fungineers – and Tao – the other head Fungineers. They all attended my vocal workshop and they all loved it. They came to my show and then invited me over to their studio, which is called the Dreamberry. It’s awesome; it’s like a movie music studio.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Working with the Fungineers is awesome because it just gives me an opportunity to be really experimental and fun.[/quote]AYNIB: I’ve seen videos of it, it seems pretty intense in there!
E: Yeah, and we just started building from there. It’s been great. We’ve actually played a bunch of shows in the States together. We played at a festival called Lightining in a Bottle and a festival called Symbiosis with James Black and Little Dragon. So, that was really cool.
Working with the Fungineers is awesome because it just gives me an opportunity to be really experimental and fun. As a vocalist and a singer and an MC I really don’t have an EGO or a certain thing when it comes to being silly or serious. I just express. So, to be able to hook up with the Fungineers and really just dive into my creative wacky side, it’s been really good for me.
Symbiosis – you there this year? Didn’t they have an eclipse there?
E: That’s right.
AYNIB: Wasn’t Tipper playing the eclipse? Did you check it out?
E: I don’t think I checked out Tipper actually. That music is a little too weird for me. But it was definitely happening.
E: Thank you, Thank you so much!
AYNIB: The thing I like about it is that you self produced it and have the pay what you want model out there. How did that all work out? I see that becoming more prevalent in the scene. Rather than having record labels direct what we want to hear – why don’t we create our own thing and our own scene and release it. How has it worked out?
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I really just wanted to put out this really positive, empowering – more youth focused record – that captured the golden era of hip-hop.[/quote] E: Yeah, basically what Golden was is it gave me an opportunity to kind of block my history before I moved to LA. I’ve been writing and rapping and singing more seriously since I was 16 – so 9 years. The whole intention behind Golden was to put something together by myself without somebody coming in from the outside and trying to tell me what to do or how I should sound. And a lot of those songs I wrote when I was 15 or 16 years old. I really just wanted to put out this really positive, empowering – more youth focused record – that captured the golden era of hip-hop. That’s why I called it Golden. And just showcase who I am before I go on the next step. So, that was more just like a free mix tape that I threw together and I took my own money to invest in getting someone to record me here in Vancouver and put that together before I moved to LA.
AYNIB: I love it. It’s awesome. That’s the thing these days; you gotta stay true to yourself. People want to hear what you want to say; it shouldn’t be the other way around.
E: Yeah yeah – some of the most beautiful things that anyone’s ever said to me was:
[box]“When you’re confused about your music and you’re having a hard time trying to understand it or put it into a certain direction, you just have to remember that: If it makes you feel good there’s a million other people out there in the world that are just like you and it’s going to make them feel good too. So you just gotta stay true to your heart and what feels right.”[/box]
What’s in the future for you?
E: I’m super excited because just over the past year I’ve been focusing on producing my own music. Golden was a really good example of me showcasing all the different producers that I’ve worked with. And now I’m taking my own original production and I’m going to get it co-produced and put out on an EP or full-length album by 2013. Basically, I’m taking my own style, my own genre, and really going to showcase who Erica Dee is without having anybody tell me this is a pop record, or this is a hip-hop record, or this or that. The vibe I’m going for is electronic soul with world rhythms.
So, it should be really good. It’s almost like new wave gospel, very empowering, uplifting, positive, soulful, electronic music
Do you have any collaborations your working on or anything new on the horizon?
E: Yes I have a project called Minkxy Jones with the girl Honey that I performed with today. She’s originally from Vancouver – but she’s been living in LA with me for the past year and a half. We actually just got back from a full tour in Brazil.
Brazil eh? How was it?
E: Incredible! Changed my life forever. Super beautiful, the passion, the music, the food, the dancing, and the people and all those things. And as far as the rhythms go as well – musically – it’s very inspiring for me to be there as well.
AYNIB: Where did you stay in Brazil?
E: We did San Paulo, Rio, Brasilia – and a few smaller spots in between. But that was the major cities that we hit.
AYNIB: Were you singing? Or traveling?
E: Singing, DJ’ing, MC’ing, doing a bunch of random awesome different shows.
AYNIB: Any plans to go to Asia, Europe, India or anything like that?
E: I’ve actually talked about all those places with a different people so hopefully all of the above.
There are lots of things going on the Internet right now about artist riders. Do you have anything crazy or special that you want to share?
E: I’m pretty random I just like healthy food. I put kettle corn and ginger beer, tea and honey. Nothing too crazy.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]My main intention behind my music is to bring light and love and happiness to people.[/quote] That’s about it, thank you. Anything else you want to cover?
E: Just like with the EP and everything I’m redesigning my live set cuz at the moment I DJ and Sing and MC. I really want to run a full live PA set where I’m playing my own. Because I play keys, synth, drum loops and all that stuff and I’d really love to be doing all that on stage while I perform. Keep it moving, keep it positive.
I definitely have a lot of different projects and ideas in mind for the future as far as connecting my music with global issues and things that are happening in different places all over the world. Working with women’s shelters and youth centers in Brazil and things like that. My main intention behind my music is to bring light and love and happiness to people. I really feel like the West Coast electronic music rave scene is a really good place because it’s a place a lot of people come to have an escape or some truth to their everyday life. I think it’s a really powerful thing to have a good message and good intention that you stand for. And I think that I’m supported immensely by my community and I’m definitely in the right place at the right time. I feel very fortunate to be here.
AYNIB: Well we’re fortunate to hear you! I think that as an artist – one thing that electronic music has been lacking – is people to get people up there and help guide. Bassnectar used to come up and have a little speech here and it was great. You’re in a position that you can help guide people with a positive message and you should use this platform as much as you can, absolutely.
E: Yeah it’s true. Especially when you know a lot of people are high and in their most vulnerable state. A classic example is when I played a rave and I noticed there’s a lot of younger kids and nobody was drinking water. So, I started rapping about drinking water over a house beat. I was like:
[box]”When I say drink, you say water. Drink – Water – drink – water! Water is the juice of your future.”[/box]
And I just watched all the teenagers just handing their water bottles around and listening to what I was saying and I was like “thank you!” this is exactly what we need right now.
I think it’s really important for DJ’s to do that too and not to get lost in the ego. Because it’s really easy for us to get carried away and how much money we’re making at festivals and our fans and everything like that. But we have to remember to give back to our fans and a lot of kids are needing guidance right now. I feel that the rave scene has changed immensely – especially in Nelson – since I was a teenager. I felt really safe and I didn’t really feel like I needed to do any hardcore intense chemical drugs. And I feel there’s a lot of kids out here doing that now and they’re not quite experienced and have the support and the community that can help them to make sure they’re doing it safe.
AYNIB: We were all ravers once, right? We still are!
E: I definitely feel like I am still a raver.
AYNIB: Everyone who’s performing now started that way.
We really appreciate you setting aside the time, thank you very much.
Be sure to Check out Erica Dee along with Honey Larouche as Minkxy Jones!
For More Info on Erica Dee:
|Name Your Price and get the Golden Album here.|