Written Word is a new series conducted by Blaise Radley, which asks artists to forego the free-n-easy live interview format, and take some time to consider their responses. Since the answers are all typed by the artist themselves, there is more potential for idiosyncrasies – their word is left as written.
As a musician who straddles both sides of the Atlantic, positioned somewhere between North American rap and UK hip-hop (whatever those two terms mean beyond geography), Danny Lover is a difficult artist to pin down. His lackadaisical, near passed-out delivery mixed with his hazey production style makes his music sound like a Xanax-induced dream state being strained through your speaker system, and yet there’s more to his artistry than that.
With a deep history of collaborations, from fellow Canadian Luke Luscious, to Blah Records label head Lee Scott, to folk artist Wes Murray, Lover is confounding in his diversity, whilst always remaining recognisably Danny. Ultimately though, his aural aesthetic is best explained as being Blah, a difficult to define blend of woozy beats, knowing winks and an overarching struggle to muster a fuck to give. Ahead of his new album, The Church Restaurant Official Soundtrack, I asked Danny about his headstone, reaching nirvana, and the origins of his rapper persona.
Rather than an introduction I’d like you to do a closing statement on who Danny Lover is – if you had to write out your headstone today, what would it say?
Here lies the most fly. The most ill. Put roses at his feet, didn't step on one. Danny Lover forever like the Jesus.
I’ve heard you say in previous interviews that growing up you were a big fan of Jay-Z. What did you make of 4.44?
Jigga had sweg before sweg was sweg. 4:44 was ill. As per usual.
Your music tends to have an atmosphere that is simultaneously nostalgic and otherworldly, which makes each release seem like a time capsule from a different planet. Is this a conscious decision on your part?
With the albums I let it happen as naturally as possible. I just do my thing. I can tell u it isn't really a conscious thing. The Danny sound is dependent on the 19.thou$and sound. I've been lucky to have such exclusivity. Slow ass, psych, dumb, fuck u type rap is really all I ever try to make. Sometimes magic happens and I make shit like ‘That Thunder’ by mistake.
Even on early releases like Cheese & Wine you’ve always had this slow-as-molasses vocal delivery that suits the vibe of your music to a tee – how did that develop, or have you always rapped this way?
When I linked with Luke Luscious back like 2009 he coached me into being a better emcee and helped me reconstruct the vision. We both are workhorses and he helped me develop that style. I been rapping since I was 13. It wasn't always like this. It was something we created and a style we felt explained who we are and had potential to transcend worldwide.
Beyond the obvious familial connection of your cousin Reklews, what was it about Blah records that appealed to you?
All they do is music. Every single fucking day it's music. Like me. That's important to me. The attitude is completely fuck u. Like me. Also important. And the catalogue spoke for itself.
It’s hard to imagine your music anywhere except Blah, though you were a fundamental part of (Canadian label) Vial Life records. How did the Canadian music scene help shape you?
I don't think it really did. I'm a well-oiled machine. I don't fuck with a scene man I just make my shit and keep it moving with my people.
From an outside perspective, it seems like British audiences have really taken to your style, particularly under the Blah banner. What shows out here have stood out in particular?
Everywhere I go out there people know my shit and go crazy when we rock it. It's a beautiful thing. All my time spent out there stands out. Not just the shows.
There’s a long-running narrative in hip-hop of the prefect producer-rapper one-two combo; your DJ Premier to your Guru, your Madlib to your MF DOOM. For you, that tragically seems to have been 19.thou$and (R.I.P.). What was it about his method of producing that felt so in tune with your own artistic intention?
It's simplicity. His production is simple yet it tends to sound so complex. People think they gotta have 800 sounds in a rap beat to make it sound full. I hate that approach. Motherfucker loop some shit and make a classic fuck all that other shit. 19 was a real g and just had the ear. That's it. I appreciate anything good I'm just blessed to have that sort of collection to work with.
You put out Cool Island last December with Luke Luscious, and before that you released your collaboration with Wes Murray, Career Suicide. How does it feel to be making a solo Danny record again?
Right now it feels good, I feel ready for a solo release and I feel like the fans deserve a solo release. Especially the vinyl release. I felt like I had lots to prove with this album. I'm excited for the fans and the new fans to be able to enjoy this album like I have been for the last lil while. I'm currently dead. Resurrection.
In an interview last year you described The Church Restaurant Official Soundtrack as an EP, now it’s a full blown album. What journey has this collection of tracks been on in the past 12 months?
It started as an EP called Before You Tell Me but I started to like the material a lot so I said fuck it and made it a full length. The Church Restaurant is an album concept I have had for a while and everything just seemed to fit together. The collection of songs is a gorgeous array. At times when making art I let the album just own me and make me basically go crazy for a while, but when it's finally released everything seems to wash away.
I see there’s a track on the new record called ‘Rare Nirvana’ – is that a tribute to grunge, or is it about you, Lee and Salar reaching a state of enlightenment?
'Rare Nirvana' is just some wavy stew grunge tribute I guess u could call it. We called it that so when ppl google rare nirvana songs they find it and hopefully hate us and possibly try to kill us.
If you had to sum up the new record with one convoluted, comparative simile, what would it be?
It's like getting that perfect head for the first time.
The Church Restaurant Official Soundtrack will be released, August 11, 2017