Earlier this year I caught myself in a rabbit hole of Canadian music and through my travels of our northern neighbors creative scenes I quickly stumbled upon 17-year-old artist JT Soul who followed up a talented January full-length with a healthy three-song offering over the summer months. While we’re passionate about bringing you the latest going on in Chicago, we’re also careful to keep an eye outward on the artists, acts and whatnot making noise elsewhere that might make it to town sometime soon. Without further ado, I give you Montreal’s own, JT Soul.
Mild Sauce • What’s it like coming out of Montreal?
There’s definitely a big fanbase, especially in Montreal of just French people. When we make the music, you have to make sure that French people can relate to it the same as English people because I come from Montreal and I’m bilingual.
We’re the only ones in Canada that speak English/French so, let’s say we make a hit, I know English people can relate, but I always have to look out for the Quebec-ers, the people from Quebec. The people from my area. I guess that’s how we go about it, knowing how to make the hit like on both sides.
Not at first but I was always very versatile and diverse in my music taste. I’m from Montreal and here we’re bilingual, and there’s so many different nationalities and so many different vibes, music is everywhere. I guess I was just drawn naturally. We do have a really cool scene in Montreal that doesn’t get a lot of exposure.
Mild Sauce • There’s a definite dance influence on your sound, was that a movement that struck you?
It really did. As soon as we got that electronic vibe we were like let’s keep the vibe because we have a lot of good producers in the city that are electronic in a way. I guess it really did suit the vibe of the Montreal sound. Yeah the scene in Montreal is not exposed at all. We have a lot of good artists, but then there are a lot of artists that are not as good. That’s really it.\
Mild Sauce • What’s it like coming out of Montreal, what’s the scene like up there?
I guess we’re from the north, it’s very cold here so I’d say the sound is super, not RnB, but RnB. Really a lot of RnB are from Canada, like The Weekend or Justin Beiber. I feel like the scene from the north would be very RnB like, but from Montreal there’s rappers. I’d say it’s really straight to the point kind of rap. That’s why there’s no particular sound when a rapper raps. That was the problem as to why rap hasn’t really been big in Montreal at all. There’s no real particular sound.
One of my good friend artist, he produced the whole album by the way, when he raps he has an amazing sound. Something I can really fuck with. He has this super Cudi vibe, kind of ego trip of cool sounds. Really about the ambiance it gives you. Then there’s rappers like Wazoo who just spit. He just wants to rap so he gets on a crazy beat by, let’s say a guy from Montreal, and he just raps on it with his sort of southern flow.
When I try to get it down to one sound, I can’t say there really is one. There’s just rappers. There’s just so many types of rappers her, but at the same time there isn’t, there’s more vibe/RnB artists like YenDo.
I don’t think there’s a particular sound. If you would come to the scene you would hear very very different artists and they all have their own influences. Same goes for me. I sound super super different than everyone in Montreal. Every artist that I respect in the city or that shapes the scene in Montreal are all super different to me. I haven’t seen one that was a good match or something. I think that’s good.
Mild Sauce• What’s your background in music, how’d you develop your sound?
I was really raised on RnB music. I was raised with women, like I have an older sister and my dad wasn’t really around so I was with my mom and my sister. My sister really put me onto music in general, Chris Brown, Sean Kingston…by the way I’m 17 years old, I’m about to be 18 next month, so I’m still very young.
I was raised on RnB. Plus my mom was super into alternative RnB and rock like Duran Duran and like old school vocals. Then there’s the newer stuff my sister put me onto. I was really into that until high school or the end of elementary and then I got into hip-hop like, “Fuck this is changing my life. Fuck this singing shit.”
I got onto an artist like Em. Then I got onto Kid Cudi and Kendrick Lamar. If you talk about old heads I was really into Wu-Tang and Biggie. When I rap hard you can kind of tell, you can hear my New York influence because I was really influenced by New York music. There was a point where all I listened to was Mob Deep and Nas. Then I had artists like Cudi and Kendrick and Kanye. Guys who made music. Guys who rapped but made music. Not just there to rap.
That’s where it all came together for me. I was raised on RnB, on New York rap and then more conceptual music like Cudi and Kendrick and Kanye. I was super into rock also so I have so many influences. That’s what made me, I was into alternative rock like the Chili Peppers and Led Zepplin, The Beatles. That’s my background. Really all those RnB/alternative rock and rap.
Mild Sauce • Tell us a bit about the music you have coming.
We started working on the project about when I finished high school last year. I had the whole 372 idea. I made the first song, Velvetiers. As soon as I made that I knew what the album was going to be about. So we made that around last May and then we finished in November. we got it mastered. We had it for a while, maybe a good seven month process. Maybe a year if anything. Now that it’s out I’m really happy because I was able to perfectly put out my vision and what I wanted to on the album.
With the reception, I would say it could be doing a lot better, but at the same time it’s good because you’ve heard it and I’m so grateful that it got some type of reception. I guess it’s good for Montreal. A lot of people here definitely heard my album, a lot of good and respected artists came to me and said, “Yo that’s good man. Keep working, you’re 17 years old you’re still young.” I feel like the reception was good but it’s only going to get better when I drop my second project.
Mild Sauce • There’s a certain maturity to your production, is that something you’ve heard?
It just happens. I never really looked at it like that until people started telling me, “Your music speaks way more age than you are.” A lot of people were telling me that. I feel like people underestimated me but yeah it came naturally, the maturity.
The way I write to me is a certain way. I wrote a specific way that I’ve always wanted to write to get my message across perfectly.
Mild Sauce • Do you take advantage of being bilingual?
Not really, I’m actually not too good at French. Like I’m good at French, but not that good. If you would speak with the French people I’m with they could speak fluently but I’m like, “Je n’ai sais pas.” I could get around, but I can never get a full on full on conversation. All the artists I know that speak English never use a French word ever so I think I’m going to keep it that way. I don’t really look at myself as a French artist either.
I guess in life writing I do it. But in music not really.
Mild Sauce • What’s Next?
You can definitely expect another tape out soon. I’m not going to name the name yet either because I’m still iffy about it and we’re still putting the songs together for it, but yeah there is this tape. I’ve recorded most of it already.
Yeah, it’s a whole different sound. I used to be in a group with the guy from Tommy’s Interlude? I used to just rap initially, I didn’t really sing. I’d always sing by myself and shit, but I was like, “I’m not going to get on a song and sing until I go solo.” So I guess my original plans were, when I drop my original single that has singing and stuff they’d be like, “Oh why aren’t you rapping?” and now my new fans only know me as a singer. So I want to kind of bring back my rap and show my new fans that I rap, you know? Show my whole fans I can still rap. Show my new fans that I am also a rapper. I was bumping some Nas, some Wu-Tang, some real rap artists so now I’m going to show my real rap side for my next project. That’s the next step. Most importantly there will be a follow up with me singing again because I’m going to be doing that forever, making the music that I like making. It’s super different, I feel like I’m a lot of different people in the songs. If you listen to my album you’ll think a different person is on every song.