Talk Of The Town: A Conversation with Jazz Cartier

Talk Of The Town: A Conversation with Jazz Cartier

Basically, we’re all catching up. Toronto’s Jaye Adams aka Jazz Cartier has always been a rockstar, even if he’s the only one that knew it. Following the release of Hotel Paranoia in February, it’s safe to say the rest of the world has finally caught up and whilst the 6God Drake sits atop the CN Tower, Jazz is downtown getting deep and dark.

It has literally been a year since his debut mixtape – bar a few releases in his teens – Marauding In Paradise, which led to serious hype surrounding his name. Today he’s sitting in London venue XOYO, where he’s playing a headline show, just one of the stops on his European tour before heading to festivals stateside over the summer. It’s a pretty astronomic rise, which even he admits; although he always saw it happening, just maybe not within 12 months.
He’s completely chill when we meet, definitely confident but not boastful – aside from stating he can do Kanye better than Kanye and he should have won a Grammy already. As he refers to his fellow Torontonians as being all talk and no action, he’s definitely backing up his words later that night during his show. Chi-Town’s Saba opened and without throwing too much shade had a mixed gig; his music was on point but I mean he probably shouldn’t have told the crowd they were lame and his DJ unplugging after too many mishaps was really not a good look. But Jazz, well he came out intent on setting the surprisingly half full venue alight, which he definitely did. Within the first ten minutes he had full crowd participation and his encore led to him doing his renowned crowd walk before spitting bars upside down hanging precariously from the air conditioning. A couple of days later it turns out he lost his credit card during said roof hang, the thieves cheekily booking flights to Barcelona under the names and Jazz and Lantz Cartier. He actually finds it funny; see I told you he was chill.

During our interview, we discuss the current spotlight on Toronto and jealousy within the scene; his route to becoming a seasoned performer, life sacrifices, holding back on features and his deeper cuts being overlooked. Don’t let his almost acerbic tone puzzle you when it comes to supporting his Canadian peers, Cartier tweets support of TN artists all the time but he’s not about to carry anyone either…

Firstly RIP your pet egg, he seemed to have a lot of fans on social media and then he was just gone…

I don’t know what happened, it just died on me. This time I need to give it a personality. I didn’t want to give it a soft boil the first time around because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. But after it ruined my clothes, I was like um, um, um, never again.

So you were here to play your first gig in London and we know from your HYPETRAK House of Vans SXSW show, that you go all out on performances. What was the plan for the gig?

It was crazy. That was a good show, I had just landed and that was the first show I did at SXSW; it definitely set the tone right for the whole weekend. I was pretty happy with the end result. Like tonight, I always have to eye up the scene, plus I like to do a crowd walk.

Toronto seems to have the same heat on it as London at the moment, how ingrained are you in the scene and what do you hope pushes through next?

I’m like very in it, as part of the young kids coming up, the nucleus of what’s happening. But now I’m just at a point where a lot of them hit a glass ceiling; in order to break America or internationally you have to have that extra drive. I can’t babysit everyone else.

Fair enough. But it has only been a year since your debut release Marauding In Paradise, was this what you had mapped out in your head already, to be touring the world this soon?

I didn’t know it was going to happen this fast but I definitely had it in the back of my head. Everything is always well planned and execution is definitely key. But yeah it’s only been a year, wow!

There must be a lot of jealous people out there?

Tons. Loads. Trust me. The only hate that I get is back home, like don’t get me wrong I’m adored back home but there’s obviously people that are salty that I came in with the finesse.

What do you think it is about you and your music that resonates on such a wide scale?

It’s real. For most rappers in my city, they want to be rappers; they don’t want to be themselves. I don’t tweet, I’m in the studio or I’m not taking money shots on Instagram. I got chains because I’m still a nigga at the end of the day but aside from that I’m really just me. I tweet jokes, I tweet very bad jokes that I think are funny and people just like respond to how real of a person I am.

Then the music is next level because people say the music is dark and probably think that I’m a very dark person but I’m just a very happy guy. I’ve been through dark times but now nothing fazes me, I’m just happy to be alive. There are guys that have been grinding in my city for so long and can’t even leave the country. They can’t even get a show outside the city; I’m here in London right now.

You mentioned social networks earlier what is it with the dot before your tweets?

I’ve been doing it for like the past six years. It’s just like my own identity. If somebody tweets something, you can just like scroll unconsciously past. I thought about this thing for a very long time, so everything has dots in it. Now it’s a natural thing, if I open the app, the first thing I do is like, dot.

You mentioned before that you’ve been through hard times, what are the main sacrifices you’ve made for your music?

Friendships. Relationships in general, even when I go home now, people approach me differently because they think that I’m on like some celebrity tip. I don’t care anymore, I don’t really care to go out and see the same people and engage in the same questions. ‘How have you been?’ You know how I’m doing and I know exactly what you’ve been doing. You’ve been here and you’ve been talking about your dreams for so long. People in Toronto are just talkers, no one likes to do any action.

What impact has fame had on your life, other than relationships?
If you know me, you would think that I would become a complete diva by now. Well, everyone thinks that because I told people that it was going to happen for so long, I literally envisioned it. Now that it’s happening, it’s crazy because so much has happened; I find solace knowing that I can still be myself. A lot of people that become popular they didn’t have that attention before but I had that. I know I’m a celebrity; people are just catching up now.

You’ve always known it? Are you one of those people that would perform in the mirror?

I’ve done it for ten years. I’ve literally done it for ten years, that’s why my shows are so good. Anyone’s song I could perform better than they could, I swear to you.

What’s your favourite one to do? What one do you think you could kill?

"Can’t Tell Me Nothing" by Kanye.

Why have you decided to scale back on features so much? Is that a conscious decision?

Not yet. I don’t want the perception of me to be; ‘Oh he had this feature so now blah, blah, blah.’ I’ve literally built everything right now based off me alone and I think that’s something that my mum instilled in me when I was younger. She said, ‘If you want to build your own empire, don’t ride anyone’s wave’. The thing with rappers is, you’ll meet a next rapper, they’re chill and within the first day; they want to do a track. I’m like, ‘lets just be friends first and then down the line, once we build a strong bond or an actual relationship, we can make a track’. As oppose to making music so you can get a one off and I can get a one off. It just doesn’t work like that. I work differently, I do have features that I haven’t put out but the first few projects, I wanted to establish that I did it myself.

You travelled a lot whilst growing up. How has living around the world changed the way that you view people and the world?

It’s definitely been a major impact in how I go about things. Just as a kid having to be in so many different environments, it’s hard at first but when you’re older, it makes sense. I can really go anywhere in the world and feel like I can assess any situation possible. It makes it easier to connect with people, although I’m very introverted; when I’m sober. When I’m drunk, I’m everyone’s best friend, kissing people on the cheek for sure.

Regarding videos, Opera was quite a visual feat and shot with a guerrilla style, is that the way you like to approach videos and what can we expect next?

Oh no they fucked up, they seized our Steadicam at the border, so it hindered a lot of things. But as far as videos go, I’ve got a video coming out very soon for Red Alert. That’s going to be a game changer. People say that a lot but I can really stand here and tell you that’s the case. When that drops people are going to be like, ‘Jazz is not fucking around’. Let it be known.

What are your tour essentials?

I need boxers. I have over like 40 pairs of boxers just because…

So there’s no turning them inside out?

Nooooo. That is gross. Never. Boxers and a phone charger, plus podcasts on the phone are very essential. I’ve been into this podcast called Serial, for most of this ride and then A Skeptics Guide To Conspiracy, Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know, Stuff Mom Never Told You, Myths And Legends. I’ve got to massage the brain at all times. Usually when I’m touring it’s just airport, hotel, sleep, venue, so I don’t really need that much.

Given your latest release Hotel Paranoia, what makes you paranoid?

The future. [I have a plan] but things can run off course, that got me sumthin’ paranoid. A lot can get me paranoid, there’s like an uncertainty with doing music, people can forget you very easily. You can put out a mixtape and two weeks later, people want more. It’s weird.

Talk us through your Black and Misguided. Because it’s the song that stops me in my tracks every time I play Hotel Paranoia.

I feel like that’s a very underrated record. I don’t feel like it got enough love, as it should have; that song itself should have won a Grammy. I think I was in New York and I was watching the news, which I never normally do. They were saying something about some black male on TV and they were stereotyping him; then I got the idea and concept of Black and Misguided. I went back home and told [long standing producer] Lantz I have this idea but we have to hit them over the head with this song. Make it sound like a turn up song and get them but we have to make it deep. That’s one of my favourite songs. I don’t listen to it a lot because when I do, I have it on replay for the whole day. Just because of the different elements of it, the storyline and the writing of it and depicting all of the different family members. I really feel like that’s probably like one of my most standout records. If you know the record, you know how hard it bangs.

What is one thing that people should know about you?

I am not perfect.

@JazzCartier is currently touring Europe and Hotel Paranoia is out now. Watch his new, virtual reality-inspired video for "Red Alert/100 Roses" here.