(AllHipHop Features) The city of Toronto has birthed some of the biggest hit makers over the last several years. With a new breed of artists such as Drake, The Weeknd, and Tory Lanez leading the way, “The 6” has become a hotbed for finding acts likely to takeover playlists throughout North America.
It is from that creative culture comes the four-person collective known as sideways. One of the crew’s members, Shan Vincent de Paul, formally presented himself to listeners as a solo music artist with his debut album Saviors.
The 13-track LP presents a fresh progressive Hip Hop voice that is not afraid to explore the complexities of spirituality and romanticism. In addition, SVDP employs inventive visuals to further display his avant-garde take on the world.
AllHipHop.com connected with the Sri Lanka born, Toronto based virtuoso to get his thoughts on Saviors, his hometown’s musical rise, and more. Discover some of the tunes and views of Shan Vincent De Paul.
[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Sideways Crew Member Shan Vincent De Paul Premieres One-Take "Die Iconic" Video]
How does it feel to release your debut solo album?
I'm still wrapping my head around it! I'm ecstatic to share something I've been working on for so long, but it also feels a bit strange that it doesn't belong to me anymore, it's in the people's hands now. Most of all, I just feel proud I made my debut exactly how I wanted to from top to bottom.
Why did you offer the album as a free download and as a for-purchase project?
It was just important people heard it, first and foremost. Whatever way they want to support it, that's up to them, so I just made it available on every platform possible and let them decide. I don't agree with this new shift that's happening where artists are releasing exclusively with certain companies, that's horsesh-t. If I have to subscribe to a streaming service just to listen to the album… then f-ck your album… but if it's a good album, I'll just torrent that sh-t. F-ck your feelings.
Can you explain your thoughts behind the religious/spiritual references made throughout the album?
That's something that's always been inherent in my art and music. I'm not religious, so a lot of it is just me trying to figure out my own relationship with god and spirituality. It's an ongoing conversation. I'm trying to touch on spirituality and religion in a more honest way than just presenting it as something positive all the time. I want to present both sides - the extreme darkness and the light that follows. I was brought up in a Catholic household, so church and religion were always a big part of my life, but I didn't agree with a lot of it. So the music is me figuring out religion and spirituality on my own terms.
What's the significance of the album's cover art?
That's an image that's been floating in my mind since I started writing the project. It took about four attempts to get it right, but it turned out exactly how I envisioned it. As for the significance, I'll leave that up to the audience as to how they want to read it. It's a pretty loaded image, but once you soak in the album from beginning to end, it'll make a lot more sense.
What was it like filming the "Buggin" video?
Fun as hell. I mean how often can you f-ck on camera and pass it off as a music video? It was my take on doing something super-sexual but keeping it tasteful. How do I show everything and nothing at the same time? That's what I was trying to do.
How did the sideways crew come together?
The sideways crew had already been formed when I joined them. Coleman Hell released a project called Stake Raving that La+ch, Michah, and Stretch worked on, and that was the genesis of the crew. I had met them in their hometown in Thunder Bay several years prior, so when they moved to Toronto and put out that project, I reached out and we just clicked immediately. La+ch and I worked on a few songs for the album, but that eventually led to him working on the whole project which led to me getting on board with sideways.
The Toronto music scene seems to be experiencing a strong global presence right now. What are your thoughts on the city's musical movement at the moment?
I'm proud. It's long overdue for Toronto. We got some of the best artists in the world and for people to finally realize that is amazing. I feel for a long time we were counted out. It was always about NY, LA, Atlanta, Chicago etc. Now, not only are we in the conversation, we're easily in the top three. The six baby!
Stream Saviors below.