Exiled from his native Iran and establishing roots between Toronto and Vancouver, enigmatic rapper, Vashy, draws inspiration from his close encounters with the Third Kind. Making music for the people, while striving to stay away from a 'conscious rap' label, Vashy's experiences have evolved into sharp bars that merge social and political. Yet, he doesn't take things too seriously.
Vashy's forthcoming debut album, For The Aliens, is his inaugural release via Bedroomer. Collaborating with producer, Fil Jackson, with Hudson Alexander at the mix & master helm, the album is a a diverse mixture of jovial, witty lyricism that simultaneously features commentary on current world issues, geographical references, hoop dreams and a vast menu of jazzy, funky samples.
Today, you'll get a sample of the record through our exclusive premiere of his video for "Mumble Rap," and an interview with Vashy - attempting to get to know this mysterious artist a little better before the big album drop on June 29th.
Watch "Mumble Rap" and read our interview with Vashy below.
BanTOR Radio: You’re heavily inspired by The Third Kind – do you feel a direct correlation to your own status as an ‘alien’ in the country?
Vashy: Every day, planet earth reminds me that I am an alien. From the way I look, act, speak, think, smell, fuck, and write lyrics.
White Canada imposes itself on every aspect of this nation – often unknowingly. As an alien, your first instinct is to attempt assimilation. The next reaction is to hate oneself. I’ve grown into accepting and thriving as an alien walking amongst men and women of your planet.
You were caught by the Iranian government using ancient Persian technology to communicate with ‘distant civilizations’ – what kinds of mediums were you using and what information did you exchange in your correspondence?
Despotic governments hate the power of love. I used ancient sexual power and herbal concoctions to channel the voice of my people. I used that voice to bridge the gap to the aliens beyond us and amongst us. The main medium is sexual power. The chosen information is freedom.
Have you, or the aliens, drawn from the works of notable Iranian poets like Rumi, Omar Khayyam, Ferdowsi, Sepheri, etc.? Is any of their influence channeled through your work?
Each one of those men is a legend in his own right. I am impressed by your question.
But yeah, I fuck with them.
How has the making of For The Aliens helped you explore and understand your own identity?
I didn’t even know the mics were on. I was talking to myself one day and Fil Jackson recorded my stream of consciousness. Now they tell me a record was born and I need to do interviews.
I speak to myself in an effort to navigate and meditate through my mind. The word “identity” is a lie. The undisciplined mind clings to a shapeless form in an effort to escape the fear of true nothingness. I have become one with the nothing and everything.
My thoughts, words, actions, habits, actions, words, and thoughts contract and retract through the central consciousness that unites us all. Through my lyrics, I make sense of what the fuck is going on along the way.
Your collab with Kool A.D. on Drunk Freestyles in Greece is super fluid, sonically and socially. How did the two of you connect?
Apparently, Fil Jackson threatened Mr. A.D.’s family with death until they gave us his last known location. Turns out he was posted up in some smelly studio in Glendale, C.A.
Filip ran into the studio and put a gun in his mouth until he sang like a canary.
Next thing you know, Kool A.D. gave the kid a hot verse.
Growing up, what kind of access did you have to hip hop music? Which sounds did you first discover?
I remember smoking marijuana with a human boy in 2005. We were in his mom’s dimly lit apartment eating butter chicken. He put in “Twinz” by Big Punisher. That was a big moment for me.
Access was never a problem for me. The interweb changed everything. The real problem is having too much access. Most dimwitted artists don’t have the curiosity, intelligence, or taste to see the immense musical canon in front of them. I had to train my ear to seek only the highest calibre of spit game.
I’ve stolen a lot from true geniuses of rap. Way too many to mention. Shout out to Pretty Tony.
There is a dark, brooding foundation of the music, combining a serious tone focused on the socio-political, yet complimented in contrast by jovial lyricism, sly rhymes. The juxtaposition paves way to an anti-conscious conscious rap style that gets the message across – what drives you to combine these elements, while aiming to refrain from a straight ‘conscious rap’ label?
Your question is dope and poignant.
All souls trapped within the human shell are “anti-conscious conscious”. Our deep spiritual insight is inexorably linked to our tendency for primordial hedonism.
When I speak, I seek to understand the dynamic between the shallow and the deep. The societally aware and the inwardly focused. My love for love and my hate for hate. NBA basketball and vegetables. It’s all a product of meditation.
The way you conceal your identity bridges Canadian and Iranian culture – your mask is a mosaic-tapestry fabric of sorts, like Persian tiles (it’s also the album artwork) and you don a fur trapper hat. You were taken in as a refugee by a family of Toronto raccoons upon arriving in Canada, who introduced you to the city and GTA. How did you piece the two items together, and what do they symbolize to you?
Persian culture is the foundation of everything I do, despite the surface content and media that are expressed through my soul. The symbols engrained into Persian culture are more advanced than anything in Canada, due to their ancient roots and special herbs.
After I got kicked the fuck out of Iran, our spaceship landed in the Annex. We arrived as refugees and were taken in by the only other group with a comparable level of societal disregard – racoons.
The racoons eat scraps, yell at people, and fuck. My understanding of Toronto life is nothing more, nothing less.
As your debut release, and Fil Jackson’s inaugural via Bedroomer, what practices did you employ in the creative/production process with Fil and Hudson Alexander?
Fil broke into my apartment and recorded me in the shower. I don’t know a Hudson.
Vince Carter, ACC, Caplansky’s, JCC (Miles Nadal Community Centre), Bloor Street, Oakville – how has the Toronto/GTA landscape, both culturally and physically, influenced your sound?
Toronto culture survives on symbiotic relationship between humility and arrogance. The people, places, and things I love about Toronto have a combination of the two.
My words navigate through and with the culture of my people – Torontonians and Persians. Physically, the city of Toronto and its bountiful restaurants have fed me well. In turn, I have developed a satisfactorily large penis. That keeps me pretty happy.
Best Barbari in Iran/Toronto/ Vancouver? Go.
The best Barbari I ever had was in Mogadishu, summer of 2002. I was walking down Jidka Isbartiimadda and a small dark woman beckoned me into a narrow alley. She was wearing a purple jelly hijab so I knew she was real. I asked her for her name. She wouldn’t say. Somehow, it appears she knew of my affinity for Persian loaf. She took me to the side of a dilapidated building and we went up the fire escape on to the third floor.
We walked into a small time bakery that was doubling as a black tar heroin lab. A Persian guy was running the show. He was wearing a sweaty wife beater with brown stains all over it. He must have been 6’4, 300 pounds, rocking a gold chain with curly mounds of chest hair popping through the links.
Long story short, he gave me a few bags of Barbari, Sangak and Heroin to go. Best I ever had.