music / Columns

411 Music Interview: Madchild

February 2, 2015 | Posted by Bill Rock

Madchild from Swollen Members has seen his ups and downs in recent years, having lost millions of dollars as well as falling out of the spotlight within the hip hop world. He has somehow managed to get his life back in order and with that, has begun to climb his way back into prominence. During his latest tour, we had the chance to sit down with Madchild and discuss his recently released Switched On EP, his upcoming album Silver Tongued Devil distributed by Sony and Universal, his upcoming album with Evidence, his preparation for his upcoming battle at KOTD Blackout 5, as well as giving an update on the Supreme Villain album with Slaine and so much more!

 

You are currently tour with Demrick on the Switched On tour. You have done a couple shows now, how has the response been to the tour so far?

 

Madchild: It’s been amazing actually. I sort of realized after we set the tour up that this is the worst time of the year to tour, because it’s after Christmas and after New Years. Everybody is partied out and has spent all their money. It’s cold out and everybody has been parting for two weeks straight so it is a tough time to tour. Vancouver was a little lighter then I was hoping for. One of my better shows in Vancouver would mean that the Commodore is sold out, for example, the venue we played there was like 400 people so I was a little disappointed. It was like one of those shows that were at 9 o’clock and then it turned in to a dance club. But then Kelowna was sold out and then fort McMurray was sold out and then last night Edmonton was packed so I have been really, really happy with the results overall.

 

You are touring in support of your recent EP, Switched On, which you released in September 2014. What has been the response to that release been so far?

 

Madchild: People liked it a lot and it was very well received. We put it out as an EP, but it was more like a full length album. I just people to get big bang for their buck. I just feel like I am really lucky that I still get the support that I do from my fans when it is so easy to download music for free. When fans go out and support and buy my music that really means a lot to me so I want to make sure that I give the very best I can when selling a product. Even though we called it an EP, there was an album worth of music on there. It was great, even though I am a veteran as part of Swollen Members, I’m a relatively new artist as Madchild, and I have only really been around 2.5 years as a solo artist. My first album is creeping its way to going gold in Canada, with Dope Sick and was considered by my fans, without making myself sound too confident, an underground masterpiece. I put out another album just to keep things rolling called Lawnmower Man as my second album. It did really well but it felt as though it wasn’t as well received and the reason for that simply was that I made that album in 14 days. I spent over a year making Dope Sick, so it was a masterpiece as far as what I felt artistically. Then I made Lawnmower Man in 14 days, a song a day, bang, bang , bang and put it out. It was very consistent as far as the sound.

 

Switched On was just a collection of songs that I put together because I have just been stacking songs for me next masterpiece. I think that it is really important that my next album…. I just want to keep doing better. That’s the whole thing. It is no secret that I am 39 years old. I’m no spring chicken. It’s no secret that I’m not a little kid, but I have a young mind and a young heart and I have the hunger of a young artist. I live and I set my life up, so I can live that way. It takes a lot to structure your life to be able to work on music 16 hours a day. My focus is fiercer then it has ever been and I have to be honest with you with Swollen Members I never pushed myself lyrically to be the best that I could be. Now as a solo artist that is my goal to be the best lyricist on the planet. That is just my goal in life and it is as simple as that.

 

I think it [Switched On] was very well received, I just handpicked some songs from a whole bunch of records that I have ready to go for my next album, and I think people dug it. It was cool, it was a little more serious, it was a little more not as fast paced, not as hyper as Lawnmower Man. It was a little bit more…I don’t want to say the word, because I hate that word…. boom bap…I don’t really know how to explain it. It had a little more substance to it.

 

You are currently preparing the release of your next album, Silver Tongued Devil, which is slated to be released in the Spring/Summer. Can you give an update on the status of that album?

 

Madchild: Superbeast… I changed it to Silver Tongued Devil. I don’t want to get people confused. Switched On is the name of an EP that just came out, it is actually the length of an album, my next release is going to be called Silver Tongued Devil and I have been shouting out Superbeast for a while so thank you for paying attention and doing your homework. Superbeast will come out. But I want my next album to be Silver Tongued Devil, and it is just as simple as the art is already done by one of my favorite artists. I commissioned a piece of art and I am not going to announce it yet, but it is one of my favorite artists. So I commissioned him, I gave him the idea, he made a canvas, which will be a cover for the album and I bought the art from him to add to my collection. I am starting to collect art and I collect furniture, I’m in to that culture. That was just basically the reason, I wanted this to be the next big thing to come out. I have a big deal with Sony in Canada, even though it is coming out through Battle Axe, I have a deal with Sony in Canada and a deal with Universal in America. There is one big deal on the table, where I can continue to put out records independently, with Battle Axe through distribution like we did with Switched On, just put it out and let it do its thing. Or we can get the machine behind it and really try to get one in the net and maybe get a gold record again or something like that.

 

I’m not trying to make any radio hits, or throw any curve ball or any bullshit. I’ve learned my lesson in life to just do what I love and if people accept it that’s great. It’s going to be, if you are a Madchild fan, it is going to be me at my purest rawest form. But I have come up with some things that I think are me thinking outside of the box and going to the next level. If you ever get to a wall, you just got to break that wall down and keep going, and I feel like I have come up with some conceptual songs that will really connect with people and that is something that I have been showing and improving my lyrical ability so much that I came to this realization that I also want to make music that people can connect with. I know a lot of people connect with my story. Every night that I do shows, I get emails and texts and tweets about how my life story has helped change other people’s lives. With my sobriety and what I went through. I don’t do a whole bunch of songs, that from start to end talk about one particular thing. That’s a missing puzzle. If I am a fan of my own music, which I am, I want to hear the best Madchild I can hear. What am I missing? I sort of had a good talk with some close friends of mine that I really respect and look up to in music as well and we all just came to the conclusion, just some more storytelling songs of things I have gone through.

 

You recently released the song/video “Mental” which features new Battle Axe artist Demrick. Is that the first single from Silver Tongued Devil?

 

Madchild: That’s a good question. I think in theory “Jackal” is the first single, we just didn’t know exactly… I just wanted to put something out. So “Jackyl”, we out that out two months ago. That one is going to hit a million for sure, it’s on its way to a million. That’s going to make the record. I guess in theory that was the first single, we just didn’t know what the next release was going to be when we put it out. I guess this [Mental] would be the second single.

 

We just dropped that one on everybody, we didn’t set it up. There is something quite not right about the numbers, with that video right now. If you do the math, we have 1000 likes already in 24 hours and when you look at other videos that I have that have 1000 or 2000 likes the number is quite high, so this time there is something quirky going on where the numbers are still trying to catch up. It definitely feels like it is still catching up, just by the amount of likes and the amount of comments. I feel like people are really excited about it and generally speaking people are excited about our first signing, Demrick to Battle Axe Records. I’m super excited about him as an artist. I think he is incredible and that he is super down to ride and that is what I want to build with Kevin Zinger. We want to build Battle Axe, the new Battle Axe Records into something special and a brand that people can trust. That will consist of 4 or 5 incredible artists that people can rely on with sort of the same direction, vision, goal and staying true to the concept of what we believe in. Without trying to please the machine or trying to do what the sheep are doing.

 

To me it’s very important to be a leader not a follower. Sometimes it takes balls and heart to do that. Sometimes it’s not that east to say… I have a few different managers, and one of them hit me up today and was like ‘I’m going to set you up with these guys doing beats and such…’ I was like cool, as long as I can do what I do. Just because kids are going like this now, I’m not going to do that because I am not 18 years old. I’m not going to rap like I’m in grade three because it’s popular. I’m just not going to do that. It’s not because I’m being stubborn, and I definitely not that guy that is getting older and does not understand the younger generation. I promised myself as a kid that I would not become that guy. So I have my finger on the pulse of what is going on and I love relevant music today. We are talking about artists like Kendrick Lamar, School Boy Q, Absoul, that whole crew. Of course Evidence and Alchemist, those guys are my brothers and I love those guys, they have been lifelong friends but I have always sort of looked up to them artistically.

 

As far as rappers, like Action Bronson, Danny Brown, Drake – he is my favorite artists. I have my finger on the pulse of what is cracking off and what’s popular today, in a certain lane. I love the whole Earl Sweatshirt thing and Vince Staples and all of these younger people coming up. I am definitely a huge fan of that. I am not a huge fan of people rapping, dumbing down their lyrical ability because it’s trendy. I’m not a fan of knowing that you can do better, but doing less, because you think it will do better. 99.999 times out of 100 it doesn’t work. I will tell you right now, out of all the fans that I have, probably half of them are rappers now, because everybody raps, so it’s so easy to rap now. We live in a completely different world then say pre-2006.Do you best. Don’t try to… ahh this is popping now so I am going to do this.

 

They look at me and say how come you’re winning? You came back from the dead three years ago, and you’re already killing it. I mean I came back from the dead. Thanks to my family and thanks to Kevin Zinger and my brother Evidence and Rocko, especially my blood family and the guys in Swollen Members. I wouldn’t even be here today if it wasn’t for those people. I literally came back from the dead not only did I get a second chance at life but I got a second chance at a career. People are like, how the fuck did he come back and do that. The simple answer is because I do my very best. I just stay in my lane, you know what I mean? If I was to try to take it to the next level, by doing what… say Sony wants me to do, and I am not saying particularly Sony wants me to, I am not saying that is the case, but I’m just giving and example. Say an A&R person wants me to do this type of song because they feel it is going to work on the radio, I guarantee you that unless the song is real, there is nothing wrong with having success and I want to be successful. That is why I am, but I do it my own way. A lot of artists are scared to do that, they are scared to step out on their own. What am I the super villain of western Canada is that what I am? Is Classified the clean cut, staying true to his roots, hip hop guy from the East coast that stays in his lane and he made it big staying true to what he did and didn’t make corny music? Then that is what he is and I am proud of him for that. And I’m proud of drake for what he did and I’m proud of myself for what I have down. All of these artists have stayed true to themselves. I see a lot of people trying to jump on bandwagons and I see a big mistake to do that

 

Over the last couple years, it has been your goal to rebuild Battle Axe Records and make it a record label that will leave a lasting legacy. Looking back to when you first set out on that goal, how do you think you have progressed so far?

 

Madchild: I’m extremely proud of what I have achieved. I’ve travelled around the world twice, went from rolling quarters for cigarettes, balling my eyes out, wondering what I was going to do after losing three million dollars, to being very financially comfortable, to buying a Mercedes G Wagon to being able to get whatever I want and living in a beautiful apartment in West Hollywood, furnished exactly how I want it. Life is incredible. My dog Lola…. I am like the happiest person I’ve been in my whole entire life. Literally the last 7 months I have truly understood what the word constant joy means. Part of that is the weather. Part of that is the success and part of that is leaving the monsters in the closet behind. If I was to stay in Vancouver or Kelowna where all of these all of these terrible experiences happened… I am responsible for what happened to me but if I was to stay there it is kind of a constant reminder and it is very easy…. You know the new song is called Mental…. I am not trying to hide from people that I have OCD, and I don’t think that I am a completely normal person. I call myself good crazy because I am a crazy normal. But who is normal really? Are you normal? Maybe you are, but I don’t think a lot of us are normal. I think a lot of us are scared to say that we are a little crazy. I’m a little crazy that is just the way it is. I look in the mirror now and I like who is looking back at me. I am comfortable in my skin for the first time in my life. I have let a wall down.

 

You have to understand for my whole life I have been romanticized by this other side of the fence. This whole darker, egotistically, sort of mean world. I fully embraced that world and three or four years ago I completely walked away from that world, literally. I walked away from everybody I knew. I locked myself in a loft that I rented, like I told you, where I was rolling quarters for cigarettes. I was having to borrow money off of the rent guy… the real estate agent that was renting me the loft. He believed in me so he actually lent me money a couple times just so I could finish paying the rent….to where I am at now, I am extremely happy. But am I where I want to be? Of course not. I’m not going to be satisfied until I am the next Hopsin or the next Tech n9ne, it’s as simple as that. I am going to achieve that.

 

Part of the reason I am not there sooner, is that I was not allowed to go to the United States. Now I am allowed. I am so thankful I have been given a second chance and I live there and already more has happened in six months for my career then in the last ten years. I can sit and list off all the things that are being worked on and all the things that are on the table, but that will take away all the surprises that are going to come. There are so many explosive, exciting things that are happening. Everybody that is in my life and in my world now has something to do with what I do. I don’t go and ask my friends for favours. They are real, true, incredible amazing human beings with good hearts. They have evolved as human beings. I have evolved as a human being and I have let this wall down that I had. This egotistical, I’m the coolest guy in the world rolling with 50 guys… I let that wall down and it’s a very difficult thing to let joy and love into your heart. The word, love. People that come from where I come from, are scared to say that word love. That’s why I love Bob Marley or Ben Harper so much because they made the word love and the concept of love cool in their music and I think that I’m starting to do that in my own way.

 

My music is very edgy and the energy is very raw, but I am also getting out this positive message without being a teacher. I don’t want to hear anybody preach or teach things to me, especially when I was a kid. But there are messages that people are grabbing onto without me even realizing that they are messages. We are rappers so we have to talk about what is on our minds, but if you are a real artists you just draw from within. You create and your thought process, whatever comes out you are just painting a picture with words so whatever that is, even if it might be abstract from a certain extent people are latching on and they are getting things from it, without me even trying to teach anything. I think it is kind of a cool combination.

 

You previously participated in the King of the Dot battle rap event in 2011 where you battled Dirtbag Dan. You are currently scheduled to battle again on Feb 7, 2015 as part of the King of the Dot Blackout 5 event. How is the preparation going and are you doing anything differently this time compared to last time?

 

Madchild: To be honest with you I’m just getting started now. I would have liked to give myself 5 weeks to prepare but now I have three weeks to prepare. The last three days as we have been driving I have been listening to battles on the drive, hearing different styles. I actually have a whole suitcase that I brought. A whole suitcase full of rhymes, that I could show you. I’m not joking. I will show you if you want to see it.
[Goes to get suitcase]

 

This whole thing and I am not exaggerating is full of lyrics. Except for a few t shirts on the top. It’s all just rhymes. So I definitely have everything that I need. I just need to go through and put the pieces of the puzzle together. I’m going to tear the persons face off. I just need to get the time to sit down and actually piece it together. So it’s not like I will just be starting from scratch….hahaha… someone’s in trouble, I can tell you that much.

 

The good news that with this tour in three weeks, the way it is set up we have like three or four shows, then I have four days off. I am going to get to hole myself up in a hotel room like this uninterrupted, and just 16 hours a day work. Just like the way I work with all my music. So I have two of those. Then I have 6 or 7 days at the end of the tour to go and hole up in a hotel in Toronto for 6 and a half days before the battle. I do feel confident that I will be able to put it all together. Would I have liked to have started two weeks ago and say that I already have half of it together, absolutely, but I have been breaking my back to get Silver Tongued Devil ready and shoot videos. Just make as many great songs as possible.

 

I have been doing a whole another album, and I don’t mean to confuse everybody, but I am doing a whole other album with Evidence. That is a dream. He is like one of my best friends and it’s like a dream that he came to me and was like let’s do an EP together. He just came as a friend as an amazing human being and saw that I really did pick myself back up and he is proud of me and it was a very generous gesture. It was cool and we worked it out to a whole other thing and it is now going to be a whole album. I am so excited for people to hear that record. We don’t know what it is called yet, we are 10 songs deep already. There are some amazing incredible guest’s already on it. People are going to lose their mind when they hear this record.

 

Throughout your work with Swollen Members, you have mainly gotten production from Rob the Viking. On your solo albums, you have started to branch out and have gotten outside production, such as working with C-Lance. Is this an effort to make your solo songs stand out from Swollen Members songs?

 

Madchild: It’s a natural thing to start working with my friends again, now that I live in LA. Working with Evidence was a natural thing to happen, and I am super fortunate and happy. I think I will be swinging by Alchemist house, because he has invited me a bunch of times and it’s an extreme honor. These are guys that I started out with these are guys that we made our first records with. Our first albums were always…. Rob the Viking was always in Swollen Members after Balance, but we always had production back then from Alchemist and Evidence. It’s so exciting for me to start making music with them again.

 

Yes it’s a solo thing. Prev has his own, life, Rob has his own life. The reason we have been able to stay a group for a decade and a half and get along so good is because we don’t kick it because we are homies. We are a group, we love each other as brothers, but we don’t call each other up unless its business related. At that point if you’re still a group, you know how to give each other space. A lot of people don’t make it that far and to have the bond that the three of us have is an incredible bond, but hey, we are happy to see each other at the beginning of the tour and at the end we are like, alright we will see you on the next tour. We are always happy to say hi and happy to say goodbye. 15 years is a long journey and those guys went through the most incredible stories that you could ever think of. The wildest ride that you could ever think of and the lowest point that I could ever take someone. They had to ride along with me through the ups and downs of this crazy life that I have lived. Because they are in a group with me, you know what I mean, so, I don’t want to get started getting emotional about that stuff but it’s like a second family really. If that makes sense, I mean you love your family but as you get older you don’t call your mom everyday anymore, usually, maybe some people do. The love there is an unconditional, unquestionable love.

 

We don’t have to keep in touch and social lives change. And Prevail has grown into his own person, and he has many interests and he is very cultural, very sophisticated and a very intelligent person, but we just have different interests. Rob and I have more similar interests, but he is a family guy now, he has two kids and a wife, I have a chi Wawa. I’m living like I’m 25 years old, because I feel 25, and that’s why my solo career is the main focus and Swollen Members is, I mean we tour and we will put out another record, but when people are ready for it. There is no rush and it means the next record we put out as a group needs to be a masterpiece and I think there needs to be time. Time for people to really want to hear that again. Dilated Peoples waited 6 years for people to hear them again and it was a masterpiece. They will be able to tour as much as they want with that record, because they made an incredible record. I am not saying we are going to wait 6 years to make our next record because that is not the case. Rob the Viking and I still work daily so we have a constant working relationship.

 

For example C-Lance makes incredible beats, he knocks them out bang bang bang, but Rob the Viking is a genius and I don’t want to lose that genius touch in my music. We have a great arrangement where he is happy to be a father and a husband and stay home and yes we are going on a European tour together right after I finish this Canadian tour with Demrick and Dow jones, so that will be cool. We got to go out and everybody’s got to eat so we got to go out and make some money. We also have a great arrangement where he can make … he works with me, we work together. I call him Rob the Viking the finisher and C-Lance the killer and Madchild the conqueror. Together I call us the triple threat. It is kind of a little joke I can say between the three of us, but it’s such an incredible combination. That’s going to be a huge part of Silver Tongued Devil is that I am getting these incredible energizing beat that C-Lance does, but now Rob the Viking, and I feel a little responsible for bringing these two guys together because I am getting the best of both worlds. I feel like I got this really special thing, I got these two geniuses at what they do, but Rob can come in and he pays attention to every little detail, he comes from the generation where I come from where he will switch things up and he will add drops and sound effects and make sure everything is lined up perfectly instead of the beat being a continual loop. He will come in and turn it into a masterpiece.

 

That’s why people are hearing the new song “Mental”, which is the first or second example that people have heard of me working with both of them together and people are like, wow this is a crazy C-Lance beat compared to the ones he was normally getting. Because it was a C-Lance beat and Rob the Viking came in and added his magic to it and now I have this incredible new sound that I am super excited about. Those are the people that I will continue to work with, the main people. Am I going to meet new producers, I am sure, but that’s kind of my main places. And Aspect is a very talented young producer from Canada and I like working with him.

 

You have also stated that you would like to release an album with Slaine, under the group name Supreme Villain. Can you give us an update on that project?

 

Madchild: We know that we need to sit down and pin down an album, we have both been just so busy. He is also in La Coka Nostra. I just got asked to join this crazy group, with one of my heroes, I don’t even know if I can do it, I just have so much on my plate. It is a dream come true that this person just asked me. It is a dream, like my childhood dream to get asked by this person to join this group. I don’t even know if I can do it because there is just so much on my plate. But Slaine is a Battle Axe Warrior. He is going to be a Battle Axe artist. We will definitely do the Supreme Villain album, I just made an incredible record with him and Demrick that will be on Silver Tongued Devil, and we are going to shoot a video for it in Toronto right after the battle. He is also going through his journey of being 9 or 10 months sober now. We are all hyped up on this Supreme Villains thing and then he had to get on the right track and I am so proud of him and thankful and happy. He looks amazing I can’t believe how good.  I saw him right before I left, he looked so good and so healthy I am so proud of him. But that first year of sobriety is like that’s a journey and that’s like a process. I have to give him time to meet himself again completely if that makes sense. And I am not speaking on his behalf I am speaking of my own experience. But when I got sober, I had to find myself again and it doesn’t happen overnight.

 

Thanks for the time. Anything else you want to say to your fans?

 

Madchild: Thank you everybody for your support, it means the world to me. Without you guys I would be working a job and I hate that so thanks to you guys I get to do what I love to do and make a good living doing what I love. I couldn’t be more thankful or happier. I really truly feel that I have the best fans in the world. I know a lot of artists say that but I have the best fans. Do I want to cause more awareness and do I think that more people should find out about my music? Absolutely. I got this amazing core following that I am so thankful of. I really am truly thankful for and really feel they are my extended family so I want to thank you guys very much for your support.

 

For more information on Madchild or to purchase his new album, Switched On, visit www.battleaxewarriors.com or follow him @Madchild57

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