Toronto based hip-hop artiste Saurav Deb a.k.a Unknown Mizery bares about his music and influences in this tell-all interview to Team Radio City. Read on.
For the uninitiated, please enlighten our readers about the kind of music you make?
UM: Hi, My name is Saurav Deb, a.k.a Unknown Mizery and I form one-fifth of the hip-hop outfit Babylon Warchild. My music features hip-hop influences and they talk about social and political issues. I started writing at the age of 13. Growing up as an Indo-Canadian kid in Canada can be hard. Finding your identity becomes a part of your existence. A lot of my music reflects about the poverty laden situations, I grew up in and the kind of police brutality that we witnessed.
Who have been your musical influences?
UM: From the hip-hope genre, I would say 2Pac, Dead Prez and Immortal Technique because I grew up listening to them. Beyond that, I also like Redman, his lyricism is extremely influential.
Tell us about your group, Babylon Warchild.
UM: First of all they are like my family, we are more of a movement. We comprise of five members. We have KDB, Fresco P, Legitimate, Rumpelstilz and myself. We’ve been travelling the world promoting our music at grassroots level because we haven’t gotten mainstream help. People find our band name strange but for us Babylon personifies the struggle within all of us and Warchild signifies the battle we are fighting within ourselves. We are the voice of the people.
Do the members of Babylon Warchild come from different ethnic backgrounds?
UM: Thank you for asking that. That is the epitome of Canada and more importantly Toronto. Growing up, you grow up amongst all religions and cultures. Even though we grow up without being attached to our cultures and religions, we learn to co-exist. So yes, we come from different backgrounds, but bound by a common love for hip-hop music.
A new album by Babylon Warchild is in the pipeline. Please pour some light on it?
UM: So this year, we’re rapping the third album out. For those who aren’t aware, we had our first album titled, Babylon Warchild that featured music centered on the army and their lives. That album really catapulted us into the limelight. Post that, we did a free album that had sixteen songs. It included several features. The new album is called ‘The War Journals’. It will be out for release later this spring. This album for me, is the best Babylon Warchild album, so far. It really speaks about the music, the band stands up for.
Let us talk about your latest single, ‘Building Pyramids’.
UM: ‘Building Pyramids’ is the second single of an EP I did called ‘Smile’. As a solo artist, this is an album that I had released. It is dedicated to a friend’s brother who was murdered due to colonization in Canada. It is about spreading love and smiles.
Tell us about your experience in Mumbai, since this is your first trip to the city.
UM: Oh, I did an album called ‘Busking in Bombay’ in January 2013. And the experience of making that album was a feeling of homecoming for me. Coming to Mumbai, was a metaphysical test to make a lifelong dream of coming home, true. And it did. So ‘Busking in Bombay’ was about the city, the noise, the culture, and the dreams that build it up. You cannot figure out the city in a month, you have to live here for years and yet it can offer you plenty of stories to rave about.
Tell us about yourself as a spoken word artiste?
UM: As a student of Sociology at the University of Toronto, we’d started doing a lot of shows within the circuit. Because we were never taught a lot of things about socializing in school. But out there in college, a couple of us knocked at school doors and funded ourselves without seeking governmental hands. We organized our shows and used them as a platform to promote our music and our messages that we wished to drive.
Let’s talk about your solo album, ‘Sacred Soil’?
UM: ‘Sacred Soil’ is one of my favorite solo albums. It was recorded within two weeks. It is about how music is my sacred soil.
Normally, we seen rap being incorporated with hi-hop but now we see a new generation of artistes including electronica too. Your take?
UM: It doesn’t matter how you make it. You need to keep it real. But personally, I like listening to the older school of hip-hop. The thing about hip-hop is that it will always speak out to a generation.
Have you been following the independent music scene in India?
UM: Yes, for the last one year, I’ve been listening to Mandeep Sathi, who is based in LA. I’ve been wanting to make more music with him, but I can wait for good things to fall in place. Since him, I’ve been listening to hip-hop in India. I’ve found a lot of great artistes. I like Mumbai’s Finest. Their music is raw. I met Rochelle D’Silva, a spoken word artiste and she really showed me around in Mumbai a lot. The Indian hip-hop scene looks prospective enough to score big in the West.
Lastly, what does your current playlist comprise of?
UM: Haha! Firstly more than half of my current playlist consists of unfinished songs and compositions of mine which I try memorizing. When not indulging in hi-hop I like listening to soulful music like the likes of Tracy Chapman, Nina Simone and the rest. I can do away with the boom boom for a while.