The Lytics Interview
Author: Adam Bernard
There's an old adage that one shouldn't mix family with business. It's a
good thing Winnipeg hip-hop group The Lytics didn't listen to that advice,
as their latest album, They Told Me, completely shatters that notion.
Made up of brothers Andrew, Anthony, and Alex Sannie, as well as cousin
Mungala Londe, and newly "adopted" brother DJ Lonnie Ce, The Lytics have a
pure hip-hop vibe that will remind people of when musicality and lyrics
were at the forefront of the genre.
RapReviews caught up with Andrew and Anthony of this family first group to
find out more about their music, and their latest album. The duo also
discussed their definition of success in the modern music industry, the
image of their hometown of Winnipeg, and the moment they realized their
working together was going to work out.
Adam Bernard: You just released an album titled They Told Me. Who's the
"they" you're referring to in the title?
Andrew Sannie: We actually have a song on the record called "They Said" and
we kinda took the name of the title from that song. The idea of the song is
our aspirations coming to life. People are telling us this is what's going
to come of your life, this is where you're gonna go with it, and it kind of
ties in with the little kid on the cover and the back (of the album). It's
growing into what you believe you're gonna become, and who you are, and
eventually, finally, making it to that place.
AB: When you listen to this album what are you most proud of?
Anthony Sannie: All of us come with a different outlook on things, so for
me it's just the mixture of everyone's individual ideas. There's just such
a big difference in the types of subjects some of us talk about, but at the
end it just ties in well together.
Andrew: The thing I'm most proud of is the growth. If you compare it to our
last record, it's like night and day, for me at least. I feel like as
artists and musicians, and creators, it's just grown leaps and bounds. It's
sort of like, for me, if another record comes after this I feel like it's a
good pacer, we can see where we're gonna be, and eventually we'll be able
to make something bigger, and this is sort of the proof of that.
AB: You said eventually you'll be able to make something bigger. Where does
this rank for you on the ladder of success?
Andrew: This is like the first step. I just feel like there are a lot
bigger things to come and we're only getting better and better. Even if
success never follows this record, or the next record, or maybe never ever
comes, I feel like the music is getting better and that can be successful,
right? At the end of the day not everybody achieves success in the way that
it's looked at in our society, but as people you can find success in just
being a better person, or a better musician, or better artist, and I feel
like we're going to keep growing in that way.
AB: And on the flip-side, there are people who see success that are
Andrew: Right, and that's sort of the thing. The music industry's so
confusing, right? Nobody really knows what it takes to get there. You meet
the right person and the next thing you know you're the biggest thing in
the world, or some blog decides these guys are amazing and then all of a
sudden you have a career. Because it's so fickle, and there's no way of
telling whether you're gonna make it or not, you can't sit there and be
like success to me is being the biggest artist, or the next big thing.
Success has just gotta be being the best you can be and putting out the
best music, and if you're meant to go there then it'll happen.
AB: You're a group of brothers. Being an only child I don't fully
understand the brother dynamic, but I do see friends of mine who are
brothers have knock down drag out fights and the next minute be cool again.
Does anything like that happen when you're writing and recording?
Andrew: Oh yeah. At the beginning of this record it was like war in the
studio. Someone would storm out every day for the like the first three
months. It was like complete chaos. It was almost like we weren't getting
any music done, because after like three months of recording we had like
one song, maybe, and a bunch of little pieces, and I think what that period
was, was us learning how to actually work together. Once we did finally get
over that hump where we were in a state of constant war, we figured out how
to work together and the songs just started pouring out. We would come in
and bang out a song, and the next day the same thing.
Anthony: It was hard because before this record we had just put out one
nine song EP, and then we turned it into the first album. So we had been
around for a few years, but we really still were a new group. It was pretty
hard. I think the biggest test was going on tour, because usually when you
go on tour there are lots of fights, lots of arguments, but there was one
tour we went on across Canada and I remember there not being one fight and
that was when I realized wow, we've come a long way, I think good things
are going to come out of this.
Andrew: We've learned how to be professional, so the fighting is almost at
a minimum now, and if we do fight it's a super business type arrangement as
opposed to two brothers fighting.
AB: In retrospect is there one fight that stands out as being especially
ridiculous and unnecessary?
Andrew: When we first started recording this record, I can't remember what
we were fighting about, but it started as an argument, and Anthony, for
Anthony: I didn't mean to do this. We were arguing about something, I think
it was about a song, and I stood up and I had my phone in my hand and I
tried to throw it against the wall, but the phone slipped out of hand and
it went right into my brother's new plasma TV. I had Andrew screaming at
me, I had Alex screaming at me, I had Mungala screaming at me. It was
Andrew: That was three years ago.
AB: Wow! It's a good thing those days are over. Moving to your hometown,
you're from Winnipeg. I've heard there are some not so nice parts of that
city. Are there also parts of it where there's a music scene?
Andrew: Yeah, the music scene in Winnipeg is awesome. I think we have some
of the most talented musicians in the world. You can go out just about any
night of the week and find an amazing artist playing. The thing is a lot of
people don't realize, they talk a lot about how Winnipeg, there's a lot of
bad parts in Winnipeg, but we don't look at ourselves as a bad city, we
look at ourselves as a super artistic, creative, place, and there's so much
good music that's come out of here, and so much good art that's come out of
here. It's kind of sad that people outside of Winnipeg have this idea that
we're just this dangerous crazy place. Yeah, there is poverty in areas, and
there's a lot of bad stuff in areas, but there's also a lot of good. The
Osborne area. There are a lot of artists coming out of there, and great
venues. And the West End, which was once considered a super dangerous
place, you have a lot of musicians living there, and a lot of young artists
coming out of there.
AB: Has Drake's success in crossing the border and becoming a star in
America given hope to the Canadian hip-hop scene that success in America is
a real possibility?
Andrew: Both yes and no. I think Drake's success in the States is big
because it shows people down there that there are serious people up here. I
think there was a while when there were no artists breaking out from Canada
as far as hip-hop, and music in general. I heard some stat that before
Drake the last artist to break out of Canada into the States was Celine
Dion. That is a long gap. Since then think about all the artists having
success, even just as recently as Carly Rae Jepsen, and before her Justin
Bieber. There are artists coming out of Canada, The Weeknd, and all these
other guys, but I think Drake sort of was an icebreaker in a way, where
people started looking into Canada and saying whoa, they have talent over
there. So he did open the door, but at the same time, let's face it, there
are a lot of machines pushing these guys, and a lot of this game is
politics, so you have to have the right people behind you before you get
there, so it is realistic to come out of Canada and become the big thing in
the States, but you also need the right people to be looking at you. It's
realistic, but at the same time it's a pipe dream.
AB: With that realistic pipe dream in mind, what's been the greatest hurdle
you've had to overcome?
Andrew: I think the greatest hurdle we've had to overcome is this record.
This record was the hardest thing I've ever done. It's a struggle, and
especially at the stage where we're at where, you're just trying to get
more people to hear you, you just want more people to know about your
music, especially when you feel you're a good artist, and you feel like
"I'm putting out good music, why aren't people listening to it? We need to
get people to hear it."
AB: It's frustrating.
Andrew: It's a super frustrating feeling because you're just like "I just
want people to hear what I'm doing." It's one thing to put out bad music
and have a ton of people hear it and go "yo dude, you suck." Then I'd be
like hey, I guess I suck, but to put out good music and have people tell
you "this is amazing, you're my favorite group, I love what you do," it's
like wow, people actually like what I'm doing, why aren't other people
hearing it, why aren't other people on board with it? That part of it's
frustrating. The reality is we don't have a ton of people working with us.
We do most of what we do alone. Just about everything you see is us putting
in the work, is us hiring the people who are gonna shoot videos, do a
website, and all that other stuff. It's tons of work, especially when
you're working full time, and you're in school full time. Everybody would
love to be the guys that are doing music full time, but there are only a
handful of people who are actually doing that, and can afford to do that,
so it's difficult, but it's also part of the stuff, and it's gonna happen for us.
Check out The Lytics online at TheLytics.ca!
Don't forget to follow Adam Bernard on Twitter @AdamsWorldBlog and follow RapReviews.com @RapReviews.
Originally posted: October 23rd, 2012