Shash’U is a 30 year old producer and DJ whose Montreal-French accent is faint, yet inviting for a good story-telling. He grew up in the Uptown Records era, attributing to the nostalgic feeling in his production that he “re-conditions to today’s aesthetic.” He was 17 when he first began producing; but he soon found himself in the heart of street-dance culture, leading him to also DJ. He’s part of a select group of Montreal producers, archiving a sound native to this specific area of Canada–– one that can succinctly be identified by integrated percussions and consistent bass.
He’s a veteran in the game who appreciates the idiosyncrasies of modern EDM and Trap “as long as it’s done in a dope way.” As a performer, he encourages the total ensemble, explaining that, “It doesn’t have to be dopest lyrics or tone. You can make a comic out of them. They’re almost like superheroes, everything they do and how they portray themselves is extra….Politically correct in an art? C’mon.”
As a producer and DJ, Shash’U emphasizes the importance of the performance, fashioning an artist beyond the costume. It’s the spectrum of an artist’s ability. He explains that, “personality, character, charisma are the main things that are important than the dress code. For example, Johnwayne was just on stage with flip flops and a t-shirt, but you get the person that he is.” As much as Shash’U hears the music, he sees it. He’s also a dancer, beginning the bulk of his career by DJ-ing in the street-dancing world. His exposure expanded with dancers from all over the world who sought him out and ripped his break beats. It’s no wonder he caught the attention of Fool’s Gold.
Congrats on signing to Fool’s Gold! How did that come about?
*laughs* Thank You! We had Black Atlas, Ango and other artists who were doing a showcase. I had a friend named, who is a DJ Simahlak and producer from Montreal also, and he’s really close friends with P-Thugg from Chromeo. That’s basically how we started. I started hanging out with P-Thugg, talking music and exchanging sounds. And he put me in touch with A-Trak.. and yeah… that was like two years ago.
Oh! So the Fool’s Gold connect happened 2 years ago. But you were signed recently?
Yeah. So we’ve just been talking and working on the project since.
I heard you have some crazy shit in the vault. I briefly saw A-Trak and Ben from Fool’s Gold last week and tried to pry, but they told me it was coming!
*laughs* Yeah! Soon! It’s going to be proper. I’m looking forward to it. Everything is planned [for the fall].
I tried looking for your project, PWRFNK, a while ago. It was supposed to drop the EP in February right?
Oh yeah. So that’s the EP in question now. We wanted to drop it early, but we figured that it would be proper to hold on and get it prepped with the whole team, with Fool’s Gold and all. So that’s the project we’re going to release in September. I’ll be releasing other stuff in between too.
Are you changing direction on the project?
No, it’s going to be the same project. It’s the same direction. Since we have more time, we can refine the direction. It is just a better time to release it later. I also have another project in the future with [Fool’s Gold] in the future.
You’ve been producing and writing for a while (10 years), what changed? How has your production changed?
I started producing when I was 17, then I got into DJ-ing. I’ve been producing for over 15 years and DJ-ing for over 10. I’ve been doing it for a long time, but it’s just now that we’re making the bigger moves. I was producing first, then I got into street dancing, then DJ-ing.
I want to get to the street dancing in a minute…I found you on SoundCloud a few months ago, with the infamous “Drunk In Love” Remix. But it looks like you only really started using the music platform like three years ago. Did SoundCloud change things for you? You didn’t always use it.
SoundCloud helped me to have a world-wide connection with different people who are interested in the type of music that I do. So obviously, it’s a great intel—to have people comment on the production and have people write to you about the music, inquire about it, to follow them.. Of course, SoundCloud is an amazing tool and I’m glad it could help me in that sense.
I’ve never felt… maybe in the beginning, especially when dealing with things online… It’s hard to share what you’ve worked on, because we’re afraid— whether it be the comments or to see people run off and bootleg the beats. It’s obviously something that comes up in our mind; but that feeling doesn’t last long because of the good [things] that SoundCloud has brought. Same thing for Bandcamp and other websites.
Have the restrictions on SoundCloud and labels buying equity changed or affected anything for you?
Well, no yet. I mean for some remixes, maybe a couple hours after I posted them, [SoundCloud] removed them. The last time that happened was maybe a year or two ago. But, there are other options. I have some mixes on MixCloud, but it’s a different set-up. SoundCloud is definitely easier. I feel like with those new rules, it just looks like SoundCloud is like a wall of graffiti. Sometimes they’re like ‘Well, you’re not supposed to do it this way, but we’ll let you live a bit.’ That’s how I see it. Once I see that it’s really affected my movement and what I want to do— which is to reach out to people with my music— then we’ll just have to find another option. That’s usually what we always do. If there’s something that doesn’t work, then we’ll switch to something that does work. I’m not afraid of doing that.
I think touring and stuff will help spread your sound too. Your manager said you’re going to Poland tomorrow (Editors Note: Shash’U already performed in Poland)! Can you talk a little bit about your sound? It’s really percussion and bass driven. How does it fit into the “Montreal sound?”
I’ve been producing for a long time in Montreal for artists; but being a veteran, in the beat-builders world, the growth of the new generation of producers in Montreal came very much with the influence of what Low End Theory has been doing in LA. There’s a small movement called Aartbeat Montreal, which is basically like a ‘Law End Theory,” where people commune together with musical intention and people play their music and what not. I got connected with that generation through my third Artbeat. We invited Dibiase from LA to perform and I was the opening act. There were a bunch of other producers there [like High-Klassified and Da-P].
This was in 2010. But before that, everyone was pretty much on their own, in their lab working on music. It was very divided. It was either producers doing music for artists, which is a more tradition ‘studio-working producer;’ then you have the DJs, then you have the beat-builders who were more into the Dilla stuff. And what I noticed is that… this is just a small note I want to get out…Most of us had the same type of growth. Whether it be Lunice, Hudson Mowake, Flying Lotus (to a sense), myself, we’re all interested in certain vibes of music, or just the feeling of it. We all did similar types of exploration, going really abstract with the sound and it matured within each of us. We all grew from the same bed of young kids who fanatics of producers like Dilla—that kind of school, what we believed was ‘true hip-hop.’
I come from an era before though. When you said that my sound is heavy bass and percussion driven, I felt like that’s the lane I needed to go. And I felt like I was doing a good thing in Montreal by doing that… and for myself. It was more for myself than anybody else.
Since you did mention HudMo and Lunice, let’s talk about your live shows. Their shows are theatrical experiences. How do yours compare?
I like the entertainment of a show and I think it’s important. It’s cool to have a theme or a complete idea to present to people with the music. Whether it’s doing live drums or super cool scratches or even just have a setting to show the people, I think it’s an important thing. It just takes preparation. So people just don’t feel like ‘he just came here with his laptop to play music.’ Guys like Lunice, they do a heck of a job.
[When people come to see me] I always make sure I have something for them— new sounds or new ideas. If it’s a crowd I haven’t seen, I always prepare something. For example, in September, for Labor Day, it’s the first time I’m doing Fool’s Gold ‘Day Off.’ I’m going to prep something for New York. I’m going to dig into New York stuff and see if I can flip something. It’s the first time I’m presenting myself [with Fool’s Gold].
Let’s get back to the street-dancing scene. That’s seems to be your niche and something really unique to you and your sound.
The Montreal scene isn’t just growing in music, but also the street dancing. The kids that were battling in the streets are now going on world tours. My homie Green tech is one of the craziest poppers known around the world; he’s from Montreal. A lot of people don’t realize how Montreal has a lot of characters that are… how can I say it… they’re based *laughs.*
Are you a dancer yourself? Who are some of your favorite dancers?
Yes! I do popping, locking, crump and hip-hop. Everything that has to do with muscle contractions and animated movements, is all popping.
Have you seen the TV Show LXD?
I’ve heard of it.
Most of my homies were in there, in that TV show: Frantik, he’s part of the Funny Bones Crew; Madd Chadd, who played in a lot of movies. He’s the one that usually does the robot- android-looking scenes in Step Up and stuff. I have a whole bunch of names I can give you. Some of my favorite ones are: Bopping Andre, Scorpio… I definitely have to send you some footage. These are pioneers and veterans.
So in your next video, you’re going to be dancing. Right?
*laughs* In my next video, I’m going to have everyone. Fuck that. If I can dance, I’ll dance! You should look into Greenteck. He’s one of the best poppers in the game. I’ll send you video. He’s been touring around the world and always won them. He’s one of the few.
Thanks. Ill check it out! Anything else you want to mention?
I couldn’t have done it with my team Silence d’Or (which means gold silence) (label im signed to) very happy with them.. Double gold *laughts.*
It’s been a team effort.