My parents came to Canada in the early ’80s with a few dollars in their pocket. The true reality of started from the bottom. They lost everything. Every piece of land and every inch of dirt was taken. Montreal just happened to be the only place welcoming them with open arms. At that time, if you were a refugee, you were sent to live in low income housing around Montreal to start off your new life. I was born here in 1985.
As a kid, I did not notice it at all and everything was just fun and games. It was only when I got older that I started to question the place I grew up in. The area I come from is “les Habitations Jeanne-Mance,” which was a square placed in the middle of downtown Montreal. The neighbourhood was split by the basketball court. It felt like its own planet of concrete and tall buildings. Everyone that I know that has walked through always had that feeling of being in another world. There aren’t any explanations to it. You just had to grow up in it to understand it.
But the area that I knew of has now changed drastically, for the regular folks, they see it as a great cleanup of the unwanted people. The places that I used to hang out and walk by are now boarded up. Gentrification can be seen throughout the whole city. Especially that area. It’s good and bad. That’s part of an evolving city and you got to learn how to adapt.
One person that understands all of this is Tommy Kruise.
Last Friday, I met up with him at his crib. He just woke up when I got there. It was 5PM. We talked music and life while he was cueing his tracks for his show that night at the SAT. BadBadNotGood was headlining it and Tommy was requested to close off the night. So, I followed him from his home all the way to his show. We went from St-Henri all the way to the Plateau and did a few pit stops.
JOHNNY F. KIM: We know that you did not grow up in Montreal. You are initially from Côte-De-Beaupré around Mont-St-Anne. What made you decide to move to Montreal?
TOMMY KRUISE: It was all regarding culture and skateboarding. I needed music shows, people, architecture, actual streets, winter skate parks, clubs and all that. I needed the city that I was seein’ in all these skate videos and shit. I was obsessed with the Island Productions movies from Eric Lebeau and others. Lazy Paparazzi, All Night Long, and these other skate videos. They showed me the Montreal that I needed. They were able to show it to me in a way that was so beautiful and I basically got to live through it.
So what are some of the things you did in Côte-De-Beaupré?
Dirt bike, Shoot guns, make music, masturbate to Lara Fabian songs, go swim in the forest waterfalls, ski at the Mont Ste-Anne, and masturbate more I guess.
Which part of Montreal do you currently reside in?
I live in Saint-Henri, which is in the Southwest part of the island of Montreal and just down the hill from Westmount. You get all sorts of influences that are mixing up in Saint-Henri. That’s what I love about it. It’s constantly evolving and everyone is trying to make it out here. You see a lot of shops and restaurants open and then go out of business and I think that’s the spirit of this area. People are trying new stuff, trying to see what’s really good for this neighborhood. Rent is cheap but it’s about to go up once that new hospital is done, all the old folks ’bout to move in just to have VIP access to go chill in there everyday. “Les ostis d’hypochondriaques.”
We recently can see the area becoming more gentrified and some actual vandalizing of local shops has occurred. How do you feel about all this gentrification?
Every city is definitely seeing gentrification becoming more and more apparent. I mean, I understand a lot of these people. $5 coffees and Subway sandwiches all over Notre-Dame street and on St-Jacques is not what I’m trying to see. I’m tryna support local stuff, local ideas, local individuals, and local ambition. People don’t understand that. Even though a shop got an “urban” design or whatsoever doesn’t mean they are there to destroy the neighborhood. I fucks with graffiti – heavy – but main part about graffiti is “choosing” your spots. Everyone wants to be heard when they are making a statement but vandalizing a sandwich store is way less Wolverine than vandalizing some high-end haute couture designer who steals designs from the streets to sell it to a sheep audience. Ya feel me? Shouts out to all my writers though, they know who they are and they getting the right spots.
We hit up Montreal Pool Room, an OG “Casse-Croûte” joint that is still there since I was a kid. Can never go wrong with a Steamé All-Dressed.
We all know that every producer or creative for that matter has some sort of ritual or a thing they do before they sit down and start making beats. Do you have a ritual?
I masturbate while listening to Lara Fabian and light some Nag Champa incents. That’s what I do. On the real, there is no specific ritual for me in order to make a beat. Every beat has its own background story. Mostly, the beat is a result of me getting mad at the previous one and sending it to the trash bin.
“MONTREAL HOLDS DOWN SOME OF THE BEST TALENT ON THE GLOBE, REAL TALK… WE OUT HERE, THOUGH. NO INTRODUCTION NEEDED.”
At the moment, we can see a rise within the producers in Montreal. Do you think it’s important and that this will help push Montreal on the international scene?
I mean if Montreal all works together into pushing that scene instead of all starting their own little “movement,” then it can definitely make its mark out there. People still see this as a competition and shit. I do this shit for fun because that’s the thing it brought me the first time I did it. Montreal holds down some of the best talent on the globe, real talk. I’m so glad and honored to be a part of this and having my part in this discussion because that’s all I always push in my live sessions, Montreal talent. We out here, though. No introduction needed.
A short pit-stop at the Dep for some refreshments.
“I DID A LOT OF ERRORS GROWING UP.”
Who are some of your favorite local artists?
My favourite artist in the city is Colonel and he is currently in jail right now but I can’t wait for his return. One of the best in this city. Destroyed the whole rap game within a year.
In past interviews I have read and seen a huge support coming from your parents. How important is it to have your mom and dad follow your adventures and see you progress?
My relationship with my parents was never like that growing up. Back then, I was sellin’ drugs and lied a lot to hide all of that, but they knew… My brother was tryna become a cop and shit, so it was really taboo. From just me steppin’ home super faded after long winter parking hangouts smokin’ spliffs back-to-back listenin’ to Three 6 Mafia and Diplomats to then sellin’ drugs and being super curvy about the fact that I was gettin’ some work – it was never cool. One thing humans will always realize is that lying to the ones that pushed you, created you, supported you will never result in anything good. I had my share of experiences ’cause I was definitely the black sheep back home. I did a lot of errors growing up, maybe a whole lot more than a lot of people. The day that I stopped lying to them and started sayin’ all the real shit about my life is where everything started for me. We now have the greatest relationship ever. If I did a bunch of drugs last night and got with a freak, they know, you know what I’m saying ? [laughs] Some people try to hide their life from their parents or act a special way with them, but then it gets exposed when some shit happens or anything. I am not about that life anymore. They really know what I’m about and that’s what makes the best of our relationship. My mom came to one of my sold out shows this summer for the first time and I was playin’ really late, it was the best night of my life. My mom was working in the morning and stayed out late – that was the fuckin’ best.
We then hit up the DIME crew office.
Trap music. At the moment I feel that the genre is a bit oversaturated and it became more of a pop thing. That typical style is used profusely in any shape or form. We can see it in ads, fashion lookbooks, music videos, pop songs, etc. Trap is like the new dubstep. Are you a bit tired of seeing it everywhere?
To me, every genre of music has its own fair amount of good music, ya feel me? When something goes to the public audience and gains success, of course you are going to get a stupid amount of douche bags who are going to try to make it the same way. We live in the era of the “I did it first ” and the “I monetized it first.” Everyone is claiming they are the best or that their product is different, but pretty much they’re all doing the same thing than someone who already did it. I am not tired of listening to good music, I’m tired of douche bags trying to claim stuff they don’t even know and making crap music.
Lets talk about the rap scene of Montreal a bit. I spoke with the guys from The Posterz about it and I feel that Montreal has better producers than rappers. Why do you think that is?
There are a whole lot of talented rap cats out there, but I guess they still haven’t found the proper medium and platform to present their projects to a larger audience like producers from here [have] had the chance to do so. It’s about having the right tools and the right team. I’m confident that we will see some cats pop outside of the city.
How about the French side?
The French side is a very small market and that market is super tight. It is boomin’ tho. French rap shows from Alaclair and shit are crazy. I had the chance to perform with them in Texas and that was one of the funniest nights of my life.
With all the touring and producing, do you still have time to skate?
Man, I still try to skate every time that I can, but mostly it’ll be me cruising the streets alone in between point A and point B. Watching skate videos everyday and still working new tricks. Goddamn, I wish I had more time.
How important is your image? Tommy Kruise in public vs. the one at home.
I mean, isn’t that what everyone spends so much time working on? Their Tumblr, Instagram and all that has to look so good and shit. Except from tryna know what to wear at a show (which always ends up being black pants and a black tee), I really don’t care about my image to some extent for sure. I love photos of me looking very foolish or looking like a gargoyle as much as I love those nice pictures of me. It’s just me. Once you are real with yourself and you know where you want to stand, then I guess it’s all [about] being comfortable with what you are presenting and being comfortable in your own body. I am more than comfortable, so that’s why at this point I do not care.
Husser seen hanging after his performance with The Posterz.
BadBadNotGood was the headliner and they gave a great show filled with positive energy. It was my first time seeing them and it was great.
How was the tour with RL Grime? The Void tour. Heard you learned a lot?
AHHHHH MANEEEE. This shit was the best; I can’t wait for the second part of the tour. I’ve never been on tour in the states before and also never been on a tour bus. Playing sold out shows every night was definitely something big for me. It took me a moment to understand what was happening. I learned a lot about putting on a show, the American crowd, and the life on the road. We had a strong team, we all got along and shit. So it was definitely one of the best times of my life.
How was life on the road?
Go to sleep drunk and then get up during nighttime because the bus is moving. It’s a wonderful feeling. Felt like I was in a cradle going straight to sleep. Tour bus moments with Branchez and RL Grime was definitely incredible. Extended rap DJ sets and NBA 2K15 games all day.
Tommy went on at 2AM and killed it. All fun he said.
Can you tell us about what you have in the works for 2015?
RAP ALBUM, babyyyyyyy. Europe, Asia, Australia I’m on my way, babyyyyyyy.
Less Lara Fabian too.