July 22, 2008

Anonymous Twist

Anonymous Twist

Anonymous Twist

Photos by Jon B

Anonymous Twist “Great Balls of Fire”


Anonymous “Sweet Sixteen” Feat. Planet Asia

This auspicious pharmacist from Toronto, (a.k.a. Anonymous Twist) is a producer, DJ and rapper who recently dropped an album called The Crucible, an impressive LP for all my “boom-bap dinosaur” brethren. It features some guest spots from Planet Asia, Oh No! and the cameo king: Sean Price (no Weezy, sorry). Some might perceive the style as played out, but Anonymous Twist proves that there are still some dope samples out there. Although Twist’s been on the grind as a DJ for almost two decades, it was his Eugenics or Through the Looking Glass LPs which have garnered the major fame he enjoys today. My wry sarcasm aside, The Crucible is a refreshing example of an artist making quality music simply for the love of the art.

Is there such a thing as an “Asian Rapper”?

A lot of the stuff I hear is really weak. When you go on the net and you hear Asian rappers, it sounds under-developed. When I hear someone and they are Asian, I tend to kind of know, there’s a sound, something about their voice that I know. I like Jin, I like Mountain Brothers…

Are you spear-heading the Asian rapper revolution?

I can’t really say that, because I’m the last Asian guy to really jump on that ‘Asian pride’ shit. You can use that as a tool to be heard, maybe not in mainstream media, but in smaller avenues. I feel weird about gearing the music toward an ethnicity. I just don’t see things in those terms.

You did the Hometown Heroes show here in Toronto and I’ve never seen anyone beat-juggling and rap at the same time live…

There’s a handful. The first person I saw do it was J-Live. [When I saw it], he actually changed records while rapping (this is before Serato) and he’d go back-to-back over the same two bar loop. When I saw that, it made me curious because I come from a DJ background. I heard later that Grand Master Kaz did something similar too.

Is that shit hard?

Initially it’s awkward. It’s the same thing as people playing piano and singing. At first it’s awkward; you have to separate it so that [your hands and mouth] are doing separate things.

Anonymous TwistYou have Serato and vinyl, what do you think of this whole digital vs. analog debate?

I’m not sure why people knock it. I can see kind of where they’re coming from with people who are just getting into the music, buy Serato and get a Rapidshare account and download every album that’s been encoded. I say that because not everything has been encoded into mp3s. I can see why people might not like that, but that doesn’t really hold much weight for me, it’s just another way to find music, another way to use music. One reason I don’t understand why people don’t like it is that is doesn’t make you a DJ. It makes mixing a bit easier…

Do you think that ubiquity of music desensitizes people in a way?

That could be part of it, in terms of the perception of the music and whether it’s worth keeping. More often than not when I hear something, I feel like it’s been done before, it doesn’t grab my attention, it’s just kind of there. If anything, I buy CDs, if it’s on an independent label, major label releases I don’t even bother. The whole machine behind it, I can’t support that. If there’s a way to support the artist directly, then I’ll do that.

The Crucible has Planet Asia, Oh No, Sean Price, how’d you get these guys on? Was it just money?

Yeah, it’s not like any of us know these people. This is kind of a way that I can support the artists directly. The only one that was kind of straight through the internet, with no real contact was Oh No. I sent him the beat, the next day he had all the tracks laid out for me. Sean Price I got through a radio promoter. Asia was the most interesting because he actually came to my place to record it, he was supposed to be here for a show, but it fell through, but I got word that [Planet Asia] was looking to get on some guest spots. That was amazing, he picked a beat and within 15 or 20 minutes he wrote it, with a hook.

So is this rap shit a hobby for you?

Of course, yeah, I got a mortgage, daycare payments [laughs]. I treat it like a serious hobby. All my free time is geared toward doing music related stuff. Looking back I kind of regret it, I feel like at the end, there’s only so much you can do with sampled music. I wish I had picked up something more serious like guitar or piano, something I can call my own. If you try to use your catalogue to the next level for licensing, you can’t do any of that, without the sample clearance. In that way it can only really be a serious hobby.

You ever try to open up to coworkers or is it easier not to say anything?

I just have to feel them out. Some are cool with it, some of them make fun of you or they don’t care. A couple of people at work know, a couple of my bosses.

Anonymous Twist

You went on a little West coast tour with Aceyalone, what was that like?

The tour really opened my eyes. You hear a lot of things about promoters and how shady they can be. You never know until you’re in that situation. To be honest, after hearing about what this guy’s reputation was like, I don’t know why we were on it. I guess you just need to find out who you can trust. I don’t even think that it’s bad mouthing someone…it was a shit show.

So L.S. was the one who organized the whole thing?

I’m a serious hobbyist…I don’t mind cutting ties [or] burning bridges with people; he’s…[Laughs]…I really don’t care. There were so many fucked up things from day one. Work permits for Acey – not taken care of; he wasn’t even there at the airport taking care of it, I was there. Lyric1, Deezuz, I.P. – we were there. Lyric1 was the one who paid for the work permit. Getting to Victoria that night…we missed the ferry to get there at a reasonable time to do a sound check. We get there, no sound check, but it went off without a hitch. We were happy. That night, no money. I wasn’t expecting any money, but that night none.

Did nobody show up?

A guarantee is a guarantee regardless of how well a show does. And it was the same for the next few nights. The money wasn’t right; I remember Acey was…not having doubts about L.S., but just the way [L.S.] was conducting himself…it was very strange. I guess little things, like who was organizing rides and all that. It was soon after that that we had enough, it was really only 3 shows that we stayed on for.

How do you feel about your daughter listening to the stuff you do and rap in general?

I really don’t want to steer her in any direction, I just want to expose her to as many different types of music as possible and see what she likes. One thing I wish I had done for myself is take up an instrument professionally.

Is there stuff you don’t want her to hear?

I’ll wait until she’s older, but I wouldn’t censor it. I don’t want her saying that stuff in school. I think as long as you try to raise your kids in a stable environment…you don’t want them sheltered. Once they leave, they’ll go nuts. I’m not sure I’d want her to listen to rap…yeah, I don’t know.

I hope she takes up guitar or something. My ultimate dream would be to do music for TV or film; a lot of people who are in it are doing really well. One of the reasons why I got a new keyboard and working with a lot plug-ins, is trying to do stuff that will ultimately take me part time with pharmacy, so I can spend more time at home, doing music and with family. My pharmacy shifts are 12 hour shifts, I can’t leave the store…it just kills me, no contact with the outside world. It really is isolation. I work 9 to 9, my daughter goes to bed at 8, so that day I don’t see her. It really fucks me up. That’s more incentive for me to do pharmacy part time, if I can supplement it with music.

For more on Anonymous Twist, check out www.anonymoustwist.com or myspace.com/anonymoustwist

14 Responses

  1. Crazy shit in there. Good read.

    I like the sample tracks too…I mean how can you go wrong with SFII.

    Props to Anonymous Twist for being a real mutherfucker.

  2. awesome

    some shit aired out that wasnt quite public that shoulda been.

    i remember listening to twist on an aberfoyle compiliaton.
    i need to get this album.

  3. fair one put me onto anonymous twist a while ago
    too bad he wasn’t on tour for the saskatoon aceyalone show.
    good interview.