Cityreal takes beats and flow to Squamish Valley Music Festival
Vancouver hip-hop artist will bring his message-laden music to the summer crowds
When he takes the stage at this weekend’s Squamish Valley Music Festival, Cityreal is going to be sure to leave the crowd Lost In Vancouver.
That is the title of the forthcoming release from Winnipeg-born Remi Huot, who, as Cityreal, has become a fixture on the Vancouver hip-hop scene and touring the country with bands such as Swollen Members. He has also released Western Canadian Music Award-nominated albums The Beginning (2010) and Good Morning Blues with Wes Mackey (2012).
“I’ve been working on this coming album since even before the blues side project took off,” says Cityreal. “The co-producer/superstar pianist is Todor Kobakov, who has worked with acts like Metric, and there is also a large orchestral section for some huge strings and brass on some songs.”
He won’t be bringing the expanded group to the weekend gig. It’s way too much for a struggling indie act to afford. But Cityreal has an ace backing band with luminaries such as vocalist Tonye Agenabe to fill in the necessary live accompaniment to his smooth flowing lyrics.
“We’ve been working a lot together lately and I’m trying to bring as many people in the local scene as possible into the mix because it’s my scene too,” he says. “It’s been a real upswing for me because I was getting down on the music biz quite a bit, and a big festival show and some of the support spots I've had are a real vote of confidence.”
Cityreal doesn’t approach his hip hop the way many MCs do. Building tracks with his own beats from the bottom up and incorporating other players makes it feel more like a songwriter experience than the often more delineated hip-hop playbook. Both being very valid, but he favours the more traditional side.
He also prefers to make music with messages.
The Stuey Kubrick-directed video for his tune Nightlife with bluesman Wes Mackey looks at the giant development projects in Alberta’s oil sands asking serious questions about the effects of the business on the world. It’s an excellent video no matter where you sit on the benefits or negative implications of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and the industry as a whole.
“I don’t think that I am one to like music or lyrics that are overtly political at all,” says Cityreal. “But that was something on my mind and the experience of going up and doing the filming and seeing if first-hand was incredible. That said, our video was taken down for a time due to a barrage of criticisms lodged at the host. It’s a very polarizing issue.”
Perhaps there is a chance the clip can be run in accompaniment to the song in his set this weekend. If not, check it and more music out at cityrealmusic.com. Lost in Vancouver is due by year’s end. Singles will be released along the way.
He is adamant that this release won’t be done in the “stereotypical hamster wheel of hip hop” method.
Cityreal at Squamish Valley Music Festival
Where: Logger Sports Grounds, Squamish
When: Friday to Sunday
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