Last month, I had the honour of interviewing Toronto’s own Cale Sampson. I have transcribed the interview here but you can also catch the whole thing as a podcast at the DOPEfm page. Thanks to Daddy J for helping to set this interview up and for manning the boards. So without further ado, we bring you the Cale Sampson interview – Part 1.
Chase: “Alright everybody this is Chase March. We’re at the Blue Moon for the Cale Sampson show today and we’re lucky enough to be able to sit down with him before the show. How ya doing, Cale?”
Cale Sampson: “Doing fantastic. Really excited for this show. People are starting to roll through right now. I’m super-stoked. I think we’re gonna have a sold-out show tonight. I plan on really giving ‘er during the live performance and hopefully just giving back to all my friends and fans who’ve been supporting me this past year. I really want to give them a great show and just touch them in their hearts, make them feel special tonight.”
Chase: “Sounds good. So, you just put out an album recently and it’s really interesting because there are two discs in it. There’s Cale Sampson: The Album and Cale Sampson: The Demo so can you tell us how this came about?”
Cale Sampson: “Yeah, sure. Well, for people who haven’t heard of me, my name is Cale Sampson. I’ve been rhyming for well over ten years. I first started rhyming, believe it or not, when I was nine years old. And I just haven’t really stopped since then It’s been a passion and it’s slowly just become who I am and a massive part of my life. I’ve been making tunes for well over a decade and never really released a solo album. I have released albums with my group, Rhythmicru but a solos album was something that I always wanted to do. So over the past ten years, I’ve been recording songs, building up to this release.
There are two discs. One is the demo, one is the album, and they represent two different time periods of my life and my career. the demo is sort of me during my developing stage. I’m a little bit more raw, more hip-hop focused, my voice is a little but more squeaky, but it’s still me developing.
The album is sort of where I’m at right now, more storytelling, more personal, and given the fact that this was my first solo release and I’ve been involved for so long and experienced so much, I just felt that it was only fitting to include them both. It’s like looking at a painting, ya know what I mean, you can’t really see the picture till you see both sides. It just seemed fitting to release all my best material to tell my whole story. I think that once people listen to both albums, they really understand where I’m at right now. Whereas if I just gave them one or the other, it wouldn’t quite tell the whole story and as I was referring to before, show the complete picture.”
Chase: “Yeah that’s pretty cool because most demos will get leaked further along the line and it’s like when Cale’s huge everyone will be like, “Yo, did you hear his demo?” and some people will brag over it, “Oh, I heard his demo a long time ago man.” So now, like everyone’s getting the demo right now.
Cale Sampson: “I know and it’s dope. A lot of the songs on the demo people may have heard. They were on smaller releases but mostly they were just tracks that I did live that were people’s favourites, and I felt that I wanted to include those because a lot of people’s favourite tracks come off of the demo. In fact, a lot of people even when they listen to the album right now they say they can’t tell which one is their favourite. They like them equally as much and some people actually do like the demo better than the album, which I can respect too.”
Chase: “So it’s been a long time coming for the Cale Sampson solo stuff but you have been with Rhythmicru for about seven years now, is that correct?”
Cale Sampson: “Yeah, I guess it has been a bout seven years. We first started in about 2002, 2003. Ya know, those were guys I grew up with in my neighbourhood. We were all sort of solo artists. We’re all trying to just pool our talents together to try to make something bigger than the sum of our parts. That’s what we did and for the last five years, we’ve been releasing a steady stream of albums together as a crew. We started our own record label and did a lot of stuff, had a lot of great experiences, we went on the Van’s Warped Tour, opened up for a lot of different acts that we respect, and one of our highlights was going to Taiwan and doing a two-week tour out there that was just a dream come true for me and all the guys too.
We were like brothers and friends and to be sharing our mutual goals of going across to the other side of the world, a place of the Earth where nobody really speaks English and being on this side of the stage rocking shows for thousands of people is literally almost unbelievable. I had to punch myself, but it was great. It was cool.”
Chase: “That’s pretty amazing. I understand that on one of the Rhythmicru albums, you had a solo joint ‘Facts of War’ and that track was apparently pretty huge. I saw that there was some write-ups on it about people were really interested in your subject matter and how it was a really gritty, anti-war song.”
Cale Sampson; “Yeah, I mean, that song was the song that got Rhythmicru and myself known. I think that was a statement song that people took notice of. This is one of the songs that’s on the demo disc that we were talking about. ‘The Facts of War,’ I actually wrote that shortly after 9/11, very shortly after. And believe it or not, when I was writing this song, I was originally gonna write a song dissing the terrorists and whatnot. And then, I realized that if I was going to do a political song, ‘cause not all my songs are political, but if I was, I wanted to make sure that I got my facts straight.
So I went on the Internet, and this was pre-anti George Bush. Nobody had any knowledge including me. The only person who was writing anything, who was sort of behind the curtain, was Noam Chomsky. So basically, ‘The Facts of War,” I just researched Chomsky and a couple other different guys who were on the Internet.
And the more I started to research 9/11, the more I started to realize that maybe I didn’t really want to talk about the terrorists, maybe I want to talk about what’s going on in the US government right now. That’s sort of where my research led me and ‘The Facts of War” is a sort of a culmination of all that research. It’s not an anti-American track, it’s more just an anti-US-government with George Bush at that time, which is kind of funny.
It was a risky move when I first put it out, even guys in my crew were like, “I don’t think we should do this,” ya know what I mean. I’m not sure. But we did it and it made an impact and it got ourselves known, it touched a lot of people, professors were using it in university, kids were doing projects about it in high school, it seemed to hit a market that was way beyond hip-hop people, you know.”
Chase: “Wow, so that’s on your demo but the first track of your album, you actually mention George Bush so you’re still kind of on that same topic.”
Cale Sampson: “Yeah, I guess. In my opinion, I was probably the first or one of the first people to take a chance and diss George Bush which seems kind of funny now because there’s thousands of anti-George Bush tracks out there. But at that time, I felt that I was going against the norm by taking that chance. And I felt that I backed it all up with facts and information because the way I wrote that song was basically the way a student would write an essay, ya know what I mean. An introduction, all my points, and then a conclusion at the end. So I approached that song as if I were a student at university handing in a paper. I mean, occasionally I’ll still reference it but I think I’m done with that now, I think we all are. We’re on to bigger and better things now in the world. There’s no reason to really focus on negativity like that anymore.”
Chase: “Definitely, there’s a lot of positive lyrics in your album and in your demo. So I think we should let the listeners hear something right now, so do you have a favourite track you’d like to spin right now?”
Cale Sampson: “Maybe, if we don’t listen to Facts of War, I feel like I’m a little bit of an underdog. I feel like, in a lot of ways because of all the things that I’ve done. I’ve just stuck with it for so long. Now I’m starting to, I wouldn’t say reap the rewards, but I’m feeling the love back to me now. A lot of opportunities have come my way and I feel blessed. I feel like all the hard work has paid off. So I think my story is one of just sticking with your dream and sticking with your passion even against all odds. Just believing in yourself and going for it when things look down, you stick with it and they eventually come back up. I think a good song to go off of that spirit and, like how you said, positivity, is probably a song called ‘Potential.’”
Chase: “Nice! I really like that track. Alright, so we’re gonna throw to that right now. Daddy J is gonna spin that, he’s manning the boards. This is Chase March on the interview tip and we’ll be back with more of Cale Sampson right after this.”
Sorry but I couldn’t find that track on YouTube to share with you so I will leave you with “Facts of War” instead. Download the podcast to hear all of his great songs that we dropped. And don’t forget to tune in here tomorrow for Part 2 of the Cale Sampson interview.