Last week the Down to the Beat chaps sat down (virtually) with Vancouver artists Teon Gibbs and IAMTHELIVING. The duo ran us through life in the wild west and their newfound penchant for collaboration.
Vancouver, in a lot of ways, is similar to Ottawa. The population size doesn’t tend to reflect the music scene. As Teon Gibbs put it, there isn’t a lot of artistic infrastructure -- at least not for hip hop. The mission is to change that.
The two met in a unique way. A while ago Gibbs curated a lineup for a live show and invited IAMTHELIVING. Unbeknownst to him, the Gaborone, Botswana born rapper wasn’t even on the ticket. An organic introduction evolved into a collaborative relationship that generated two singles and an upcoming seven track EP.
“The first time I met Teon was because he reached out to me to be on a show and I actually thought we were gonna be performing. He wasn’t even performing, like he kind of created this dope lineup and I was really impressed with that.” IAMTHELIVING said.
The fateful encounter was a product of Gibbs’ 100 Collective, a platform he created to give local artists a voice through events and digital showcases. This is a part of his initiative to help develop a more cohesive music scene in their adopted home.
The artists belong to different genres, but both talked about the need to create your own opportunities in a city with no obvious cosigns or labels to reach for. This need sparked the inspiration to explore outside of their respective circles.
Gibbs and IAMTHELIVING quickly established a positive collaborative energy, harbouring a mutual respect that pushes both to flex their creative muscles. “There’s no ego in the studio,” said IAMTHELIVING. The London, England native explained that Gibbs keeps him at the top of his songwriting game, while for his part, Gibbs said he is focused on delivering verses that never take away from his counterpart’s R&B-centric melodies.
If the energy of their singles are any indication of what to expect in their next project, titled ‘JNGL’, listeners can look forward to only good vibes. Gibbs’ lyrical rhymes and IAMTHELIVING’s groovy refrains add up to a classic west coast tribute to endless summer.
Through smog and a pandemic, the pair is intent on keeping the collabs coming, their spirits high and putting Vancouver on the map. Keep these two on your radar because their music is a free antidepressant.
Colman Brown & John Balser
Source: Down to the Beat podcast