WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Welcome to Witchpolice Radio. I'm here with someone who is a... I don't want to call you a regular on the show, but you've been on enough times, especially over the past few years, and that's mainly because you've had so much music coming out. And I think that's kind of where I want to start with you. But first, the best way to start these off always is for you to introduce yourself and give a bit of background about what you do as an artist. And we can take it from there.
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: Yeah. So my name is The Gumshoe Strut real name. People know me as BJ in everyday life, but, yeah, The Gumshoe Strut is my MC moniker. Also, I am a producer. Make hip hop music. Been doing that for 20 some odd years, performing around Winnipeg, Western Canada.
Yeah. And in recent years, I've kind of started venturing out into doing, I guess, some other artistic things like screen printing, that's kind of what's sort of stuck under the label of Styles Make Fights, which is sort of branded as a boutique hip hop label, sort of. And my sort of street wear clothing sort of line as well.
WR: Cool. And I think the last time you were on the show was talking about the Turn the Gun record, which was maybe last year at some point. Like I said, sort of right off the hop there, you seem to be very prolific lately, and I don't know if that's just something that maybe I'm seeing it more because of social media. I know you have a lot of records you put out in the past, but it does seem like over the past few years you've been very, very active, whether it's with the clothing stuff, but with music too. I mean mean, it seems like every few months I notice a new release or I get an email from Bandcamp saying, hey, this is a new Strut release. Whether it's remixes or new singles or new albums, you have a lot happening. Is that something that you're doing deliberately, or is it just this much creativity is sort of just floating around at the moment?
TGS: I guess it's not deliberate necessarily. I guess it would be the creativity, I guess since COVID started, I had a couple of friends pull me back into the mix, I guess. And yeah, I guess the floodgates sort of opened and I've just been really active.
I think I've probably put out as many albums in the last three ish years than I did in the 15 years preceding that. So, yeah, really just kind of going with it.
It just comes out and yeah, it is what it is. I'm having fun. I'm not playing any shows to promote it, really. I played one show recently, but other than that, it's just fun to sort of make the music. I enjoy listening to my own voice and my own narcissism gets fulfilled and I get it out and get a little bit of a response from people and hope it connects with some folks.
WR: Is this sort of burst of creativity? Is this something that was always there, you just didn't have an outlet for it? Maybe. Like, I imagine the way that you said, you're not playing shows to promote this stuff, the ability to just put it online and send it out in the world, that's got to help, right? In terms of just being able to get your music two years without having to do some of the things you might have had to do 15 years ago.
TGS: Yeah, I guess that's part of it, right? It's like I can always just throw something up on Bandcamp or throw something up on Spotify through DistroKid or whatever it might mean. It's super easy to do, but I think it's more just related to the idea that I think prior to the pandemic, when I started getting back into it, I just wasn't doing as much right. And so it was probably just kind of just those years where it was like pent up and then all of a sudden, I guess, I don't know, just like I said, riding the wave. Because I think the floodgates sort of opened. And the one thing that I've noticed over the last few years is that I've learned a lot in terms of making the music. I've gotten better at writing and structuring my songs and better at beat making and understanding melodies and key and keeping things in key because I'm a sample based hip hop producer, right. It was never about understanding music per se, but it was all about ear. Right. And I admittedly had some troubles earlier on in my musical career or whatever, but I think in recent years it's like I've really sort of just found a sound, found a way to put these things together a lot more. And then again, vocally, even in recording, learning how to mix better, I've been mastering my own projects and getting a better sound each time I put something out. So it's just having fun learning these new things and then applying those tricks with the next project.
WR: Yeah, well, and it's going to get better every time just in terms of the technical side of things because you have all the experience, right?
TGS: Absolutely. Yeah.
WR: One of the other things that I think this came up when we were talking about the Turn the Gun record as well with you and Yy is just the idea of being a rapper and being at the age you are now, having a family, having kids, and that seems like a topic you've been talking about a fair bit recently too. You have this do dad shit sort of slogan which has come out now. So what can you tell me about that? How has that affected your sort of writing and maybe the way that you approach things?
TGS: Slice of life, right? It's just writing about what's relevant to me.
I think there's a whole generation of rap folks who are just like me in similar positions with families, whatever. They don't get out as much, they enjoy music in their headphones, whether it be going to the gym, whether it be riding in the car on the commute or whatever it might be. And I just think that there's I don't know, I think there's an untapped opportunity, not opportunity but potential in the hip hop space for something like that. Right. I know the term dad rap has been thrown around and stuff like that before, but I'm not trying to necessarily make it a thing other than this doodad posse cut, which was really just kind of I always had the idea of doodads kind of like rocking some nice clothes or whatever, but then I was like, well, the doodads. Okay. I started to think about the play on words and everything like that and I thought it'd be a really kind of a neat way to maybe name an album that or something like that.
And it ended up that I just started writing a verse and I don't know, it clicked with me one day where it was just like okay, posse cut, ding ding, ding. And I reached out to a bunch of dad homies who rap and assembled as many as I could. I tapped a lot of people.
It would have been really cool if some of those folks just had the time or whatever to be able to get down. But I think what we got is a really cool song and I just think it's kind of fun to play on. And like I said, there's a whole generation of folks that I think it can apply to. Sure. And if people heard it, I think it's a hashtag. Whatever. You know what I mean? Everything. It's like doodad shit. Right. Everything I do every day. That's what it is. I have no other choice, right?
WR: Of course.
TGS: This is what we do. This is life. This is my family. It's my number one priority. It's always going to be. And so, yeah, that's kind of where I'm coming at it from now. But in terms of other content, it's just more learning, growing slice of life.
WR: Right. It's not different from the stuff you would have done 15 years ago. It's just that 15 years ago you were in a different position in life and you're talking about those things that are influencing your life and what, your experiences and stuff.
TGS: Right. I would have talked about riding my bike or smoking weed or something like that. Right?
WR: Yeah. Whatever was going on at the time.
WR: So, I mean, like, that that posse cut, that was a single that you put out relatively recently. I know you have new music coming as well. So what's what's kind of coming down the pipeline for the Gumshoe Strut?
TGS: Yeah. So I have a new album coming out in well, it comes out October 20, so I'm not sure when this will drop...the album is called Extra Extra and it's ten songs. It's a nice complete little package. Thinks just over half an hour. But really, this project started out as was intended to be a quick follow up to my most recent album, which was more of an EP. It was called NT2D, which stood for no time to die.
And that album was kind of a little bit more on the introspective, more on the emotional, really kind of some heavy content in there and some personal stuff. And this was meant to be like a quick follow with some just rap. Raps, right. Just knock out some raps. Remind people that I do that shit.
I started writing it and the first song I wrote for it was Whirlwind, which is one of the singles that I just put out. And the way that it sounded was like, yeah, okay, if I write a few songs like this, it's kind of just like bam, bam, bam, just a smattering of raps. I'll get this out there and it'll just be a quick follow. And of course, the floodgates, just like I said, they opened up. I had a batch of beats, about seven or eight and found a couple more to complement those from the archives. And, yeah, I ended up writing to all these beats and then started to assemble some features, which is actually another aspect of this album that I'm excited about because more recent albums, I haven't really had too many features.
WR: Yeah, it's been very solo.
TGS: I kind of sent out the bat signal and tried to assemble a good collective of features. So on this album, I have some folks from the US as well as some of the cast of characters that I've had before as well, like Rob Crooks and Yy, of course, Pip Skid. It was great. To get him on a record again. And then, like I said, a few of the US homies that we've made connections with through one of them, Id Obelus, through Saskatoon Folk Rap Records, which we sort of shifted gears, some of us, and moved into a new thing called Saskatoon Rap Rap Music. Okay. And we have another fella in that crew by the name of Staplemouth, who also hails from the US, I believe, Colorado. Really awesome rapper.
He's got two features on the album, and we even have a video coming up for one of the songs as I mean, so it was just really cool to get these guys that are sort of outside of my regular cast of characters on the record. And I think as far as I feel, I mean, it's probably recency bias, but I just feel like as far as the sound quality, as far as the knock, and as far as just the song concepts and everything like that, I feel like it's relatable reachable. And I think, yeah, I'm really, really proud of this album, and I'm proud of what it kind of from where it started to what it became. I'm super excited to get it out there.
WR: That's cool. Yeah. You mentioned the Saskatoon Folk Rap thing, and I know that you've put out music on all kinds of labels in the past, including your own label, Your Brother's Records, who's putting this out? Is this another self released album, or is this coming out on another label?
TGS: Yeah, I mean, it's always primarily I mean, my previous few albums were through Saskatoon Folk Rap Records, but really, they were sort of through either Your Brother's Records, which I've sort of shifted gears to Styles Make Fights. So styles make fights is my thing.
It'll be the label that's always on my projects. Saskatoon Folk Rap Records was a collective, still exists, just some other folks. And then, like I said, a few of us shifted gears to Saskatoon Rap Rap Music, and again, just another collective. So it's labelesque. Right. But, you know, it's not like there's money coming from there or of know, a concerted promotional effort coming from there, like the concerted promotional effort and everything is all on me, right?
WR: It's still super DIY. Regardless.
TGS: It'll be Styles Make Fights primarily. Saskatoon Rap Rap Music is the crew It's a label for all intents and purposes, in order to sort of garner some of those. Everybody has connections outside of our own. We can build our connections like the web, right?
WR: That's one of the things that I always like about sort of that whole loose group of artists is that there seems to be you all have amazing rolodexes from doing this for so long that you have all these contacts and you have all these people who are appearing on each other's records and helping to promote each other's records and everything.
And it's very DIY and very punk rock kind of vibe to it. Which I always liked is that you know that if you're hearing a record by one person who's part of that loose collective that it's probably going to be good if you like one of the other ones, right, or two of the other ones. Or if you're a fan of four of the other guys, some new fifth one gets introduced and you're probably going to dig it too, because even though you don't all sound the same, there's definitely sort of an attitude towards it that similar.
TGS: Absolutely. I think with this, it's not just the Homies who meet up at the show like it was 15-20 years ago. For us, there's a new generation of kids that do that. But for us, 15-20 years ago, yeah, our little collective and crews, we'd be playing shows together, hanging out, but now we hang out and we have an instagram. IG chat Saturday mornings, sort of a little rap meeting or whatever it might be. Right. And there's dudes know, Columbus, Ohio and Indiana and like and you know, a number of different places from the States as well. Know the Homies in Saskatoon and other places in Canada stretching all the way out to Vancouver as well. So I mean yeah, it's just the ability to sort know, build that reaches is there for sure.
WR: Yeah. Do you think that having that sort of closer relationship, I guess with all these people from all over North America really has that affected your sound at all? Just being influenced by some of these guys talking to them on a regular basis, probably being exposed to a lot more of their music than you might have been previously?
TGS: I wouldn't necessarily say so. I mean, it's motivating, sure. So it might have an influence in that respect. I wouldn't say necessarily on the sound per se because I just make what I make and it's always been that way. So I mean, there might be momentary influences when I'm writing something or making a beat or something like that. I hear something that a Homie has done and I'm like, that's a cool idea, or whatever, and then I'll play with it a little bit in a beat and maybe just subtly use something here or there.
All the homies might borrow a pattern or something like that when they're writing a verse or something like that, but I think it's more so. Yeah, in terms of the motivational factor and the inspirational factor and just hearing some of these dudes that like I said, having some of these guys in the crew, Staplemouth for example, just a really strong vocal presence. Has a really strong double time and syncopated rap flow, but can slow it down, know, go into a sing song.
Another guy, MC Homeless from the States as well. He's about to go on tour actually with Kool Keith. He's been putting out a twelve inch series with Kool Keith. So then as sort of a partnership, they're just about to put out the third one in early 2024. But him again, like flipping styles, right? He can fast rap, he'll slow it down. He'll get kind of like playful and goofy. He'll get super deep, super thoughtful.
Like I said, all the homies from the regular cast of characters. Right. I think we have a lot to draw from. So definitely inspiring.
WR: Yeah, I believe it, for sure.
I noticed that over your past few releases, too, you've been putting out a lot of physical stuff, which is great. I mean, as someone who is pretty vocal about preferring physical media to streaming and stuff, I'm always happy to see that and I've been buying them when I can. But you're doing these sort of short runs of tapes and stuff, which is great to see. Is that something you intend to keep doing is making sure physical copies are being released of all your stuff?
TGS: Yeah, I have no reason to, not to unless people stop buying them all together. I'm doing about as short a run as somebody's going to do, really, if I found like, okay, it's just not hitting, that's fine. I'll still make music for me, for myself, and for whoever's willing to download it or whatever. But I enjoy making the physical project as well because that's another aspect of what I do as well, is the DIY. Like putting things together, designing.
And with the tapes, for example, I've been sort of getting them dubbed or recorded at the plant, but then sort of putting together, cutting the inserts and folding and kind of constructing different looking designs and things like that just to try to apply different presentations and stuff like that. It works a little bit better with cassettes than it does with CDs, but I enjoy that aspect of it. That's another thing that I try to do with styles, make fights, is try to offer some uniqueness with each release. If I can.
WR: Yeah. It's good to see. Again, as someone who prefers listening to physical stuff, it's nice to see that level of effort put into something, too.
WR: Because like I mentioned before, it's not that difficult these days to get your music online because you can just sort of press some buttons and there it is, it's out in the world. But yeah, actually spending the time to do the artwork and sitting there physically folding the inserts and stuff, it's a level of dedication to it that I think I hope, anyway, makes people more willing to sort of give a project the time. Because it's like, okay, obviously the person behind this spent all this effort into putting it out there. And not to say that people who are only doing streaming aren't spending the time, but you know what I mean?
TGS: No, for sure. And I don't know if I promote it enough to say how handcrafted a lot of these things are. Maybe I should do that a little bit more. But I think music as art, right? I think it's a concept. Right. So I don't necessarily want to treat it like a commodity, but I do want to give it a feel that it's like, okay, this. Just has something extra than just a general cassette that you're going to purchase from wherever, right?
WR: Yeah, for sure. And that's the kind of thing that got me interested in buying local cassettes in the first place. I think like 30 years ago, whenever it was, when I first started buying tapes, was seeing that, right? Seeing that, oh, this is something someone made themselves. And I want to hear what this music is, because I didn't know you could do that at the time. When I first started seeing local tapes, it's like, oh, shit. People can actually just put out their own music. This is amazing. And I think the internet that has kind of made that more of a possibility for a lot more people. But there's still something I think, to be said for the physical, the physical stuff, for me anyway. So I'm glad to see you keep doing it.
WR: Like you mentioned earlier, you haven't done a lot of shows lately. You've done you've done one recently, and you have this imminent album. So how do you get the word out about this album without necessarily doing a release show? Or is that like, something you got to figure out?
TGS: Still just figuring it out. I mean, it's social media. It's the old school. Sending it out to college radio as much as I can. Um, FM has been a really good 101.5 in Winnipeg.
That team has been really supportive over the years in terms of making sure that the albums get added to their system, getting to the appropriate hosts at the station so that it's getting played. And I managed to do some good charting here in Winnipeg, I think with my album, Styles Make Fights. I think it was at number one on the hip hop or whatever chart for ten weeks or something like that, which is pretty cool. But that said, not one other station picked it up.
I've sent this one out. We'll see. I know a couple have downloaded it, but I don't know if they've added to their systems. We'll see if it gets played. We'll see if it maybe can reach a couple of people. I don't know.
Other than that, it's really just social media at this point, trying to use the people around me to help sort of extend to their circles as well.
Again, I have a video that we're working on currently featuring Staplemouth for one of the songs on my album. He was just gracious enough to just be like, hey, I'd be more than happy to record some clips at home and send them your way if you want to do a video or something like that. I was like, great. That sounds awesome. Thanks, man.
He since offered up a connection that he has with somebody. I believe in France. I'm not sure, but they do visual art and videos is one of the things that they do. So they're actually working with both of our clips to put a bit of a video together. So it should be interesting and probably better than I can do on my own, because I'm just goofing around with telephone apps, making videos to try to promote whatever without a great deal of time or necessary skill to do something really good. So, yeah, I mean, trying these things, using the circle of folks that are around to help spread the word.
Like I said, Saskatoon Rap Rap right now, Saskatoon Folk Rap previously, they've all been really helpful and supportive in terms of everybody just sort of shares the content and helps to tell a friend to tell a friend, so to speak. And that's really what it is at this point in time. Like I said, I would love to play shows. So anybody out there listening to this? Winnipeg, hit me up, I'm down. I just I live in Steinbach. I don't get out to shows that often, so I'm not in the mix, really. All that mean, if I was out and about, I'd probably have a few more opportunities, but like I said, open to opportunities. Just haven't been able to put myself in the position to do.
WR: So you got to find the Steinbach rap scene.
TGS: I do. There's got to be again, it's a matter of getting out and finding things.
WR: Yeah, of course.
TGS: I'm a homebody.
WR: Yeah. No, I hear you. I'm recording these from home. I get the appeal for sure. Where can people find this record? I mean, by the time this comes out as a podcast, it'll be out in a few days, and people could be listening to this a year from now. They could be listening to this whenever. Right. So for most people hearing this, it might already be out. What's the best way to find this new record and then also your old stuff? Because I know you have a lot of stuff still out there, whether it's physical forms or streaming or all those things.
TGS: Yeah, pretty much everything is available on my Bandcamp page. So that's thegumshoestrut.bandcamp.com.
Like I said, there's probably got to be upwards of 25 or so releases on there. A mix of vocal albums and instrumental albums, and those go way back, too. Right.
WR: You got some old stuff from...
TGS: Yeah, all the way back to Milch & Allegra, all the way back to the first thing we actually officially sort of put out until now. Not just that, but you could also find other works through Saskatoonrapmusic.bandcamp.com. We just put out a beat tape. Okay. So it's kind of a cool concept.
Chaps, who's a longtime homie in Saskatoon, he kind of had the idea of doing, like, a beat tape series because we have a lot of producers in our crew. And so he was like, I bought these tapes, and I'm going to dub them. He's like, but 20 minutes aside. I'd love to do, like, just have four producers do 20 minutes a side, and we'll do a double cassette release. And he bought these cool little DVD style packages that fit two cassettes in them.
So, yeah, we just put out the first one. It features Rove, who's been killing it lately, putting out compilation albums featuring a whole ton of really awesome, well known hip hop artists like West Coast and across the US. And across Canada as well, myself.
Noblonski. Who runs a label called Pen Thief Records. He's been part of the Saskatoon folk rap as well as Saskatoon Rap Rap. Now he kind of runs, like, the overseas sort of faction of things with his Pen Thief Records. He's also a really talented producer as well. So he's got a side on there and then sign one who is a homie from the US. I believe he's in Columbus, Ohio.
He's got a side on there as well. He actually mastered the Turn the Gun Perpetual Survival album.
WR: Okay, cool.
TGS: Yeah. So that B tapes out. Now you can hit up Saskatoon rap rap music on Bandcamp to peep. That some really awesome beats on there.
WR: Cool. And then October 20, you said was the new solo record.
TGS: Yes. So my album, Extra Extra is my new album from the Gumshoe Strut. October 20. It will be available on all the streaming.
I usually maybe surprise folks a couple of days early because I'm just impatient with things. There's no Bandcamp Friday or anything for this release, so I can just put it out whenever I really feel like it. Once I have the physicals in hand is when I'm comfortable actually putting it out there. So I'm just waiting to get them in hand. And yeah, hopefully some folks will take the time to go check it out on the Bandcamp or on the streams. Best way to support always is through the physical product.
Also, Styles Make Fights, that's clothing line that I'm working with have a number of different shirts from different artists. Smfshop.ca is the website where you can find all the gear.
WR: Well, I'll link to all that stuff in the show notes, too, to your Bandcamp and to SMF and everything so people can find it there. So if you're hearing some of this and you don't have a pen handy, just go back to the show notes and there'll be links in there.
TGS: I'll spell it out for you really slowly.