WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Welcome to Witchpolice Radio. I'm here with a couple of people who have been on the show before, but in different contexts. One of the things that's cool, I think, about sort of the local rap scene, and especially the local rap scene that I kind of grew up going to see, and then some of the artists that I used to and still listen to is that you're all in groups with each other. This kind of incestuous thing where so many of you have been in so many groups with each other. But the two guests on this episode today, I think that you've probably worked together the most and maybe the longest of a lot of people from that kind of community. So I think that the best way to start this off is if the two of you want to introduce yourselves and then maybe give a bit of background about what your relationship working together is.
YY: I'm Yy. Introduce yourself.
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: My name is the Gumshoe Strut.
YY: Yeah, let me see. We've been making music together for -- I mean, we've been releasing stuff for, I guess, over 20 years now, but making music together for probably three years on top of that, something like that. Started in a group called Your Brother In My Backpack with John Smith, currently Bazooka Joe 204, Nestor Wynrush, formerly Satchel Paige, Mr. Ness, and our DJ, General Gyst, and Gumshoe and myself really hit it off. The Gumshoe always did the beats and is a crazy rapper. But the way we put out our first project together was we called it The Milch & Allegra EP. And we were supposed to be going to, I think, Saskatoon to play a show with Fermented Reptile, I think, or some combination of our homies. They took us out under their wings, kind of the next generation. They were bringing us in as the next generation. And I don't know, something happened. Our ride fell through. So we had the weekend off work, and we were like, fuck it, let's do this. Let's make an EP. Just the two of us. Three of us, actually. With General Gyst, with the DJ. So, yeah, we knocked out a record, the bulk of a record in a weekend. We extended it a bit to add things to it and stuff like that. But that was our first real release that either of us had ever done and we've been making music together ever since.
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: Yeah, that's exactly it. We had some pretty big ambitions trying to knock something out in the weekend. Quickly realized that it wasn't going to quite come together that quickly. But we had the foundation sort of laid out in terms of some of the song ideas and things like that. Of course, it's always a great opportunity for me to be able to go back tinker with the beats and, you know, kind of refined some stuff. So, yeah, when it all came back together, we had that whole Milch & Allegra EP, which we had some really cool ideas putting that together from the DIY perspective…which, Sam, I know you relate to really well. It was a lot of fun.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, and it still sounds good. I have the tape and it sounds great. It doesn't sound dated, which is cool for something that's just 20 years old. I'm sure maybe to you it sounds dated because you remember recording it and you remember those songs and maybe I'm sure you feel like you've grown as far as rapping and production and lyrics and all of that. But I mean, it doesn't sound like some crappy project that some guys did 20 years. It has staying power for sure.
YY: And I think we had our styles and we've evolved our styles and stuff. You can still tell that’s Gumshoe, that’s Yy. I think it still holds up. I think our recordings gotten better. Our voices, we found our voices a little bit more and things like that. But yeah, and it had a theme, a cohesive theme throughout the whole album. A theme of autumn. I think we kind of nailed it for being however old we were at the time, early 20s, and doing our first project together.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. And then if you jump ahead by what, 15 years or something after that, you had been working on things together throughout, on each other's albums, on various projects with members of the Peanuts and Corn, Break Bread crew and things like that. And then you put out this Turn the Gun record in the early 2000s, mid-2000s and that was the two of you, and then Kutdown. That record, I think also still holds up. It still sounds good. I took the questionable quality photos for the record, I remember it well, but that sort of seemed like it was a one and done. You had that CD and then you had the 12” and then Turn the Gun was kind of not heard of much, if at all, kind of in the period between then and now. And then you've recently released a 7”, which is really good. You put some digital music and you have an album coming out. So, what motivated this new Turn the Gun music so many years after that group was first active?
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: So from my standpoint, when we made the first Turn The Gun album, of course we were always talking about a follow up to Milch and Allegra. I think I had two solo albums between Milch and Allegra and that Turn the Gun album. Danny put out his first solo album. He had a great opportunity to work with Mcenroe putting on his first album on Peanuts and Corn, which I got to rap on as well. But yeah, there was always plans to kind of bring it back together. So Turn the Gun was a great opportunity to do that. We started work hanging out and kind of spending a lot of time with Kutdown, and that was a great opportunity. He was awesome DJ, really good too. But I kind of wanted to take the reins on the production on that album, so I did and we managed to pull that project together shortly. After that we put that album out, I actually ended up moving to Vancouver… so I moved out to Vancouver in 2005, probably about five months after we put that album out. So really I spent two years in Vancouver kind of working on some solo stuff, and of course he followed up with his next solo album he was already working on with Mcenroe. And from there, yeah, I mean I moved back to Winnipeg but at that point we had kind of worked. I moved in with Pip Skid and Birdapres and we kind of got started on this whole Marathon of Dope… we kind of had that little era of projects coming out and so yeah, it was just a lot of solo work, solo projects. I think for me, 2010-11, I kind of started getting on a bit of a hiatus from music. Like kind of going through some stuff in my life where I kind of wanted to make a change and focus on career, all that kind of stuff. Quit smoking weed, which was, if anybody knows me back then, was probably doubted I was going to be able to do it. I ended up quitting smoking weed, going back to school and so I kind of changed my focus and I was kind of out of loop from 2011 to about 2015 when I worked with Gruf the Druid. I put out an album with him with me on production and that was kind of made up of some of the beats that I was working on in that period. Shortly after, Yy, he was putting out another solo album with Peanuts and Corn, ‘An Uneven Eleven’ album. He got me on a jam on there. That was kind of a good opportunity just to keep me in the mix, keep the ball rolling a little bit in terms of the writing because I hadn't really been writing very much in all that time since my last, which would have been 2010. And then, yeah, just this whole spiral since the pandemic started. That's really when I started getting back making music and kind of spiraled with a whole bunch of solo projects. And we started talking about making a record again. I'm pretty sure I've probably nudged you, Danny, a bunch of times, like, hey, let's work on something. And Danny was a very sought after fella because he's so awesome at rapping. So finally she was like, you know what, I think I got the time. And it was like, sweet, let's do this. I was turning out beats, sending out batches of beats to anybody I knew really at the time because I was really on fire with making beats. And he picked a bunch of beats, picked a bunch of bangers. And he kind of laid out the foundation of the ideas for the songs and kind of came back and said, you know, here I got some of these ideas. He even came with an idea for layout in terms of song order and things like that. I was able to just take that from him, take what he had put down in terms of the ideas, the writing, and really compliment it and then kind of craft the beats around it. So that's really how we kind of came back full circle. I mean, obviously throughout all that time, we've always been super close, like hanging out, but just in terms of the music.
YY: Yeah, come back together homies in our collective here and various collectives and days me and Gumshoe we were best men at each other's wedding… we've been close, the music, that's how it started. But these are my closest homies and BeeJay being the closest of them all. I think going back as well to this, the first Turn The Gun record, the second album me and BeeJay did together, that came together really organically. We were living together, we were working together, all of that stuff on music and hanging out with Kutdown a lot and everything. We had originally talked about an idea of literally almost like turning the gun, following it up with another album of all Kutdown beats and stuff. We're throwing this stuff around. But then again, BeeJay moves to Vancouver. We're still super cool with Kutdown. Amazing dude. But when we were working on this new album, we were actually debating that, like, do we call this and Turn The Gun record? I think we're going to call it Gumshoe Strut and Yy, something like that. But then, we were just like, it fits. We reached out to Kutdown for his blessing on that because we didn't want to throw just Kutdown on this as an afterthought. If we're doing a project with Kutdown now. It has to be like, we're all in it from the beginning, but, yeah, so he gave us our blessing and so now we got the follow up, Return the Gun, and I think it's a solid record. I'm really happy with this and I think it's the first real concept record I've ever been a part of, personally. I guess you could call Milch and Allegra…it's more of a theme. This one is more of a concept.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: What is the concept for this one? Or is that like… well, people might hear this by the time the album is out anyway.
YY: No, I'm happy to spill the beans right here. The album is called Perpetual Survival and it's kind of like a journey, a story about trying to get out of the cycle, break the cycle of being in perpetual survival mode. Myself, I feel like I've pretty much constantly been in most of my adult life, especially when you're struggling to raise kids or whatever, like just working jobs, living check to check, not owning a house, throwing your money away to rent, all of this stuff and just feel like you're just treading water until you just hit the wall. Personally, I'm an elementary school teacher, so you can imagine how the pandemic has been challenging for that. Last year I took a really small stress leave. Felt it was good for me, but probably jump back in too soon. This year I really hit the wall and I took an extended stress leave. But we had already kind of written the whole album. I think we were pretty much done by summer. We added a couple of late jams with some life developments that we threw in there. But it's kind of a theme right from the beginning of being in perpetual survival, kind of that mind state, sitting in that for a couple of songs. And then literally we have a song called Stress Week with Birdapres, which was the second single, which we're really happy with. From there going to a song about it's called Do the Work. Basically about doing the work, not just taking time, doing the same thing. It's like you're trying to improve things, making a little bit more space to be able to do things that you think are important. Like it gets to be songs Ally, talking about where you have always believed in that, but now you're trying to make the space to actually do something about stuff to the point where you feel like later in the album you're a stress expert. And then by the end of it, it ends with a song called We Run All the Way, which kind of a bit of a celebration of like, I've made it. Although I think, as with most art, depending on how you take it, it can also suggest getting stuck in the same cycle again and you're going to push yourself until you have to start in the same place, right?
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah.
YY: I'm very happy with how we executed it. I think Gumshoe is rapping his ass off. I think this is the best technical rapping I've ever heard from Gumshoe. And he's always been able to kill it. I think he's stepped some things up and we've let the homies in on some of the songs here. And that's what everyone's saying. It's just like, damn, he’s just rapping.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That maybe brings up a question too, because I know when I had you on talking about the Gruf and Yy album, some of the same questions come up. Just, you've been doing this for a long time, you've worked together. In that case, it wasn't as directly as the two of you here. But is there something to the idea that now that you are sort of I don't want to say older, because I'm like a couple of years younger than you guys, this is not a big difference. But now that you're older and now that you've been through kind of the experience of releasing music independently for decades. And you've toured. You've played shows. You've recorded. You've done all this. Is there like a freeing part of it where now that you're in the position you are in life now? Where you can be free to do it how you want to do it and do it maybe in a way that's less constrained by what other people want to hear? Like, is that part of the rapping your ass off part of this in that you can just unleash it the way that maybe you always would have wanted to without worrying about other people's opinions?
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: For me, that's a big part of it. I think it's a comfort thing as well. Yeah, just kind of spending all these I mean, when the pandemic started and I started working on music again, it's like the beats that I started making were just kind of coming together naturally. I was never really all that great at understanding hearing key and note and keeping things kind of I've probably talked about this before, but criticizing some of my older music and not really kind of understanding how to keep things in key and things like that. Some of the charm of it too, in music. But with coming around, it's like all of a sudden, it's just like things started to click and having taken some time away and coming back to it, it's just all of a sudden, it's like, oh yeah, I just start to get things a little bit better, especially on the beat end. In terms of the rapping, I think I just built up enough stuff to talk about, probably, and , kind of learned how to talk about the things that are going on currently as well through that, and just kind of carrying that on. So with this album, big compliment. Back to Yy, of course, because I've always, amongst all of us, admire Yy as being one of the best technical rappers in Winnipeg. So I just get to kind of work off of what he's giving me, right. So on a couple of songs, I basically mimic his flow. So giving me something, a foundation to work with and kind of work around was a really good opportunity. And then the other songs where I just kind of got the free flow and take the lead, in some senses, those, again, just kind of came naturally. So, yeah, I think it's just a comfort that sort of build up for me. , but, yeah, also just an opportune time because I've been looking forward to working on an album like this for a while. I've wanted to work with somebody. I've been doing so much solo stuff over the years, that it's just been so long that I've had the opportunity to sort of craft a project that wasn't just my own.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Right.
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: So, yeah, this was a great opportunity to do that from front to back, I guess you could say, but also have somebody else sort of take the lead on some of those conceptual points. I guess.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Now that there's a new Turn the Gun record coming out, is Turn the Gun going to be an active thing or is it just going to be sort of a name that you use for future projects you do together? Like, is this sort of the start of a bunch of Turn the Gun content, or is that kind of just a name for whenever you guys decide to get together and work on something?
YY: I've had BeeJay on every one of my solo records. Like, we're always making music and then beyond that, we're spending five times that amount of time just hanging out stuff. So there will be more music for sure. , this album came together definitely within two years, probably a year and a half, which, if anyone knows my output, like, I usually go seven years between solo projects and maybe have one group album in there. So been very active with this. But the motivation and the drive was there, I think, for both of us. So, yeah, I'm sure there will be more.
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: Yeah, absolutely. Of course. I think when this album started coming together, or at least when I started getting some ideas thrown at me to the point when we actually had a collection of almost all of the songs demoed, at least that portion of it would have been under a year, some production has taken a little bit longer. Just kind of taking the time with it and not really rushing it or anything like that.
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: Now it's just kind of ready to go it's off at the press plant and we're ready to drop this.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: So how can people find out depending on when they hear this, how can people find out what you guys are up to? Maybe if there's any shows or album release information or where is going to hear it, what's the best way to kind of keep track of what's going on with Yy and the Gumshoe Strut going forward?
THE GUMSHOE STRUT: Well, I'm always trying to keep the word out via Instagram primarily is kind of the home for a lot of the things kind of pushing at any given time. So that would be my handle, @the_gumshoe_strut. And of course, there's my Bandcamp page, which is where I pretty much release all of my projects. And we will release this project primarily under that Bandcamp. So, that's just thegumshoestrut.bandcamp.com. You can find, yeah, our latest singles there and this album, which could very be very close to actually dropping whenever this podcast ends up dropping.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Right on. And then what about you as far as finding you online?
YY: Yeah, I'm on the Instagram. I've got a very rarely updated SoundCloud page. I neglect all of that stuff. I'm trying to get better at this stuff. But yeah, no, find me on the Peanuts & Corn website. I mean, this album through Saskatchewan Folk Rap as well. All of that. We're out there, we're out there. Google any of our homies and we'll be one degree of separation.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Awesome.