24 Minutes with SonReal
SonReal. (Supplied Photo)
Having racked up millions of Spotify streams and YouTube views, B.C. born rapper and singer/songwriter SonReal now has his debut international release One Long Dream drawing praise. Joe Leary spent 24 Minutes with the Juno Award nominee.
The album is called One Long Dream. Are you living one long dream right now?
It’s been one long journey leading up to it but yeah, it’s a long dream. I was saying recently it’s ridiculous to be able to say this is a job. Someone asked me if I thought I had made it – I’ve been doing this as a job since 2013 and we’re getting bigger and bigger all the time. It’s humbling.
You’ve got a pretty massive billboard in Toronto right now. It must be very gratifying to see tangible evidence of success.
For sure – it’s things like that and see new fans become insanely engaged to the point like people are getting tattoos. People really showing up and really believing in it. This is my first album and to see the kind of support online that I’ve seen and walking around and people stopping us and saying congratulations. It’s awesome.
You say it’s humbling, but how do you stay humble when people are heaping praise your way?
I came from doing construction and getting yelled at by my boss and doing crazy stuff to even get a show, to sneaking into clubs to try and give people my mixtape, to flying out to Toronto to try and bombard festivals to get onstage to here. I’ve really kind of been through the lows, the thirsty days when you’re just trying to get anyone to listen. I’ve still got such a long way to go. I’m still a small artist…things are going really well but my sights on what I want to do as an artist are so much bigger. I’m always kind of thinking about that and I think that’s what keeps me humble – searching for more all the time.
You come from Vernon, B.C., a beautiful town but not some place you would consider to be a hub for hip hop. Is there even a hip hop community or are you it?
No there’s definitely some rappers there now more than ever. Back in the day though when I’d be rapping with my friends it was really, really cool. We didn’t really have anybody to look up to and there was no studio, so I went to Radio Shack and bought a microphone for 40 bucks and we’d all just go to the house and we’d start rappin’ to downloaded beats. Coming from Vernon it was humble beginnings and not really a lot of people to make it out of the city with music. To be one of those people is exciting and humbling.
At what point did the music seem possible to pursue?
In 2013, I had a video called Everywhere We Go. It started going viral and that’s when I started making enough money to quit my job. Me and my manager both worked at that time doing carpentry. We left and started flying out to New York and Atlanta and Los Angeles. People were flying us out and we started touring and started doing some numbers at our shows. Nothing big but enough to keep ourselves moving and keep going.
I read a comment that “you’re cashing in on being uncool.” Is that a fair assessment?
Ha ha, that’s sick! I take the genre insanely seriously and I take the culture seriously with hip hop. I’ve put my life on it since I’ve been like 15 years old. The first time I ever got a hip hop CD I knew that’s all I wanted to do. I studied it for a long time but I think the difference between me and some other people is that I don’t really follow trends, I’m trying to lead. When I do a music video or when I write a song I’m not trying to do what’s hot right now. I’m trying to create what’s hot right now. If I do a funny video or whatever it’s just because that’s the way I’m feeling. It’s kind of punk rock with us – we do whatever we want and I don’t care what people think of me.
Who would you be blown away by if they gave you a shout out on social media?
Jay-Z. Jay-Z for sure!