August 15, 2010
A soul rebel in this music industry, Bobby Dreadfull has been making a name for himself in the city for quite some time and he is now ready to take on the world. Toronto Music Scene recently had the chance to chat with him about everything from his band the Breastfed Superheroes to his upcoming single with half-brother Kardinal Offishall.
I was born in Toronto to a Jamaican father [and a] Canadian (Anglo-Saxon mother). Grew up mostly in the city, spent my high school years in Richmond Hill [then] moved back to the city when I was going to York University studying Education/Anthropology. [I] started playing the violin at age six, guitar at age 13, trumpet at age 10 [and] percussion in my early 20’s.
Nina Simone is the reason I sing today. She invoked some feelings and vibes that gave me the confidence to sing in my own voice. Something magical happened to me one night while listening to her stuff. I’m also a child of hip-hop, but was definitely influenced by the stuff my mom listened to when growing up like the Beatles, Bob Marley and Tina Turner.
What does "music" mean to you?
Music is the the language of the universe. It’s the result of creation and vibration. So emotional and pure. It’s like the air in my lungs; music is vibrations for the soul.
How would you describe the music of Bobby Dreadfull?
Funk fusion directed by reggae, guided by the blues, influenced by hip-hop, rocked out.
Bobby Dreadfull is a high-energy performer who lives for the show. His being completely encompasses his music. His music is about good feelings, feeling good, celebration, compassion and joy.
Your on-stage presence has been compared to the likes of the great James Brown and Parliament. How does that make you feel?
The comparisons are sweet. To be compared to those who have worked their asses off for generations and [are] considered cultural icons, well you can’t help but to be flattered. I would only hope that my show might be half as incredible as James Brown or George Clinton.
The track that started your musical journey in 2003 is called "Get Down." Did you know that this song would be a hit?
“Get Down” was most definitely a song that came together through divine intervention. The original rhythm track was sparked by a sample I told my friend (Nick See) to use as a hip-hop loop and he ended up making it into a banging four on the floor house beat. I had been listening to some Nina Simone the night before and was free-styling some vocals trying to use her style. At the time, we were sharing a studio with Andrew Whiteman (Broken Social Scene) who happened to come by when we were working on the beat. I told him to give me some funky guitar riffs and he let loose his magic. The birth of a sweet track was the result. I guess you always hope that others will respond to your music with overwhelming enthusiasm, but I’m never sure. And it was really cool to be able to shoot the video in Jamaica in the parts my Dad came from.
You have a great track called "Exotic Sugar." How did this song come together?
“Exotic Sugar” was an idea I had floating around. I wanted to write a pop tune that was ‘Prince-like-funky’ and fuse it with some psychedelic party sounds. It was inspired by a beat I was working on. I knew exactly where and what I wanted the guitars to do, so I called in Eli Mullin to give it his guitar rock/funk expertise and Cooljuice Luvchild does the second verse.
This song was written at a point in my life where partying was my life and so we met a lot of "fun" girls, but not necessarily ones you’d want your mom to meet.
Can we talk a bit about your band the Breastfed Superheroes? How did this union connect?
My band is essentially the same crew of musicians for every gig (although players will rotate occasionally) so I wanted to give them a name like how Prince or James Brown would name their bands. I wanted a name that reflected nurturing, compassion, real life beauty, and I figured one the most beautiful bonds in life is formed with moms and babies, breastfeeding. How simple and natural this is, but also how incredibly important too. I would always hear these incredible facts on the nutrition, etc, so I was like, hey these moms are creating Super humans with all those good vitamins and love…it ‘s essential that you were breastfed to play in my band!
What does the music scene in Toronto mean to you?
The Toronto music scene has the best musicians in the world. Singers, rappers drummers – you name it. You get some good exposure to a vast arrangement of styles, genres, musicians, cultures, history. Toronto is a fantastic place to get started. You can link up with top producers, but it seems because of DJ culture/ big city living indifference, and the amount of things to choose from, it can be difficult building a consistent fan base here. I think Toronto is a big fish in a fairly small market. The cities in Canada are spread far apart and not as well populated as one might need to build a lucrative Canadian music career, which is why we musicians need to reach out to other markets. Music is meant to be spread universally, so this can actually be a good thing. This is my favourite city in the world.
You have an upcoming single called "Oh No" featuring Virgin Music recording artist Kardinal Offishall. How did you both meet?
Kardinal Offishall is the best rapper in the world. He has been working his ass off from birth.
I think he comes from a genetically superior type of human. He is my brother. We share the same dad but have different mothers. Unfortunately, we did not grow up together so I only met him and my sister Natalie in 1992. We met by me calling him on the phone.
Whats next for Bobby Dreadfull?
Currently working on the upcoming, soon to be released album called Wonderful World.
The album will be pressed this summer, officially released this coming fall. My mother is doing the album artwork. Shot a video in Barbados for the title track. Plan on touring Canada to start and go to Europe following. Gigging lots and lots. Also, [I] have been producing for other artists some incredibly hot stuff. Working with artists Asgar, Dania, Cooljuice Luvchild and more.
For more information on Bobby Dreadfull, check out www.myspace.com/bobbydreadfull .