Vancouver-based hip hop artist Anami Vice will be hitting the Centrium April 17 linking up with Canadian rockers Mariana Trench.
Fueled by the success of his recently released single Take Your Shirt Off from his Are You Serious CD, Vice was introducing his carefully-crafted tunes since before he was discovered by Josh Ramsay of Marianas Trench who was of course instrumental in Vice signing with 604 Records.
A love for music stretches back to childhood, and included the legendary stint of piano lessons. Which didn’t last. But a passion for an array of musical genres did.
“I grew up being musical for sure,” he explains, adding that his parents listened to a steady stream of classical music. Vice’s tastes were and are eclectic – two of his favourite albums back then were Paul Simon’s Graceland and Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters. “I think I always had a sense of rhythm and I loved to dance as a kid as well.
“I grew up listening to hip hop and I’m proud of music that I make.”
A knack for songwriting surfaced fairly early on as well – particularly when it came to rap. Vice started putting songs together and shooting his own videos.
But he didn’t initially look at music as a career – he went on to earn a degree in philosophy while his musical dreams were set aside for a time.
It became clear, however, that academia demanded plenty of study and reading. Vice isn’t adverse to either, but started to wonder if a career where those activities would be critically time-consuming was really his thing after all.
“When I was an undergrad I lived with two Ph.D students and I saw what they did, which was basically read for 12 hours a day. Which is cool, and I think it’s worthwhile. But it’s just not something that I think I am capable of, or something that I really wanted to do.”
Ultimately, music won the day. And so began the recording of singles and video production, which was key to getting him noticed. It coincided with the YouTube explosion as well.
“I had made two albums, so we went out and shot a couple of videos. I completed four videos before I did anything with the label. One of the people in one of those videos was a friend of Josh Ramsay, so that’s how the music got to Josh and that’s how I ultimately got my deal. So indirectly, the video got me my break.
“When people ask me what I do I say I do music,” he explains. “The question that follows is inevitably always the same, ‘Oh! what kind of music?
“I don’t say hip hop because when I say hip hop it sounds as if I’m trying to dress it up and make a pre-emptive argument for the legitimacy of the genre. What I should say and what the truth is – I rap and make hip hop music.”
Currently, his inspiration to writing music continues to flourish. As does his desire to explore other creative outlets such as producing. As for his own music, he points out how a broad appreciation for many genres is reflected in his own tunes.
“It comes out every time I make a song,” he explains. “There’s a reference to something that I like. Definitely the way Paul Simon does those hooks on Graceland – even the way he writes. If you listen to my first album, Paul Simon is all over it.
“So everything I listen to comes out all the time. Some things more than others, but it’s all there.”
It’s been said that Vice’s slightly sarcastic, yet optimistic sound has been compared to the likes of Mac Miller, Asher Roth and Mickey Avalon. He is also known for infectious hooks and clever, confessional lyrics.
“For me it’s really about the hook – the way the hook sounds,” he said, adding that the studio experience is a joy all the way through because he really knows what he wants. “It is exhilarating. One thing is that I get distracted because the next song is all up in my mind. I sometimes have to force myself to finish the song I’m working on, because I have other ideas in my head.”
Alongside his band The New Future, Vice’s live show has also developed a reputation for charged up renditions of his studio tracks, using a solid back up of instrumentation.
Sharing his music with the masses came quite naturally as well. Although he gets a bit nervous prior to shows, hitting the stage continues an absolute blast.
“I was a show off from day one,” he laughs. “I get nervous, but it goes away pretty quickly. It gets replaced by one of two different feelings – either the show is going well or it’s not going well. Either way, I’m not nervous anymore – it’s going the way it’s going.”