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Dead Celebrity Status

Dead Celebrity Status is one of my favorite bands. This hip-hop group had their beginnings in the Canadian band Project Wyze which combined hard rock and rap. After seeing their band meet initial great success with the debut record Misfits, Strangers, Liars Friends and got on tours with people as diverse as Blink 182 and Public Enemy. Their co-founders Bobby McIntosh and Yas Taalat eventually decided to leave and start something a little more hip-hop. The result is Dead Celebrity Status which features the duo along with a former World DJ Champion DJ Dopey. Their first record Blood Music is an excellent collection of songs that is unlike your average hip-hop disc. The lyrical content spans from racism to teenage pregnancy and bulimia, while musically the group switches it up cut and cut, creating a record that has virtually no weak points. While the record came out several years back in Canada, it's just getting to see the like of day elsewhere. I spoke to Bobby recently to find out about the launching of the group in Europe and the U.S. and see how they were doing.

antiMUSIC: Hey Bobby. How's it going?

Bobby: Doing great, man. How about you?

antiMUSIC: Great thank you. Bodog is giving a few of their artists another launch early in 2007. Were you happy with the reception given to Blood Music the first time out?

Bobby: We talking in Canada?

antiMUSIC: I guess worldwide.

Bobby: Yeah, it's pretty strange. I mean Blood Money came out basically, like you said, two years ago in Canada. And they were in works with this whole Bodog thing to set it up globally so our project kinda got stalled. And it's just starting now to get out in Europe and America as well, so. But we've been touring…we just got off touring Europe with Jurassic 5. We've been doing a lot of things out there so the reception and the response has just been crazy to tell you the truth.

antiMUSIC: Awesome.

Bobby: Yeah, it's kinda overwhelming.

antiMUSIC: Had you done a lot of pre-press before going there?

Bobby: No, no, there was a little bit of pre-press and also been a little buzz. I mean you've got the Internet nowadays and just word of mouth. But ever since the J5, the Jurassic 5 shows, it's kinda really starting to build over there and we're excited about that.

antiMUSIC: Before we dig into Dead Celeb, for those poor unfortunates out there that don't know a lot about you, tell us how you got together with Yas and how Project Wyze came to be?

Bobby: That's a story in itself (laughs).

antiMUSIC: Ancient history eh?

Bobby: Yeah, basically Yas and I met in grade 7. We were two 12 year old kids with a strong affection for music. And it's funny cause when we met in grade 7. Six months later we played our first show, which was with Public Enemy. We were Project Wyze back then, so I mean, we came up with that name when we were 12 years old. Yeah, so that's how we basically met. Just grinding it out for years and years, playing shows, putting out a couple of independent discs until eventually we build up enough buzz where major labels were coming to us. We signed with Sony and I guess the rest is history.

antiMUSIC: That's wheels came off the wagon?

Bobby: It's really weird. With Project Wyze, that first record we put out had a lot of success and Yas and I like I said, being 12 years old, had a lot of dreams, and it's funny we achieved a lot of those dreams, you know playing arenas tours across the country with Ozzy, I think we played Ottawa as well. I think by the end of that record when we were going to the second record, me and Yas kinda had a different vision of what we wanted to piece together and what we wanted to be as artists. And when you have six other people in a band it kinda gets to a deal where there's too many cooks in the kitchen, I would say. And we just wanted to start something fresh and really go back to our roots and make something a little more conventional hip hop and try something new at the same time.

antiMUSIC: Is there an overall vision for DCS and how does it differ from Project Wyze?

Bobby: Musically? No., I mean, I think when you listen to the record you can hear a lot of different influences in there. I mean everything from Public Enemy to Black Sabbath and our own vision. I think creatively, it's an open book. I mean we could do anything we want. I think more so with this project than with Project Wyze where we were kinda stuck in a box. And I think with this project we're able to create whatever we want and not be pigeonholed for it.

antiMUSIC: OK, so after you left Project Wyze what was your plan?

Bobby: Toward the ending, we did actually start working on a second project Wyze record, with the band but me and Yas were dabbling in some other stuff we wanted to do. I think the song, "We Fall, We Fall" and "Messiah" were the first 2 tracks we made and that was just made out of fun. We weren't even thinking of another side project or anything like that. And then when we started making songs we just felt good, it felt right. And just like I said, creatively, we didn't want to be in a box anymore. We kinda wanted, as artists, to do what the hell (laughs) we wanted. And this project was our platform to do so.

antiMUSIC: PW was a bit more rock than rap. Even though there's no lack of energy on Blood Music, was the plan always to get away from that harder-hitting stuff?

Bobby: Yeah, we just wanted to try to create something a little different and new. I mean we've always been hip hop kids and I think, like I said before with Dead Celeb, you can try a lot more. With Project Wyze, we were kind of a little pigeon holed and there are just so many things you can do when you have six other cooks in the kitchen. You know, everybody has a different vision and at the end of the day, me and Yas wanted to kinda strip it down and go back to our roots. I think we matured a lot, you know, especially lyrically.

antiMUSIC: Sure and the experiences make all the difference lyrically as well, I imagine.

Bobby: Yeah, definitely man.

antiMUSIC: Tell us about recording Blood Music. You mentioned We Fall, We Fall and Messiah. Since you had written them first, were they the two that you worked on first?

Yeah, but it's weird. Yas and I, we kind of write in pieces for every song. We had a bunch of songs lying around but just pieces, you know a verse here, a chorus there. So when it's time for us to get in the studio, we just …like a puzzle we just piece it all together and we were lucky enough to work with a great producer as well, in Danny Saber. In LA, He helped us piece together our vision and what came out was Blood Music, which is, you know we're extremely proud of.

antiMUSIC: The intro to the record talks about injustices done to the music industry. What message are you trying to get across in that piece?

Bobby: I just think you know, the whole art form of music is being lost. I think, nowadays, especially on major labels, and we've been through this game, is that artists are kinda being pressured to fit into a certain box, you know, especially with radio. They're almost being forced to make music they don't want to make. You know, it's …we just wanted to make the statement that art shouldn't be lost and you know, at the end of the day, yeah sure you gotta pay your rent and pay your bills but at the same time, don't lose who you are as an artist and as a person cause that's more important than anything in the world to us, and that's just the statement that we wanted to make.

antiMUSIC: "We Fall, We Fall" is an absolutely slammin' track. When did you know you had something special when you were writing it?

Bobby: Thanks. Uh (laughs) we came up with the chorus first, I think right off the bat, I mean, with the kids singing We fall track, we brought in like three different kids and pieced it all together and I think right away we kinda had a feeling that the song would be special. Then hopefully some people out there would think it was special too. But I m glad you like it.

antiMUSIC: The video is really special too.

Bobby: Thanks a lot man, we directed that video, yeah, me and Yas.

antiMUSIC: Is that right. Where was it shot?

Bobby: In Vancouver, we wrote and directed our video so that was our first one.

antiMUSIC: Awesome where did you find the location?

Bobby: It's actually an old rundown insane asylum. They actually shoot a lot of movies there I think, that they did "Freddie Vs Jason" there and it's a crazy place though. A lot of people talk about it being haunted and I could definitely say we heard noises at night time. (laughs)

antiMUSIC: Really?

Bobby: Yeah, but it was a great place to shoot. There's a lot of places, I mean a lot of locations within that place, where you could shoot. And the energy and vibe was just perfect for the video.

antiMUSIC: I like The Shining bits with girls in the corridor.

Bobby: Yeah, we were lucky to find the perfect girl for that too.

antiMUSIC: Part of "In This Day & Age" deals with racism. I know this is more from Yas' perspective but talk a bit about being a Muslim in the Western world during these times and what led you to write this song.

Bobby: Yeah, well, I mean, it's been happening even before 9/11 but I think ever since then, the Muslim people have kinda been targeted and wrongfully so. There's this idea that every Muslim out there is a terrorist and straps bombs to their chest, which is not the case, you know. And I think it was very important for Yas to speak about that in that verse, I mean, he had to and I think I kind of forced it out of him as well, so, I think, the verse is from his heart and everything he said he feels, and is real and it's something people need to talk about. I think a lot of people are scared to touch that kind of topic, but you know, we kind of have to. Who else is going to, really?

antiMUSIC: "Somebody Turn the Lights Off" has some clever references worked in like Pink Floyd and Nirvana, as well as having an awesome chorus. Was this one of the more fun songs to write?

Bobby: Oh, thanks man. Yeah, it was (fun), I mean, from a writing perspective, it's just, I mean, I don't even know how we thought of the idea, to throw Pink Floyd or Nirvana references. It just kinda fit the mood. It fit the music. We actually did that track with DJ Lethal with House of Pain. Just musically when we heard it, that's what we came up with. Actually it's one of my favourite tracks on the record too.

antiMUSIC: Cool.

Bobby: Yeah.

antiMUSIC: So what's the deal with "Erica"? I guess you guys like it since we're onto the third version that I know of. Is this a true story?

Bobby: (laughs) You got it. I actually think it's the fourth version. Yeah. We did an independent one. Then when we got signed to Sony we did another version. Then we did another one with Swollen Members and then this one. To be quite honest we didn't even want to touch that song again but an opportunity came up where Joss Stone was really feeling the song and you can't really say no to her, she's an incredible talent and we just decided to resurrect her. But she's dead now. (laughs)

antiMUSIC: Is that really a true story?

Bobby: I think if you listen to the song, you can take it for what it is (laughs).

antiMUSIC: I didn't like this version at first. But now I really like this one.

Bobby: Oh, the one with Joss? Yeah. Yeah. It's a little different vibe than the first ones. But yeah, I thought she killed it, I thought she sounded incredible. She's so talented that girl.

antiMUSIC: "Messiah" was included on the XXX sequel. How did that come about and did you notice any more attention state-side because of that?

Bobby: Yeah, it caught quite a buzz actually on the Internet. Kids started to hit us up. How did that come about? One of the people working on the movie heard the song from our producer Danny and just thought it was perfect for a scene, and that's basically it, you know. The next thing I know, I'm there opening night, watching the movie to check out my song. (laughs) And I was very happy with it, they put it in a nice spot. It fit in the movie. Actually the version they put in the movie, was the demo version. It was funny when the album version, it's the demo version. Remember when I told you "We Fall, We Fall" and "Messiah" were the first tracks we worked on? That "Messiah" version is in the movie. I mean I don't even think it's mastered or mixed.

antiMUSIC: Wow.

Bobby: Yeah.

antiMUSIC: How trippy was it sitting in the theater?

Bobby: (laughs) It's crazy. I mean because we totally redid the song. Just to hear the demo version out there, you know, usually I'd be freaking out like: the song's not done, the song's not done but it sounded good.

antiMUSIC: "Someone I Once Knew" has a powerful message. Was that written about anybody in particular or is it just fiction?

Bobby: It's about someone I once knew. I mean the first verse is about dinner with anorexia, and basically it's really written about a friend of mine, someone I grew up with in high school. The second verse is dealing with abortion, and it's also someone I once knew, so I just thought it was two topics that needed to be talked about, and said. And we've gotten actually really crazy response from it.

antiMUSIC: Do the people know it's about them?

Bobby: You know I've been asked that before and no, I haven't really talked to them about it. And I really don't think they would think that. Either way I think it addresses the topic and helps people. I mean I've got a lot of emails about, you know, actually girls dealing with it and even on the Internet they posted the song on an anorexic/bulimic site and it just opens up a good discussion. You know a good topic. And I've gotten emails from people saying it's basically helped them save their life. It's pretty crazy, you know, and very flattering to tell you the truth. Yeah.

antiMUSIC: You've got quite a few notable names on the record. How did you mange to get all these people on there?

Bobby: Laughs. That's another question. Let's see, with Dave Navarro and Steve Perkins from Jane's Addiction, we were recording the record with Danny Saber in LA and one thing about Danny Sabre is he's got a lot of friends. And actually Jane's Addiction was demoing new stuff at his studio. And we were there at the same time. And even before we discussed music, we were sitting down with those guys, watching basketball, was actually the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs and we kinda just became friends first. Then they heard the track, liked it, and we were like okay, if you like it, rock on it. He picked up a guitar. Steve went on the drums and it was a wrap, you know what I mean?

antiMUSIC: Wow.

Bobby: Joss Stone we met when she was playing in Toronto. She had heard our music and was a fan of it. So once again, alright, hope on the song. So we kinda knew a little way back and that kinda came completely natural. Bif Naked we've toured with her with Project Wyze, we toured with her for an extended period of time. And became friends. And we thought it would be kind of cool for Bif to sing and she actually sings in Persian.

antiMUSIC: Oh is that what that is?

Bobby: Yeah. Who else is on the record? Those are the main ones and I want to make a point; it all came really natural. In this day and age when people see guests on some people's albums, there is a lot of money changing hands. And with this record we didn't pay anybody to appear on the record, which is pretty crazy nowadays. You know, it think it's the way it should be; just for the love of music and the appreciation of music. You know, people getting together doesn't happen nowadays. So we were lucky and blessed.

antiMUSIC: That says a lot about the people involved.

Bobby: Yeah definitely man. I mean, these are artists that we look up to as well. I mean, I think people forget that we're fans of artists too, and to be able to work with people that are that talented and your peers, it's probably one of the best things that I get to do in my career. So it's amazing man.

antiMUSIC: What's the significance of the title "Blood Music"?

Bobby: Just, I guess if I could quote a lyric, music is blood, but it's oxygen, breathe it in. Without blood we can't live and we feel the same way about music. You know, I really wouldn't want to live if I didn't have music. It's been my career, it's been my focal point, like I said, ever since me and Yas were 12 years old. You know, it's really defined who I am as a person. Without it we wouldn't want to live. That's blood music to us, right.

antiMUSIC: A lot of the lyrical content in PW and to a small degree in DCS deals with a kind of "I'll show you" sort of attitude. Have you had to battle a lot of adversity in your career?

Bobby: Yeah, it's constant. It's an everyday thing. I mean, a lot of people don't see the behind the scenes stuff, you know. But I think as an artist you're always looking to prove yourself, you know, and show that you're one of the best. I think when we came into the Dead Celeb project, we just had a really big chip on our shoulder, really just had that kind of attitude, and I think we always will. I think when you lose that edge, I think that's when it's time to just hang it up and call it quits because there would be no point to doing it anymore. I mean we always want to stay hungry and strive to be the best. That's just our frame of mind. Whenever we make music, that's our frame of mind.

antiMUSIC: I've seen you several times and you're pretty crazy live. At Barrymore's when you opened for Bif, Yas was up on the railing on the highest balcony without any hesitation. Have you ever had anything go wrong when you try to get out in the crowd?

Bobby: Yeah, with Bif. I remember that show actually. We played two nights there back to back.

antiMUSIC: Yeah, do things go often go wrong in a live setting?

Bobby: Oh god. It's a crazy experience a live show. I mean, like I said, sometimes Yas will go in there, sometimes I will. s*** gets ripped off, you know what I mean? Stuff gets stolen. (laughs) I mean Yas busted his arm on the Ozzy tour. I mean he broke his arm going out there. Busted lips from the mic, you know smashing it to your mouth, people hitting it, you know what I mean. But it's all for the sake of entertainment, I guess you could say. (laughs) But the show hasn't calmed down at all. Actually it's probably got more aggressive. The show's actually got more aggressive if you can believe that.

antiMUSIC: How does that work live? Do you use samples or do you bring in musicians at times?

Bobby: We kinda do it back and forth, actually. In Europe it was just a three piece, it was just me, Yas and Dopey. When we were on the Warped Tour this past summer we used a live drummer and a piano player and that was it. So, we kinda just like to change it up. It kinda depends on the show. It depends on how we feel, I guess. But I like both ways. I think both bring a different dynamic.

antiMUSIC: With the material being probably close to three years old now, is it hard to maintain an enthusiasm for it at this point?

Bobby: You know, from a listening perspective for myself, yeah, it does. I mean, we're constantly working so we have new stuff that I'm really excited about. Those songs like I said are 2 and a half, 3 years old and I've heard them a billion times. But performing them is different, it's kinda the audience you feed off. I mean a lot of the audience, sometimes…like we were in Europe last time were hearing these tracks for the first time. So I think you just got to get into the frame of mind that these people haven't heard it before. And you're kinda excited to show them your music and they're hearing it for the first time so sometimes it makes you feel that you're performing it for the first time, which is really cool. It's a really weird feeling, but it's cool.

antiMUSIC: How did you end up signing with Bif?

Bobby: We toured with her for quite a while and her manager, when we were trying to get out of our deal with Sony, we had constant ties with her manager, is head of the label now, Bodog. And we just approached him when we had this record done and we really wanted to go this route and we felt he would provide the best opportunity and we had already had a relationship with him for a while so it was only natural and we trusted him and he gave us 100 per cent control of what we wanted to do, like directing our own video. I think on a major label, like on a major label if we were signed to another major right now, there's no way they would let an artist direct their video, believe me. But I think we were given full creative control and the relationship was built over about two years, you know, it was the perfect situation for us.

antiMUSIC: You've been able to play along side a wide variety of bands. From Ozzy Osbourne to Public Enemy to Bif Naked and Jurassic 5. What was the best package you've gone out with and what's been your best and worst experiences overall?

Bobby: Gee, the pinnacle for me, would probably two shows, would probably be my first show, the Public Enemy one, just cause we were so young, the excited, and they were my heroes. The Ozzy one was crazy. I mean you're talking playing an arena every day with Ozzy Osbourne. I remember stealing his first record, not his first one, but I remember stealing "Bark at the Moon". We'd been huge fans of Ozzy and everyday to wake up and go play a show with Ozzy everyday, see him everyday, walking around, talking to him, it's kinda mind blowing. You never think you'll get there as an artist. But when you finally do it's incredible. So I would say that would be my favourite experience. But every experience is different and provides different things and they're all great, to tell you the truth.

antiMUSIC: The first time I saw you was on the Blink 182 tour as Project Wyze and you were playing arenas. How easy was it to get comfortable with playing shows that size so quickly?

Bobby: Uh, I think, starting at 12 years old, and like you said, starting with the Public Enemy show, it really instilled a no fear in us, you know what I mean. We played so many shows before those big, but I would say the first big show I ever played was Edgefest in Barrie. And it was like 50,000 people. And I remember stepping onto the stage and seeing a sea of people, you know. That was the biggest show and we were crazy nervous. I think after that everything kinda just felt normal, you know. I mean you always get nervous but I actually get more nervous for smaller shows that I do for big ones. Like all you see is a sea of people, you know. A small show, you know, like intimate, there's a lot more room for error. But I mean we've done so many shows, I mean, we're pretty comfortable up there.

antiMUSIC: Can you describe your partnership with Yas? You've been friends for a long time. Do you find it hard to be friends at the end of the day sometimes when you've got all the biz stuff to get through?

Bobby: Cause we were friends first. We are friends first. Music is secondary really, a business relationship is secondary. And it's weird cuz our business relationship feeds our friendship as well. So I mean, like anybody, sometimes we have our little quarrels, but very rarely. I would say very rarely. We're very close. Like he's like my brother. We're here through thick and thin. You know (laughs) it's almost like a marriage. Except there's no room for divorce.

antiMUSIC: A recurring thing in your lyrics is teenage pregnancy, rubbers ripping, etc. Are you guys drawing on personal experience?

Bobby: It's personal. We grew up, you know I've been in Toronto for like 8 years now, but before that we lived in a little town in Ontario. There I think teenage pregnancy is a huge issue.

antiMUSIC: Really?

Bobby: Yeah. Huge. I mean it's weird. It's like, it seems every small town has their own issue. Or maybe it's just more magnified in a small city. I have a lot of friends in high school, like younger girls who battled with that. I mean my own mother battled with that. I mean, I never really realized it, to tell you the truth, that we touched on it so much. But I don't know, I just think when it comes time to write, you just write down what comes to your mind, and to your heart. I guess that…to be honest you're the first person to make me realize that we touched on it more than once.

antiMUSIC: Really?

Bobby: Yeah.

antiMUSIC: I can't think of the songs right off the bat but probably 5 songs.

Bobby: Really, I got to watch out on the next record then.

antiMUSIC: What's your take on Hip hop in Canada? Chuck D brought his lecture tour to Ottawa last month and he drew only 80 people. I was horrified to hear that. I mean, he's a legend.

Bobby: Chuck D? Really he's a hip hop icon. That's too bad. I think as far as financially and business wise, I don't think…it's kinda just stagnant, you know what I mean. Until hip hop breaks in America it's going to stay that way. I think urban music in general in Canada is just a different beast. I think for years and years record labels, radio stations haven't really found a way to promote it across the country. I think the industry is built differently. I don't think they've figured it out yet. But as far as talent, there's a lot of talent here. I mean there's a LOT of talent. You've got k-os, and Kardinal who's actually making a name for himself in America too. Swollen Members, you've got us. You've got a lot of talent man. I think we're a little behind the times here, you know, business wise, the whole structure here. But I think you know if you keep pushing on, eventually the industry will get it, you know.

antiMUSIC: Like the Guess Who syndrome. Make it in the States and come back home.

Bobby: Yeah, and you know what, unfortunately it's the truth, you know what I mean?

antiMUSIC: Well, you and Swollen will be leading the charge.

Bobby: Hey, I would be honored. I would be honored really.

antiMUSIC: That's all the questions I've got for you Bobby. Is there anything else you want to mention that I didn't ask you about?

Bobby: Dude I think you covered everything and more. Thanks for the questions though man. They were actually interesting and creative. Sometimes that's hard to come by when you're dealing with interviews.

antiMUSIC: Thanks man. Well, all the best with the re-release of this and I hope to see you back here soon.

Bobby: Thanks man, we'll keep working. I really appreciate it. Peace.

Morley and antiMUSIC thank Bobby for taking the time to do this interview


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