Shambhala may be known for their showcase of electronic music but West Coast hip hop crew Sweatshop Union has taken the stage at Salmo River Ranch twice. Christine Hunter, ricardO Hubbs and Brittany Robins caught up with Mos Eisley before their show Saturday night at Spiritbar.
1. Sweatshop Union is the most driven crew out there in show/tour land, in my (Christine’s) opinion. I have a lot of respect for the hustle you all have been on since I met you in 2005. What or who is your biggest motivator to keep you going?
Thank you for that! Our biggest motivation is the feeling that there is much more that we can do and experience, and many more people and places that we want to introduce to our music and our crazy live show. So far we’ve toured a LOT of North America, but the rest of the world has been patiently waiting! Coming soon!
2. You are a group of many; can you please break it down for us in regards to names and each of your roles in the group?
We are Dusty Melo, Marmalade, Metty Dert Merchant, Mos Eisley and Se7en (formerly known as Conscience). We all rap/sing, write songs
and make beats, produce and jump around onstage like madmen. In addition to the core group, we have three DJs that we work with, namely DJ Itchyron, Ray Black (also a rapper) and Def 3 (also a rapper too).
3. Sweatshop Union is known for its “socially conscious sound.” What do you hope to achieve with this?
We became known as a “conscious” hip hop group because our early music was very focused on issues that we were (and are) concerned about, and we didn’t pull any punches about it.
Our intention was to provide an outlet for the concerns and frustrations of our generation and hopefully by bringing some of this stuff up, to achieve solutions.
So far, many of our fans have taken that ball and ran with it, becoming Activists, Ecologists, Inventors, Engineers, Musicians, Naturopaths, Teachers and so on. Our current music is less focused on the negative aspects of what’s going on (and God knows there is a lot if you look), and more focused on community building, having fun and finding the positive aspects in the adversity we experience as a human race on this crazy blue planet.
4. We see that you’ll be playing at SXSW right after your Nelson stop. Have you played there before? If so, what’s your favourite thing about SXSW?
We went there for the first time last year and it blew our minds with how much culture and music and networking was going on there. Our favourite thing was walking down 6th Ave and hearing every kind of music imaginable being played live in hundreds of bars/venues at the same time! Literally the craziest place on earth for a week, when it comes to music. Austin is a beautiful and very progressive town also, especially for Texas. This year we are doing many more showcases than last year, so it’ll be even more fun and more impact.
5. You have performed at Shambhala twice to date. This year you all have graciously joined Christine’s Crew during the festival. We would like to know if Shambhala Music Festival has had an impact of your lives?
Shambhala quite literally changed our lives forever, and has brought us closer as a group and as a family. The second year was the birth of Leisure Gang as we know it, which has been such a blessing in our lives. It was so much fun being part of it, and we can’t wait to get more involved this year!
6. def3, we know you as hiphop artist who’s been in the industry for many years. Lately you have been spending some time with SSU’s as their tour DJ, how has that experience been for you?
The experience has been awesome and we all mesh very well together on and off the stage. The fan response from the shows has been great and its been quite refreshing performing to some new crowds. Im stoked to be rolling with a solid group of talent that are all on the same page and equally motivated. I’m really looking forward to what the future brings and happy to be part of the crew.
7. What is Sweatshop Union’s up and coming projects for 2012?
We are currently working on finishing the Leisure Gang album and on the heels of that the new Sweatshop Union album will be dropping soon. Pigeon Hole (that’s Dusty and Marmalade) are working on their sophomore record, and there are a few surprises coming up too! No shortage of quality music, quality videos and quality shows this year! GYEAH!