Working in the Sweatshop

Since Sweatshop Union released their self-titled album 10 years ago, they have become symbolic of northwest Canadian hip hop, but the road to where they are now wasn’t always easy, inspiring many songs and albums along the way.

Vancouver's Sweatshop Union will take the stage at Spiritbar on Friday night.

Since Sweatshop Union released their self-titled album 10 years ago, they have become symbolic of northwest Canadian hip hop, but the road to where they are now wasn’t always easy, inspiring many songs and albums along the way.

Mos Eisley, one of the six group members, was nearly deported from Canada when he was in high school for graffiti.

“I never really took hip hop seriously until I got busted doing graffiti. They were going to deport me from Canada and I realized I had to figure something else out.  I thought that music would be the best way to go,” he said. “I liked it, and I was making mixed tapes, and I thought that I could actually do it and it was legal.”

Sweatshop Union became known early on for their politically minded lyrics, and often rapped for crowds of protesters.

“I was raised in a political household. My parents are both revolutionaries from Iran. I was a refugee in Germany and in the States because of that. A lot of my parents’ friends were very political so I ended up listening to a lot of different people talking about things that didn’t even really make sense to me back then, but it definitely formed the way I felt about things,” said Mos.

The love of hip hop drew the group together in high school, and even though they didn’t go into the group with the intention of creating music with a message, it just worked out that way.

Since 2001, Sweatshop Union has made four more albums including their most recent Bill Murray EP, which reviewers called their most ambitious to date.

“I think it’s funny that people have called Bill Murray our most ambitious album, because it’s the shortest album we’ve ever made and it’s also the most flippant and nonchalant,” said Mos.

“There’s no real message to it, we were just having fun and kind of talking. In the end it still comes off that songs sort of mean stuff but it was very much a fun album for us to make. It was funny to see that people thought this album had some sort of weight to it.”

Something that set Bill Murray apart was the absence of long time group member Kyprios, who left the band this year to pursue a solo career.

Mos said the group attempted to work with Kyprios but the songs just didn’t fit the vibe of the album.

“He’s a very fun guy. We’re all brothers, so we miss him sometimes. He has a very high-energy opening set so it’s a bit different, but I wouldn’t say that it’s affected us negatively,” he said.

Despite some negative reviews from fans, Mos said that the group is going to continue to make albums like Bill Murray.

“We’re going to focus on making more progressive music and I think Bill Murray was a good look at what’s to come,” he said.

Sweatshop Union is now looking at tapping into the international hip hop scene.

“Our focus has been very strong on North America for the last 10 years and that was mostly because we had to. We didn’t see a way out and now we’re starting to see how to do it,” said Mos.

Sweatshop Union will take the stage at the Spiritbar in Nelson tonight at 10 p.m. Tickets are available at the Hume Hotel for $10.

 

Just Posted

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

How the Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure affected you

Here’s what readers had to say about the company’s shutdown

IODE and Kootenay Emergency Response celebrate partnership

IODE has pledged $30,000 to KERPA over the next three years

Andrew Bellerby out as RDCK’s regional fire chief

Bellerby held the job since January 2016

Kootenay Co-op adopts sensory friendly shopping

The new quiet hours run Sunday evenings 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Kootenay Anglican bishops, priests grapple with same-sex marriage vote

After same-sex marriage amendment rejection, priests, bishops voice discontent

Feds issue battery technology challenge at energy conference in Cranbrook

Provincial and territorial energy and mines ministers talk policy, challenges at annual meeting

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

B.C. mom to go to Europe court in hopes of getting alleged abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown alleges her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Scheer on Trump: It’s ‘offensive’ to question the family background of critics

Trump is being called a racist for saying that the four congresswomen should go back where they came from

Instagram expands Canadian pilot removing ‘like’ counts to more countries

Social media giant plans to roll out the test in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Ireland

Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Most Read