blueprint Live / Blog

young-fathers-mike-massaro-diy-1200x800-01

Combating Stereotypes: Conversations with Young Fathers

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

It’s been almost exactly a year since Young Fathers has been to Vancouver, first opening up for Baths in 2014 at Fortune Sound Club, and a lot has changed. From winning the infamous Mercury Prize Award, to the release of their second studio album, White Men Are Black Men Too, Young Fathers have grown into a complex band of mixed emotions and contemporary influences – casting them into a larger pool of accelerating artists that stand for something other than just making music.

Through their strong choice in titles, Dead being the first and White Men Are Black Men Too being their second, you have to wonder what goes behind these calculated ideas where  their songs and lyrics playing with questions of racism, discrimination and stereotypes. When on the phone with G. Hastings of Young Fathers, he explains:

“It’s not just for one reason, and it’s not just like anarchy, a throw-away, annilistic or ironic statement that we just wanted to get a bit of controversy from. What we found with why we went with that arrangement was because it made people talk rather than shout at each other. Especially now, I think it would be a good thing for a lot of people, especially the people in power. The police or whoever might understand a bit more rather than just shooting people down. We try to combat the stereotypes. It’s quite carried away in the media that blacks and whole groups of people are put under one umbrella, saying that people are like this and that, subconsciously or consciously by the news. We can’t be denying the fact that the world is very multi-facetted and complex and we shouldn’t really be allowed to define a group of people into one thing.

The album uses situationalism. We want to outsmart talk and spark thinking, conversations and feuds. We’ve had a few conversation since the album has come out and it’s been good conversations, whether it’s been negative or positive. It allows you to think and talk about it which I think is better. A lot of the time people say they don’t like it and then they talk about it and then understand where you’re coming from. They might not start to like it, but they understand.

You want to be heard even though people hate you. Now people know what sounds like us exists. The powerful force behind the band is the fact that it’s three different people who make music together but they’re sound isn’t mangled together. We might not like the same things, we fight and argue all the time but it’s all about what you can make in the end.”

It is with that bravado, both musically and in performance, that has carried Young Fathers into what they are now. With a mixture noise rock and lo-fi aesthetics, their backgrounds have curbed their sounds into an alternative look at R&B and hip hop. Meeting at a local hip hop night 13 years ago, the three members Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and G. Hastings have come to realize that their different upbringings influence the way they approach Young Fathers – very different and particular but ultimately holding one common vision.

“You want to be in the same place as a huge act. and you want to be heard by the same amount of people that listen to these huge acts because it’s not just about being in a band anymore. On one hand, you want to make money because you need to survive and on the other, you want people who don’t love music to know who you are because it means that it’s a bigger idea. I believe that’s important – it’s not just us as a band but popular culture as a whole.”

And with these mentalities, Young Fathers has created an artistic direction that is both understanding and intimidating. These ideas can be seen in Shame, their first music video off White Men Are Black Men Too. Directed by Jeremy Cole, a supporter that chose to feature Young Fathers in his Four To The Floor E4 series, it shows a young man walking along a street.

“Up until now, we’ve done all our own videos. Jeremy has always been supportive and wanted to do something with us. We wanted the idea to be simple: a boy walking. And we were really happy with the result. The main character was someone I definitely identified with. He looked and dressed how I did when I was young and it was very comforting. We were nervous to release control to another person, especially when we’ve been doing something ourselves for so long but Jeremy did a great job.”

Even with all the heavy themes tackled in their lyrics and titles, there seems to be a happier outlook to life with Young Fathers, contrasting with the dissonant musicalities. It is a perspective that has stood out from many other artists that also stand to throw away stereotypes and discriminations.

“We try put two things against each other that don’t really belong because that’s kind of what life is like. It’s not positive or negative, dark or light. Young Fathers is not one thing, it’s different everytime. I think that’s what makes it interesting. Because you can dance to it and that’s makes it realistic and human. We always try to find a human elelment – rather than trying to artisticaly add too much, making it too fancy. We like things that are real and I think that goes right through to our music. It’s what makes it human and personal. You can have so much more with a smile behind your words.”

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

events calendar

 May
 
May 20   Russ (All Ages)   Pacific Coliseum
May 22   Joyner Lucas   Fortune
May 22   Sofi Tukker   Commodore
May 29   Cozz   Fortune
May 31   Lightning Dust (Victoria)   Lucky Bar
 
 June
 
Jun 1   Lil Gnar & Germ (All Ages)   Fortune
Jun 2   King Tuff   Fortune
Jun 2   Rittz   Venue
Jun 3   Smoke DZA & Bodega Bamz   Fortune
Jun 13   The Sword (Vancouver)   Venue
Jun 15   The Sword (Calgary)   Marquee
Jun 15   Upon A Burning Body & Volumes   Fortune
Jun 16   The Sword (Edmonton)   Union Hall
Jun 17   The Sword (Regina)   The Exchange
Jun 18   The Sword (Winnipeg)   Pyramid
Jun 21   Culture Ft. Kenyatta Hill   Venue
Jun 23   Freddie McGregor   Venue
Jun 23   Louis Futon (Live)   Fortune
Jun 28   Neon Indian (DJ Set)   Fortune
 
 July
 
Jul 5   Slum Village   Fortune
Jul 6   FVDED In The Park 2018   Holland Park
Jul 7   Neurosis / Converge   Commodore
Jul 19   Great Grandpa & Dead Soft   Fortune
Jul 20   Opia   Fortune
Jul 21   Melvins (Vancouver)   Venue
Jul 24   Melvins (Edmonton)   Union Hall
Jul 25   Melvins (Calgary)   Marquee
Jul 27   Melvins (Winnipeg)   Pyramid
 
 August
 
Aug 7   Rex Orange County (All Ages)   Vogue Theatre
Aug 30   Let's Eat Grandma   Fortune
Aug 30   Poolside   Biltmore
 
 September
 
Sep 3   The Exploited   Fortune
Sep 6   grandson   Venue
Sep 13   Buddy   Fortune
Sep 13   Ella Mai   Venue
Sep 14   Pell   Fortune
Sep 14   Ravyn Lenae   Venue
Sep 15   Duckwrth   Fortune
Sep 16   Fatima Al Qadiri   Fortune
Sep 27   The Midnight   Fortune
 
 October
 
Oct 26   SG Lewis   Fortune
 
 November
 
Nov 8   Gallant (All Ages)   Vogue Theatre
Nov 17   Young Fathers   Venue