This past Thursday, January 9, Eventful Capital caught up with Toronto-based hip hop duo Philly Moves at Babylon prior to their performance as part of Back to Basics. The pair, made up of longtime high school friends Tynan “Tragic” Phelan and Jonny “Rockwell” Desilva, gave their first live set of the year alongside fellow Ottawa artists Alex Silas and the Subterraneans, Eddie Quotez, Yu$$o and King, who opened up for the headliners.
For the occasion, Eventful Capital got to chat with this dynamic duo to find out more about Philly Moves.
Eventful Capital (EC): You guys have been around since 2009 now and to date you’ve consistently put out 3 EPs, 2 full-lenght albums and 3 mixtapes in between. It’s refreshing to hear the feel-good hip hop that you bring to the scene, it’s different and it sure stands out from what others are doing. I’m curious to know what brought Philly Moves together in the first place and the meaning behind your name?
Tragic: Friendship brought us together to begin with. We were just high school buddies. Jonny’s always been in bands that did really well and I’d always go to the shows and then we started making rap songs on the side until we did the Never Get Famous song in 2006 and realized it was pretty dope. Our previous songs were just jokes so that was the first one that was actually serious and we got friends and other people to listen to it and they were like “woah yea that’s dope”. They really liked it. As far as the name goes, I wish there was a real meaning behind it, but it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s basically a line from a song we wrote. We used to be called Tragic & Noogie and we put out a live video session under that name and then we decided it was gonna get serious. One of the live sessions we made was called Philly Moves cause that was the name of the song. We thought it had a nice ring to it, there’s no artsy meaning behind it (laughs).
EC: Ok, so it doesn’t have anything to do with Philadelphia?
Tragic: Yea well the line was about Allen Iverson it goes: Think twice before I make you look silly dudes/Cause I got Allen Ivy when he played for Philly moves. So Philly Moves was never meant to be its own stand-alone thing, they were two separate ideas which sounded great together so it was more of a business decision than anything.
EC: As an MC/Producer duo how does your collaborative process work when it comes to creating music?
Rockwell: 90% of the time I come up with a beat or I throw Tragic a bunch of beats and he’ll choose one , or there’s one that I’m really excited about and I’ll throw that at him. I really like throwing Tynan ideas because he tends to blow it up into this huge imaginative thing and that’s really cool. We feed off of each others’ ideas really.
EC: Cool. Well it’s obvious that you’re grounded, down-to-earth guys and that’s not always an easy attitude to maintain in the music business. How do you stay focused and what’s your ultimate goal in the end?
Rockwell: To live off of it would be amazing.
Tragic: Honestly, I think that both of us just want to work full-time at making music. If I can make like $20 an hour being a rapper I’d be so happy about that (laughs).
Rockwell: If I can make between 40 or 60 Gs a year somehow I’ll be happy.
Tragic: That’s what keeps us so humble cause we don’t have these crazy visions of grandeur you know what I mean? Like secretly, sure I wanna be the fucking most successful guy on the planet, but obviously we’re realists, we understand that if we can make music and do the shit that we do on a regular basis and survive that would be unbelievable. And that’s what keeps us grounded cause of course everybody wants to change the world but we gotta be realistic about it.
EC: It’s progressive, one day at a time.
Tragic & Rockwell: Yea that’s it.
EC: I’m curious to know what you guys are listening to lately? Where do you draw inspiration from?
Rockwell: I’m a massive fan of the new Drake record and the new Beyonce record is fucking retarded, you gotta take it in, she’s fucking gangster as hell. I don’t want to make this about Beyonce but it’s really amazing (laughs).
Tragic: In terms of underground hip hop, I just took in the new Slaine record and it’s fuckin unbelievable. This Boston guy is unreal, he’s an actor too, he was in Gone Baby Gone and The Departed. I heard about him for so long and all those sketchy Canadian rapper guys that we always run into they all love Slaine and I thought no Slaine sucks but I finally took in the record and it’s unreal, it’s definitely our kind of hip hop. That’s the newest thing I tapped into.
EC: Cool I’ll be sure to check him out. You guys have been generating some buzz around the release of your video for the single Old As Fuck from your latest album Creators of the Lost Art that you recently shot in Toronto. It’s safe to say that I speak on behalf of many when I say I’m excited to see the finished product. Can you tell us when you plan on releasing the visuals? Do you have a set date?
Tragic & Rockwell: Yea on January 24!
EC: Nice, I’m looking forward to seeing that! You’ve performed at Bluesfest twice, at JunoFest, for Canadian Music Week and the list goes on. It’s clear that you’re making your mark on the Canadian hip hop scene. You’re obviously hard working guys and that’s allowing you to gain significant momentum within the hip hop scene. What’s your next move? What’s in store for Philly Moves in 2014?
Rockwell: A new album.
Tragic: Yea, we’ve done the whole hard-working guys that keep putting out shit all the time, we’re always in your face. We’ve done that. So now, this year, we’re putting out a polished, amazing record. We’re not the underdogs anymore. We’ve gained recognition and now we’re using that as our stepping stone.
Rockwell: We’ve never put lots of time into writing. We would just write, record stuff, polish it a little bit and put it out quickly. But we’ve been writing this record for the last 6-7 months, which we’ve never done. We wrote like 20 songs and brought it down to 10 and we’ve never done anything like that so we’re really excited about it. It should be out sometime in August. We’ll have a single out in like April or something to build the hype.
EC: And is that something that’s entirely self-produced?
Rockwell: Yea absolutely, everything is all done in-house. All originals. No samples. I was very heavy producing with chopping records and sampling before, but not this time around, all originals. Legally, nobody can sue us (laughs). For licensing for example, if you want your shit at the end of a TV show in the credits or something like that they won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole if it has samples. So that’s where we’re at.
EC: Well I certainly look forward to hearing the new sounds and I wish you all the best with the production process. Thanks again for taking the time to speak with Eventful Capital and have a great show tonight!
If you aren’t familiar with Philly Moves yet, be sure to take a listen to the feel-good sounds from their repertoire including the latest album Creators of the Lost Art and check out the below video for the track Nicklebag Batman.