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Words from the Members

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Fanspique: Swollen Members answer fans questions about the Junos, their tattoos and being B.C. born and bred

Who: Swollen Members

Where: WSSF DKNY Jeans Outdoor Concert Series

When: Wednesday, April 16

It’s a pretty safe bet this legendary Canadian hip-hop outfit really don’t need much of an introduction in the pages of Pique. With three albums garnering Juno awards, their tracks played in most clubs around town and regular requests every day on MuchMusic, you’d have to have been hibernating all winter not to know who they are.

Swollen’s early songs are in loads of snowboarding videos and their most recent collaboration was with Nelly Furtado, a track titled Breathe. The video for Breathe was directed by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, further propelling the Members’ star factor.

However countless gigs over the years in Whistler has led them to form many friendships here, making them another member of our town’s extended rotating family. And yet they are perhaps the biggest thing to come out of B.C. since Mountain Equipment Co-op. They are now they’re taking their unique rap ’n’ rhyme flavour around the world.

So we turned the reporter’s mic over to the local fans this week, with Prevail answering all that you asked.

KP, Whistler: Being at the Junos again must have been a great experience. What’s your take on Canadian music this year and are there any Canadian artists that were or are an influence on you and your sound?

Prev : It was awesome being there again because we laid some good foundations at previous Junos with a lot of musicians. So this year it was more like a rekindling of sorts. What I really noticed was there’s this big misconception the scene is a big anonymous blanket that just rolls along doing its job, but it’s actually made up of people who are truly passionate about music, which was refreshing to see.

In terms of influence, Maestro Fresh Wes is a big hip hop influence on us. He’s definitely a pioneer and his first album is a classic. And Nelly, we’ve been friends for so long and I really enjoy her music and am really proud of what she’s done. I also admire Sum 41, Treble Charger and gob. And in terms of the Junos, we’ve always had respect for Shania. I consider her to be one of the key figures in the past four or five years who’s helped blow the Canadian music scene wide open. She was hilarious at the show. She totally got us, ha, ha. (Editor’s note: She almost sat on them live on air before quipping: "I wouldn’t dare sit down on a Swollen Member.")

Dana, the Pique: Is it different winning the rap award yet again?

Prev : This year felt especially great as we made history being the first band to win best rap recording three years in a row, so we really took that to heart.

Liz, Alpine Meadows : Why do both the last two album titles have something to do with being scared and nightmares?

Prev : Ha, ha! It’s representative of the kind of elements we have in our music. We touch upon some dark stuff that in reality some people might shy away from but we do balance it with the other side of life, which is the celebration of what you’ve been given.

Mike, Pemberton: Is it hard getting noticed being from Victoria and Vancouver?

Prev : We never think of it like that. We’re super proud to be from B.C. but we never look at it as a plus or negative in anyway, it’s just our roots.

Hank, Creekside : Now that you guys have hit the big time in terms of mainstream airplay and popularity, do you ever miss those underground days when nobody knew who you were?

Prev: No because as an artist you want to be able to expose yourself to as many people as possible. I think there’s a little period where you question the integrity of what you’re doing the more popular your music becomes. But once you realize you’re still doing it out of the love and passion for it and as long as you’re still in a similar mindset as when you were underground, then there’s no problem with the fame.

Simon, Whistler Cay: How did it feel being initiated into the Rock Steady Crew? Do you think that really gave you guys the boost you needed to be taken more seriously?

Prev: Definitely. Rock Steady is a hugely respected crew across the entire globe and as far as groups go it’s just us, Dilated Peoples and The Arsonists. They are both groups we totally admire and look up to so it’s a great history to be a part of if we can be recognized in that vein by others.

Jane, Creekside : You guys have heaps of tattoos. Did you get any since you became Swollen Members and do they have any significance you want to share with us?

Prev: All the tattoos I have are since I’ve been in the group. I guess the one that’s most symbolic is on my right forearm, the Battleaxe logo.

MC, Montreal : You, Mad Child and Moka Only on stage seem to have such chemistry but yet are so different in terms of style and backgrounds. How do you guys make it work?

Prev: That’s partly why we named our first album Balance . As far as Mad Child and I go, in the beginning, Mad Child was more indicative of his name then compared to maybe now, ha ha. Me coming from Victoria, I had more of a laid back approach to looking at living life. Mad was much more aggressive and hungry so when we first hooked up, it took a while to figure out our energies and how they could mesh, but we definitely brought out the best in each other. And now with Moka Only there’s a whole new depth that just works. What you see on stage is natural brotherhood.

Alison, Emerald Estates : The word is you guys are getting into some solo releases down the track. Is this true?

Prev: Moka has always maintained and will continue to put out solo albums. Mad and I talk about solo efforts but right now with the way things are going for Swollen there’s just no time. Plus Mad’s running the label Battleaxe which takes up a lot of his time and concentration. So maybe one day but it’s not pending in the near future. But look for another Codename: Scorpion album, which is me, Moka and Abstract Rude sometime at the end of the year.

Tyron, Australia : Even though you guys can rhyme and rap with the best of them, you don’t look like hardcore rappers. Where’s the medallions and the hooker-looking girlfriends?

Prev: Ha, ha, ha! We’re from B.C. y’know. What we perceive the scene to be is not perhaps what others see. We got our own look going on. To be honest I would not be comfortable rocking that kind of gig. It’s not me. It’s not how I enjoy dressing, ha, ha!

Enare, Alpine Meadows: Has it been hard staying independent?

Prev: No, the only way that we will continue to do this is independently because we really have a belief not only in each other but also in the rest of the music that comes out on the label and the people that we are surrounded by in business terms. In saying that, we have a deal through Nettwerk and EMI for distribution in Canada and for the States we’ve just done the same thing with Virgin. So basically we remain independent but we’re able to plug into a bigger machine for distribution. Major labels are like a bank, you take out a loan and pay them back while further increasing the value of your business or property.