East Vancouver resident Gisto has released his third solo album entitled OMW. Vancouver Weekly has the exclusive video premiere of the reggae/hip-hop artist’s latest single “All By Myself”. Set in the heart of East Vancouver “All By Myself” bears many of VanCity’s most recognizable hotspots. Vancouver Weekly sat down with Gisto to discuss the relevance of reggae music in Canada, as well as the making of “All By Myself”, and the motivation behind the latest single off of OMW.
Vancouver Weekly: Your third album entitled OMW is now available, what can you tell us about the reaction to your hybrid sound?
Gisto: The reaction to the album has been great so far. The album is darker and more personal than my previous work. I believe OMW is more relatable than my past recordings. I am showing an honest impression of the way I think and how I explore things that many people seem to go through. People are genuinely excited about OMW and the different direction I am taking with my music.
VW: You mix reggae and hip-hop into one sound. What is it about blending the two genres so seamlessly that appeals to you as an artist?
Gisto: Many say that I blend reggae and hip-hop and I understand why people think that way. Most of my life I have been into reggae, it helped me find my voice and get me through some tough times. I love hip-hop, but I have a hard time thinking of myself as fitting into any one genre. I want to make music that has a universal and timeless appeal. Reggae showed me that universality but the hip-hop element follows a more personal narrative. Both styles have a half-time tempo that set the table for my lyrics and songwriting to be the feature on each of the tracks.
VW: Vancouver Weekly has the exclusive video premiere of your new track “All By Myself”. What does the song mean to you at this point in your career?
Gisto: Most of the album including “All By Myself” was written at a time when I was socially disengaged. I was focusing on my artistry and personal growth. I would stay home and work on building tracks instead of going out to party. At the time I did not realize that I was laying the groundwork for the new sound heard on OMW. “I am in it all by myself with nobody help cause I know better than anyone else and I hope that you doubted me so I can say that I did this all by myself”. I have come out of the tunnel, and I am feeling happy about what I have accomplished, but I could never have done it without spending that time “All By Myself”.
VW: How did you shoot the video “All By Myself”?
Gisto: I directed and edited the “All By Myself” music video. We shot the video in a run and gun style. Other than the depiction of a hustler on that lonely grind I did not have a concept going into the shoot, much like a lot of the art that I create. My brother G-Lovely and I rolled out in my 92 Jaguar XJ6 with G behind his camera. The two of us hit up different locations in East Vancouver, including the New Brighton tunnel. I loved shooting the “All By Myself” video because it flowed together so nicely. East Van has plenty to offer when setting out to achieve a grimy, hustler type feeling.
VW: What did you do in post-production to give the video it is unique aesthetic?
Gisto: I took the footage home and chopped it up much like the way I build my music when I write.
I edited the shoot based on what looked cool to me. I tried to make it trippy and mysterious to give it that early morning vibe, which is how I was feeling at the time.
I was compelled to use the East Van sign in the video to represent my city; I live a few blocks away from the iconic landmark.
VW: Tell us about your experience working on music in Jamaica and how it differs from the Canadian music scene?
Gisto: I wanted to go to Jamaica ever since I got into reggae. My Jamaican friends told me that I had to visit the country when I began producing and recording music. When I finally made it to Jamaica, I went alone and with no defined plan. I had the number to a taxi driver, and when I played my CD for him, he introduced me to his producer friend Dre Zee. Upon showing off my production methods on my laptop, I was invited to stay at Dre Zee’s Studio. Dre and I would travel to Kingston where I got to meet other artists and producers that inevitably I would look up too. Everybody in Jamaica seemed to like me. I ended up recording songs and videos and having them premiere on Hype TV (Jamaica’s version of MTV). Having Jamaica accept me and put me on national television was a dream come true. It is difficult to compare Jamaica to Canada; the countries are two very different worlds. Jamaica is absolutely crazy about music. Every Jamaican I meet seems to sing, rap, dance or produce. We are a bit more reserved up here in Canada. To garner that same kind of acceptance in this country would be a great honour.
VW: Where does your unique style fit into the Vancouver music scene?
Gisto: After spending years on the road with the successful touring band the Wassabi Collective the world has changed significantly, I am uncertain of how I fit into the Vancouver music scene. Wassabi was known more for the live experience as opposed to our music. The group would pack venues most everywhere we would play, people loved us before social media. Now I focus on creating songs that people will enjoy. I am hoping that if my music gets the exposure people in Vancouver will get into my art. Every week for the past ten years my friend Tank Gyal holds a dancehall night in East Van called Thursday Ting. I have performed at Ting many times, and Tank Gyal has always shown other local artists and me a great deal of support.
VW: How has the reggae scene changed over the past few years in Canada, where would you say our reggae community ranks on a global scale?
Gisto: Reggae music from Jamaica has become a world-renowned sound. Jamaica and the country’s culture of music are accepted and cherished globally. Save for Toronto, reggae music is not as appreciated in Canada the way that it is in Europe, Africa, and in other countries. Every culture has their version of the genre, but I love Jamaican reggae. I am excited to be a part of Canada’s reggae scene and want to draw people to the sound who might not have been able to relate to the genre beforehand. However, I do not think of myself as purely a reggae singer or a rapper. I am a genre-bender, and I write from personal experience. I am grateful that I am able to create a unique sound that people can vibe to regardless of what types of music they enjoyed before hearing my material.