Profiles

STYLIN’: Appearing at Westfest this weekend…. Peter Joynt talks skateboards, rapping, and style

Announced as a performer at this weekend’s Westfest (Sunday from 8:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. if you’re making plans)… Peter Joynt! Ottawa Magazine catches up with the producer, musician, and MC in the Summer print edition and asks him about his style — musical and otherwise. Interview by Travis Boisvenue

Producer, musician, and MC, the multi-talented Peter Joynt is wearing AllSaints jeans, an American Apparel zip-up hoodie, and Vans sneakers. Photography by Tobin Grimshaw.

Did the impulse to collect skateboards lead you to collect art?
I started getting into art first. I had some friends who started painting and didn’t sell much work. I was, like, “That’s not that bad. How much is it?”

And then about eight years ago, I pulled out a T-shirt that a friend had given me — it was a Tony Hawk logo T-shirt, and it brought me back to my days as a kid when I was big into skateboarding. So then I got into buying decks [the actual board of a skateboard] online. I would clean them up and resell them for a profit. I started with a couple decks, and now I’ve got 60. This is within the top three vintage skateboard collections in Canada.

I just love the art of them. They’re such iconic images of the 1980s. And you see the styles coming back. Lots of neon and stuff. All that stuff was born in the 1980s from the skate style. And that’s definitely where I draw some of my own style from. I’ll do a lot of black jeans and fluorescent accents, which is a total throwback.

As the guy behind the Capcity rap, what are your picks for some of the city’s hidden secrets?
Well, maybe not so secret anymore, but Hintonburg is absolutely booming. That’s where I went to junior high. I remember going to school, and at lunchtime there would be sketchy activity like a robbery at the bank, and you’d have to avoid needles when you went to the park to eat your lunch. And now it’s like hipster central — but it’s great. As I get older, I’m definitely more into going out for dinner than going out to the club to party.

Peter's skateboard collection is mounted on the walls of his apartment.

What kind of culture has influenced your rap style?
I think first and foremost you have to have a distinct voice. The toughest thing with white rappers is that most of them have a nasal voice. Really high-pitched and almost aggravating, like Eminem. I have tried to husk up my voice and make it big and hard-hitting. I grew up listening to Nas, and now I’m listening to Shad, Mos Def, and Phonte, who is a guy in this rap group called Little Brother. I also like Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine. Even Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So it’s just, like, combine the intense I’m-so-pissed-off rage with a melodic je ne sais quoi.

Photography by Tobin Grimshaw.

What are you working on now?
I’m playing Westfest. I’m also working on a song that’s produced by a guy out of Atlanta named Floyd the Locsmif. And I’m just getting into making more heartfelt rap, the type of stuff I did for “The Proposal,” which is a song I wrote to my fiancée to propose to her.

I was contacted by the mother of a 13-year-old boy in Toronto named Jake Zeldin [a.k.a. Lil JZ]. Jake is also a rapper and a stutterer, so I’ve been talking to him a lot and have become somewhat of a mentor to him. While I’ve been slowly increasing my persona, he has just been going gangbusters. He’s been signed to a management deal. He was just flown down to San Francisco to record a song with Mos Def and Talib Kweli, two of my favourite MCs. We’ve got a plan to write a song about stuttering.