Interview: Eternia

(2008) Juno-nominated and widely considered one of Canada’s foremost lyricists, Eternia continues to carry the torch for those Hip Hop aficionados who crave… s’ More..
With six music video singles on international rotation, and two critically acclaimed full-lengths released in 2005 – “Where I Been – The Collection” & “It’s Called Life” (Urbnet Records) – Canada’s “best kept secret” has paid good dues and is ready to prove it..
Eternia has toured extensively in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and most recently Europe; those that are lucky enough to catch her live credit her as one of the best live performers they have witnessed. It is Eternia’s ability to convey her personality and life experiences fluidly through her rhymes (in addition to the ease with which she can annihilate people lyrically) that has kept those in the know checking for her for over a decade..
Eternia’s newest addition to her growing discography, “Where I’m At – The Setup”, boasts an impressive roster of producers and featured artists that believe in this hard-hitting femme-fatale. I spoke with Eternia by phone moments before she was to fly off to her next gig. We talked about the past, the present and the her future….

Mb: So tell me about yourself. What possessed you to become a musician?
E: It’s nothing that really possessed me, its something that just naturally happens when you’re in a musical family. I was writing song lyrics and poems since the age of ten so it was a progression. It wasn’t really a definitive choice.
Mb: What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
E: All different types, to be honest with you. My mother originally liked stuff like Carole King and Kenny Rogers and my father listen to everything. He played the congas. They were both musicians. She played the piano, royal conservatory, he played the hand drums. She led the church choir at my Baptist church when I was growing up and then my brother was the one that got me into Hip Hop. So around late 80’s my brother brought home hip hop and the rest is history. It’s kinda how it happened.
Mb: And what was it about Hip Hop that you liked?
E: I was a kid and first of all, more than anything, it was cool cause my brother thought it was cool. He was my older brother, he is two years older than me, so he was like … God! What he said was cool, was! On top of it, I was always kinda loud… theatrical… wordy… I always talked fast, so when I started rapping my mother didn’t even find it strange. She was like “Wouldn’t it just make sense? My daughter that talks a mile a minute is now rapping a mile a minute.” It suited me. I was a writer first and foremost. Obviously I wouldn’t know any of this at the time when I was 10 years old, but Hip Hop is very lyrical and so it really lends to someone who places emphasis on words more than anything else. To a lot of people who aren’t really involved in Hip Hop, they find it not that musical? It IS musical! But definitely there’s a focus on the content that attracted it to me too.
Mb: And what is it you like to convey to people through your words?
E: That’s a good question. I call myself a life artist. I’m a literalist, I’m a journalist and I’m a life artist. Anything I go through or I’m struggling with I write about. So that’s the literalist perspective. I’m not really imaginative. I don’t make up stories. They are all true to life whether it be family stuff or financial burdens to a grander scale of how we place in the bigger picture. It’s all from my eyes, from my perspective. I’m female born and raised in Canada, so it’s across the board. I’m a sociology minor at university so my music was going that way before I was studying, so its kind of a little sociology experiment. (laughs)
Mb: So how do you think we… you fit into the world?
E: It’s funny because in school we learn how class, race, gender, nationality, all that, impacts who we are as a person and how we function as a person and the tools we are born with… or if not born with, socialized with? I believe in all that but I also believe that we can manifest what ever it is that we want to create for ourselves. So I believe in breaking the stereotypes.
Mb: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
E: I’m always open to whatever happens. Before it used to be “Ok, I want to be a big Rap superstar.” But in the last year it’s changed. Now, I want to go back to school. I want to get my masters. I’m interested in getting my PhD. I want to write. I might want to teach. I want to speak on everything I’ve learnt from the music industry and from being an artist but more about, I guess you could say, the altruistic, non profit sector. For example, I’m about to go on a girl’s rights tour, its called “Girl’s Rights are Human Rights Too” and for me rapping in front of a bunch of kids in a highschool about girl’s rights is 10 times more fulfilling than a lot of other musical related stuff I’ve done. I found, happiness in myself is not defined by my success in the music industry, it’s completely outside myself and that’s a beautiful thing.
Mb: I suppose with a life as a musician you’re well on your way to understanding a life of “not-for-profit”!
E: (laughs) Ya, starving artist and non profit sector is a natural transition.
Mb: Tell me about touring Europe? How was that?
E: Oh dude, touring Europe is always awesome, but this 3rd time was the best. It was an all female tour which is unheard of. Its the kind of tour that’s never been done in Canada or the U.S., that I’m aware of. It was with Bahamadia one the foremost DJ’s of the 90’s, Roxanne Shante the foremost DJ of the 80’s and then myself and some of the newer breed DJ’s, so that was really empowering… and we got along! It wasn’t like some catty bitch fight, it was the exact opposite. We put on really strong shows, and I’ve toured with dudes and I can honestly say we could hold our own. I mean that’s a given and I really shouldn’t have to say that in an interview but we could definitely hold our own! It was awesome.
Mb: So where are you off to this weekend?
E: I’m flying to Ottawa, then we go to Montreal and then Toronto. For two weeks were basically hitting 20 something high schools, 2 schools a day for 10 days. It’s pretty cool. It’s a whole presentation on girl’s rights around the world because gender inequality is still a fact whether it’s in Canada, Sudan or China. We’re talking about it globally and then bringing it back home to kids in high school here. Its exciting.
Mb: So what do you want to leave our readers with? What’s your final comment?
E: Come to the show.. damn it! (laugh) I never assume everyone knows who I am, so if you don’t know and you come to the show and you’re not even a listener of hip hop normally, you will love the show. What ever stereotype you have, it will be shattered!