The journey of my life | Sunday Observer

The journey of my life

If you already haven’t heard the name Shan Vincent De Paul that could be because this Sri Lankan-Canadian hip-hop artiste’s music career is getting off the ground just now. This year the musician is planning to take his work up a notch by creating more music to inspire more South Asian artistes to rise.

Born in Jaffna and later moving to Canada as a refugee in 1986, Shan has much to offer to the world musically and inspirationally.

Despite his busy schedule Shan engaged in an email interview with the Youth Observer to speak about his journey.

Q: What drew you to the music industry?

I was never drawn into the actual industry of music. That’s the ugly part you have to deal with after creating. I’ve always been a creator since I was a child, I fell in love with rap in high school when I was introduced to artistes like Outkast, DMX, Jay-Z, Hieroglyphics and Nas. I never had any formal training in music, maybe that’s why I was drawn to rap and there were no rules in how it could be created. It was a medium that allowed me to discover who I was and express myself honestly, that eventually evolved into a career. And here we are.

Q: What kind of songs do you usually sing about?

That varies from song to song. The majority of it is all my personal experiences. My journey, my struggles, my relationships, my successes, my ego, my vulnerabilities and my contradictions. In my creations I’m heavily inspired by film, so I approach each song like I would a film. I never want to make the same film twice, so there’s a pretty wide range of styles and sounds in my music.

Q: We learn that MIA is one of your greatest influences? How do you identify with her?

To have one of the most innovative artistes in the world, who is globally recognised - being a Tamil woman, is a huge deal for our community. She has carved a lane for herself and a style that can’t be replicated, I strive to do the same. There are also very few artistes that will go to the edge. The edge meaning, taking risks that many artistes may view as career suicide. Afraid they might upset a certain group of people, or simply being very progressive with your sound. But MIA has always been one of the few artistes that was never afraid to create from that edge and always be vocal in her opinions and honest in her expression. That’s the same reason I look up to her and artistes like Bjork and Kanye.

Q: Let’s talk about Sri Lanka. How and when did your family leave?

My family left Sri Lanka in '86. I was born in Jaffna, the youngest of five brothers. We went as refugees and landed in Montreal, eventually moving to Toronto. I actually visited Jaffna for the first time since I left, last year. It was a beautiful experience for me. Even after all that time, I felt at home.

Q: Do you hope to come back and settle in Sri Lanka?

I still have some family there, so yeah, ideally I would love to move between Sri Lanka and Canada more frequently.

Q: What do you think about the Sri Lankan music industry?

It is filled with potential. I’ve become more familiar with the hip-hop scene specifically within the past few years and I’ve stumbled upon some great artistes. I can’t speak on the actual industry, but whenever a community of people goes through that much suffering, the art that comes from it is always the silver


Q: Who do you hope to collaborate with?

Kendrick, Kanye, Drake, Thom Yorke, Janelle Monae, Rosalia, MIA, Tierra Wack, Anderson Paak are a few people on my bucket list.

Q: How do you want your fans to remember you?

As one of the greatest artistes of all time.

Q: If you were to give a message through your music what would it be?

Self love. I think all of my art will always come down to loving myself. Accepting yourself, embracing yourself, uplifting yourself…. only then can you uplift, empower and inspire others.