After a five-Year hiatus, Ron Contour chose to get rid of his bee colonies and come back to the music industry. “What kind of MC keeps bees,” said Contour.
With intent to never leave the game again, Contour has proven that he’s dedicated his time to making quality music with his new album, Saffron, which is produced by Saskatoon-based producer, Factor. Contour and Factor have been praised for having great chemistry on the album and with hits like, “Glad” and “I Only Know,” there’s no denying that. Whether you prefer relaxing at home or a night out on the town, this album has something for everyone. Adding to the catchy beats, clever lyrics and perfect melodies, Contour made the conscious decision to keep the album short, ensuring not to lose the attention of his listeners.
In a little over a month of his album release, Ron Contour spoke exclusively to MVRemix about Saffron, why he chose to come back, his personal feelings about the industry and his new projects.
Ron Contour Interview
by Terri-Ann Thomas
MVRemix: Congrats on the new album, first of all.
Ron Contour: Thank you very much.
MVRemix: Why the name, Saffron?
Ron Contour: I was thinking yellow when I made the album. Usually a title pops into my head and that sparks the theme and then the music follows. It could have been called, Noodles and Soup, you know what I mean? I don’t feel the title is so important; it’s just like a picture.
MVRemix: So, is yellow your favorite colour?
Ron Contour: No, I hate it.
MVRemix: You were introduced almost ten years ago.
Ron Contour: Yeah, my cousin [Moka Only] introduced me to the industry. He brought me in, so, here I am.
MVRemix: How have you changed since then?
Ron Contour: I think it’s more so, lyrically. I use to be a little more out there. I think my stuff is pretty normal now. Lyrically, I used to be pretty out there, painting a fantasy with words, if you will. Nowadays I just rap about reality, you know what I mean? Like, paying a bill. Normal stuff.
MVRemix: And you left the scene for a while, right?
Ron Contour: Yeah, I left the scene just after 2000. After I put out the debut album and stuff, nothing was really shaking, you know? I got a really crummy deal with that first album. The record label actually disbanded and went bankrupt, so I just wanted to focus on personal aspects of my life, like girls and beekeeping and whatever, stuff like that.
MVRemix: What convinced you to come back on the scene?
Ron Contour: My cousin [Moka Only] got me back into it. It always comes back to him; he’s the one that’s always doing everything. I mean, he’s probably the busiest guy in hip-hop as far as releasing albums. I just saw that and it inspired me. I said, “Oh my God, this guy is coming out with another album?” And what have I done? I’m beekeeping, you know? What kind of MC keeps bees? I had three [bee] colonies and I got rid of them and came back out to the coast and started working with Moka again.
MVRemix: I like that you say you don’t care what people think of you and you’d be a proud C-lister. Does that help with making good music?
Ron Contour: Yeah, I really don’t care, I mean, if you’re an artist, you’re gonna do it because you love to do it, not because it pays your mortgage or buys you a lot of Twinkies, you know? People are entitled to have their own opinions, so it’s whatever you want. I know what I want, that’s why I’m gonna keep doing music [and] this time I’m not gonna go away. This time I’m really a problem.
MVRemix: Tell us about the album cover.
Ron Contour: Oh, it’s nothing, that’s just a cell phone shot of me just goofing around. There’s nothing deep to uncover there really.
MVRemix: Who have you worked with on this album? Is it just one other artist on the album?
Ron Contour: Ok, here’s the story with that. Usually with most of the releases I put out, Moka Only has produced them. He seems to be the in-demand beat maker right now, but I wanted to spread my wings [and] he encouraged me to do that. He hooked me up with this cat that he worked with before named Factor. So, Factor actually did all the beats on the album. And there’s only one other guest on it and that’s Def3, he’s from the Canadian prairies.
MVRemix: What was it like working with him? [Def3]
Ron Contour: It was great; he’s a wonderful character. He’s a great dude and again he’s someone I met through my cousin [Moka Only]. My cousin did an album with Def3 in 2006 called, Dog River. I’m telling you man, my cousin don’t sleep. That guy has put out 50 albums.
MVRemix: Yeah, he’s great.
Ron Contour: Yeah, and he’s also handsome.
MVRemix: I’ve read some album reviews and they said you and Factor have really good chemistry, what was it like working on the album with him?
Ron Contour: It was the type of chemistry, basically where we didn’t even have to talk. You know? He’d start to do a beat and he’d say,” Hey, what do you think about it?” And I’d be like, “Shut up! Don’t talk, I’m trying to write.” Then he’d try to say something again and I’d slap him or whatever and then he was cool, you know? Once he accepted the abuse and just quieted down, then I could just focus on writing the rhymes. I’m joking, but really, he doesn’t talk much and I don’t even really like to talk. He’d start to work on a beat and I’d say, “What do you think about going in this direction?” And I like to write pretty random, I think I’m a kind of a random guy, you know? So, we tried to reflect that in both the music production on the album and with the lyrics too.
MVRemix: Why was “Glad” chosen as your first single?
Ron Contour: I thought it was the most commercial and catchiest. And I could probably sucker people into giving me their money. Just to be honest. It just spoke to me, sometimes you just know, when you put together an album, you just know what should be the introductory track that might make people feel a sense of intrigue, or indigestion or whatever.
MVRemix: Tell us about the video. Was it your idea to do a “Harry and? the Hendersons” kind of ending?
Ron Contour: We kind of freestyled the video, to tell you the truth. The video producer, Stuey, that’s his method, basically he doesn’t write a treatment, he doesn’t write a storyboard, he basically has some props available [and] it sort of just develops throughout the day. He had a costume available for the Sasquatch, but as far as the story line, it sort of just fell into place, you know? Ran into a couple people, picked them up and let the cameras roll [and] had some fun with it.
MVRemix: Is that how you go about all of your videos?
Ron Contour: I haven’t done many videos, I’ve done like three total, so it’s still sort of a new thing to me. I’m not even really that comfortable in front of [the] camera. In case you’re curious, that’s why I wear artificial mustaches, no the mustaches aren’t real.
MVRemix: Yeah, I was going to say that next. I like the mustache in the video, is that here to stay?
Ron Contour: Until I start to become more comfortable, you know what I mean? I think the mustache will stay; people seem to like it. Maybe I’ll grow an actual real mustache. If you look at the album [cover] that’s a real mustache that took like a year to grow, I’m not very hairy.
MVRemix: So since you’re not very comfortable in front of the camera, does that mean we’re not going to be seeing any more videos from you for a while?
Ron Contour: Oh no, you definitely will. I actually just filmed two more videos. I mean, I realize it’s something that has to be done, because with the way the music industry is nowadays, visuals are very important. It’s more important than anything. Word-of-mouth, that’s the old model, but now with multi-media and [the] Internet, you have to have the videos. You have to have something to show people, to bring them a sense of what you’re trying to create.
MVRemix: What are the two other videos you just filmed?
Ron Contour: One of them is a video from the album, The Beach, which I put out last summer. That video is called, Radiant. The other video is like a homemade style video and it’s called, Curb Cadillac, which is talking about skateboards. ‘Cause I’m probably the only rapper that really skateboards. Skateboarding is good for you, skateboarding and smoking.
MVRemix: Are you one of those artists that like to have a video for every song on the album?
Ron Contour: I wish I could, but you know, budgets only go so far. Then, directors are kind of hard to narrow down too. Directors are artists basically, so they’re just has flaky as us musicians. [You think] we’re terrible man, the directors are just as bad.
MVRemix: You can videotape yourself though.
Ron Contour: Yeah, and the Curb Cadillac video, that was me taping myself. It doesn’t really look that professional when you [do it yourself], you need a professional, you know? I think content is important no matter what, but I would rather have some nicer looking videos.
MVRemix: What’s the most important thing you want people to know about this album?
Ron Contour: That it’s short. I want people to know that it’s short and if they want more, then I’ll make some more. That was actually a criticism, I heard a lot of people like, “Woah, it’s only a half hour.” What do you expect, when everybody is so stupid and their attention spans are so short? If I was to make it an hour or whatever, everybody would be like, “Oh, it’s too long, he’s not rapping about anything but food.” Well you know what? I like food! To tell you the truth, if I didn’t eat food, I’d probably die. I’m gonna rap about food whether people have a problem with it or not. I like food, I like all kind of food, you know? I don’t care, that’s my content, you know? Everything else is just done, the whole selling coke in your raps and all that, you know what I’m saying? Trying to be so hard, it’s done. So I’m gonna rap about food, that’s what I like.
MVRemix: Yeah, and it goes back to you not caring about what people think.
Ron Contour: I can’t care. This world man, it’s such a bunch of zombies, it’s hard to break through sometimes. We live in a society where people- like what we’re doing right now, we’re actually talking on the telephone, that’s like taboo now, you’re not suppose to talk, you’re only suppose to text. What kinda world is it where people only text? It’s like, we’re being controlled [and] it’s like one big experiment. They just want us to text and just want us to tweet, so then can keep tabs on us [and] see what we’re up to. [To] keep everybody quiet so that there’s no chance of being antagonists or going against any new change, or whatever. I don’t believe that, I think that people should communicate, to a degree.
MVRemix: So, do you want to use your music to change how the world is?
Ron Contour: No, I’m just reporting what I’m seeing, I guess. Reporting what I’m eating, rather [laughs]. Music is a powerful tool, but I’d rather keep politics out of the music itself. That’s why I do interviews, cause now it’s my time, I could actually speak clearly about my intentions or my beliefs or disbeliefs or whatever, but like in music I just want it to be pleasurable. Life should be enjoyed; I don’t want to be paranoid. People should talk more, texting this or texting that, updating their twitter to say they’re on the toilet, I mean, c’mon.
MVRemix: Do you have a twitter?
Ron Contour: Yeah, @RON_CONTOUR.
MVRemix: Going back to the album, what’s your favourite song on the album?
Ron Contour: I would have to say, “Wondrous” that’s my favourite right now [sings song], Yeah that one. The rhymes are springy, just something about it. It’s me, so I can take pride in the songs and I can remember what was going through my head when I made them or where I wrote them. They weren’t all wrote in the studio, sometimes I was out on my skateboard or I was walking along a country road, or whatever. I always keep a pen and pad with me just in case. Some people keep a handheld recorder, I’m analog; I keep a pad and pen.
MVRemix: So what was going through your head when you wrote that? [Wondrous]
Ron Contour: All of the lyrical content on the album and any of the music I’ve ever made is very random. So they were just random scenes and images that went through my head and because I’ve record a lot of the album in the Canadian prairie, it spoke about a lot of the scenes that were around me in the Canadian prairies.
MVRemix: What can people look forward to, as far as upcoming shows?
Ron Contour: Yeah, here’s the funny thing, you’re gonna laugh [silence], haha ok maybe you might not, but I’ve never done any tours. I haven’t really done a lot of performances, that’s what this spring has been about so far. After the album came out I’ve been getting my show together [and have] been practicing with Factor, because he’s gonna be DJ’ing on the upcoming tours. I did a lot of performances in the early part of 2000 and then I did take that time off to pursue beekeeping and stuff like that. So, I’m just getting back into shows right now [and] I’m really excited. We got a couple of American tours coming up, starting July actually. Canada has been really slow to receive Saffron, I don’t know. Everything always seems to go over better in America. Hopefully that could change; it would be nice to get some Canadian support, so I definitely appreciate this interview. Thank you.
MVRemix: The album is great; it should be a problem for it to do well here.
Ron Contour: I hope. I don’t know what it is, it’s just sometimes it seems like people who are trying to do original or different stuff in rap in Canada, they sort of get shunned.
MVRemix: For someone that’s been in it [the game] for so long, what advice do you have for someone else who not only wants to be in the business, but be like you and do their own thing?
Ron Contour: I would say, don’t make the mistake that I made and take a lot of time off. If you got a vision, don’t let spoiled business frustrate you to the point of giving up on your art, you know what I mean? ‘Cause there’s a good chance I might not have come back after my five year hiatus, you know? That could have been it and there could have been no more rhymes about food. We need food. So I’m just saying, you can’t let the outside world frustrate you from doing what you love, you have to do it for yourself and stand strong even when the forces are against you. That’s it, really. That’s what I believe.
MVRemix: What do you say to those people that say that your cousin is really you?
Ron Contour: [laughs] We don’t even look anything- well I guess we’re similar looking. I mean, I laugh and I don’t really get mad about it because you know, people are silly sheep. Somebody made a rumour about that or whatever and it’s just grueling, I get a kick out of it. So, they’re really gonna get surprised [because] Moka is gonna be featuring me in some stuff coming up and we’re gonna be shooting some videos together. We’re gonna get the last laugh.
MVRemix: Yeah, because I’ve heard it’s more of a Beyonce, Sasha Fierce thing.
Ron Contour: Oh, the alter-ego thing? Nah, but that’s alright. I mean if you [get a chance to see us] side by side then you definitely see the difference. Moka doesn’t wear a fake mustache; he’s comfortable in front of the camera. He doesn’t rap about food as much as I do. I’m just like a very attractive dude [and] he’s like a half decent looking dude.
MVRemix: Ok, well I’d have to say you should continue making albums, you’re very talented and you know what you’re doing.
Ron Contour: Thank you, I’m sitting on ten brand new Ron Contour albums, so they’re definitely gonna come out. I even have a new Ron Contour project with Toronto’s own, Danny O.
MVRemix: What’s that gonna be like?
Ron Contour: Crazy, really unexpected, especially when they see what Danny O is gonna be doing on it. People are used to a certain thing, but I loosened him up lyrically, it’s gonna be crazy. So we got that coming out at a certain point in it time. I’m just gonna keep going, I don’t imagine I’ll ever get tired of it [doing music].
MVRemix: What is your favourite part of doing what you do?
Ron Contour: Hmm, there’s so much. I get a lot of pleasure from writing. Just because it’s visual, the sky’s the limit. If you’re the author, you’re at will to say whatever you want and paint whatever type of picture you want to. So I get a lot of pleasure form that. I remember performing being a lot of fun too, so I’m looking forward to seeing people’s faces when I’m bugging out on stage. You know what? I’d say between the creation and doing the interviews, I really like doing the interviews because it’s my only chance to say what I really mean and what I wanna talk about. Those are my two favorite things; the creation of the music and the interviews. All the other stuff, like all the money, that’s cool but I mean, you can get money from anything right?
MVRemix: Where is the best place for your fans and people that don’t know you yet to follow your career?
Ron Contour: The underground, just keep your ear to the street, I suppose. We got a Ron Contour website coming, it’s not set up though, so for now it’s Ron Contour on MySpace. Then there’s Ron Contour on Twitter and Ron Contour on your television set.
MVRemix: What haven’t we covered yet that you want the world to know?
Ron Contour: I think you pretty much got everything there, you know? Um, I have a spring mixtape that came out like a week after Saffron dropped. It was from a trip that I took to the Ontario area in November. It’s called Rontario, it’s out and available now on Itunes and Moka produced that one.
MVRemix: Is it the same kind of vibe as the album?
Ron Contour: Yeah, it’s all about Ontario, every song. It’s a travel series I’m doing. We’re going to different places and then I’m going to dedicate particular albums to different places. I kept it real though, it’s not corny, I didn’t go to Niagara Falls and say [sings], “In Niagara Falls, Ontario, it’s always a fun place to go.” I wasn’t trying to make a mockery cause I do like Ontario a lot, so it was just like my dedication to Ontario basically. Yup, there you have it, Rontario.