How Snotty Nose Rez Kids Are Coping with Isolation: Avoiding the News, Making Beats and a New Concept Album

"Everything going on in our world right now seems to fit the theme of a new concept album we've been working on for the last year, and it's really freaking us out!"
How Snotty Nose Rez Kids Are Coping with Isolation: Avoiding the News, Making Beats and a New Concept Album
Rap duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids have been quickly on the rise in the last couple of years, earning accolades with their explosive live shows and politically-charged rhymes about Indigenous life. Having earned a short list nomination for last year's Polaris Music Prize with their album Trapline, the Rez Kids are following it up with a new EP called Born Deadly. We caught up with Yung Trybez and Young D during self-isolation to discuss staying creative, producing beats, and how they're working on a new concept album for 2021.

What's your self-isolation setup?

Yung Trybez: I'm locked down in my single bedroom apartment in Toronto where I have a li'l desktop studio set-up (Yamaha HS5 monitors, Mojave MA-50 and a Duet) to keep me busy. I stay locked and loaded with a bag of toilet paper, off brand disinfectant wipes, homemade hand sanitizer and a weeks supply of produce and meal prep.

Young D: I'm in Vancity at the moment with my partner. Living in a quiet neighbourhood so it's been extra peaceful around here lately. We stocked up for two weeks and we're considering going to Vancouver Island after we do our 14 days at home. Despite everything going on right now, it's been nice to have extra time at home.

Are you working on any music while on lockdown?

Yung Trybez: Everything going on in our world right now seems to fit the theme of a new concept album we've been working on for the last year, and it's really freaking us out! We actually scheduled two weeks of studio time in Toronto and two weeks in Vancouver for the month of May and planned to release this project this time next year. With our Born Deadly U.S. tour postponed until the fall, this will give us all the time we need to dive head-first into the project while living it…kinda. We are still going to release our latest EP, Born Deadly, on April 3. We hope it makes y'all feel better about all this.

Young D: I've been learning how to produce over the last year-ish. I made my first beat in FL Studio back on Christmas Day 2018 and haven't looked back since. I haven't necessarily been writing much but I've been going ham on the beats. Still developing ideas for future singles and our next project. But! We have an EP dropping on April 3 called Born Deadly — I even produced a track for it too, "Peaks & Valleys"! I'm pretty pumped to be releasing new music since TRAPLINE.

What are you watching and listening to?

Yung Trybez: On weekends I've been getting into watching my live feeds of homies like Dirty Radio, Haviah Mighty, SonReal, DJ Kookum, etc. while sipping on a rye and ginger or a kombucha! I've been meaning to watch the mini-series Chernobyl and finally got the chance, but I've been watching a lot of dark series to set my mood in my apartment for writing this new album. When the weather permits, I'll open the windows and blinds and blast the Weeknd's new album, Lex Leosis's new project Mythologies, or my favourite quarantine album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy!

Young D: I've been studying a lot of electronic music lately like EDM, future bass, etc… I have some ideas I'd like to implement into our music that'll diversify our catalogue and make our live shows that much more hype! I've been listening to the beats of my favourite producers: Timbaland, Scott Storch and Pharrell, to name a few. Artist-wise, it's Anderson .Paak and EarthGang getting me through, but the list wouldn't end if I named them all. Besides the occasional episode or two of a Netflix series before I go to bed, I'm mostly watching tutorials and live streams on Twitch and YouTube from producers I follow. I'm always looking to find ways to improve as an artist and producer by studying those that came before me and those that are killing it right now.

How do you feel about the response to coronavirus?

Yung Trybez: Once the NBA cancelled their season we knew everything else in Canada and USA was going to follow suit. In our opinion it came just in time! We are keeping the health of the Elders (the knowledge holders) of our communities in our prayers while keeping our distance from our families back home. We feel like people are doing their best to do what it takes to stay healthy while keeping a positive mindset and that's all you can really ask for, especially when a lot of us are out of work. On a more selfish level, this was going to be a big spring and summer for us (we had to postpone our first U.S. tour) and we are just doing what we can to get by until we get back to business as usual. Either way, we're going to get through this.

Young D: It's been hectic to see the evolution of it... It was never something I thought I'd experience throughout my lifetime, but here we are. I'm more concerned about the safety of our families back home, especially our grandparents. I try to stay away from watching the news. Nine times out of ten it'll just put me in a bad mood. Same goes for social media. It can be toxic as hell and it's too easy to get caught up in all of it. So I've just been focusing on keeping in touch with the fam as much as I can. Texts, phone calls and video chats go a long way at this point. I can see how not being able to go outside and do the things that most of us took for granted can get to you. But I'm a house cat, so staying inside doesn't really bother me. I hope this all gets under control sooner than later, though!

Have you picked up any new hobbies or routines in isolation?

Yung Trybez: This has been a bit of a double whammy for me because I can't work out due to a broken thumb and a torn meniscus, so it's been difficult to stay motivated. Where I would usually work out in the morning after breakfast, I switched it up for writing for an hour — whether that be music or creative writing like a short story, which I used to do a lot when I was younger. The main thing for me being an extrovert in isolation is keeping a positive mindset and switching it up when you get bored of something. Trying to stay creative and not fall into just watching Netflix all day.

Young D: My partner has been showing me the art of reorganizing. We've been getting our house in order after being on the road so much this last year and some, so it's kind of nice to be home for a bit longer. I started exercising at home too, it's another way for me to let go of some built up energy. Also clears the mind. My best advice for people would be to stay in touch with the fam. Even if it's a five- or ten-minute phone call or video chat. It'll help you feel more at ease after hearing and/or seeing someone you're used to talking to, especially if you live alone.