Meet smrtdeath, the androgynous rap meets rockstar that’s just signed with Epitaph | INTERVIEW

Having recently signed with legendary alternative label Epitaph Records, home to the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, The Offspring and Rancid, Canadian rapper/singer smrtdeath has been validated by the sphere of music that influences him most.

Not that he needed a co-sign, the androgynous red-head has been racking up millions of streams on his own for the past few years, establishing himself as one of the top dogs in the underground scene. With the weight of one of the biggest independent labels in the world behind him and a bunch of new singles ready to go, smrt is about to make his ascent out of the underground and into the consciousness of alternative music fans around the world.

We caught up with smrtdeath from lockdown to chat about securing a record deal, being called an ’emo-rapper’, fashion and his plans for the rest of 2020…

Smrtdeath rapper
Photo by Tony Tripoli

Congrats on signing to Epitaph Records! Being one of the most iconic punk and alternative labels out there, has that given you any sense of validation about your music and what you’re trying to achieve?

Thank you! yeah it’s very cool to sign to Epitaph. I think Brett & everyone over there really understands what I’m trying to do & it’s nice to have such a supportive label. I’m stoked to be recognized in the alternative/punk sphere as I think I often get (somewhat) unnecessarily stuck in the “rap sphere” so to speak. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, rappers are the coolest ever. I’m just also a bit of a rocker you feel me. 

Who are some of your favourite artists on the current Epitaph roster?

Culture Abuse is my fav band rn 100%, I love them so much. Also shout out my bro’s & fellow new signees gucci mane [guccihighwaters] and Lil Lotus. 

In a world where there’s 100’s of new artists a day uploading their stuff to Soundcloud, how did you make yourself stand out from the pack and achieve the success you’ve got now?

I think it was consistency? I released stuff very steadily at first, also with a lot of videos which I think made a huge difference. Shout out mouthsore! I’m hoping I can continue to “stand out from the pack.” I can’t keep up with how many new super good artists keep popping up! But I think all my new stuff is my best yet so here’s hoping. 

‘Emo rap’ is an easy get out when trying to describe your genre-blending sound, but how would you describe the music you make?

Honestly it’s a perfectly good catch-all term but I think anyone in that “lane” (myself included) either cringes at it or will use it more as a self-deprecating punchline, because it kinda sounds silly. Maybe that’s just from being involved with it though, who knows. I’m probably more rap-adjacent vocally than some of my peers but there’s also fools who are bonafide rappers just doing it over guitars. I used to say pop-punk but the new music I’m making is even more all over the place genre-wise. Some have emo influences, pop-punk influences, alternative, rap influences, pop influences uhh… does that answer the question? 

You’re not someone that likes sticking to one genre, where do you see your sound going next and what’s inspiring you at the moment?

Haha oh shit I think I just answered this back there but I’m constantly inspired by friends of mine and what they’re doing, as well as getting inspired by the world around me. I think right now what’s been inspiring me is just trying to have fun with it, not taking myself too serious and letting myself make some silly stuff as well as more serious music. 

Your look reflects the uniqueness of your sound, where do you find your inspiration when it comes to fashion?

Smrtdeath by Tony Tripoli
Photo by Tony Tripoli

I’ve always had a lot of fun with fashion. I used to spend hours at the thrift, going through everything there and coming up with new looks that way. Now I just go out and grab whatever catches my eye & switch stuff up when I get bored of certain styles. Like recently I got tired of skinny jeans so I’ve been wearing more baggy pants and it puts new life back into all these things I used to wear with skinnier pants. Also shout out to the homies’ brands they’re always inspiring me, people like Sowet, Abvhvn, Lefthand, Whatever 21, Alien Body. 

You’ve already collabed with some of the best up and coming artists in the scene, but who would be your absolute dream collab? – alive or dead.

dhananjay the first – if you’re reading this dm me…  

You’ve just dropped ‘Back with Me’ alongside a new video, can we expect even more music this year – what’s the plan for 2020?

Lots more singles and videos in the upcoming months. Trying to keep content at a steady pace because I’m sitting on so much stuff that I really want to share, and hopefully, people will enjoy it. 

Finally, will smrtdeath be hitting the UK anytime soon?

I want to come to the UK so bad! I have some friends there I love and I hope I have some fans too. definitely sooner than later.  

Interview by Johno Ramsay