Tory Lanez interview: 'It’s not about being in one lane'

The multi-talented rapper, singer and artist from Toronto chats with us halfway into his first headlining tour, the Lost Cause Tour
Photographs: Breanna Loose, Cosign Magazine
By Vivienne van Vliet |
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Daystar Peterson was dubbed Tory Lanez as a young child—with “Tory” coming from his desire to be called something along the lines of the Notorious B.I.G., and “Lanez” referencing his younger self running through the streets.

While he’s certainly no stranger to the scene (his growing list of collaborations include Bun B, DJ Mustard, Meek Mill, YG, Kirko Bangz, G-Eazy, Rockie Fresh… the list goes on), Tory Lanez has been through quite the journey to get where he is now. Less than a decade since living on the streets of downtown Toronto at the age of 14, the now-22 year old is in the middle of his first headlining tour, named after his latest mixtape, Lost Cause. Although it's not his first project, it feels as though Lanez has premiered himself in a new way this year—highlighted by collaborations with tastemaker producers like RL Grime, Ryan Hemsworth, Noah Breakfast, while adding a lot of his own production.

The rapper (or wait, singer?) gets the Drake, or even Weeknd, comparison a lot, but it doesn’t take much listening to realize there’s something different about Lanez—something that sets him apart from all the other artists out there, whether it be rap, hip-hop… Tory Lanez is bringing you the euphoria that is Canadian rap and hip-hop—with his own personal touch of “swavey.” We managed to land a rare phone interview with Lanez right after his run of Texas shows and before his show in Atlanta—and just in time for his upcoming gig at Webster Hall this Wednesday. When Lanez picks up the phone, he lightens the mood, answering, “I’ve been expecting you, Vivienne…”

Luckily, Lanez is a down-to-earth, coolass dude. The interview ends up being a casual, forty-minute phone call, with a couple interruptions for which Lanez apologizes profusely. First, he’s stuck at the bank, settling his business and personal credit cards before he flies off to Atlanta (“I’m sorry, this bank lady’s kind of messing up my thought process… I’m sorry, she just came and said some wild shit to me!”). Later, he leaves the bank, only to find his crew whilin’ out (“My fuckin' friends are so wild. We're in the middle of the bank parking lot, and they got this door open, blasting music and dancin' and doing dumb shit!”). Regardless, the whole experience gives me that much more of a feel for what a typical day in the life of Lanez is like.



I have to say I’m a little nervous just cause I’m such a big fan.
Ok, first things first, all nerves gotta go, okay? It’s all level over here; you can ask me any question you want. Nothing is too outrageous, and nothing is too crazy. So you can lose all those nerves and holla at me.

I just want to start with the track “Remembrance Day”—just because it was the first track I heard, and I was like, “Who the fuck is this guy?!” That track seemed really personal…
Oh yeah, it definitely was.

Where were you—and what was going on in your life— when you made that track?
It was a point in my life that a lot of people don’t really know… I was stuck in Canada because I didn’t have a visa at the time—when I first got signed [to Sean Kingston]; I was stuck in Canada when I was most relevant. They’d banned me for 6 or 7 months, when all of my networks were in America. I lost a lot of networks, a lot of relationships, business contacts and certain things—because I was only able to be in Canada before I got a visa at the time. And it’s like certain things were kind of going downhill at the time. This was two or three years ago. I have a visa now obviously, but it was one of those situations where I just couldn’t go anywhere, and I couldn’t do anything… Just wasn’t good, you know? Everyone was like, “You gotta go here,” and, “You gotta go there.” I couldn’t do anything, and I remember after a while, all that stuff started dying out. People didn’t really answer calls, you know what I’m saying? It was just one of those. I wrote that record like, “I’m gonna remember that I went through this time… I’m gonna remember it.” That’s what the record was for.

Do you still live in Toronto now?
I’m bi-coastal. I got a spot in Toronto and a spot down in Miami.

But you grew up in Toronto?
Well, technically, and technically no… I was born in Toronto, first and foremost. Stayed there for a little bit, moved to Montreal when I was 4 or 5 years old, and, from Montreal, we moved down to Florida. I stayed in Florida probably from 6 to 7 years old till I was 12. Then, I moved to Atlanta; from Atlanta I moved to New York; and from New York I moved back up to Toronto. I was about 14 or 15 when I moved back to Canada.

I read that you were homeless for a while?
Yeah, in Canada.

At that point, did you know you were going to “do music” yet?
I always knew I wanted to do music since I was 9 or 10 years old. All my brothers did it too, so it was just “the thing to do.”

Were there any other artists out there that made you realize you wanted to do music?
Not necessarily. I just drew a lot of inspiration from my family and the people around me.

There’s a lot of fresh talent coming from Canada that’s kind of different from anywhere else in the world. Do you think there’s something about Canada that curates this talent?
It might just be something in the water. I think that it’s the culture out there; it’s the fact that Canada is a very multicultural place with so many different backgrounds, people and places. You kind of adapt to and just naturally accept different things; and when you’re doing music, those things just really play into that.

Do you consider yourself more of a rapper or a singer?
I’m an artist, I just make music.

I read a lot about being “swavey”…
I’m a swavey artist—it’s what I call myself. An artist who has the talent to fuse more than one genre and still make it his own. I think the whole swavey thing—and the whole thing about swavey music—is that it’s just one of those situations where it’s about creating art. It’s not about being in one lane, and being a rapper or being a singer. It’s about being the artist who’s painting the picture on the canvas.

You collaborated with Ryan Hemsworth and RL Grime, and I heard something about you wanting to collaborate with more people in that electronic genre?
Oh yeah, for sure. A lot of those dudes right now—Shlohmo, RL Grime, Rustie, people in that world, or even Ryan Hemsworth—I feel like it’s just a different sound that they have. I’m just tired of all that rap shit; I stray away from the norm. I like to be different. I’m very everywhere; I’m very eclectic—but it’s in a good way. It’s more of a challenge hearing their beats, and going on their beats, than the beats I’m so used to going on. So that’s the joy and beauty of it. It’s just creating music.

You put out three mixtapes in the past two years. Do you go through phases where you’re just hardcore putting out tracks?
Nah, it’s very calculated, whether people know it or not. It’s just different tracks, and I have to do different things. But everything is very calculated.

Are you still doing Fargo Fridays?
That’s a real thing. There’s always gonna be Swave Sessions, always gonna be Fargo Fridays, but the thing about it is: they’re not going to be every single Friday, and there might not necessarily be a song every Friday. Fargo Fridays could mean anything; it could mean a video could drop.

Where does the name Argentina Fargo come from?
Argentina Fargo comes from two things. When I think of Argentina, I think of something foreign. I think of something outlandish—something far away. And when I think of Fargo, I think of things like Wells Fargo—the bank. When I put foreign and banking together, it’s like foreign money. I’m a Canadian dude, walking around America. When you look at me, it’s like looking at foreign money. So I call myself Argentina Fargo—like foreign money.

You started a clothing brand, right?
We opened a store, actually. Our group and company is called One Umbrella. We opened up a clothing store for high-end and underground designers, Forever Umbrella. We also have our own merch—One Umbrella, Swavenation and stuff like that. We have another brand coming up called Christ—that one hasn't been launched yet. We're just doing a lot of the mockups and sketch-ups now, but we're only going to sell it in Forever Umbrella stores. Eventually, there will be a chain of Forever Umbrella stores.

You dedicated a track to the shoes “Balenciagas”—what shoes are you wearing right now?
I'm wearing [Jordan] Raptor 7s.

I was going to ask—do you ever go to any Raptors games? Are you into basketball at all?
I root for the city—I mean, it's my city. I'm a fan of LeBron James. I'm not really a team fan; I'm just a fan of one player. [Laughs] That's as real as it gets... I'm not going to lie to you, and act like I’ve been rockin' with whatever team it is.

What're your favorite Js? Because you shout out to Jordan 6s in your “Danny Glover” freestyle.
They're probably the Raptor 7s—either the Raptor 7s or the Olympic 7s.

What about your favorite clothing brand?
I don't have a favorite, but I’ve been wearing a lot of Ron Bass lately.

What artists do you want to work with in the future—if you could work with any artist?
I definitely want to work with Kanye, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande—all the big people. I'm not in some “hippy-hip” shit. I just want to work with the big people, and the people who make great music.

What’s going on after the Lost Cause Tour?
I'm still going to be doing shows, of course. But, at the same time, I'm going to be shooting a lot of visuals for it—different things for the project. Commercials, movies, short films, certain things like that.

When you first started, you were directing your own videos, right?
I still direct my own videos. Sometimes when you see “directed by somebody else,” it's mainly because I want to give you the credit, and I'm not a dickhead about taking the credit that means something to you [as a director]. Because a lot of directors—as a matter of fact, every director I've ever worked with… If I leave them to cut up my videos—to edit the videos how they edit it—it never, ever comes out the way that it's supposed to come out. It’s after I go and change this, and say, “Nope, this shot needs to be switched with this type of shot... This needs to be switched with this…” It becomes one of those things where it's like—now it looks the way it's supposed to look. I'll really sit there and edit back-to-back with the directors. A lot of my videos are directed by me in the first place; I have to capture shots that I feel comfortable with, first and foremost, and… I’m very picky. I look at visuals like food. I'm a very picky eater; I'm a very picky dude with my visuals; and so on and so forth, you know?

What's your favorite type of food?
Uh, spaghetti! [Laughs]

That's not picky.
Nah—but the thing about it is: I'll eat spaghetti and won't eat shit else—like I won't eat nothin' else. You'll take me to a restaurant, and I won't get anything off the menu.

So you wouldn't eat sushi?
HELL NO, hell no. I fuckin' hate sushi.

Why?
That shit is so nasty. I can't eat raw food, it's just so nasty.

What about pizza?
I like certain pizza; I like New York pizza.

I was going to say—you have to have pizza in New York.
Yeah, yeah—I like New York pizza, I'm not gonna lie.

Do you cook at all? Well, I guess you don't really have time to cook?
I cook spaghetti! [Laughs]

Alright, I'll make sure to put that in the interview then—that you only eat spaghetti. What's your favorite car?
Right now, I would get a Rolls-Royce Wraith. It's either that or the [Ferrari] 458 Spider.

If you had any advice to the younger generation of—not even just rappers, but anyone who's trying to do music, what would it be?
I would tell you to just go hard at your craft. You don't master a craft until you put 10,000 hours into it. With that in mind, understand that there's only 24 hours in a day; you need to put 10,000 hours towards your craft to master it. Just go hard at your craft, believe in yourself, and have faith in God—God, he'll make it work. You just have to believe in yourself and believe in God—that he's gonna do it. That's what worked for me. I don't know about everyone else, but that's what works for me, you know?

That's a good way to start my day.
[Laughs]

Tory Lanez plays The Studio at Webster Hall Wed Oct 15.

All photographs were taken by @saybreaaa at Tory Lanez's Dallas show this past Friday.

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