SonReal may be new to the United States as a touring major label artist, but he has been at it for a decade in his native Canada. The Vancouver-based artist’s career really took off in 2013 when his video for “Hometown” was nominated for Much Music Video Awards’ Hip-Hop Video Of The Year and his recording “The Closers” came up for a Juno Award for Rap Recording Of The Year. Additional high-profile nominations followed in 2014 and 2015, and a writer at MTV News referred to SonReal as “Drake’s Biggest Competition at the Juno Awards.” Now signed to Capitol Records, SonReal recently released his The Name EP and its single “Can I Get A Witness” has already sold gold in Canada.
In support of The Name, SonReal will be in town for an Oct. 9 gig at The Emporium, touring alongside Mike Stud. SonReal — whose civilian name is Aaron Hoffman — caught up with Downtown about The Name, his show in Patchogue and plenty more.
Who was the first person to call you SonReal?
SonReal: My friend D-Man.
What was the writing process for your EP like?
SR: I took my time and took all the steps to building the songs the way I saw them in my mind. But at the same time, some of the songs were the fastest tracks I’ve ever written. I wanted to have fun with this EP and show my listeners a new side of me so I approached my writing and recording with that in mind.
Did you write the songs in a series of sessions over time?
SR: Yes — over the span of one year!
Was the creative process more improvisation-based?
SR: Yes! On many of the songs, I did the scratch vocal first take to a piano melody or whatever, and that’s what we ended up using for parts of the actual song! Funny how sometimes your initial instinct is sometimes the best.
Where was your first-ever performance in New York City? What do you remember about it?
SR: Yeah, I headlined at Studio Room at Webster Hall and there was like 100 people there. It was actually really fun.
Did you ever travel to New York before your career took off?
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York City? Or if not, is there one you hope to go to while you’re in town?
SR: I had some good sushi there once that was really good, but I forget the name of the restaurant.
For someone thinking of coming to see you on Long Island, what should be expected from your live show?
SR: A roller coaster. My music is all so different — there are emotional moments to turn up loose your mind moments. You just have to see it! I love performing, it’s one of my favorite things about my job.
Do you perform any music besides what’s on your recent EPs and mixtapes?
SR: Yeah, for sure. Lots of other stuff.
How did you hook up with Jon Bellion, who’s also on Capitol? Did your label introduce you two?
SR: His manager actually knew about my stuff for a long time. I never knew Jon before the tour, but that guy is one of the realest people I’ve met in this industry, and he’s someone I call a good friend.
Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
SR: “No Warm Up” or “Soho” or “All I Got.”
Do you have plans to write for other artists?
SR: Yup! That’s next as soon as my album’s out.
Or do you have your eye on any sort of creative career besides being a performer?
SR: Directing and acting with my dudes.
Is there a professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?
SR: “Can I Get A Witness” just went Gold here in Canada. That is a HUGE one. Me and my manager talked about it for years.
Beyond the performance itself, what’s your favorite part of touring?
SR: Seeing new places and shooting cool content in them.
When not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
SR: With family, skateboarding, ping pong, working out, watching murder case documentaries.
What’s your favorite album of 2016 so far?
Finally, any last words for the kids?
SR: I love you all. Follow my socials at @TheRealSonReal.