ER: My name is Terrell McCleod Richardson, but I go by Edward Riley and I'm a creative from Montreal. I enjoy making music, taking pictures, making short films, music videos, making clothes, making food and making the world a happier place.
OTH: Is Edward Riley your stage name?
ER: Edward is my dad’s second name, and I just always gravitated towards this name, I always thought Edward was interesting. And Reilly was my uncle's name who passed away, his name was Bill O’Reilly and he was just a really cool guy, so I took a piece of his last name. I was always playing with a name that would sound cool, like a solid artist name and that one just came together and it stuck, I feel like it’s powerful.
OTH: You’re pretty back and forth between Paris and here. What were you up to out there?
ER: I’m signed to a record label out there, with my friend Anthony. He's the one who does all of the music production and I do the vocals so we went out there to finish our album that’s coming out in 2 days actually. We also played at the jazz festival in Switzerland in Montreux.
OTH: So you’ve been making music for 11 years right? How did you meet your partner Anthony? How’d you guys discover you wanted to work together and make THe LYONZ?
ER: We were at a concert in Montreal just seeing a local act and we just kinda met up there and started talking about music and that was it. He was a young DJ at the time and I was an MC, in another group called Big Dreams and we didn’t have a DJ or anything but I was always like “We need a DJ for our shows.” He started DJing some gigs for us and all that stuff and then we just became really good friends and on our journey, we traveled to Europe together many times and stuff like that.
He’s the one that kinda introduced me to the dance culture, like electronic music like house, techno, drum & bass and all this type of music so he really opened that gate for me and I was really interested in all of these sounds and this culture of music. So I just started rolling with him and learning more and more about this world that I wasn’t really familiar with coming from the West Island. He was also kind of producing on the low, and one day he was like “Yo would you be down to try to make music over something like this?” and he played me this track called Idioteque by Radiohead. I would have never thought to do something like that, but we tried it out and we were like oh shit, this is something fresh and cool and we both were really into this feeling of putting rhymes over this type of production. That’s what THe LYONZ is, that’s what our project is, our music is this type of world that we just never stop exploring.
OTH: You guys have been making music together for 11 years since that moment? Or a bit afterwards?
ER: We met 11 years ago, and we started making THe LYONZ stuff, we started experimenting around 2012-2013. That’s when we really started to try some stuff out. We released our first project in 2015, and then we played the Jazz Fest in Montreal with it. We played so many shows with that now that I’m thinking back, that run we had was pretty crazy.
THe LYONZ FOR THE MONTREAUX JAZZ FESTIVAL
OTH: You mentioned you guys first released in 2015, and by 2016 you had already played a couple shows and had played the Jazz Fest. At that point how many projects had you guys put out for the Jazz Fest show?
ER: With Big Dreams, if you wanna count all of the ghetto mixtapes we did too, we did like 5 projects, 2 of them were mixtapes, 3 of them were all original music, albums and EPs. So we did like 5 projects there and before the Jazz Fest, THe LYONZ had only 1 project out.
OTH: What was it like when you guys got the call for that?
ER: I remember being in my apartment in Saint-Henri and I was making my coffee, checking my emails, I saw Festival de Jazz Montreal invites you to play, and I was yelling in my apartment man, I was tripping.
OTH: It must be such a wild feeling, cause you know it’s not like it’s a small venue trying to book you, it’s the Montreal Jazz Fest.
ER: Yeah man, it was a moment I’ll never forget honestly.
OTH: So you’ve done the Jazz Fest in Montreal, you just recently did the Jazz Fest all the way out in Switzerland?
ER: Honestly, the one in Switzerland goes way harder, I’m not even gonna lie man. I think the two biggest Jazz Festivals in the world are the one in Montreux and the one in Montreal, but the one in Montreux has a lot more cool history behind it, the biggest biggest biggest names in the world played there, like Queen, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, some of the greatest artists of all time played at that festival. Personally, playing there is a lot more meaningful. It’s insane.
OTH: Would you say that a lot of those artists that have also played there are part of your inspiration? Or right now do you guys have a different inspiration from when you first started?
ER: I mean I’ll always have inspiration from the legends. I love watching music documentaries about the greats, and the things they go through. I just find their stories are inspiring. I learned about a lot of new artists that I didn’t know about before, like this girl named Nathy Peluso, she’s from Argentina, she sings and raps in Spanish. I had never heard of her before and for me, she puts Cardi B to shame you know, she goes crazy. So yeah it was cool to discover artists there too. Everyone's out there grinding, especially you know it was a COVID Jazz Fest, so the people that were there were actually like… Non-stop grinding.
OTH: Was it also streamed?
ER: Yeah so our performance was in collaboration with Audemars Piguet, or AP as all the rappers be referring to them as, and we did a whole streamed set, it was a 45 minute set at the top of the mountains and they built a stage up there for us and we recorded the whole thing. It was crazy, it was insane crazy bro, they put the Canadian flag on top of the mountain for us and shit. We were chilling with CEOs, chilling with Rolling Stones magazine, it was next level, it was like an elevator ride to the top for a week.
OTH: So you guys both met in Montreal, you’re both based in Montreal, you’re signed in Paris, you recently did this show in Switzerland, how did this all play out? How did you get signed in Paris and not by someone here in Montreal?
ER: The story is honestly like a movie with how it happened. I used to work at Joe Beef 7 years ago and one day this guy, who’s my current manager, Nassim, pulled up to the restaurant with his friend. They were sitting there talking about the music industry and business, and my friend, Nelson, who was bartending overheard so he asked him what he did. Nassim told him he did A&R and management so Nelson told him I made music. I was just a busboy grinding at work, so he came to talk to me and he asked me to play some music in the restaurant so I queued up some Big Dreams stuff and some Lyonz stuff and he was just vibing hard. He gave me his info and told me to send him everything I’m done, then told me to come to some location on Sunday ‘cause he was gonna be chilling with Wyclef Jean. So I pull up Sunday, Wyclef’s there I meet him, I see Nassim there again and he’s all like “This is the kid I was telling you about.” and I’m there losing my shit because he’s saying this to Wyclef. It was a lot to process.
Anyways, me and Nassim stayed in touch texting back and forth, and then 2 years later in 2019, he came back to Joe Beef while I’m still working there and I didn’t have a phone at the time. He was like “You’re hard to reach but I figured you’d maybe be here.” Then he said the label that he works with in Paris is interested in what I was doing and they want me to come and meet everyone. I told him I can’t just go to Paris, I couldn’t afford it, then he told me everything was paid for. The plane, hotel, everything. He just wanted me to come for a week to see what they were about. I asked when, then he told me the next week, I turned around and my manager was listening to the whole thing and she’s like “Go do your shit”. Super supportive, Joe Beef man, they were always very supportive of my shit.
OTH: It’s super cool to hear how supportive they were.
ER: For sure, it was really cool. So I go to Paris, and I meet everyone, I meet the owner of the label, he’s actually from Montreal as well. I see the space, the studio is like the nicest studio I’ve ever seen in my life. It felt like this was the spot to be in my life right now. I felt like I could take everything that I’m doing to the next level. They had every piece of gear you could think of, every instrument, and the team was super cool, super nice. And you’re in Paris bro, you know the vibe is instantly elevated. Your creative energy is endless. So I had a meeting with him, the one thing that came up was that they didn’t really know much about Anthony. They thought THe LYONZ was just me, they wanted just me. So I broke down everything to them, I was like “Yo, it’s a 2-man thing, if he doesn’t come I don’t know if I could just bail.” and eventually they were just like fuck it, bring him, he’s coming too. So they flew us both out after and that's when we started working on our latest album that’s coming out in two days. That’s pretty much the story.
OTH: What did you do between the release of your first project and getting signed?
ER: We were also DJing heavy on the side. We had a residency at Loïc for a year and a bit, we DJ’d there every Thursday. We threw our own parties and stuff, so we stayed busy in the music world. We weren't necessarily just making music, but we were always moving with the music world, trying to stay out there.
OTH: So if you got signed in 2019, it took you almost a year and a half, 2 years to release your album right?
ER: Yeah, COVID blocked us in a confusing way. Even the way we decided to release the project, because we thought it was a terrible idea to release during the pandemic because we didn’t want to work on something for so long and then have everyone forget about it a week after we release. Everyone was constantly on their phones so things were moving faster. People were dropping music and it's like okay 2 days later that shits old because everyone just like checking what's new. So we decided to break it down and release 2 tracks a month and stretch it over 5 months, then after a small pause drop the whole project. We even wanted to shoot a music video but couldn’t because of COVID so my girlfriend has a place in Nova Scotia that we went to so we could get away from the city and all the noise. I ended up copping my own camera, learned how to edit on Final Cut and we just made our own video.
"BIRD'S EYE VIEW" MUSIC VIDEO SHOT & EDITED BY EDWARD REILLY
OTH: You made your own music video?
ER: Yeah we did 2. My girlfriend's brother had a drone so he had like the Drone shots and then that we bought we bought a camera, learned the ins and outs of it and got Final Cut Pro and just like literally was on YouTube studying how to edit on that shit for like a month straight and and yeah man we just made it up and made something out of nothing and it turned out to be pretty cool actually
OTH: Ideally if the pandemic wasn’t around, how would you guys have wanted to release your project?
ER: Shows man. I feel like we're very strong during shows. Our live performances are really when we get to put our world on display the best so I would have wanted to just put it out and then just do a bunch of shows in the summer and festivals. That would’ve been ideal for me to just put it out and then just tour immediately after.
OTH: How far would you tour? Would you just do a Canadian tour?
ER: I think we should do a European one before a Canadian one to be honest.
OTH: Is most of your fanbase out there?
ER: Paris is like our most popular city in terms of listeners. We actually did a show back in November and it was our first live show in a while. We got to play our new music for the first time.
OTH: Aside from Music, we have a source that tells us that you used to play a lot of sports when you were growing up in the West Island, whether it was soccer with Dollard or Basketball at Riverdale High School.
ER: Oh shit! haha!
OTH: Are you still heavily into sports?
ER: When I have the time for sure. I feel like I channeled all of my energy that I had playing sports into music. When I was younger I wanted to be a professional athlete which I’m sure like 90% of young kids wanna be, but I guess when I reached an age where I realized that wasn’t gonna happen and I was curious with music I just kinda transferred that energy into doing the music and kept pushing that way. But I still love playing sports whenever I have the opportunity to, I love to just play a pick up game of ball, or if there’s soccer going down. My stamina is definitely not the same, but I still love sports, for sure.
OTH: Was it just the love for the music overtook your interest in sports?
ER: Yeah, I think it was that the music just took over. it was just more cool to me. I think Complex magazine was coming out, and there was Kid Cudi and Lupe and Graduation era Kanye. And fashion was starting to be more integrated into the music stuff too and it was just more captivating. Going to concerts and just having that feeling, like yo this is crazy.
OTH: Was that era something that influenced your style now?
ER: I was always kind of experimenting with style and fashion and all that stuff. I used to love sneakers I was a fucking Sneakerhead and a half. Every penny I had it went to buy shoes. I had 40 pairs at one time, I waited 4 days in line for Air Yeezy 2’s haha.
I feel like all of it kind of played a role in me really discovering my own style and what I really like about fashion and just how to actually express myself with what I’m wearing. But it took a lot of experimenting, trying new things, and yeah I went through a lot of interesting phases.
OTH: Being from the west, oftentimes kids started by going to Fairview, shopping at Amnesia, Detox, then every West Island kid eventually graduates to shopping in Montreal. For a lot of the West Island staff who’ve worked here, the most common store when going to the city was Off The Hook. Do you feel like you followed some kind of similar style transitions coming from the west?
EDWARD REILLY FOR OFF THE HOOK
ER: Yeah I mean that's why like the fact that I'm doing this for Off The Hook is dope. I remember when I was a kid and like it was a big deal when you leave the West to go to the city you know? Like when you get there like oh my God like there's so much here, and then you go to Off The Hook for the first time and you think "What is this? This is the coolest store I've ever been to." So yeah I definitely had the OTH runs growing up and it was like a special moment when I was younger going to this type of store because I felt like I was part of something that was bigger for the first time.
OTH: As a West Island native, you used to go to black camp, you were around several people who would go on to create music themselves. While the genre isn't the same, do you still follow artists from your youth like Krookstar, CPtheOG and did you play a role at all in their journeys?
ER: Krookstar is my little cousin, I used to jam with this kid all the time. I know all of these guys very well, I grew up with all of these guys. Not to sound cocky or anything, but I think I inspired them to kind of take the next step because I just showed them like a just do it kind of thing. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s a different era, we all have access to making connections worldwide these days so just do your thing and follow through. I tell Brooklyn (Krookstar) that all the time, you know you make cool stuff just keep staying creative and keep making your art. Now he’s doing glasses (paye-moi) and I think that’s cool, that’s fresh. I’ve known these guys since they were like 3 years old.
OTH: Now that you’ve found your sound after experimenting and are going all in with the music, are there any other artistic venues that you’d be down to explore?
ER: Yeah man I love taking pictures. I've been taking pictures for a couple years as well on the low. I’d also love to get involved in filmmaking.
OTH: You had a little taste of that when you were making your music videos.
ER: Yeah, and I'm a huge fan of cinema and that world so I would love to learn a bit more about it and eventually make a film or something. This is something that I really would want to do with my life. Another thing that I’ve been doing a lot is photography and graphic design. I’m not classically trained in either but I’ve been working with these things and using these tools for a long time that it’s kind of to the point where I’ve taught myself. I know the way around it to do something that’s above amateur so I’ve just been having fun putting out some graphics and some of my pictures in these littles ‘zines on IG just to show my shit in a different way. But I’m hoping to do something pretty serious with photography soon, like maybe put some work in a gallery for a little exhibition or something. I’m trying to figure out which picture I want to display and enlarge and take to the next level. I’m trying to do a short film by the end of the year. I’ve been sewing a lot of shit that I’ve been planning to put out.
OTH: You’re sewing too?
ER: Yeah, I fuck with a lot of my own shit. There’s days where I’m wearing shit I made head to toe and a lot of people ask me about it too. We just got an industrial sewing machine at the studio and we’re making everything. Jackets, pants, tops, bags, hats, whatever.
OTH: It’s crazy to see you evolving not only your career but all aspects of your life like your hobbies too and just expanding your creativity. With all of this stuff you’re working on, where do you find the time to go back and make some new music for THe LYONZ? How are you balancing everything now?
ER: I really just go by how I feel during the day. Some days I’m really in the mood to sew, so I'll dedicate the day to it, or other days I want to shoot with my camera and tweak some images. Then there’s days where I only want to do music. I’ve been producing a lot during COVID so I took my knowledge to another level, though I still have a lot to learn. Still, I learned things I normally wouldn’t have because I usually had Anthony or an Engineer with me to take care of things, but without them there because of COVID, I had to learn. At the end of the day though I don’t feel like anything ever gets in the way of anything else, I feel like it all goes hand in hand with each other. It’s constant inspiration in each realm. If I do something that looks visually appealing here, I feel like it’s also making my sound move in a type of way as well.
THe LYONZ DJ SET AT SANS SOLEIL
OTH: And now you do all of this full time right? You don’t have a traditional 9-5 on the side. You’re doing a full creative hustle.
ER: Yeah, but the main thing that’s been kicking off has been the DJ gigs. We’ve been doing more and more. A lot more vinyl gigs too which I'm stoked on. We’ve been playing at Sans Soleil a bunch, at Système, so DJing is getting me money constantly. Also when we do shows we get money and I’m working on more shows now. But DJing is bless because it’s my constant income. Having Loic is bless, and I'm even doing a wedding soon. I want to keep doing a lot so I can have something really sick to present to people.
OTH: Is there something that you’re able to pinpoint in the past 11 years that you’ve been making music that has been your biggest difficulty during the whole process?
ER: Biggest difficulty... Honestly, finishing albums is hard man. It's hard man, I don’t know how to describe it. Starting up is easy, working on it is easy, but finishing and putting your foot down to finish it takes time.
OTH: Take us through your process. How do you make the album? Do you have a couple of songs? Do you start with the beats? Do you start with the lyrics?
ER: It’s a blank canvas you know. We go in and literally just start touching synths, drum machines, instruments, whatever and we just start kind of building a loop and it just keeps building. Then when we have something that we think is solid, Anthony will start to make the track and put it together. I'll start writing, we’ll lay some stuff down and if there’s a vibe there we’ll continue. After like three or four of these tracks that are starting to come to life you kind of start to get a feel of the direction that you're going in, the world that you're creating.
I guess I'm a forward thinker. Like as soon as we have four tracks I'm already like okay album cover, theme, title of the album, of all this shit. After the third or fourth track that we made in Paris, I already had the mock-up for the album cover that I wanted, and I was like this concept is cool. But the mixing period could be very difficult. Some tracks you mix for like hours and hours. Hearing a song over and over and over for like 200-300 times, you start to think like “Do I even love this shit anymore?” So you know, I think finishing in that sense is the hardest thing for me. There’s versions you hear that you love and then you tweak it and it sounds different and you’re like “I don’t know…” I know sonically it sounds cleaner but the feeling is different.
OTH: How do you want to be remembered through your work with THe LYONZ, with Anthony and everything?
ER: I don't know... To be remembered as someone that did some cool shit I guess. Someone that made some music that was pure and that you can listen to years from now and the message will still be the same, It'll still be strong, it'll inspire and motivate.
OTH: What is one of the big goals that you’re looking to accomplish in the near future? Is there a milestone you’re aiming for?
ER: I'd say right now I want to make real money from my music. I’m starting to make money with it now for the first time but I want to make real money with it so I think that's a goal that I have that I want to achieve in the next couple years. And I'd say after that I don't know maybe winning like a Grammy even though everybody bashes it.
SELF PORTRAITS, SHOT BY EDWARD REILLY
OTH: What do you think about the music scene for up and comers in Montreal?
ER: There’s a lot of avenues to help you grow and be seen, but at the end of the day, to really take off, you need to leave the city to get to that next level.
OTH: So the ceiling is still very low for you in Montreal.
ER: The scene is still tight, and there’s a lot of cool festivals available to get your name out there like Osheaga, Jazz fest, Mutek, a bunch of opportunities, the scene just isn’t as big as it is elsewhere for that next step. For me I personally think I reached the cap that I could in the city and now I have to go to a bigger city to have more opportunity. I need to leave and break more barriers.
OTH: Do you think it’s also like the record labels that are available here in Montreal are not doing enough for the artists?
ER: The labels I know here, some of them are doing cool stuff but I don’t think any of them are big enough to do anything really crazy. We have artists that are doing really well and are respected here, but I don't see them breaking that barrier. I’m mainly speaking for English rappers, English singers. If you’re French I think you can maybe still tour Canada, or Quebec and maybe France and be aight, but I don’t know. My friend KALLITECHNIS is in LA right now, and I was talking to her and there’s more opportunity out there and there’s more light on you out there. Even Kaytra, obviously he’s doing well, but he lives in LA. Skiifall’s in London right now, even Husser was in LA for a bit, you just have to bounce.
OTH: Speaking of locals, is there any artist locally that you have your eye on? You mentioned a couple of artists already, though they left the city, but have you been keeping an eye on somebody locally that you think has really good potential as well?
ER: I always try to keep my eye on what's going on in the city. that Skiifall kid is- when I heard the Ting Tun Up song for the first time, I was hitting up my homies that were involved in the scene and I was like you guys heard of this kid? Nobody was as excited as I was, and now obviously a year later, look at him. He’s bringing a fresh flavour, being from St. Vincent and having his accent and everything he’s bringing something unique to the scene. My friend KALLITECHNIS, I always check out what she’s up to, she’s killing it right now. My homie CJ Flemings, he’s working on a very big project, he’s also from the West. Even Krookstar.
OTH: Would you like to collab with any of these artists on a track or anything? Or anybody else from the city.
ER: Yeah I’d love to collaborate with them all. There’s tons of people I want to collab with from the city like Planet Giza, Husser, CJ I’ve already worked with many times but I’m still down, KALLITECHNIS I was in the studio with her just talking about possibilities. Yeah man, I’m super open to collab with anyone if it makes sense.