Beats and Buds: An Interview with Cannabinoid

Photo by dxLin PhotographyPhoto by dxLin PhotographyCANNABIS CULTURE – Pushing boundaries in electronic music, Cannabinoid creatively combines niche genres and styles, exploring the dreamy, funky potential of psychedelic breakbeat.

Cannabinoid began learning the craft in the late 90s, starting out as a DJ at clubs and small events in Toronto. Upon moving to Vancouver in 2002, he transitioned to the psychedelic trance scene where he grew in popularity for his old school ravey feel. By 2008, Cannabinoid was writing his own electronic music. Melding his hip-hop roots with chill out vibes, he created his own fresh sound.

Since then, Cannabinoid has enjoyed several releases through Red Robot Records (UK), Held II Random (UK), and VIM Records (Greece). He has also performed at numerous festivals including Earthdance, Entheos Gathering, Intention 11, and the Diversity Festival.

I recently spoke with Cannabinoid at BCMP Headquarters, where I had a chance to ask him a bit about himself and his latest tracks for Cannabis Culture.

Cannabis Culture: Cannabinoid has a style that’s distinctly your own. Who or what would you say are your biggest musical influences?

Cannabinoid: Well, of course I must mention the good green herb! Cannabis co-writes every one of my songs right along with me.

Musically, I feel more influenced by 90s big beat and goa than contemporary breaks. I draw as much inspiration from the energy, feeling and vibe of the rave scene as from the music itself.

CC: You’ve played a lot of different events, what are some of the coolest experiences you’ve had?

Cannabinoid: Last year at the Diversity Festival on Texada Island. It’s a big diverse electronic music festival. I had a great crowd and a Sunday night headlining spot. It was an amazing experience.

I’ve done Earthdance* twice as well, which is something I really believe in strongly, so it was a privilege to have done that. I try to do a similar thing with my own music – raising awareness and elevating consciousness through music and dance.

[*Noteworthy: Fifty percent of the proceeds from Earthdance go to the Ancient Forest Alliance which protects old growth forests.]

CC: How do you start composing a song?

Cannabinoid: Because I used to play drums, that’s the focus of my electronic music. It always starts with the drums then it builds from there, whether it’s the bass line or the sample, as in the case of “Wake Up”.

I wrote “Wake Up” when the BP oil spill was going on. There’s a little sample of Sesame Street’s “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea” in there. And then there’s the angry, manic street preacher from “They Live”, which is a John Carpenter movie. It’s just such a great speech about the aliens that rule the world. I love it.

Cannabinoid – Wake Up – OUT NOW on Red Robot Records! by Cannabinoid

CC: “Wake Up” is among your latest releases on Red Robot Records, where you collaborated with Beat Farmer. Who is Beat Farmer?

Cannabinoid: Yeah, I just had an EP released with my buddy Adam, a.k.a. Beat Farmer. He lives out on one of the Gulf Islands and makes tribal trance. So we blended our styles together, and it’s getting some good reactions.

CC: Have you ever collaborated with anyone like this before?

Cannabinoid: Never. We actually did trade remixes. I took two of his songs and he took two of mine, we remixed our songs and then released everything. Because we make such different music, it’s eight really unique tracks, which is something that’s always fun about electronic music.

CC: You also released a remix of Konor’s “Chronometrophobia”. What does that word mean and how does it play into the theme?

Cannabinoid: It’s actually a fear of time or clocks, so that’s the concept that I went with. I sampled Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time”, and a clock, which I speed up to set the pace, so it has a real kind of frantic feeling.

Konor – Chronometrophobia (Cannabinoid Remix) OUT NOW on VIM Breaks! by Cannabinoid

CC: The ticking at the beginning of the song reminded me of Dark Side of the Moon, but as the song progressed, it got me thinking more about the Dark Side of Oz…

Cannabinoid: Yeah, Dark Side of Oz. I love that. It’s definitely an influence whether obvious or not.

CC: Listening to your Red Robot Records releases, I found it really easy to get lost in all the intricacies of “My Red Eyes” with all the different layers fading in.

Cannabinoid: Sweet. Well, that’s what I go for. It’s a pretty hypnotic song, for sure. It is 125 beats a minute, so it’s pretty much heart rate, fast-walking tempo.

CC: Yeah, it is hypnotic. I found that a lot of your different samples and sounds inspired some interesting mental images. For instance, at the beginning of “I am Not a Robot”, I thought it was supposed to be someone building a robot, with what sounded like fluttering sheet metal, little hammers, and a metallic clinking like a jar of nails. But once the singer joins in, you can obviously tell he’s not a robot. His chanting is a real contrast to the droid-like sounds found on your other tracks.

Cannabinoid: Yeah, for sure. Is he a robot, or is he not? I kinda went with the theme Cyber from Siberia. So it’s actually a Siberian Shaman dancing around with his various shakers and bells. If you listen closely, you’re also hearing several cameras going off as people take pictures of him. I think the sample is from the movie, Fire on the Mountain.

Cannabinoid – I am Not a Robot by Cannabinoid

CC: Cool. That’s very clever making the connection between cyber and Siberia. Speaking of great samples, who is that talking in “Spectrum of Compounds”?

Cannabinoid: That’s Doctor Robert Melamede. He’s an American who is doing a lot of research into cannabis and its medicinal properties. With my name, Cannabinoid, I like to draw attention to the magic that the cannabis plant has inside it. And that’s a great sample of him talking about just that.

CC: Definitely. It really grabbed my attention and brought me back to earth, especially after “In Space”.

Cannabinoid: Yeah, that’s a real day dreamer. Hence the name.

CC: For sure. At a few points, I stopped taking notes and just got lost in listening.

Cannabinoid: Well, then that means it worked!

CC: I guess it did! Actually, even though I didn’t make note of it, I was imagining at the end of Hindu Kush that those robotic noises were all the little robots that participated in the set coming out for a final bow.

Cannabinoid – Hindu Kush by Cannabinoid

Cannabinoid: Awesome! Well, that’s how I approach writing Cannabinoid-style music. I like to think of my music as being played by a robot funk band. They’re all well-programmed robots, except for the lead singer who is malfunctioning.

CC: Very cool. I’m glad to hear my imagination wasn’t too far off the mark then. So, what’s on the horizon for Cannabinoid?

Cannabinoid: I’ve got a few other releases coming out in April on Vim records in Greece, which is a big label for the genre that I do. So that’s really exciting.

After that is 4/20 Vancouver, at which I’ll be doing short DJ sets between live bands. I’ll be playing mostly underground hip-hop, which will give me a chance to drop in some of my own trip-hop songs. Then in June, I’ll be at Entheos Festival, where I’m the Friday night headliner.

CC: Groovy. I’m looking forward to catching you at 4/20. Should be a great crowd. Anyway, I guess that’s all for now. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

Cannabinoid: For sure. It was fun.

You can check out all of Cannabinoid’s music on SoundCloud. Or, if you’re in Vancouver for 4/20, follow the smoke cloud to see him perform live outside the Vancouver Art Gallery (or watch it LIVE on Pot TV).