Mouraine talks Bigger Dreams EP, getting props from J. Cole & Complex Canada, opening for Mac Miller, racism & more

If you had told me a few years ago that I’d be conducting interviews with talented artists across the country, I probably would have just laughed in your face and gone back to studying. But, I guess my dream of pursuing music journalism was just around the corner… Today, I’m proud to present my very first interview which was conducted with budding Edmonton recording artist, Mouraine.

Last month, Mouraine dropped a five track killer, no-filler EP titled, Bigger Dreams. The project features him riding solo to prove his creative vision without any supported guest appearances. Production for the EP was handled by Yonah Chuang, BeatsbyMour, Kelly Portis, soSpecial Beats, and SHRN.

Mouraine (Photo: Henny Visions)

Bigger Dreams follows Mouraine’s previous 9-track release, Cold Mornings 2, which clocked in at 31 minutes in runtime on July 29, 2017. That release would give a boost to the young talent’s buzz, and would lead to opening for notable artists such as J. Cole, Mac Miller, Pusha T, Akon, and others. Towards the end of August, Mouraine released new visuals in support of the new EP. He enlisted Tyrell Bonnick of USOM Films for a colorful live performance of the EP’s “Do Dat Dance” in Toronto’s Graffiti Alley.

“We were out in Toronto to just get creative and just get a change of scenery,” Mouraine explained to Complex Canada “We haven’t been able to switch things up in a long time because of COVID, so this felt really fresh.”.

Earlier this year, Complex Canada included Mouraine in a list of “Top 25 Rising Canadian Artists to Watch Out For in 2021.” It’s no surprise considering his obvious talent and consistent output. His catalogue is a testament to how hard he’s been working over the past 12 months, and the scene’s larger music platforms are starting to take notice.

Mouraine (Photo: Supplied)

“Do Dat Dance” is the fourth track on Bigger Dreams, and it was recorded at Atreus XO with Graham Smith in Edmonton. The project was mixed and mastered by Grammy-nominated, G.O.O.D Music engineer, and producer Mike Snell, who has worked with artists like Kanye West and Teyana Taylor.

You can find the full Q&A below along with the live performance of “Do Dat Dance”. You can listen to Mouraine’s new EP Bigger Dreams on Spotify, and other digital streaming platforms via Birthday Cake Media.

Q&A: Mouraine

HipHopCanada: Hey Mouraine, welcome to HipHopCanada. Your first full-length debut release on Spotify was Cold Mornings 2, which came out back in 2017. Talk to me a bit about your evolution artistically and personally, from the last four years.

Mouraine: I had a first Cold Mornings that I dropped originally and with that one I was kind of testing the waters to try and figure out what I want to do musically. I remember I was hesitating on putting it out, and one of my friends who was a poet was like: if you don’t put it out you won’t know, what it is you’re trying to do and what message you’re trying to spread. So, you have to put it out and let it speak to see from there on how you want to develop and work on it to make it better. So, we put out Cold Mornings and funny enough I kind of started figuring out my sound, and what it was I was trying to do with music.

Then Cold Mornings 2 came out a few years later, and the difference between the two was for the second one I felt more polished, more content, and more aware of what it was I was trying to convey in music. When I put that out, it helped a lot with gaining an audience and I started getting a lot of support off of that. I was able to get blogs posted like HipHopCanada and Noisey, and it was really cool to gain that momentum. From putting out Cold Mornings 2, within the last four years, I finally decided to take music seriously, pursue it, and look at it from a business standpoint. Rather than just something I do for fun or as a hobby.

HipHopCanada: It’s been a little more than a year since your powerful “Open Letter to America” track, which tackled topics about Injustice and racism. Reflecting back on the track’s release, how do you feel about it now given the context of making it back then?

M: I feel issues like these need to be addressed. I don’t think there will be a time where it’ll be unimportant or fade off. Especially being an artist, it’s part of my duty to speak for people who don’t have a platform and can’t express themselves. But also as a human being, it is important to look out for each other.

HipHopCanada: Do you feel as if it has gotten better since?

M: In some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. But, I feel like we’re more aware now. Like the message is out there, people are more aware of the struggles we face as Black people. I’m just happy the awareness is there, especially in the music industry. I see a lot of executives and those who make decisions are able to see a different perspective and present more opportunities that weren’t there before. Like, I come from Alberta, and being a hip-hop artist from Alberta, it wasn’t taken as seriously because it was very country. Now, they kind of see more that there is a Black community here and it’s actually really big with opportunity. Now, the eyes are on this side of the world, and being a Black person from Alberta, I’m happy I’m just able to get that attention now.

Mouraine (Photo: Tyrell Bonnick)

HipHopCanada: I want to talk a bit about your new EP, Bigger Dreams which was released earlier this month on August 6th. It consists of 5 tracks which sound very diverse musically and lyrically, as you seem to be giving the listener different angles of yourself. Like from “Bigger Dreams: to “Do Dat Dance” as well as the loss of your uncle on the closure track. Can you speak about the creative process for the new EP and your mindset going into the project?

M: After Cold Mornings 2, I felt like I needed a follow up but I wasn’t ready to drop a full length album yet. So, I thought to myself, okay, I’m going to put out an EP with five tracks, but how can I give different sides of myself in these tracks. So, I was like, okay, I have fun, I turn up like a Badmon, but also let me speak about a love life and relationships, and what I go through throughout each track.

I tried to give different sides of me, and also let people know that you don’t have to be too serious in life sometimes, but you don’t also have to have too much fun in life sometimes. You have to balance it out, and that’s what I tried to do with this EP, is provide the right balance. When it came musically, and with the content itself.

HipHopCanada: When creating music, do you consider the audience and how they will interpret your songs, or is it more self-expression?

M: A little bit of both, for me. Like, if I’m the listener I try to focus on what moves the listener. In terms of the melodies and the bars, I’m expressing myself but I’m also trying to express myself in a way that translates over and people are able to take it in. As an artist you have to express yourself but also understand that the people matter as well, and they have to be able to understand what you’re saying.

HipHopCanada: Do you come up with song titles and the project title before or after you recorded the music?

M: Usually after the songs out. And I’m like okay, what is the song saying to me now? If I go into it trying to say, “Oh I’m going to make a song about like a specific topic or something like that,” I’m going to be overthinking the lines and trying to bring it up all the time by reinforcing it every line.

I think it’s better to just go off of how I feel, let it all out, and then see the complete pieces of what the song is saying to me. Without the musical part of music there is no song, it’s just poetry. I need to make it sonically sound good. I need the melodies, the bars, the breaks, etc. to make it digestible.

Mouraine (Photo: Henny Visions)

HipHopCanada: On the title track, “Bigger Dreams,” you had a lyric which stated, “I got props from J. Cole way before I hit puberty. So this shit is not new to me.” Can you speak about those lyrics and creating that track?

M: In junior high high school. J. Cole was one of my biggest inspirations when he was first coming out and I used to listen to this guy like everyday. I had a group with my brother’s back in the day called The Overachievers and we were opening for Mac Miller. I had flyers and J. Cole was opening up for Rihanna at Rexall Place in Edmonton. We kind of snuck into the floor seating area, where he had a booth (Laughing).

Not too many people recognized him except us so we went up to him with the flyers I had and told him: “Hey Cole, I’m a big fan. We’re opening up for Mac Miller and if you ever come to town I promise you I’m going to try my best to be on that bill.” Fast forward not even like two months later, it gets announced when he was doing the Sideline Story Tour around 2012 that we were opening up for him. As we were going in for a soundcheck, we ran into him again. It was so dope, he was a good person and gave us good vibes. He told us to keep going and some of his crew let us come backstage when we were just only kids.

HipHopCanada: You also dropped a few videos this past month. Some being “Hoopty” featuring Moto and “Badmon,” for example. How do you select which tracks to shoot videos for and how important are creating music videos for your personal artistic vision?

M: I feel like everyone consumes music differently. But, personally, I like to just go off of my gut feeling in order to pick a video to shoot. If I can see a storyline or a video to the track, then I’m like okay, this is the one that needs a video. Cause I’m able to visually see things, like picturing the lyrics. Rather than just hearing them. Like with “Hoopty” I needed a video for that. At the time, I used to drive a ’98 Malibu and it was a hoopty, and I was like, “Oh my God, this would be crazy, no one’s done a song about a hoopty.” Everyone wants to talk about the cool whips they have, but this was a different perspective and I knew it needed a video.

But, I think it’s very important to have video content, especially in this day and age, because everyone consumes music differently. Some people gravitate towards visuals, more so than listening just from the track. I try to cover as much aspects as I possibly can in order to deliver the message I need to convey.

HipHopCanada: How did the collaboration with Moto come about?

M: Moto is actually my younger brother! I was vibing out when I was writing “Hoopty,” and he just came in and had a verse just ready to go and went off. So, it just made sense. We collaborate all the time. We have so many songs together and we’ll continue to keep making music together for life. I have no choice (Laughing).

Mouraine (Photo: Matt Kraus)

HipHopCanada: Any Canadian artists you look forward to collaborating with down the road?

M: To be honest, I’m an advocate for Canadian artists. I feel like we have such a rich history and hip-hop in general where a lot of the time it just isn’t as much appreciated as it could be. k-os is my guy and in my lifetime I definitely need to work with k-os. There’s a lot of dope people in the newer generation as well, like Haviah Mighty… Kardinal would be crazy, just from growing up, you see him everywhere. Obviously Drake as well, since he completely revolutionized Canadian hip-hop.

HipHopCanada: Finally, as being crowned one of “Complex’s top 25 canadian artists to watch out for in 2021.” Is there anything else we can expect to see from you throughout the rest of the year, and possibly leading into 2022?

M: Yes! Actually, there’s a lot. I have so much music and a lot more plans mapped out. I’m definitely going to be working on a full length album, which I’m aiming for a release sometime next year, before summer. But until the end of the year, I have a lot of music to be put out, especially since the slowdown of the pandemic with live shows coming as well. A lot of things coming, it’ll be exciting times that’s for sure.

HipHopCanada: Thank you for taking the time Mouraine! Congratulations on the new EP and we definitely look forward to seeing what you have coming around the corner.

You can follow @Mouraine_ on Instagram.