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On The Radar: Interview w/ Shopé

On The Radar is a series including individuals who have been placed on our radar, and we encourage you to have them on yours. The following interview took place at Legacy Conference 2015 in Chicago.

Wade-O Radio: So where you from? 

Originally born in the little country in west Africa called Nigeria, so those are my roots, born and bred there.

And where are you now?

Toronto. So my family emigrated to Toronto on October 20, 2000. It’s the largest city in Canada and I’ve been there ever since.

So is Dru from Canada? Is he from Toronto?

So little geography lesson. So you’ve got Toronto the city and the greater Toronto area. So Drew is in one of the suburbs. We generally say Toronto but he’s from Saga which is a suburb. I’m more real than he is… just saying.

Tell me about Role Model Records, I’m guessing that many people aren’t too familiar with it.

Role Model Record started in 2010, so we’re about five years old now. It was birthed out of a desire to encourage believers to live in such a way that they can say “follow me,” which is kind of a bold statement. It may come off as cocky but when we look at the what the Scriptures say in 1st Corinthians 11:1, which is our anchor text, Paul says be imitators of me as I am an imitator of Christ. So is Paul says that does that mean Paul was cocky? Of course not. He also said I’m the chief of all sinners.

God calls believers to live in such away that all of their life is a signpost toward Jesus. And they can boldly say even though I don’t have it all together follow me and live like Jesus. Our general messages is this, we are imperfect but we have found a perfect love who is willing to work with us in spite of our mess so follow us as we follow him.

Our motto is follow us as we follow greatness (Jesus).

So it’s you, Dru Bex, and Julien?

Yeah, so it’s me, Dru Bex, DJ legit is our in-house DJ and Julien. We form the artist roster.

Your name used to be Spoken, right? Why the change?

Yeah man. A few different reasons.

First of all, when I first picked the name a couple of years ago I ran a Google search and nothing came up. So I thought well… I like this name it’s a good name I’m gonna roll with it. But there’s a very popular Christian rock band named Spoken. At the time when I entered Christian music they were dying away but recently they are having a second leg so something funny started to happen the people started to come to my music videos thinking it was them. So first of all, for business and branding it wasn’t good because another band that already has an established platform.

The second reason was over the years just growing as a man and as a believer, and then getting married I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the kind of music I want to make and I believe I’m called to make.

Instead of doing what I know is accepted or popular I really came to realize that the kind of music I want to make is music that airs a lot of dirty laundry. Not just to be provocative for no reason but to literally put my life out there to say this is where I am, this is what the Lord to doing with me, and this is what I’m learning. It’s not all pretty… some of it is gritty and gross but at the end of it this is what God is doing with me.

I felt that if I want to open up my life in a transparent way having a moniker or alternate name sort of creates a weird double identity and there is some sort of division between me and the listeners. I wanted people to know that who they see on stage is the same person at home. Going by my normal name grants them that much more access.

And then the final reason was that Shopé sounds cool.

You were talking about fans being confused when searching for your music, and I think more artists should take that into account. It doesn’t sound cool in the interview, but it’s a legitimate think to consider for your career.

Yeah your name has to be unique without being corny and I think a lot of artists want to get in the music but we don’t know much about the business side of music. We don’t know about the practical aspects of making a career out of music… we just want to make music.

Do people mispronounce your name a lot?

If I spell it the correct way people mispronounce it all the time so on all my new bodies of work I spell it phonetically. The real way you spell my name is S-O-P-E so I added the H and the accent over the E. It’s like paying to go to a show… Show Pay. I’m finding that the way I’ve chosen to spell it visually, less people are butchering the name, at worst they will say Shope.

Is that your actual phone number on your Twitter?

Actually, yes. It’s an actual phone number that I receive texts on and I respond to people personally, I can call people and they can call me. I’m learning a lot about what it means to be an independent artist and I really, really want to have a personal connection with the people who are interested in what I’m doing. If somebody buys my album, I want to be able to personally text them and say, “Yo, thank you for the support.” Or if you have a question, hit me up!

That’s huge, cause I know once people meet their favorite artist at a concert or event it takes the relationship to a another level, and this allows you to do that even though you aren’t in every city. 

Yeah, it changes the dynamic of the relationship I have with the people. It’s true… how many artists can say hit me up on a text? Even here at Legacy we’re all (by God’s Grace) humble and down to earth, but how many artists can be reached by a text and will respond? It goes along with dropping the moniker, when I say that I want to have a high level of transparency in my music, I actually mean that. Giving away my cell number is another step toward that end.

So is your last project the self-titled EP? When I saw it was self-titled, one thing I wondered was if you had a concept going into it, or if it was because you had a new name and needed a new project?

It was a bit of both, but I will say the stronger emphasis was that I have a new name so here’s a new project. So that’s not to say that I didn’t have a concept going into it, I had the idea of updating people to where I was in my headspace at that point in time.

I’ve been doing this professionally for 5 years, more before that, and here are some of the things that have informed my thinking during this time. So one of the lines says “drop the gimmick for the cynic, keep the real name keep it real plain it’s ministry and business” to help introduce people to the way I think and help understand the sound they can expect from me going forward. Now that I feel that I more confident in who I am as a person and an artist let me give you a foretaste of what you can expect from me in the future.

It was also a reality that I have a new name, so I’m going to drop a new project to get it our there.

Makes sense. If you were an artist like Lecrae and had a name change it would be instant news, but being a newer artist the project probably increased the number of people who heard about your new name. 

So you started working on a new project recently, right? How’s that going?

Yes. I think it’s going well so far… we are very early on in the process. I have 2 projects in mind that I’ve been thinking about for the last year and a half, and we’re just now starting to get the ideas down and start the production. Before coming to Legacy I was in the studio for 3 days with my production team trying to come up with something special. We’re still early on, and I can’t put a timetable on it, but it’s going well because it’s something I have thought about for a long time. I know what I’m trying to do with it, I have a great team of producers who I think are some of the best unknown guys.

What’s the best way for people to keep up with you?

Multiple ways, first you have my cell phone number! My number is 1-647-560-1701. If you’re in Canada it’s just 647, but if you’re outside of Canada I’m sure the texting rate can’t be too expensive. And on all social media platforms I am @AllOfShope (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud).

Purchase Shopé EP on iTunes, Amazon or Google Play today!

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Jacob Titus is the breaking news editor for WadeORadio.com and the director of The Beacon, a community center on the west side of South Bend, IN. Follow him on Twitter @_titusj.

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