The first single from my upcoming album Parallel World is called “SENNA” and it comes out today! The song is produced by my good friend, electronic musician Jacques Greene. What can I say about JG? His dedication to his craft has inspired me a lot over the years. Collaboration is all about trust. For my first three albums, I made 95% of the beats myself because I didn’t think that anyone else could understand my vision. When I moved to Toronto, Jacques was one of the first people I linked up with. We already knew each other from DJing afterparties in Montréal. One day we drank some tea at his place and came up with “The Host” and “High Rise” from my last album pretty much right away.
After that, we got together as much as possible, hanging out and recording several tracks including “Night Service,” “Silencio” and now “SENNA.” Phil’s beats are like little obstacle courses, constantly shifting and changing. It’s fun to figure out how I can fit into them. When we’re in the studio together, his drum programming never ceases to amaze me. Phil always comes up with some unexpected pattern that taps into an instinctive human rhythm, magically producing a physical response from anyone who listens to it.
Written a few months after we first recorded “Night Service,” “SENNA” was originally our version of an old school UK grime track. We wanted to make something with the urgency and unpredictability of songs like More Fire Crew’s “Oi” but it quickly transformed into something else entirely. The synths JG used reminded me of blasting down a forest highway while playing Gran Turismo 2. Car imagery kept popping into my head as I came up with lyrics at his studio. Phil is something of a car aficionado as well.
At that point, a vibe was percolating. That’s when the 2010 documentary Senna started circling around my mind. Directed by Asif Kapadia, the film details the life and times of Brazilian F1 racing legend Ayrton Senna. His maverick attitude, his quest for greatness, his dedication to repping where he came from—it all resonated with me. He seemed like a great subject for a rap song.
When we got into Dream House Studios to record the final vocals with my incredible engineer Calvin Hartwick, JG encouraged me to repeat Ayrton’s last name for the chorus and it eventually started feeling like a mantra. After that, it was mastered by Phil Demetro at Lacquer Channel who I previously worked with on my album Hope In Dirt City, bringing it all to the next level.
As our creative partnership has evolved, one constant that I’ve observed is that Phil and I both like to work in the ambiguous spaces between genre. His music features elements of ambient, acid house, techno and deep house but it exists in its own distinct lane. I’ve radically changed my sound from album to album, going from noisy electro rap to fractured hip-house to trap and grime without ever fully committing to any particular style. We typically end up making unclassifiable music when we link up. The results usually float around in a nebulous space of possibility.
Back in November, we took the concept even further with the music video, which was directed by Scott Pilgrim and produced by PIQUE at Sunset Speedway in Innisfil, Ontario featuring a rare RUF Porsche (shout out to AJ Kossman and Nick Petter). With this video and song, we wanted to create something that captured Ayrton's independent spirit. It’s an anthem about someone who took the road less travelled and became a legend in the process. “SENNA (ft. Jacques Greene)” is out now.