An Interview with Shad

Written by: Jacalyn Chrysler & Julienne Diva
In a few short years Shad, an emcee from London Ontario, has established himself as one of Canada’s top hip-hop artists. Shad hits us with profound and clever lyrics with an unbelievable flow that captivates his audience and leaves us mesmerized. Unlike most rappers in the biz, his rhymes are educated on his views of social issues around the world, which has relevance to all of us and connects us on a personal level to his music.

For his Cross-Canada Tour, Scion joined forces with Shad to promote his music and socially connect with their audience of young trendsetters. Dealerships across Canada gave away hundreds of tickets coast to coast for Shad’s 2011 tour. Valuing artistic originality as reflected through their customizable cars, and their collaborations with emerging, trend-setting artists, they recognize the new generation of innovators who are well-educated and looking for a different way to express their creative lifestyle.

Format Mag sat down with Shad and Scion brand manager Jeremy Schaab to talk about their collaboration and their high level of influence on today’s society of young trendsetters.

Format: You beat out Drake for Best Rap Album recently in Canada for the Junos. Can you describe the feeling you had when they called your name? Have you felt any backlash from any controversy?
Shad: When they called my name I was surprised of course, but it was cool and the whole team got a kick out of it – I had a fun weekend… As for controversy, it’s just a music award so I think the word controversy is a little too weighty. Surprising? Definitely. But I’d have to reserve the word controversy for something more serious.

Format: Your parents are from Rwanda and you were born in Kenya, how does this culture influence your writing?
Shad: I think it’s always just made me aware of the fact that there’s a whole world out there. It’s also a piece of me; my history and the values I was taught growing up.

Are there any musical artists on your iPod we would be surprised you listen to?
Shad: One of my most played albums ever is a record from 2004 or something called “… Is a Real Boy” by Say Anything. It’s essentially a pop-punk album but with elements of musical theatre. A little weird. It’s one of the most stunning albums I’ve ever heard.

Format: If you could collaborate with any other musician, who would it be? What genre of music would you be interested in exploring?
Shad: I know you opened up all of history, but Kanye is still the first name to come to mind. Curtis Mayfield is up there. Brian Wilson…

Format: You’ve been hustling for a few years now. Has it been a struggle or smooth sailing?
Shad: It’s a grind sometimes but I can’t call it a struggle. I feel grateful to get to do this way more than I feel any sense of struggle because even when I’m working hard, I’m grateful for that. I like working hard at this because it’s work that I enjoy and that I learn and grow from and hopefully contribute to people’s lives with.

Format: What are some of your favourite streetwear and/or fashion brands?
Shad: I like old polo stuff these days, some old Tommy and Pendleton too.

Format: You mentioned that you are constantly developing your ability to communicate and be creative; do you think you will ever rap in French since you are bilingual?
Shad: I’m losing my French by the day! At this point I can have a conversation but expressing myself creatively is a whole different thing. I would need a couple months in Quebec City to get back to that level.

Format: Do you think about your audience when you write your music? Do you think you would be able to describe your audience at this point?
Shad: I think about a couple friends when I’m writing. I think about what would make them laugh, what would make them feel what I’m trying to get across. I think that makes for the best music but I dunno.

Format: What could we visualize as your creative process when writing music?
Shad: You can visualize me on my couch typing in the morning, wearing plaid drawers and a random faded t-shirt I got for free in high school. #Glamour

Format: So now that you are a Juno Award Winner and have International success, we have to ask “do you still live at home?”
Shad: I probably would, but my parents moved back to Rwanda almost 4 years ago. Presumably to get away from me, so I’ve been living on my own in varying degrees of squalor ever since.

Format: What made you decide to collaborate with Shad for his cross-Canada tour? How does Scion relate to Shad’s music?
Jeremy Schaab: The Scion lifestyle is trendsetting, urban and authentic; Scion vehicles maximize personal expression while delivering performance and style.

With the 2nd phase of our launch in March 2011, we now have 84 Scion dealers across Canada, and the Shad Tour was an important way to get the message out of our expanding presence from coast to coast.
Scion is customizable to the demands of trendsetting drivers; music and style are very much in keeping with this self-expression. Scion’s collaboration with emerging and trend-setting artists like Shad is an example of how we fit into the lifestyle of Scion drivers.
It is imperative that Scion follows the customer – to wherever they’re creating the scene or trend. That’s why we have a focused strategy to create brand awareness and build brand image, targeting events in non-traditional categories: Live music and culture events, like the Shad tour, let us connect with customers in the places they frequent socially. These are highly influential with our target customers, and help to build the authenticity of the brand.

Format: What has been the response for Scion since announcing your collaboration with Shad? What makes Shad an ideal representative for your brand?
Jeremy Schaab: In cities we visited with the Shad tour, the local Scion dealerships were able to build word-of-mouth buzz through ticket contests and by providing transportation for Shad in their cities. As a result, we were able to give away approximately 500 tickets to Shad’s shows across Canada. We reached over 20,000 Shad fans altogether through this collaboration, allowing music fans to get their first taste of Scion as a natural synergy with Shad’s music.

Format: What determines who the next collaboration with Scion will be? Does it have anything to do with sales? Fan base? Facebook Fan Page Likes? Style of music?
Jeremy Schaab: Because Scion is as much about urban lifestyle as it is about being a young urban car brand, music is very important. We collaborate with 20 different emerging artists a month at Scion Sessions across the country. We review over 100 music samples every month and from these, the top 20 are selected based on the artistic originality that they bring to their genre. Overall, we’re open to very diverse music genres, as Scion drivers have very diverse musical preferences. We support everything from indie-rock to hip-hop, from dubstep to disco to metal and more!

Format: Scion seems to be all about self-expression, you design your vehicles with customization in mind. How do you keep your brand so fresh and appealing in this competitive industry?
Jeremy Schaab: We recognize that the new generation of drivers we are targeting are unlike any previous demographic. This group places importance on products that help express their identity, and Scion vehicles promise an enthusiastic driving experience coupled with a modern, personalized lifestyle statement. With an understanding of this growing group of consumers, we deliever distinctive vehicles featuring amazing opportunities for personalization.
The vehicles are extremely well-equipped with standard entertainment, safety and performance features, but what makes Scion stand out, is that each vehicle is blank canvas that each owner can personalize, and it is our hope that every one is unique. It really does set us a part and is something that attracts people to the Scion brand.

Format: What similarities are there between your brand and the musicians you have collaborated with thus far?
Jeremy Schaab: SCION is about creating an experience with a goal to be original and authentic in everything we do, and that resonates with the creative communities we support.

Format: In what ways do you see the brand different from any other brand trying to fit in?
Jeremy Schaab: Scion is not solely about the launch of new vehicles; it is about the launch of a new automotive brand. We believe the industry must explore new ways to engage with customers if it is to remain relevant – and nowhere is that more essential than when attempting to connect with our Gen Y customers, who are part of a youthful, lifestyle-conscious and urban demographic.

Scion is about creating an experience, one in which a growing number of Canadians can identify with a brand, but then personalize their relationship with the brand at an unprecedented level. The Scion brand brings tomorrow’s market an authentic trend-setting automobile brand.

Through unique product, marketing and dealership operations, Scion is designed from the ground up for its Gen Y target market. From a product perspective, we offer innovative, comprehensively equipped, unique vehicles that allow for original customization (the xB, xD, tC and soon-to-launch iQ).

On the operations side, Scion endeavors to connect with its target market through a unique ‘store-within-a-store’ concept. The Scion business model was designed to provide a unique space for the consumer and allow for a richer online customization component while simultaneously simplifying and shortening the overall purchase experience.
Scion’s marketing efforts are non-traditional and brand-focused. They tend to be more focused and personalized, so we can introduce consumers to the brand through grassroots lifestyle events, a rich online presence and one-to-one conversations within our target demographic. Supporting lifestyle events that align well with the interests of our audience, such as the Shad tour, we work closely with artists to ensure we authentically support their vision. We know that if their show is successful we can share in that success.

Format: Who are the top 5 artists for Scion?
Jeremy Schaab: It really changes from month to month, and that is echoed through the broad array of music that comes out of our Top 20 picks each month. I would suggest checking out Scion Radio to see our monthly faves for yourselves:

Format: Who can we expect will be collaborating with the brand in the future?
Jeremy Schaab: As mentioned earlier, Scion’s marketing efforts are non-traditional and brand-focused, so consumers will see Scion through ongoing grassroots events and collaborations with other artists. Scion fans can always check out our upcoming events on or follow us on Twitter/ScionCanada for ticket give-aways.

Erik R. Adler

Erik R. Adler

Editorial Director
Erik Adler is the Editorial Director for GroundWave Media Group. He's what you might call 'Man Pretty'
Erik R. Adler
Erik R. Adler

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