D-SISIVE with ADAM BOMB and TECHTWELVE at the Drake Underground (1150 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, March 13), doors 9 pm. $10. 416-531-5042.
Over lunch at Albert's Real Jamaican on St. Clair West, down the road from where Derek Christoff, aka D-Sisive, grew up, the rapper fills me in on his plan to become "Canada's majorest mogul."
He's kidding, sort of. Frustrated by the lack of attention from record labels and inspired by comedian Marc Maron and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, Christoff is branching out - launching the Desolate Collective alongside his musical partner, Rob Bakker aka Muneshine.
"I don't even know how to describe it," says Christoff, neglecting his butter chicken to talk in depth about his passion project. "It's a ‘record label slash'; I'm doing zines, so ‘publisher slash'; ‘podcast production slash merchandiser.' I'm releasing my own music solely through it, and I'm trying to make it a big fucking circus."
The inaugural Desolate Radio podcast premieres March 24; SleepyTime With Orville Knoblich (in which Christoff reads classic children's stories aloud) goes up Monday (March 17); and a new recording called Desolate The Mixtape drops March 29 - Christoff's birthday and also Juno weekend. (He's nominated for his fourth.)
Christoff gives me sneak peeks on his laptop. The podcast is a quirky mashup of old tunes and hilarious sound bites. The bedtime stories have a spooky undercurrent that makes them entertaining for adults while still straightforward enough for kids. His new logo - a stuffed-animal bunny perched between two scary-looking plague doctor masks - jibes with the overall left-field vibe.
"It's a lot of work, but it's fun. A lot of people get the impression that I'm this dark and depressed person because most of my music is dark and depressing. So I don't blame them for thinking it. Sure, we all feel that, and I tap into that side of me, but this [project] is not that at all."
Christoff has been prolific of late, releasing nine albums in five years. He's been mulling over the Desolate Collective for a while. "It was an idea I got maybe two and a half years ago but never pursued because I had my 9-to-5 and I was making records at night and doing shows here and there. But I never really had the fear instilled in me to fully pursue it."
That changed when, a week before Christmas, Christoff lost his day job in the collections department of a website. The situation was especially dicey given that he and his girlfriend had a five-month-old baby.
"I'm turning 34. I'm not a fucking old man, but in rap I'm a fucking old man. Even if the music I make doesn't relate to ‘the rap world' per se, I don't wanna be 40, looking like John Goodman rapping, having my kid embarrassed," he says, laughing.
"I gotta go for this. I'm more than rap. I want to channel my creativity in other areas.
"Now that it's a serious time in my life when I have to make it work, it's the best and only time to move forward," he says decisively. No pun intended.