Before I start this piece, I want to say thank you to David Canlas for supporting this little project and giving 789 the time of day. We’re all busy and miles apart but you were on board without hesitation and we cannot wait to put more of these interviews and spotlights out there. All we want to do is support local artists and bring our audience #AStepCloser.
My earliest memory of Canlas is early freshmen year in the basement of Lackhove Hall, a co-ed dorm hall at Shippensburg University, located just 30 minutes west of Harrisburg, PA. It was here, in the dark corner of the large room, that a soundproof recording booth sat without any sign of life – just a couple feet away were rows of washers and dryers that were available to the students. The year was 2012.
If I recall correctly, the booth was big enough for just the three of us (a college friend, Ryan, also accompanied us) with one light bulb hanging above our heads. Dave was up first, put the wired headphones on and Ryan loaded the beat. We spent around an hour messing around on the mic. I, of course, have absolutely no rapping abilities, so I sat in the corner mesmerized by the ability of Canlas being able to freestyle – and freestyle successfully. Little did I know this was the one of the many times I would hear him go off.
Fast forward a year later and you would find a young Drew (aka me) and young Canlas (aka David Canlas) sharing a spot residing in the Shippensburg. We lived together at the infamous Creekside apartments and 100 Penn Street followed. Most of the time you’d find us studying, having a few drinks, bumpin’ music or playing FIFA. Sometimes, all at the same time.
Dave Canlas – better known as ‘Canlas’ – has been rapping since his early school days in Berks County, performing with childhood friends during class, after homeroom and eventually local shows. His biggest show to date was supporting the rap duo Moosh and Twist at the Reading based “Reverb” night club with a friend of his.
During his college stint, he kept at the rap game, recording multiple songs through SoundCloud – you can check out his stuff here – to eventually putting out two music videos.
Canlas dealt with the aftermath of his brother being incarcerated, becoming an uncle and more importantly a role model to his nephew, all while trying to find himself and navigate through the struggles of the college experience.
On one of his first and more intimate tracks, “Dear John,” Canlas exposes himself to his audience on the absence of his brother, while hinting to the strength he’s acquired: “And graduating college is something that you’ll probably never see me do / but enough of that complaining s*** / ’cause life’s about moving on / through all the pain and s***.”
He goes on by saying, “your fam is praying / your nephew is getting big / even though you can’t hear this / dear john I hope your listening.”
Everyone has obstacles to overcome in their lives – Canlas channels them into his music.
I was able to catch up with the Berks County rapper and ask him where he’s been this whole time, his early rap days and if there’s any chance at new music in the near future.
Interview has been edited for clarity.
Yo man it’s been a minute since we chilled.
What are you up to nowadays?
I am currently working full-time doing sales with aftermarket car parts
(mustangs, jeeps, trucks, etc.) at a company called Turn 5. It’s nothing
crazy fast paced, which is nice because when there’s downtime in
between customers I have time to look for beats and write – all while being
able to save up some moolah. I’m definitely trying to transition into a different
role, but at the moment, trying to accrue as much knowledge and funds while things fall into place.
Growing up what was your first experience with music?
Well I was a Filipino kid born in Philadelphia, PA. Being in a music loving community, combined with my parents’ love of singing, it was definitely all passed down to me. My older brothers got introduced to things like R&B and Hip-Hop, which I grew an immediate taste for. Fast forward to moving out to Berks County, I remember going through my brother’s things and seeing notebooks with “raps” in it. [laughing] I thought it was mad cool! I had already been into poetry, being the dork that I was in 3rd grade… I remember checking out poetry books in elementary school, like who the f*** am I? [laughing]
But it eventually generated into making random little freestyles and singing in hallways -Ky Gauger and Tracey Wright heavily influenced that, having my best friends like the same music as I did was dope. Eventually it led to meeting and getting close with Kervin [Macario] my freshman year. We loved doing it and I recorded my first song my sophomore year; the love has honestly just been there forever to be honest.
Did you ever have a moment, that light bulb moment if you will, where you were like “this is what I wanna do.”
I would say there were a couple of those. The thing with music is that it’s
very easy to fall off the path. It’s very easy to believe that what you are
wanting is out of question. It’s only random – I’ll fall into existential crisis
mode and start feeling some type of way… but honestly sometimes all it takes is a
single verse, a single metaphor, or even a bang hook I write to remind me
that this will always be present in my mind and always be something I will
want to do.
Obviously during school I remember talking about your brother’s situation and your troubles at home. It was around junior year, too, when I was able to meet your nephew that you mention a few times throughout your music. How do you remember that challenging time frame of your life?
It was tough, I feel like everyone has dark phases they refer too in their lives.
That specific time I was dealing with a lot of my troubles converging into
one. I drank a lot, did a lot of self-loathing, but it was almost needed. I
remember getting to a point of hating myself… all so I could pretty much
learn I will literally not be able to love or be loved until that almighty cliche
of “me loving myself.” To sum it up, it was some of the hardest times of my
life, but inspiration can literally stem from anything. Good times, hard
times – it’s all about utilization honestly.
I think the last thing I saw on SoundCloud that you uploaded was 4 f****** years ago. I know your supporters are low key, high key waiting for new music. Have you been recording?
To be honest, not as much as I would like to be recording, but also I think
some of the best writing has been going on lately, so I’m excited to get in
the studio and eventually buy another mic. I honestly was in a funk for
awhile and in between jobs and in the process of kind of clearing my head,
but I have been in the studio and I do have items I have recorded. I’m just
holding back on releasing anything before I have complete projects rather
than bits and pieces. Me and Burky plan to do some cool visuals in the
future to release some of the new music i have coming in. I definitely want
to drop a video before summer OFFICIALLY ends and hopefully a little
project early Fall!
Going forward, what direction do you think you want to take your music?
Words and lyricism will always be something I pride myself in and
something I will always want to try to incorporate into my music. I have
a wide taste in music and with these new waves of music coming in I
definitely want to do a mold of some sort with boom bap lyrics, the trap
music, a little bit of sadboy/mumble with the content still being present. It’s
something I am working on. A lot of people I am trying to work with right
now are people not exactly in the limelight just yet. I’ll always
have love for the homies and people within the clique, and I thoroughly
believe in their talent, so that will always be something I want to showcase
and be a part of.
If you had to pick your favorite track, which would it be? I know I personally will always bump “Dear John,” such a classic to me.
My favorite track I have written is actually an unreleased track, called “Lost”, which will be on my next project. It’s over a beat that Kerv did actually. MY favorite thing out right now that’s posted would be “Mind Stay Right” on my SoundCloud. It’s one of the first things I have ever written as a WHOLE and performed. The lyrics describes a lot of how my head worked at nights and it was the first song that HOMIES reached out to me and said, “yo i can relate to that s***.” [laughing] That was always cool to me.
Any people out there you might want to collab with?
Obviously there are other artists that would probably be a
crazy blessing and dream come true to work with – my two favorite
artists being Kanye West or Drake. But a lot of the newer artists coming
out, I think the homie Jack Harlow can do a lot of what I want to portray in
music. I love Trippie Redd and those guys in this era. Lil Skies is another
person that would be crazy to work with being from a similar area and having
worked with similar people. All in all, I love music and creation, so I am
always, always down to essentially work with anyone with the same
Click the link below for some vibes!
Know of anyone we should get in touch with? Let us know! Tweet us at @789mediaco or tag me @andranamo.