Tep No is a Toronto-based producer and artist who came on the scene in 2010 and is just starting to get out on the road doing performances. He has had appearances on the Billboard streaming charts, including “The Best Crew,” which came out in 2016. We had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him before he opened for SLU’s 2017 Springfest.
Underneath the iridescent visor, Tep No is surprisingly unassuming. He lets us into his trailer, asks if we can hold on a second so he can plug in his phone, and we sit down to talk. He is wearing glasses, a St. Lawrence University sweatshirt, and speaks with a heavy Canadian accent, laughing and shrugging throughout.
How was your Trip to the North Country?
Tep No: It was interesting, to say the least, because I had a show last night in and I had to take the plane today, early. So, 6 a.m. plane. I just came from Atlanta, so weather was… a little bit different.
How has it been being on tour?
It’s been kind of strange, because I’m a studio guy, so I like to go in the studio, I like to do my own thing, and now I’ve got to get out more. I was just playing a small show in Miami a few weeks ago, I think, for Ultra, just for XM Chill and stuff, playing with lost frequencies and Sam Feldt.
Which do you prefer, performing or being in the studio?
Oh, I think they’re so different, so I find performing is, like, you can actually feel the energy of the song, and you know, singing on most of the tracks, and then studio, it’s like, you’re building the tracks. It’s way different, writing songs, going to LA to write and stuff, and going to different studios.
How did you first get into music?
Um, I mean, I just started playing drums initially when I was 12, and then I learned how to play guitar, and then just kept on going and, I don’t know, eventually this project — it’s still a very recent project, it’s only been like, three or four years in the making, so it still feels very fresh.
Who are your biggest influences as a musical artist?
I mean, initially I wanted to make music a little bit like Naked and Famous, MGMT, and then I heard Nora En Pure, and I was like, oh, maybe I can make that kind of music, I mean, Lana Del Rey, of course. Oh my God, I love her so much.
If you could pick any artist to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
I mean, I was trying hard with Ultra to get Chris Brown on a track, but it’s like, he’s just so — there’s just so much crap going on with him that.. Yeah. So I asked them, like, Chris Brown, Pitbull went on a track with Diorio, so it’s kind of like, off. So I’m thinking of a few options. Kid Ink, I actually listen to his music a lot, just because of DJ Mustard. I’m always listening to Spotify playlists of DJ Mustard, and I didn’t even realize it was him.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Not really, because I find you’re always so out of your element, you’re not at home, so it’s like, okay, I just need to do my sound check and get ready whenever, pretty much. I guess a lot of artists are really superstitious, but I don’t know.
Have you had a favorite performance so far on your tour?
I played a big show in Colorado, Red Rocks, opening for the Chainsmokers, so that was huge. My manager’s other artist is signed on Disruptor, so we hear about them all the time. I mean, that would be a good artist to collaborate with! I’ve been trying so hard, but they’re so popular it’s just — they’re getting so many requests. I’m starting to play a lot of colleges now, you know, festivals, so hopefully next year I can play on the bigger stage for Ultra. I mean, it’s hard to say, because the style of music is so laid-back sometimes it doesn’t fit for the big stage.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Montreal, so French is my first language. But I live near Toronto now.
How is the music scene in Toronto different from here in the U.S.?
I feel where I am, I’m so closed off, it helps me focus on my music, because I find when I go to LA, everyone’s so talented, everyone wants to make it, and it’s so overwhelming. So I’m just glad that, like, the scene in Toronto is very centered, and somehow so many acts are just bursting out of there. It’s very, like, Alessia Cara, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber — there’s so many.
Are there any new directions you’d like to go in, genre-wise?
I mean, when I initially started making music, I was doing rock music, then I just transitioned into dance, so I’m always trying to, like, blend guitar elements with dance. But I don’t know, I find if I do something that’s too out there, I feel like people are going to be like, “Oh, it’s bit weird for your style of music,” you know? Like sometimes I see guys like last night San Holo was playing, and it’s like the whole future bass thing. It’s so awesome, but it’s like — I could do it, but I wouldn’t fit in there, you know? It’s like as soon as you start making a certain kind of music, people have, like, expectations. They’re like, “oh, yeah, it has to sound like this,” even my label, they don’t want me to — a lot of times they don’t even want me to have another singer, like “we want you as a singer and everything.”
What rock groups are you influenced by?
Oh, man. I mean, there’s so many good Canadian rock bands, of course. I mean, like I like Billy Talent. I mean, I find in Canada people listen to Nickelback and they don’t care, somehow. There’s new bands coming out. I mean, obviously the Black Keys, I really like their style. Back then, I used to listen to a lot of alternative metal, so like, Limp Bizkit and stuff like that. I’m kind of ashamed to say that I used to be a fan, but you know.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you as an artist?
I mean, I always just try to keep everything private, even online I don’t really show my face very much, so I just keep everything trying to focus on the music, not on all the crap around me. I usually just post stuff online whenever I have something coming out music-wise.