What is your name and role within the band?
DGS Samurai Champs is hip-hop rapper Savan Muth, better known as “Jeah”, and R&B singer Marvin Chan, better known as “Merv xx Gotti”.
How did you start?
We first started DGS Samurai Champs in the fall of 2013, but we’ve been writing and performing music together since high school. Jeah’s roots are in hip-hop, performing for local rap shows, but Merv xx Gotti’s musical background comes from the local hardcore/punk scene. We always said we were “the same artist but in different genres”. This was until one day when we decided to form DGS.
Where are you based?
We’re based in both the “Queen City” of Regina and the “Bridge City” of Saskatoon – the two cities of the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.
Please give an example of your music writing process?
One of us usually gets sad, and then we write about it. All our writing is very emotionally driven. That’s the beauty of creating art with someone you’ve known for so long – we both understand each other so well that we can draw from one another’s emotional states. Even if one of us starts the song, the other one completes it.
What are you working on right now?
We’re currently working on a full-length album, building our artist collective, Trifecta, and we have our sights on playing in M for Montreal and MIDEM in France.
We have a really good/bad habit of going “all guns ablazing” all at once.
What is your gear setup?
Jeah uses an ATW-1102 wireless mic so he’s free to move and channel his inner Travi$ Scott. Merv xx Gotti will use any mic he can get his hands on – wired if he’s mic swinging like Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday, and wireless when he’s climbing speaker stacks like BMTH. Our DJs use a variety of controllers – Pioneer and Traktor DDJs, CDJs, and often a Rane 62 mixer.
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
We both train athletically…a lot. We pride ourselves on being a “live band”. In order to hear us, you have to see us. We give everything we have, all our energy, into our live show. In order to do this, we train, hard. Jeah is an avid weight lifter and Merv xx Gotti is a yogi and martial artist. When we’re training for a festival circuit, we’ll run 2 times a day.
How would you describe your music genre?
We aim to combine Canada’s R&B/hip-hop sounds of Toronto’s OVO, with the west coast future-soul inspired minimilism of LA’s Soulection.
Do you know any music theory?
Merv xx Gotti has had classical piano and vocal training. Jeah feels it all from the heart.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re going to play M for Montreal. It’s one of our favourite festivals in Canada and it’s always been our goal to play it. We saw Jazz Cartier play it in 2015 and we swear that was that specific show that projected him into the Canadian hip-hop heavyweight he is today.
How did you get into music?
Jeah’s older brother, Savonn, introduced him to the hip-hop greats – Nas and Biggie – but also showed him the emotionally driven songwriting of Radiohead and Elliot Smith. Merv xx Gotti started playing and promoting shows in a small local hardcore/punk venue called the Buffalo Lounge. It was this venue and small, but strong local scene that produced touring names you may recognize today – Surf Dads, Nick Faye, and Andy Shauf.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Jeah has been listening to a lot of Travi$ Scott, trying to perfect his “Travi$ Scott kick. Merv xx Gotti listens to a lot of sad, “break-up” music – mainly the Ta-Ku albums on loop, but has also been listening to a new local band, The Low Joy Ceiling, and their first EP, Crooked Bangs.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
Jeah’s individual influences are Tupac, Nas, Travi$ Scott, and Kendrick Lamar.
Merv xx Gotti’s individual influences are Ta-Ku, Steve Jobs, J. Cole, and Bryson Tiller.
However, both of our biggest influences are Bruce Lee and Drake.
Before Bruce Lee, the role of Asian males in film were portrayed as effeminate, scholarly types. But, instead of the aggressive bravado demonstrated by typical western male actors in film, Bruce Lee introduced a new brand of masculinity through his self-guided determination and discipline. Through his martial arts, Bruce Lee redefined the Asian male’s role in North American film. Following suit by being disciplined and strategic in our approach to hip-hop, we hope to redefine Asian masculinity in hip-hop and the music industry as a whole.
Secondly, we are both largely influenced by the Canadian rapper Drake. Before Drake, Canadian hip-hop had little international appeal and Canadian artists often identified with American artists. However, in part due to the successes of artists such as Drake, The Weeknd, and Jazz Cartier, Toronto is now a hip-hop and creative hotbed within the same league as other creative meccas like Atlanta and Austin. Drake proudly represented being a Canadian from Toronto, and continues to push Canadian hip-hop and R&B to the rest of the world.
When are you playing next?
We’re playing this Sunday in Liverpool at Liverpool Sound City to conclude our UK and Netherlands tour. We’re on at 12:30AM at North Shore Troubadour at LSC’s final date late night party.
Please feel free to include any extra info.
Where we’re from can be considered the “Bible Belt” of Canada. Our province is mainly known for the local football team, agriculture, and country singers. Because of this, us and our friends started a new multi-genre music festival, Trifecta Music Festival, back in 2014. Since then, it’s grown into a yearlong concert series and artist collective. You’ll probably start seeing artists from our collective such as LOA and VBRTR begin breaking out more into the UK market soon. You can find more of us at TrifectaYQR.com.