Karl Wolf is a Lebanese-Canadian musician and producer originally hailing from Dubai, before finding his way to Montreal and making waves with his hit single “Africa” in 2009. He sat down with The Varsity to discuss his recently released album Stereotype before his frosh week performance on Friday, September 5.
The Varsity: So you just released your [fifth studio album] Stereotype — can you tell us a little bit about that and what you’re working on right now?
Karl Wolf: Yep, we just released the album last week; it includes [the single] Magic Hotel featuring Timbaland, as well as our other single Summertime. We’re doing a bunch of touring — we’re doing all of We Day, and performances across the country in the fall, so that’s very exciting as well.
TV: What were you trying to say with this album?
KW: You know what, usually I would say, just let’s party or something, but this album is a little different. It’s my fifth studio album, so I don’t know if you could call it mature, but maybe matured musically, I guess. I wanted to be more organic with my sounds —I had a bunch of live players come in, I played the bass on the record. I produced pretty much the whole album, except a couple of songs produced by myself and Timbaland. I have Classified featured on the album. I worked closely with a very close friend of mine Show Stevens, from Toronto, and he basically co-wrote the whole album with me.
I basically went back to my R&B roots a little bit more — there are some Michael Jackson sounding tracks on there that I’m very excited about. Generally, I would say it’s more personal, this album. I talk about the reality of my life these days — my parents are retired now and I’ve been supporting them for the last five years. I brought them to Canada, so they’re in Montreal right now. Life’s changed for me — it’s not all about partying, I’ve grown up.
TV: It sounds like there’s quite a bit of Canadian influence in the album — you’ve collaborated with a lot of Canadian artists to produce it. Can you speak to that?
KW: Absolutely — I love Canadian musicians. One of my best friends in the industry is Kardinal Offishall, so we’ve done two or three records together, although unfortunately not this one. It’s just who you connect with — I’ve toured with [many] Canadian artists from Shawn Desman, to Hedley, I mean all these people are my brothers and sisters — it’s a good thing, it’s a family affair.
TV: What would you say are some of your biggest influences?
KW: I would say Michael Jackson probably, [being] the main one. You know there’s influences, and then there’s people I like, because I’m just blown away at their artistry, like Eminem, for example. I’m also into older music — Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, George Benson, Prince, Stevie Wonder — you know, all real R&B musicians. Good music from the past, I live in the past.
TV: Can you recommend a Canadian artist you think people should be listening to?
KW: I would say Virginia to Vegas. He’s a bigger DJ and a great friend of mine; he’s got a great vibe. Someone else would be Hedley, always a good one, or Classified. You know I can’t recommend just one, it’s like choosing favourites, they’re all good friends and I respect them.
TV: What can students expect from your performance on Friday?
KW: Oh my god, just prepare yourself for a ball of energy, that’s my thing. We’re there to have a great time, and you guys are going to feel that energy. We’re playing some new songs — I play all the hits like Africa, and all the good ones, but I’m adding a few more songs from the album, so that’s going to be fun too.