XMPL Cover Story: Eva Shaw – On The Daw

Interview: Marvin Calderon
Thank You: Mad Fatti

It’s Eva Shaw, on the DAW. Canadian DJ, songwriter, and record producer Eva Shaw talks her music, industry experiences and the success of her label Mad Fatti as she’s ready to release her highly-awaited sophomore album.

From her highly anticipated debut album “SOLO” to the inception of her EDM alter-ego, “.EXA,” Eva Shaw‘s journey has been nothing short of momentous. Hailing from Toronto – DJ, songwriter and record producer Eva Shaw first captured our ears back in 2018 through her collaborations with artists such as Poo Bear, Shaggy, and City Fidelia. Since then, Eva has worked and released with an arsenal of talent, which all lead up to the drop of her 2022 debut album, ‘SOLO,’ a project that saw her collaborating with over 30 artists including Northern hip-hop titans such as Pressa, Jazz Cartier, Yung Tory, Boslen and Clairmont The Second. The album’s impact led to nods from esteemed outlets such as Spotify, Complex and Billboard – just to name a few. Following her debut release, Eva continued her creative exploration, from traveling the world, to working with artists such as Lah Pat, Haviah Mighty, Pisceze and DijahSB – to her collaborative bangers with Showtek under the alias “.EXA.”

​Before the release of her debut album, Eva Shaw fed her listeners with the first installment of her HYPE HOP series, a collection of EPs that showcases new remixed versions of her collaborations.

Starting with HYPE HOP 001 that included remixes of some of her collaborations with Boslen, DillanPonders, Nate Husser and fellow label mate, Kris The $pirit. HYPE HOP 002 saw remixes with BIJOU, Hitmakerchinx, Jaay Cee and Mad Fatti artist G Milla. “The Hype Hop series has pleasantly surprised me. I did it sort of as a fun side thing and I didn’t realize how quickly it would catch on. I have a background in EDM production so it makes sense I would do a G-house inspired sub-genre like this and I am glad I finally released it. 100GANG had something like 11 New Music Friday playlists from around the world and on all DSPs it seems to really click with people. I’m proud of every song but I get an extra special feeling about the ones I film videos for. 40 Bands was impactful for me because it felt like the first music video where my creative vision started to come to life,” Eva shared on the series’ impact.

​After the release of her debut album, Eva kept the momentum of the series going with HYPE HOP 003 – with features including Thouxanbanfauni, Bunji Garlin, DillanPonders, RIZ, Db Bantino and more. She collaborated again with rapper Thouxanbanfauni for a refreshed version of her latest single, “LOVE DRUG.”

Eva Shaw

Taking control of her own narrative, Eva Shaw founded her own label, Mad Fatti. Working her way through a multitude of releases and explosive music videos, including the infectious Hype Hop series, ultimately led her label to Northern powerhouse status with its shining roster of talent – which includes G Milla, BTK Villeion, Kris the $pirit, and Db Bantino – who all bring a unique flavor to the label. “Mad Fatti also just signed a good friend of mine Db Bantino who’s an insanely talented writer, vocalist and he also produces. You’re going to hear a lot about him coming up as well as from our other artists,” Eva shared on her latest signee from Washington. Most recently, Mad Fatti artists Kris the $pirit and G Milla have both released their first albums. Montreal’s Kris The $pirit released his album, ‘The Kings Of Dog Town’ – featuring Nate Husser, Lolly D, Akshun Man and more. Toronto’s G Milla released his debut album ‘Mr. Turner,’ an 18-track album that features the likes of Lil B, Jaay Cee, fellow labelmate Kris The $pirit and Eva Shaw herself.

​While Eva refrains from the traditional mentor role, her experience-packed journey positions her as a guiding force for emerging talents under the Mad Fatti label, emphasizing mutual support and respect within the crew. “I’m really proud of the success we’ve had as a label with our artists the past year as well. These guys deserved to get their music heard and after seeing how many streams and new playlists and listeners they have now, it makes me super happy for them.” Most recently, Mad Fatti artist BTK Villeion signed with Worldstar while Mad Fatti continues working as management and production. Eva shares that she aims for different label collaborations for all Mad Fatti artists.

​Juggling her roles as producer, artist, and label owner, Shaw meticulously crafted her debut album SOLO – a fusion of hip-hop, EDM, R&B, and pop. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” Eva shared on the album. The process, described as both inspiring and frustrating, led to her rapping on a few tracks, showcasing her versatility and set the tone for the next stage of her artistic evolution. “I have a variety of styles on this project. From hard, aggressive tracks like Diamonds with CHXPO and Thouxanbanfauni, to softer more R&B like STATIC with Kofi and Ching. I’m also doing some vocals here and there. Oh and I’m plopping on one G-House track with DillanPonders that is one of my favourite records yet. This project tells a story musically so you can get a sense of my multiple personalities when it comes to art.”

​Following the album release, she has unleashed a slew of bangers and dropped her electrifying solo EP “You Don’t Know Me.” The EP’s title track earned a spot on XMPL’s Best Songs of 2023, showcasing her strengths as both an artist and producer as she takes the reins on the mic and the DAW (digital audio workstation) for the solo project. This last year alone has seen multiple collaborations and releases, building anticipation for her highly-awaited sophomore album – which Eva tells us is set to drop later this year. The album will include features with Toronto singer and rapper Friyie, SOCAN nominee DijahSB and JUNO-Award winning Haviah Mighty.

We had the chance to catch up with Eva Shaw where she put us on her perspective on the the Canadian music scene, navigating the delicate balance between genres and styles. Her advocacy for increased collaboration among Canadian artists reflects a desire to reshape the current landscape, urging industry giants like Drake and The Weeknd to uplift emerging talents. In our conversation with Eva, she shares insights on the early stages of her journey and highlights the significance of talent, authenticity, and a shared vision in selecting collaborators. As Eva Shaw continues to carve her path ahead of her sophomore album – she leaves an indelible mark on the Canadian music industry, contributing to shaping its future with her creativity and collaborations.

Check out our summarized interview with Eva Shaw and stream “You Don’t Know Me” EP and visualizer below.

XMPL: You’ve worked with an array of artists – from Boslen, DillanPonders, Nate Husser, Showtek, Kofi, Thouxanbanfauni and the list goes on. What have you learned from working with such a variety of artists?

Eva Shaw: That everyone is totally different. Boslen, Kofi and Dillan record themselves often which makes it pretty easy for me- especially during a pandemic. There are a lot of other variables to working with someone, though. Things can get in the way, like if they are signed to a label and you need to sort waivers and tons of paperwork. Or if they have a douchy manager. Luckily most of the people I work with have good teams and are super chill but I have run into a few difficulties. Then you always have those people who want to work but are on their own timeline and take ages to get something done. You just have to realize that everyone is trying to further their own career and sometimes it’s just hard to coordinate. Generally speaking, most artists I’ve worked with have been relatively easy going. The major difficulty is when you have multiple artists on one track. A lot of times I’ll have someone do 1 verse or part of a song and then I have to get it finished by adding another artist. If I was a rapper I’d just finish it myself but most of the time as the producer I have to find someone else.

​Trying to balance the artistic taste of multiple artists and making sure everyone is happy, including myself, can be tricky at times. I’m a huge fan of collaboration records with multiple vocalists, but then you sometimes have artists’ egos to deal with. Some people want to see the other rapper’s IG account and make sure they’re “cool” or “big” enough or have a lot of streams etc… and some artists don’t care as long as it’s fire and everyone is down to collab. I love the songs that just work out! I’m all about good vibes first.

Eva Shaw

Mad Fatti has a strong roster of talent, from G Milla, BTK, Kris the $pirit, DB Bantino, etc. What originally drew you to working with them?

Talent first. With G Milla, I had heard “No Holding Hands” and was obsessed with that track so I kept trying to hit him up. Took him ages to reply but we finally connected for “RAW” and then filmed the music video. We were speaking on set about his releases and we naturally just decided to start working together. G has a real ear for unique vibes and I like that he isn’t afraid to experiment. That is one major thing that will set him apart from other artists. I was introduced to Kris through Nate Husser. I think he DMed me about a track or something and then when I heard his bars I was like “this guy is crazy!” I like Kris’ versatility in his styles and how he can rock a cloud track and then do something crazy hard like Rowdy Ruff Boyz or BOP. BTK I actually found on IG. I am not sure how he came up but I think he posted a video clip and I thought he just seemed like a star. The emotion he delivers in his vocals is really authentic and powerful, plus he has great style and is into fashion which is a plus for me. DB Bantino is the latest artist we signed but I’ve actually known him for a few years. He was on my first hip-hop release “Snakes” with City Fidelia and he’s been a friend since. He’s one of the most talented vocalists I’ve ever heard and he has written for a few big artists like Swae Lee. DB was the first non-EDM artist I worked with. He fully supported me moving more into the hip-hop world and he gave me a lot of confidence to keep going. We have a really strong trust and respect between us and that’s one of the things I look for when deciding whether or not to sign an artist.

Was there a defining moment when you realized you wanted to begin mentoring and help grow emerging artists?

I don’t really see it as mentoring since we’ve all been doing music for a few years but I do have a lot of experience with certain things packed into a short amount of time. Especially being a producer and label owner, I have to learn things fast. I’ve been on all sides of the industry. The vast majority of my career so far has been making EDM on my own and touring like a maniac. It isn’t until the past 2-3 years that I’ve delved into the hip-hop world and done this whole label and production company so it’s also super new for me. I feel I’m starting from scratch and need to learn a lot. I definitely don’t wanna be a manager or take care of artists – I need to do that for myself. I believe in building a crew where we support each other in different ways.

What is something you learned from your early stages in your career that you’d want to pass down to your artists?

So many artists don’t understand how much time and work it takes to make money and a career out of this. You have to hustle your ass off and no label or manager is going to make you famous or successful. It has to come from the artist. The team just helps facilitate.

​There are a lot of directions you can go with regard to managers and labels. If you sign a big deal with a major who gives you an advance plus invests a lot of money into you, you better expect to not see a lot of income from your music directly, unless you get really big. It’s a business and the labels aren’t there as a charity. They need to make their time and money back. Signing with a major also doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be big. They have to have patience and interest in you which a lot of them don’t have. These deals can be long as well so be aware of what you’re signing up for. That said, major labels do have a lot of money and power. If they want to run for you, they can really help. I would recommend having touring and other income sources in place if you’re going to take a lot from a label or investor.

​You can also choose to do everything independently and upload your music yourself but that means a lot of investment on your end as an artist if you want anyone to hear your music. People underestimate how hard it is to get heard. Labels, also small ones, can help facilitate that with their connections.

​When deciding what kind of a set up you need, It’s important to pinpoint what you are good at and what you’re not so that you can gradually build your team around you. If you’re going more independent, you have to know where and when to invest your money. You can spend so much at the wrong time or in the wrong place and it helps to have someone experienced on your side who you can trust.

​I think there was a small window when Spotify, Soundcloud, TikTok etc were newer and you could get “discovered” but as the popularity of these platforms grows, the more artists are also trying to break. There is so much content available and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

​When you’re smaller, you have to keep releasing and providing content for fans and new fans, even if it’s not looking like the new Travis Scott video. Even just filming yourself or getting your friend to take some photos of you. You also have to look at numbers and analytics of your releases. See which songs people save and stream more often and work to promote those more. I also recommend connecting and collaborating with a variety of artists and producers. It really helps to get your name out there.

​Lastly, I would recommend checking your ego and jealousy at the door. Don’t be greedy and/or delusional about yourself or where you’re at. Be humble, otherwise you will miss out on some opportunities and maybe an opportunity that would have greatly helped you. Oh, and always respect the producer :).

Eva Shaw

I know you’re not shy when it comes to visuals. Your SOLO era was filled with some crazy music videos– from Calabasas, 40 Bands to Bust Down. Which of those music videos ended up being your personal favourite?

When I make tracks I almost always picture the music video with it. I love music videos and I wish I could shoot one every month. Obviously budgets are the toughest part about videos so I’ve been trying to figure out where and how to spend it in order to get the most creativity out of it as possible. I loved the outfits in Calabasas. I had a blast with that. I still feel like 40 Bands or RAW are my fave videos so far because they were so much fun and were the first full crew videos I’ve ever done. The car and dance scenes in Bust Down were also a blast. That one was tricky with Fedd the God and KT$ not being in LA. We’ve had a bunch of hiccups with COVID – BTK got sick the day of the Calabasas shoot and couldn’t participate. Yung Tory got stuck in Atlanta for Hennessy. There have been ongoing difficulties but I am still happy we pulled everything off so far as best we could.

​I’m working with a Canadian director named Brock Newman who’s phenomenal. I also just filmed a really wild, almost fully VFX video for “F it, I Made it”. I did it with a VFX artist and director named Markus Madlangbayan. I’ve never seen someone create VFX like he does.

Eva Shaw

What do you feel is the most common misconception about you as an artist?

That’s an interesting question. Sometimes I’m not sure how people see me. I’ve noticed people are sometimes surprised that I like such hard music. I like dirty, grimey stuff a lot. I rarely like a lot of straight pop music – it needs to have something unique about it. I’m also really shy. Most people think I’m really outgoing but I’m pretty insecure at times and not super sociable. I prefer working alone most of the time as I find my ideas are better when I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anyone. I have no problem performing in front of tens of thousands of people, or on a video shoot. I’m only socially shy I guess, like when I have to interact with a small group or one person.

I’d also like to see Canadian artists working together more and supporting each other. That’s one thing I feel like I am doing now. Being the producer, I am able to connect all these rappers who didn’t bother working together before. Hopefully that will continue more…

Looking at the current mélange of “Northern” talent, how would you describe Canada‘s music scene compared to what it was maybe five years ago? Where do you think it might be in the next 5 years with how it’s currently going?

I wasn’t really aware of the scene 5 years ago since I was doing EDM then- mainly in the U.S, Asia and Europe. I was sort of in my own bubble on tour and only focused on DJing and that whole scene. I started to become more aware of Canadian talent only in the past couple of years, aside from bigger artists like Kardinal, Drake etc– who I obviously know and love. I think there’s more of a market for harder, aggressive rap in the U.S than in Canada. I feel Canada supports more “wholesome” artists in general which can be difficult for a lot of rappers who are super talented.

​I’d also like to see Canadian artists working together more and supporting each other. That’s one thing I feel like I am doing now. Being the producer, I am able to connect all these rappers who didn’t bother working together before. Hopefully that will continue more…

​I would love to see artists like Drake, Bieber, and The Weeknd doing more to help bring up newer, emerging Canadian artists and producers. If those massive artists expand more and work with emerging Canadians, it will keep them relevant longer and also help keep Canada on the map by bringing on new names. I find not only in music, but also with the fashion industry in Canada, people keep working with the same names over and over. Same photographers, videographers, producers etc.. I love the idea of having your “crew” but I also think that limits us as a country in some way because newer talents don’t get the opportunity to showcase what they can do. There are also just less outlets in Canada for artists to showcase themselves and the audience is smaller which makes more niche and unique music more difficult to take off.

​I would love to see more Canadian radio, grant systems and DSPs supporting a variety of styles of hip-hop. We just lost Flow 935 which is the main hip-hop station in Toronto. Flow gave a lot of new hip-hop artists air time so I’m super sad to see that go.

​Spotify Canada and Apple Music Canada are both doing a great job right now finding new talent and supporting a variety of hip-hop. Northern Bars playlist, Radar, Outliers, The New Toronto etc – these platforms are crucial to help Canadian hip-hop artists be seen and heard. Grant programs like Factor are also so important to help artists create. I’m really happy we have things like that in our system in Canada. These platforms will help artists get the boost they need to succeed.

Stream the ‘You Don’t Know Me’ EP by Eva Shaw:

Watch the ‘You Don’t Know Me’ visualizer:

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XMPL Magazine: Issue #13

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