Updated: Sep 18, 2020
No Tourists is Toronto’s most unique collective on the come-up in 2020. Seven artists with flourishing solo careers have come together in some of the most unlikely pairings to create music that is completely novel in its seamless mixture of no less than six genres. Their music transverses hip hop, R&B, funk, jazz, house, dancehall, and now they have dipped their toes into UK drill and grime. The stylistic mastery of each genre No Tourists incorporates in their music comes across in their flawless execution of each track and comes from the rare talents of each member of the group.
The collective is made up of seven members: two producers; universes and Abdullah, and five independent artists; Keynes Woods, Deelo Avery, Kafayé, Lan’do, and James Wesson. It is difficult to express the diversity of talents and interests in this group. It is as if every member was grasped from the far reaches of each corner of the universe and forced into one megalith. From the undulating flow of Lan’do, Kafayé’s haunting R&B vocal depth, Keynes Woods’ low-key voice that keeps a track’s pace like a metronome, Deelo’s transient cameos and jazzy beats, to Wesson’s gruff old school cadence, the collective spreads a wide musical net. Sitting with them in their studio space emphasizes their differences. Lan’do and Abdullah are propped up on chairs one casually spilled over theirs, the other sitting up straight, while Kafayé sits cooly on the floor and Deelo is sprawled out on a single mattress laid out on the floor.
So how did the juxtaposing group find a way together?
Abdullah explains, “We had this day called producer day where we [had] a whole bunch of producers in here and a whole bunch of artists to cook up on one big day and see what came out of it. At the end of the night me, universes, Wes, and Keynes, we made this song called ‘Money on My Mind’ and that was the very first No Tourists song and it was unofficial at the time, No Tourists wasn’t a thing yet. We just kind of saw that we make dope music together and then the rest of these guys started to pull up consistently after and we started to realize we were all making dope music together. The initial idea was that we were going to put out a compilation tape, but we kept making music more and more and this idea of No Tourists came about.”
universes “No ego, No Tourists” motto was the foundation for the group.
“A tourist to us is someone who is infatuated with the glamour. Pull up to the studio, do bare fuck, take some videos, then they out.”
That motto birthed the name, No Tourists, and the group became a far cry from the once imagined compilation tape to a full blown musical collective worthy of rivalling Brockhampton and Boy Better know.
“It’s gone through many stages [and] different forms. It continues evolving, one thing to another. Who knows what it could be at the end of the day.” Abdullah adds.
Their process highlights the unique talents of the group. After universes and Abdullah kick off a beat or collab with one of the artists on something specific, the rest pile on or opt out of each track.
“Whoever starts the song takes it on a different vibe. Someone might start it jazzy, another time it might sound like electro house, another time hard-core hip-hop type shit, and then we piggyback along with that.” Lan’do says of the process between laughs at each other’s own particular processes that somehow they meld together to get a track done.
After a year of dropping singles and the Snow Tourist EP this past winter, the boys are back with their single ‘Dumbo’ and the summer EP Guerilla - with the addition of producer geezr. Despite already titillating us with funk, R&B,
house and hip hop this year, for this EP they have crossed the pond to get their influence from UK drill and grime genres. ‘Dumbo’ is an ode to those genres with an emphasis on high tempo garage grime and is paired with ‘Safe Bet’ and ‘Gas’ to create a broad spectrum experience from grime to psychedelic that they say they wanted to feel, “raw, heavy, and just all out insane.”
Without a doubt these exploratory works and each artist’s unique take on new tracks will keep No Tourists fresh and ever evolving for years to come.