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Skiifall
SkiifallPhotography Éléonore Côté-Savard

Skiifall, the Carribean-Canadian rapper fusing dancehall and drill

Currently on tour with BADBADNOTGOOD, the rising musician talks growing up in Montreal, experimental drill and his upcoming mixtape sequel

Skiifall says he was often dismissed by teachers when he growing up. “I actually wanted to become a tech engineer,” admits the Montreal-based rapper, who is 20 years old. “While I was in middle school there were so many different avenues that I wouldn’t be allowed to pursue. My teachers steered me away from [formal career paths]. Music was the only thing I could do that didn’t bring pressure with it.”

Music offered an escape. One of Skiifall’s teachers, Ms Bel, would allow him to hone his talents for hours on end, especially during a period when he was preparing for a school play. “The play was based on my school, I’d practiced daily for hours, that was when I realised that I enjoyed the musical process,” he remembers.

Born on the island of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean, Skiifall relocated to Canada at eight years old, when his mother “had to leave the region for her safety”. As a result, Skiifall’s speech is a mixture of accents, dialects and colloquialisms, combining patois, English and Quebec French. It’s a reflection of our increasingly globalised world.

After spending most of his youth experimenting with EDM, pop and auto-tune-infused trap – he cites Travis Scott as a key influence – Skiifall became fixated with his own evolution, keen to forge his own path in the music business. “I wanted to try everything because I genuinely have an eclectic ear, I needed to go through all of that,” he says. His ear really is eclectic, his inspirations ranging from Calvin Harris’s ”Summer” to Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and Loud Luxury cult classics.

Skiifall’s debut single, “Ting Tun Up”, was released in 2020, and now has close to two million streams on Spotify. In fact, the track has been gaining traction since its release, even gaining a UK version featuring north-west London rapper Knucks. “Places like [the UK] just understand the references and style of song I created,” he says. “I wanted to build on that and focus on where the music is moving.”

This track – which blends classical pacing with patois-laced, street-sharp drill production – instantly gripped listeners from Canada, the UK, and beyond. He followed it up with an EP titled WOIIYOIE TAPES Vol.1, which sees him lean further into his Caribbean ancestry. Classical reggae air horns launch the project’s opener “My Gully”, instantaneously transporting listeners to Saint Vincent’s shores. Meanwhile “Bagga Yute” features iconic “Tek weh yuhself callouts, showing that he’s determined to celebrate the Carribean in his music. “I plan to do even more music that embraces where I come from,” he says.

Skiifall is currently on tour with the jazz-focussed Canadian collective BADBADNOTGOOD, who he met last summer while working on their collaborative track, ”Break of Dawn”. “I flew straight to Toronto when I got the call to work with them,” he says. By leaning into reggae on the song, Skiifall adds yet another new genre to his offering, namechecking trailblazing Jamaican musicians Sister Nancy, Jacob Miller and Billy Boyo as influences. “When you go back [to the mid-20th century], everyone was so much more innovative with cadences, and in riddim culture. I wanted to emulate that. For me, it’s my greatest influence on the song, especially Billy Boyo.”

Skiifall also addresses police brutality in his songs, drawing contrasts between that feeling of hope at the beginning of a new day and the reality of ongoing violence against marginalised communities. “I wanted to reflect that [even] on a good morning, these things can impact us,” he says. “I want to dig a little deeper in the future. It’s part of what [Black people] go through sometimes”.

Set to release his mixtape sequel WOIIYOIE TAPES Vol.2 later this year, Skiifall is only just getting started. “No one’s out there naming their tape ‘Woiiyoie’,” he says, with a laugh. “No-one’s gonna find a bagga yute on Spotify with [that name]. It’s about my introduction, my story. That’s what I’m here to share.”

Learn more about Skiifall on his official website