New Brunswick hip-hop artist Stephen Hero comes to the Halifax Fringe Festival with a one-night-only theatrical performance of his new concept album, Paper Flowers.
…we’ve put together a full 40-minute show where we’ll perform the entire album with a lot of added visuals that I don’t want to give away, but it’s going to be cool.
We learn more in this Q&A with Stephen Hero.
This interview has been edited.
Tell us about Paper Flowers. What can audiences expect?
Paper Flowers is a full-length concept album exploring issues of class disparity through the urban legends from the history of Saint John, NB. We’ll be performing the entire album live, along with a stage show meant to augment and intensify the aesthetic sensibility of the album through visuals and performance.
You can expect some intricately written rap verses tackling storytelling in a way we feel is super unique in the genre and very specific to our region and the shared history of labourers on the East Coast. The music is grounded but experimental, utilizing a mix of samples and live instrumentation to create its own sonic identity.
Audience members will be handed a zine, including lyrics from the album and the incredible artwork created by visual artist Benjamin Allain.
What inspired Paper Flowers?
Last year, we received a grant from Arts New Brunswick to create a concept album, a zine, and a few music videos. As we developed the album, we started thinking about how we might present it to the public more creatively than a standard album release show. To that end, we’ve put together a 40-minute show where we’ll perform the entire album with a lot of added visuals that I don’t want to give away, but it will be cool.
Why this particular show now?
My work always revolves around class disparity, and I think this message is particularly relevant now as we see corporations price gouge us and people continue to struggle more and more. On this album, I’ve attempted to discuss these subjects through first-person narratives and folk tales from my hometown, and I think I’ve managed to create something truly unique.
What do you hope audiences leave Paper Flowers talking about?
I’d love for this album and performance to open up the conversation more about the ways we can create hip-hop on the East Coast in a way that honours the culture and history of it while still being creative and inventive about our role within it and how we can put our unique spin on it.
But in general, I hope people take away from the performance that although the material is about Saint John, it’s really about community, and the shared history of it and how storytelling person to person is important to continue and pass on. And I hope people really feel ready to eat the rich when they leave.
Why should someone come to see Paper Flowers?
Because art is fun and cool, hip-hop is amazing, and this show is truly unique. I think our show will have lots to enjoy, and we hope people come check it out.
The Halifax Fringe Festival returns from August 31 through September 10, with more than 60 productions taking place at venues across the city.