Pigeon Hole at The Royal

Lee Napthine of the west-coast hip hop group Pigeon Hole performed at The Royal. - Photo by P. McLachlan
Lee Napthine of the west-coast hip hop group Pigeon Hole performed at The Royal.
— image credit: Photo by P. McLachlan

By Phil McLachlan

Free Press Staff

Pigeon Hole brought their unique west-coast hip hop sound to the streets of Fernie, Saturday night.

Colin McCue and Lee Napthine make up the group, Pigeon Hole, and have been producing music together since they were kids.

McCue and Napthine starting jamming together at the age of 12, in 1993. Since then, they have released three albums; one in 2010, the next in 2011 and the third in 2013.

Since that first jam session in the early 90s, Pigeon Hole has taken flight and grown into a West Coast rap sensation.

“We grew up on gangster rap,” said McCue. “That’s still what influences us, heavily. It gives us a different angle, I think it makes us sound different.”

Pigeon Hole was a major part of the early-2000s rap sensation collaboration group, Sweatshop Union, which spoke to society through the genre of rap. Much like how the Wu-Tang Clan spoke of matters that they disagreed with, so did Sweatshop Union shine the light on issues such as the plight of the poor and working-class, as well as the realities surrounding current events such as the war in Iraq.

Pigeon Hole’s first professional album in 2010 was mainly comprised of classic hip hop, with heavy sample bass elements.

Stepping away from the vocal side of rap and focusing more on melody, Pigeon Hole became popular because of their electronic influences.

In 2013, album Chimp Blood signified a change in their sound, and defined what the modern-day Pigeon Hole has become.

Since then, Pigeon Hole has been independently releasing singles and EP’s. Wanting to get back into more vocal-oriented music, rap sensation Lee Napthine believes this is a plausible horizon for them as a group, and is confident that this will find a place in their soon-to-be future music releases.

With roots in Vancouver as well as Victoria, Pigeon Hole grew up around the influences of West Coast rap, and was influenced by the vibrant and ever changing nightlife scene that comes with Victoria.

“Victoria is awesome,” said McCue. “People in the scene are really great about supporting up and coming artists, and giving them a chance to get good slots in front of good crowds.”

Festival bookings started to expose Pigeon Hole to larger audiences around the province, and eventually, around the country.

Despite their current popularity in the Western-Canadian music scene, McCue and Napthine wouldn’t consider themselves successful yet. Although they had a goal growing up, they realize that there are still many more steps to climb.

“I wouldn’t consider ourselves successful yet,” said McCue. “I think we’ve gotten past the stage of the interview, now we’ve got the job where people are showing up to shows, they like what we’re doing and they’ve accepted us.

“There isn’t a day that I don’t go to sleep thinking about how I’m going to be better the next day. Until that day happens when I sleep well, where the gears aren’t grinding constantly, when that day happens I’ll say that we’ve succeeded.”

For McCue, being on stage in front of a crowd of cheering fans is the time he is most present in life. Unlike other times in his life, playing a show on stage allows him to escape from everything else and focus on what he loves.

“It’s the ultimate high, there’s nothing like it. You feel totally at one with yourself and you feel totally at one with everyone on the dance floor. There’s nothing else like it, it’s complete freedom.”

Pigeon Hole is described by its creators as West Coast Bass, however, their sound is constantly changing as the group evolves.

“If it doesn’t feel new, it feels stale,” said Napthine.

“As long as you stay inspired, and you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you just have to have faith. People will like it.”

Pigeon Hole’s next show is in Jaco, Costa Rica on February 19.

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