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Pigeon Hole Interview: Sweatshop Union, Festival Season, and The Future

Pigeon Hole. The name itself has become synonymous with painstaking raps, electric live shows, and chest rattling, ass- shaking tunes. Appearing everywhere from SXSW to Shambhala Music Festival, the duo Lee Napthine and Colin McCue, took their unique rap and electronic fusion on the road. Already establishing themselves in the local hip hop scene in their hometown of Vancouver, they later joined group Sweatshop Union and the rest seemed to come naturally.

In 2010, they released their first album as a duo to wild fanfare, and the two realized that their path might be as a pair and not a group. McCue said:

“I feel like we kind of stepped into this scene feeling a bit like outsiders trying to apply the largeness of all these new sounds we were hearing to what we were already making. That recipe instantly had a huge effect on our sound and live set. Like right away”

Not that the guys stepped entirely into the electronic world; Napthine describes their influences:

“I still find new ways to bring hip hop elements into the music we’re doing now. Staying true to the music I was obsessed with in the 90’s is how we keep a consistent sound.”

Early Days with Sweatshop Union

Playing with Sweatshop Union brought them all over the place, but one of the most important places it ever brought them was a little underground festival called Shambhala Music Festival. This place would go on to become integral in the group’s breakout success and continual crowd control. Colin discusses his first time at the festival:

“I think my first time was 2010 or 2011. Back then we were playing as Sweatshop Union.  I was not used to raving at all.  I had so many breakthroughs, amazing experiences, and found so much inspiration and it completely changed me. Both musically, and as a person. I’m so thankful. I feel honoured every year we get to come back. It’s the highlight of our season. Such a special place.”

Lee echoed similar thoughts, musing that “Shambhala was a tipping point in [his] life.”

I showed up there not even knowing what it was or anything. There’s some magic in that place. I wasn’t in the best situation in my life at the time, but soon after, things started falling into place because of being there. Crazy shit. But I give that place all the credit in the world.

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