Urbanology: Chef Roger Mooking Returns To Rap Roots

The multi-talented Roger Mooking has a lot on his plate right now. He’s ecstatic about the release of his latest album Feedback. At downtown Toronto’s The Rivoli the humble, yet excited, Juno award-winning celebrity chef opens up about his five-year hiatus and his return to making music.

WHAT’S THE MEANING BEHIND THE TITLE OF YOUR ALBUM, FEEDBACK?

You can look at different definitions of [the word] feedback. If I asked a lot of people they would say Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar that sound is feedback or you do a questionnaire [that’s also feedback] and also the food resonance, that’s feedback as well. I took all of those elements and I wanted to feed people really dense stories that they can relate to. Feedback is about sharing and there’s a give and take there.

A LOT OF STORIES ARE BEING TOLD THROUGH YOUR MUSIC. WHERE DOES THE INSPIRATION COME FROM?

Most of them are just from my life. I travel a lot, meet a lot of people every day, I hear their stories, and some of them resonate with me because they are similar to some of the things that I have lived in my life. It really struck me that there are universal truths out there and I wanted to share those stories. I just wanted to be really candid, graphic and honest. I’ve never been so personal and just raw on a record before.

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YOU TENDED TO DO SHORT INTRODUCTIONS TO MANY OF YOUR TRACKS. WHY IS THAT?

I wanted to make the album visual. When you’re reading a great story the opening paragraph places you within an environment and then the story starts to unfold. Because each story is so different I wanted when you moved into that next song you’re immediately placed into the setting.

HOW DOES FEEDBACK DIFFER FROM ANY OF YOUR PREVIOUS ALBUMS?

I think it’s my best work to date. [It’s] my most comprehensive, clearest, honest [and] most powerful work to date. The last record I was exploring soul music, but this record I wanted it to feel [like] creamy centres and raw edges. Sonically I wanted that feeling, emotionally I wanted that feeling, story-wise I wanted to capture that feeling and I felt that the best way to go about that is what you hear. Before we started making the record, I had a very broad concept of exactly how I wanted it to sound like in my head and I achieved that, which for me, is artistic nirvana to get that close to your dream and be able to execute it.

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DO YOU HAVE THE SAME APPROACH TO BEING AN ARTIST THAT YOU HAVE AS A CHEF?

Yeah, I think there’s a craftsmanship in making a dish that’s the same kind of craftsmanship as making a song. You start with an idea, you hone that idea, you refine that idea, you develop it, re-refine it and then you give it to the public for consumption.

WHAT KIND OF DIFFICULTIES DID YOU ENCOUNTER BEFORE ACHIEVING THIS LEVEL OF NIRVANA?

It’s [been] five years since I made my last record and I’ve just lived a lot in those five years. I’ve seen parts of the world that I’ve only dreamt and read about. I’ve had kids; I’ve lost kids, my career on the culinary side just exploded. So many things have happened in the last five years that I just felt I needed that much time to be able to tell rich stories.

“I’ve just lived a lot in those five years. I’ve seen parts of the world that I’ve only dreamt and read about. I’ve had kids; I’ve lost kids, my career on the culinary side just exploded. So many things have happened in the last five years that I just felt I needed that much time to be able to tell rich stories.”

WHAT LED YOU TO CREATE SUCH AN UNIQUE SOUNDING ALBUM?

When I went out to make this record I was not thinking of radio records. I was thinking of records that I really loved that I felt were extremely honest, personal, but dynamic. Whether you listen to that song like “Daddy’s Little Secret” and you’re like “I hate that song!” you’ve [still] got to feel something! It’s my job as an artist to make you feel something and to start a conversation. That’s what Feedback is about. If I haven’t created a piece of work that doesn’t draw an emotion out of you I failed.

Words By. Shakiyl Cox