Story by Jamie Campbell
Photos by Aron Diaz
One of the most hyped up shows (for good reason) over Sled Island was Calgary rap duo Cartel Madras. Recently signed to Sub Pop Records, who achieved fame for having their artist roster include Nirvana, Soundgarden and more, Cartel announced this as their farewell show.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the talented sister duo, Priya Ramesh and Bhagya Ramesh – better known by their stage names, Contra and Eboshi. The pair not only spits bars like you wouldn’t believe, but it’s their stage presence that gets the crowd vibrating on a whole different frequency; the audience jumping up and down almost provides a beat in itself.
“Years of performing has allowed us to navigate the stage. You have to entertain people, we love the performance aspect, we love being on stage and sharing music that way. We want to be performing artists,” says Eboshi.
The duo had no shortage of gratitude for Calgary, which was evident during their performance which teased new singles, and had sentimental shoutouts such as “without you, we would not be here or be leaving.” At one point, Contra even had a bottle of Bombay circulating throughout the crowd; I think it’s safe to dub them as performance powerhouses.
Cartel Madras not only brings the power in their musical presence, but are vocal advocates for marginalized communities. Inclusivity is a mandate that Sled Island heavily stands behind, and Cartel believes that what Sled has is “truly something special.”
“Artists are the most progressive people, and also the ones that need more space to be who they want to be, perform, work on their art and meet other artists.”
Anyone who has seen a Cartel Madras performance isn’t surprised by their upward trajectory. They do it right, and that’s the words they want to leave other artists who are trying to pave their way.
“Do it right. Put everything on the line. It’s a risky gamble but if you feel this is the only thing you can do, you have to fucking do that.”
We can’t wait to see what happens with Cartel Madras next, but they left Calgary with love knowing this city is fucking lit.