Transit takes his Pity Party in an entirely new direction

In an alternative universe, Transit might be taking the stage of the Grand Ole Opry tonight rather than that of SAIT’s The Gateway.

You see, the album he’ll be releasing when he greets the hometown faithful, the hip-hop electro-pop Pity Party Project, started off as something else entirely.

Something a little more southern.

“Originally I’d planned to make an old country kind of album,” says the Calgary rapper born Daniel Bennett.

“I was going to make a lot of stuff with (Alberta Canadiana artist) Joe Nolan and we were going to make this dark, acoustic album.”

Well, as fantastic as that might have turned out, Triple P is a pretty damn fine thing in its own right.

It finds Transit set among some pretty slick and sweet beats and samples, dipping his hedonistic, celebratory, Bloodhound Gangy raps and rhymes in waves of ’80s-esque dancefloor manoeuvres in the dark.

He credits the new direction to a friendship he started up a couple of years ago when he was participating in the Peak Performance Project Boot Camp — a retreat where B.C. and Alberta participants in the contest run by the station (which has since changed format and name in Calgary) would meet, mingle and take courses and workshops on industry subjects.

It was there he met Conan Karpinski from then-Vancouver-based band Little India, who was also doing some of his own electro things on the side.

One of those was a remix of a Bombay Bicycle Club song, which he sent west for Transit to have a listen.

“I was blown away,” Bennett says. “And immediately I was like, ‘This needs to be the direction of my new record.

“And then that song that was originally a Bombay Bicycle Club remix ended up getting restructured and ended up being one of the songs on the album called You Are Going to Die Alone.”

Karpinski would go on to produce all of the album’s 11 proper tracks — there’s also conversational interlude, where Transit talks about the themes behind the album — with the local rapper noting that his collaborator’s approach to the material was a refreshingly unique one for him.

“He’s way different than every other hip-hop producer because he has such a musical background,” he says of Karpinski.

To take the songs even further from his comfort zone, Transit then headed into OCL Studios for some sessions with house engineer Josh Rob Gwilliam, adding other more organic elements supplied by local musicians such as guitarist Russell Broom and drummer Ben Bradley.

The fact that he took third place — and a sizeable cash prize — in the aforementioned Peak competition meant that he could take the time and use the talents of those others to get the sound just right and make sure his skills were equal to it.

He’s glad he did.

“I always had the drive but I didn’t necessarily have the talent,” Bennett says, before clarifying. “I had the talent, but it wasn’t refined. There are certain things like little mistakes I notice on the old records where I was just a little bit off beat … just certain things where I didn’t really have my sound in my pocket, I couldn’t really fit the flow that I wanted to.

“Obviously it was years of honing my skill and now I feel it’s a lot more refined … I’m super confident in it.”

He admits it comes with the hard-earned knowledge accumulated over the past decade and past half-dozen releases — lessons that many other artists don’t learn before they eventually give up.

He, on the other hand, is feeling refreshed thanks to all of that music and life schooling, and, more importantly, the new direction his songs have taken.

“I feel like I’ve finally found my style,” he says.

“I was always trying to be like somebody, I would be inspired by a sound and try to mimic it. And with this record there really isn’t much out there like this at all … That’s where I’m excited about it.” 

Yippie ki-yay.

Transit releases his new album Pity Party Project with a show at SAIT’s The Gateway.

Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for, and the co-host of the show Saved By the Bell, which airs Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at He likes beer. Buy him one.