HipHopDX Premiere: Signed to the Sage Francis-founded Strange Famous Records, Denver’s Wheelchair Sports Camp (WSC) is the newest addition to the reputable indie Hip Hop label. Fronted by the group’s sole female MC, Kalyn Heffernan, WSC combines witty bars with fierce musicality and classic jazzy Hip Hop. Self-described as “Denver’s biggest little band,” the trio has seen a steady rise in notoriety since emerging in 2008 and have been featured on the cover of the Village Voice as well as in SPIN Magazine, Huffington Post, and High Times Magazine.
The video for WSC’s first single, “Mary Had A Little Band,” places drummer Gregg Ziemba, trumpet player Joshua Trinidad, and special guests, bassist Mike Brown and vocalist Felix Fast4Ward, into a diorama where they perform their perspective parts as Heffernan tells her twisted nursery rhymes.
“It made sense to do a video in a room my size,” Heffernan explains to DX. “It kind of flips the script because the world isn’t built for people my size—hardly ever. This house in the video is perfect for me and you can see how those hard working dudes are working to shred in this space they don’t fit in. This is also the most playful song on the album, so it was easy to have fun and be silly.”
At three feet, six inches tall and 53 pounds, Heffernan is diminutive in stature, but colossal in personality and talent. Born with brittle-bone disease (Osteogenesis Imperfecta), she uses a wheelchair (hence the band name), but that doesn’t stop her—not even for a second.
WSC’s first official studio album, No Big Deal, is actually a huge deal. This musical milestone details the distinct experiences of Heffernan, a shit-talking MC and activist whose unique circumstance provides perspective unlike those heard almost anywhere. Produced by the immensely talented Ikey Owens (Jack White, The Mars Volta, Free Moral Agents), the album is Owens’ last project before his untimely death in 2014.
“The last time I met with Ikey was to catch up on life stuff and discuss his work with WSC,” Sage Francis says. “Despite being a music virtuoso and seasoned producer, he seemed equally excited as he was nervous to tackle a Hip Hop project. We discussed what style of music might best suit Kalyn, but from everything I had heard it was all on the right path.”
Ultimately, Owens stripped apart the original compositions that WSC brought to the studio and weaved his own weird sonic tapestry, merging live instruments with electronic compositions that lend an exciting and signature vibe to the project. While Owens rebuilt the tracks, Heffernan composed the majority of the album’s lyrics almost completely on the fly during various studio sessions.
No Big Deal represents a significant move from DIY mixtapes to a proper release with an evolved quality of sound and songwriting. WSC has cemented their transition by signing with SFdigi, a brand new imprint under the Strange Famous Records umbrella. No Big Deal drops on September 30.