The rising and experimental Canadian R&B artist speaks about his latest single 'Worldwide', the intricate process of creating his debut album and his JUNO Award nomination.
You just dropped your first single of the year ‘Worldwide’, can you delve a little bit into the themes of the track?
My song “Worldwide” is about being a world citizen. It’s about experiencing culture and being enriched by those experiences, with the hope of also enriching people’s lives with the music I create.
How was the process of creating the track and sonically, where did you draw inspiration from?
I remember me and a couple of friends were about to go out for the night. BEDRM was on his laptop playing beats and the beat for “Worldwide” started to play. It swept me into a quiet place and all I could think of was where I wanted to fly. All of the places I might have written off felt so attainable in that moment.
How does this single give us a glimpse into your upcoming debut album and how has it been working towards the project?
This song is about intention and execution of my debut album. It’s an exciting part of 'ALT THERAPY' because it vocalises the vision of being in a place where taking my dream worldwide is possible.
"My first EP was about a very turbulent time in my life."
Last year, you released two EPs under the title ‘Alt Therapy Session’, what was the idea behind the name of the projects?
The idea behind titling the EPs as “Sessions” was to allow the listener into the narrative by showing them the different seasons of growth and understanding. The listener and I have fellowship in those sessions.
Your most recent project was ‘Alt Therapy Session 2: Transformation’, what were your initial inspirations, conceptually, for the EP?
'Session 2: Transformation' is filled with songs that tell stories of change and shifting of consciousness. The quest transcends old ways of thinking. They are songs about the understanding that comes in hindsight after having a long time to ponder my decisions. It’s also about understanding those who are around you.
How did your first project ‘Alt Therapy Session 1: Disillusion’ differ in inspiration from its follow up?
My first EP was about a very turbulent time in my life. It differs from 'Session 2' by proxy of the stories it tells. A story of addiction, unhealthy cycles and the struggle to move forward when love is lost.
"Being able to document the process is really special. It’s important for history."
How was the process of working on these projects and how have they allowed you the space to experiment in the lead up to your debut album?
Most of the project was made in a house between 2018 in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Having that space was instrumental in creating the project. Having a space I could feel safe enough to fail in. A space where I could fall and get up again. It is a privilege to be so immersed in the music I create.
How important was it for you to create visuals documenting the process?
Being able to document the process is really special. It’s important for history. To be able to look back and re-live some of those moments is really important for personal growth. And I believe it gives those who wish to have a deep look into who we are as a team and who I am as an artist.
"Being nominated for a JUNO is such an honour as well. To be lifted up and recognised by my peers for the work I’ve done is amazing."
You have beautifully, vibrant artwork for both of the projects, who did you work with and what did you want to get across within the cover art?
I am proud of the artwork we chose for the releases within this project. @funnytummy is the artist who created the artwork. I like how he paints woman in a way that tells a brilliant story. I really wanted to honour how that connects to sonics we created.
How was working alongside Idris Elba to create the visuals for ‘Need You’ and how important was making that video during the pandemic?
It was an honour to work with Idris Elba on my project for the release of “Need You”. He is a giant and offered his praise and ideas in a really hard time of pivoting due to the pandemic. He was kind and it was a humbling experience to work with him.
How did it feel to be nominated for a JUNO Award for ‘Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year’?
Being nominated for a JUNO is such an honour as well. To be lifted up and recognised by my peers for the work I’ve done is amazing.
Being based in Ontario, are there any local artists you would recommend?
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
When I think of artists who inspire me to get into music a few immediately come to mind. Kendrick Lamar is a huge inspiration. Moments I’ve had listening to his music really helped make it clear what my purpose was on this earth. Frank Ocean’s sound inspired me to be different, to not settle for convention. Fighting to see your vision out the way you want is the most important thing.
If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would you choose?
What’s coming up for 2021?
More music! Hopefully, the ability to travel and perform. I’m really looking forward to being able to tour my music around the world one day soon, God willing.