interview by Eamon Whalen
illustration by Gangster Doodles
photo by Nancy Musinguzi
Soul With An Edge:
My songs are based on my experiences, my conversations, my fantasies, my desires. It may not sound like traditional “soul,” lyrically or aesthetically. A song like Drugs may turn people off, because I use different tools like auto-tune or 808s, but essentially it’s a singer-songwriter song, and it has an underlying message that’s based on what’s going on in my circle. Hopefully it’s something that can be related to on a universal level. There has to be an element of soul, or funkiness to it. I don’t mean that to be specific to those genres, but to a certain place that its coming from. A lot of what I do is rooted in soul music, but lyrically it may have a little bit of an edge to it. It’s incredible when you can give an underlying message where people are receiving something of substance but dancing too. Those are songs that last forever.
Artistic Freedom as a Married Man:
[My creative process] would change if I felt some pressure from my significant other to change my art or the way I write, but I wouldn’t be with anyone like that. If my art is changing in any way that’s just a reflection of where I’m at within my artistry, and hopefully it’s progressing. I’m definitely influenced by my family life, and now I have a son so I’m influenced by what he’s going through. [My family] sometimes come into my lyrics, but I’m not thinking, maybe I should write this differently. What will my wife think or what will my mom think?
The Creative Atmosphere in Los Angeles:
L.A. is full of transplants. It’s crazy traveling now and seeing the harsh conditions of different seasons. I was born and raised in Southern California, first in Oxnard and I’ve lived in L.A. for the past eight years. The weather can really create a brand of person and I think that affects the music that’s coming out of there. A lot of people that come from out-of-state, or even out of the country, feel the vibe in L.A. to be almost like a fairy tale. They come, and it produces a lot of intense sounds. There’s the beat scene with Soulection and Brainfeeder, then labels like Stones Throw and Hellfyre Club, and then the young L.A. with YG and Odd Future. It’s such a dynamic. You can’t not be influenced unless you’re a hermit.
Filling a Void:
[In the future] I want to have a Black male vocal quartet, that can really sing, like a Boyz II Men or H Town. I was thinking about that earlier, there’s a void right now. But right now I would like to help other artists achieve their vision and if I can help with that, and maintain a standard of excellence, that’s what I want to do with my imprint, OBE - Out of Body Experience.