You’ve always been really honest about yourself in your music and are a self-proclaimed freak, is that the real you or does this play into your persona as an artist?
I think if you’ve ever seen me live, if you ever had a conversation, there would be no question. At the end of the day, I don’t give a fuck what people think about me because anyone who knows me, would never question anything I do. My music is such a true and honest extension of who I am and an honest projection of who I am, I don’t care. All these people have opinions about my personality and have never met you. I don’t really give a fuck about people’s opinions. I’m more keen on creating music that’s exactly who I am.
In other interviews, you’ve said you were competitive and you were defensive about other people staying out of your lane as an artist. What makes your lane different?
That was a general statement more so about people being creative. That’s another thing, in context of what I was saying, what I really meant by that is at this point in time, the redundancy of repetition and the same fucking sounds, the same topics, the same bullshit soulless R&B is over. I’m tired of it. I think most people are tired of it. I think that’s why this alternative sound—it’s not one sound, but it’s all alternative. It’s not what’s expected from the passive R&B listener. I think that’s why it’s appealing. What I was saying is that for those artists who are looking to make a career out of music, find your own place. Discover yourself and make yourself and your honest perspective a part of your artistry and your creativity. Don’t look at me and do what I’m doing or the next person to do what they’re doing—do what you do. The moment we stop trying to copy each other, this genre will just become a stereotype because people kept copying each other. That’s what I meant by that.
Speaking of the amount of repetition in R&B, your music is not in that lane—it appeals to everyone, even people who aren’t R&B fans. What do you feel like you did to be different and not have the same sounds that became redundant?
I don’t really know how to answer that, I just said what I was thinking.
Overall, the R&B scene has changed a lot recently. What can we look forward to on your upcoming album?
As far as what I’m trying to get across or communicate with this album I think more than anything it’s about who I really am. It’s about what I’m into. It’s about my lifestyle, I just wanted my music to sound like my life. I wanted the textures, I wanted the colors to be as true as possible to what I live through, my thoughts. My friends, even. My peers. The settings that I find myself in. All of that.
You mentioned there wasn’t going to be many features on your album, either. You want to stick to it being your music.
I believe in the music and I feel like the music speaks for itself. I’m coming to a place where who I am and my sound cuts through where it’s recognizable but at this point, I just wanted to make people get more familiar with me.
What makes your live performances so intimate? You just performed at MoMA PS1: Warm Up and now you’ve lined up a few shows before the album drops.
The PS1 show was fun, it was more than anything a great introduction to people who have no idea who I am. A different crowd. But, my real live show is a lot more dynamic, a lot more passionate, more so because I have my full band and that’s what inspires me. Definitely a bit more space on stage too because I didn’t really get to move. [Laughs]
Like you said, you’re introducing yourself to new crowds and your fanbase is really diverse because, as I said before, your music appeals to so many people. You’ve gone beyond R&B, and I feel like this is happening in R&B in general, and that’s what we’re hoping for with your new album.
I’m so happy. Going to The Warm Up last year was really like, ‘Man, how ill would it be to perform?’ This is something I would be at, my friends are there, it’s where I’d be anyway. I thought it’d be dope to play music there and I think that’s another thing, I didn’t feel like my music was touching my friends—the people I hang out with, the people who live similar lifestyles and have similar interests.
Why didn’t you think your music was touching your friends?
More so, because of how it was being marketed. It wasn’t that the music couldn’t connect to them, it’s just that it was being marketed in a way that wasn’t appealing.
How did you feel it was being marketed?
As traditional. It was frustrating but at the same time, I did a lot of learning and that’s why this time around it’s very important to get the people around me to step outside of the box and to see I’m not to be put in one, and neither should the music. So, that’s why an opportunity like that was so cool. Jamie xx going right after us and all sets from the DJs. The Warm Up is always so much fun.
Do you feel like your friends will be able to relate more to your new album?
I think my friends have always supported my music—my real friends—but what I’m saying is my peers, the ones that go to the same dive bars. We’re not bottle poppers. We don’t go to the club and get tables. We like live DJ sets with actual turntables. We drink Jameson or Jack Daniels. I’m trying to describe the sensibility.
So you’ve been living a completely different lifestyle than you were marketed as.
Exactly. That’s what was important this time around was that I was touching the people with similar interests and sensibilities.