Image via Toulouse

Image via Toulouse

New York based singer/producer Toulouse’s debut single “Hurtin'” sounds like a transmission from another time, pained impressions of the world stacked atop lushly layered instrumentation.

“This kind of hurtin’ is not the kind that fires off in one event like a cannonball, but the kind that sneaks up on you like old age,” says Toulouse of the song’s inspiration. “You find yourself in front of the mirror one day to see that things are not the way they used to be, and it is the sum of many mini meteors that have created craters all through you over time and you ache from the memory of the impacts.”

This burning build takes shape in the song’s orchestral palette, unfolding in intricacy and grandeur over the course of a densely packed four minutes. “Hurtin'” feels like an exorcism of ills, no surprise given Toulouse’s earliest encounters with music.

“My first experience with music was turning over ceramic plates and plastic cups on the dining table in my family’s flat in a land far away and playing them expertly like drums with whatever cutlery was in my arm’s reach and out of my mother’s,” he says. “I just had that rhythm in me. Followed by, of course, singing in the church children’s choir. Looking at the kaleidoscope of the greatest artists, singing in church as a kid is almost a pre-requisite to be great; feeling the nuanced power of music’s connection with soul and spirit before you are old enough to understand is an intangible currency you can cash in for years and years ahead. Also, I watched and danced with Barney on the tele every morning before Kindergarten.”

In its heart and execution, “Hurtin'” hearkens back to aging craft and spirit, the energy and character caught in the grooves of a warping record or the strained singing of a member of the congregation. It’s the soul found in imprecision, a beautiful attempt to make sense of worldly pain. Toulouse draws from the past in order to train his gaze firmly on the present.

“Creating music always been retrospective for me,” he says. “Tapping into that nostalgia; that underground well. But like a catapult, drawing the sling is only one-half of what it does. There is a functionality to music, a verb to it that means drawing then releasing that sling with a message in it to go near or far and do something, somewhere. That message is often material and hedonistic, but as often, it is covered in social, political and cultural context and agendas and represent the time it is in. And where that message lands, it has the ability to change.”

“If I have glitter on my hands,” he continues, “whoever or whatever I touch will get some of it and for a time, they will sparkle. But if I have a nasty cold, some of the people I touch will be down for the count. Music is the same way.”