How did you get into music?
I started singing at a very young age—just singing around the house. Growing up with my Jamaican grandma in her house, we went to church every Sunday. I was the designated singer and instrumentalist in the church. But as I got older, I didn’t want to play music—I wanted to work in fashion—but as I got closer to working in [that world], music kept calling me [back]. I knew I had things to say, emotions to express and an innate feeling of wanting to be on stage or in the studio creating all the time. So, I quit my job in January 2017, and since then, I’ve been on this road.
Has growing up in Queens informed your aesthetic?
Not in an extreme sense. Overall, I believe growing up in New York just made me believe I could do whatever the fuck I want, and dress how I want, and not feel like I need to conform in any sense—that’s why I’m a proud New Yorker.
Most people move to New York when they want to pursue music—but you moved away. Why did you decide to leave for Copenhagen?
I just had a hunch when I visited Copenhagen for a brief moment that I needed to stay. I was just so jaded from the New York lifestyle—I needed time to focus, heal and lick my wounds. I was recovering from a depression and trauma, so I just wanted to take my time and figure my shit out. But I didn’t want to stop making music, because I had just started. So, I ended up staying here and it just all came together organically. That’s what I call the benefits of trusting your gut and not caving into the fear of the unknown.
What’s the biggest difference between working in music in the US and Denmark?
In Denmark, everyone here has a pretty laid back approach to things and less ego characterizations are made when you meet people who are well seasoned in the industry here. Everyone is listening and open to what you have to say—from my experience, at least. But in New York, I remember meeting some musicians or potential management and there were so many deep layers you had to penetrate, all to just have a normal, relaxed conversation. But a lot of it from me was a bit of insecurity because I knew I was new and didn’t know much. Needless to say, being a new artist, you can project that fear of being looked over onto people you meet who are already put on. But that’s not how I feel anymore, thank god.
You released for first EP, King of the Cruel, today. Tell me about the process of writing the record?
I gotta be honest and say throughout the writing process, I cried a lot. I realized I had unearthed so many buried feelings about things I was dealing with at the time. It was so crazy to grow the past four years with the project. I wanted to write something that felt good, even if it was sad. So, I wanted to take my anger, and my sadness, and throw it back out into the universe as my truth and live in it. I wanted the sound to be dark—to be melancholy—and to really capture me. I never expressed my dark side before that, and it felt so satisfying.
Where do your inspiration?
From my experiences—it influences my writing a lot.
Tell me about the idea behind the “Midnight Lullaby/Distorted Rainbow” video
We played off the lyrics a lot. Mathias Nyholm, who directed the video, wanted to capture my emotions the same way they were felt in the songs. “Midnight Lullaby,” the first song in the video, was me expressing anger and self-deprecation, and just living, once again, in my truth. The second part is “Distorted Rainbows,” which is a song about realizing how much harboring anger for the past could cripple the good things you have in the present. So, we wanted to create an open space for that feeling to happen and take our time with each shot.
The video was, among other places, shot in Kyrgyzstan—what was that experience like?
I was so nervous—a boy, like me, from Queens, traveling all the way to Kyrgyzstan? The fear jumped out! But no, to be honest, it was so amazing—I loved the people there so much. They were extremely welcoming and it was a once in a lifetime moment—we stayed up in the brutally cold mountains in Issyk Kul [in East Kyrgyzstan] where we slept in heated huts and cows greeted us in the morning with their sweet voices. We drove for hours shooting non-stop, and it’s something I’m always going to remember. Shoutout to Michael, our fixer for getting me too drunk on Russian vodka.
What do you want the visual to communicate to your audience?
Pure and raw energy. I want the viewers to feel exactly what is written in the song. I hope they can feel the anger and rage in “Midnight Lullaby,” and my loneliness and haunted spirit in “Distorted Rainbows.” I also hope the viewers finish the video asking themselves questions that they’ve been avoiding for a while.
What is your New Year’s resolution?
I don’t believe in such things! Just living and trying not to fuck it up is already enough pressure.
‘King of the Cruel’ is out now.