Since the introduction of The Weeknd, the world has become familiar with a new sound in R&B, one that’s fuelled by drug addictions, dark atmospheres and moody vibes – all of which have subsequently laid out the blueprint for several artists to come, including Kentucky native Bryson Tiller. What’s been understood as a niche ‘Toronto Sound’ has taken its journey across the border and into this 23-year-old’s world, spawning hits like “Exchange” and “Don’t”, and even inciting The Weeknd to jump on “Rambo” himself.
For Bryson Tiller, a high school dropout, success has come at an alarming pace. He started making music and quickly landed on Timbaland’s radar. “[He] told me to quit my job. [I] went down there and he was busy,” he says of the opportunity. “He had this artist named Tink that he was working with, and he was really focused on her, and he didn’t really have time for me and didn’t think it through. He felt bad, but you know, it just told me there’s no turning back. I had already quit my job and I worked really hard to get that job, so now I gotta keep going. I gotta keep making music and see where it goes,” he states firmly.
This game is all about the decisions you make, the people you meet and who you surround with.’ I just always kept that in my mind.
Not long after that encounter Bryson once again captured the attention of the music industry elite – OVO Sound, to be exact. While it was rumored that he had signed to the label’s imprint, Tiller ultimately settled down with RCA Records, following the advice of his manager and lawyers. “There was really nothing at RCA that made me want to sign with RCA. Obviously I wanted to sign to Drake, but I’m happy with RCA now – very happy, actually,” he says. But prior to that decision, he sat down with both Noah “40” Shebib and Drake for some words of wisdom. “[40 and I] really just talked about things sonically, and stuff like sound and music. We also talked about the things you have to do when you’re signed to a major label,” he says. “And Drake, when I first talked to him and asked him for some advice, he said this to me and I’ll never forget: ‘A lot of really talented people fall deeper and deeper into a hole based on this character… This game is all about the decisions you make, the people you meet and who you surround with.’ I just always kept that in my mind.”
Bryson admits that he never listened to Kentucky artists growing up, but rather the likes of Chris Brown and Omarion instead – with the exception of one artist. “Static Major is from Louisville, Kentucky, and he has a different way of approaching every song and harmonies and stuff like that, and I try to implement that in my music too,” he says. Static isn’t the only influence in Bryson’s music, as he goes on to say: “I really want to work with The-Dream. I wanna figure out how he’s been doing all the stuff I fell in love with. I just wanna sit down and pick his brain, like ‘Yo, how did you do this?’ He’s a dope harmonist, and I always wanted to know how to do that.”
If there’s any advice the young rising talent has, it’s to stabilize the fame and family. “Don’t get caught up in anything – not even in work. I got family back home and I can get caught up all the foolishness and ruin what I have back home, and if I get caught up in work, I can still possibly ruin what I got back home, know what I mean? I just try to keep everything balanced.”
As for the rest of the year, Tiller has two goals – create a solid album, and “chill with my daughter.”
Garland Jeffreys’ album, 14 Steps to Harlem, grew out of a soulful period of retrospection late in the artist’s life and career. As a veteran songwriter, Jeffreys started writing provocative, ahead-of-its- time, genre-bending songs in the early 1970s, with lyrics focused on everything from relationships to racial diversity to political turmoil. Now in his seventies, the New York musician is looking back on his life with an album that takes on bold topics and includes a title track inspired by his turbulent relationship with his father. Jefferys spoke with Georgie about his latest release, his relationship with Lou Reed and his somewhat unconventional approach to songwriting. Georgie—14 Steps to Harlem is a great album. Garland Jeffreys—Thank you. I’m very proud of the record. I took some chances in recording it but had confidence that it could be something special. You don’t know a record is good or bad until it’s done – then you know. I worked on the album with my co-producer, James Maddock, who’s a great artist in his own right. G—The title track, “14 Steps to Harlem”, stood out to me. I read that it was written with your father in mind. Did the experience of writing about your dad
Since his 2005 breakthrough, Breaking Kayfabe, Cadence Weapon has been an artist to watch. The two-time Polaris Music Prize nominee, writer, producer and rapper is known for his innovative musical style and has made waves worldwide. Following a five year hiatus – which included a move from Montreal to Toronto and a stint as Edmonton’s poet laureate – Cadence Weapon returns with a new self-titled album. Cadence Weapon is armed with furious flows, big collaborations and themes that include dance-party politics and dystopian futures. For his latest effort, the rapper is noticeably more focused and is reintroducing himself in a big way. Georgie caught up with Cadence Weapon to talk about the new album, his musical journey, and the L-word: legacy. G—Your new self-titled album is being called a “reintroduction to Cadence Weapon.” What does that mean? Cadence Weapon—I feel like I’ve matured a lot more and the music really reflects that. There is a reason why this album is self-titled. It feels like a rebirth for me; it feels like my first album in a lot of ways. I feel like the creative process for this album is what I’ve always wanted to do in my career. I was
Using his life experiences growing up in downtown Toronto as a source of inspiration, Langston Francis is on his grind as a young artist discovering himself and the world of music around him. We caught up with Francis on the heels of his debut single release to talk about his foray into music, early influences and his direction as an artist. G—You are still in high school. Do you find it hard to juggle your new music career with school? Langston Francis—It’s challenging. For example, I had two exams in one day, then a show at night and I was feeling under the weather. I have school every day, so it definitely gets hard to juggle things sometimes, but it’s sort of something I just have to take in stride. I’m just so grateful for all the opportunities I have. G—Can you tell us a little about your first single, “FCKD IT UP”? LF—I wrote the song and beat when I was 14. At the time, the song had a certain meaning to me. We ended up finishing the song about 12 months later, after that it took on a whole new meaning. As I grow up and change