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.”
Swedish electro-pop mainstays Little Dragon have been around the block. The four-piece band first formed over a decade ago and in that time steadily rose to become one of the world’s biggest indie electro-pop acts. Touring in support of their fifth studio album, Season High, we spoke with bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin about evolving band dynamics, love of music and inspiration behind their latest release. Georgie—You released your fifth album, Season High, earlier this year. How do you feel about this record in comparison to your previous one? Fredrik Källgren Wallin—It is different, but it is hard to pin down how. We worked a little bit with a producer for the mixing parts, and we have never done that before. We have also become better at communicating and making decisions. I think we fight less; it’s more civilized [laughs]. G—You’ve also worked on some interesting collaborations with other artists, but these tracks didn’t make it onto any of your albums. Was this a conscious decision? FKW—It was a conscious decision; it is such collaboration between the four of us. We did have a friend who appears on the first track of the album – he’s an old high school friend,
Los-Angeles pop artist Billie Eilish began writing and recording music at the young age of 14, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to her. Her lyrics are seasoned with insight carried by a voice that softly and soulfully stretches over dreamy soundscapes. The result is a compelling collection of contrasts, both musically and lyrically, which is on full display on Billie’s debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me (Billie’s debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me (Interscope Records/Universal Music Canada)). Co-written and produced by her brother Finneas O’Connell, the Eilish siblings prove they have no shortage of talent. When we spoke to Billie she was on the road and had just begun her North American tour. G—You started singing at the age of 4, what at that time got you interested in music so early on? BE—I started singing before I could talk, and since then I have been singing all the time, every day. Music has always been part of my family, I guess a part of the way that I think, so it has never come as something separate from my brain. Music and my brain are just one and the same. G—Now, at the age of 15 you have a
Allie X began with a vision: of a blank slate. The multimedia electronic pop artist chose the letter “X” to signify infinite possibility – an attempt to strip herself of any pre-existing identity. Yet she feels the presence of multiple versions of herself: good ones, bad ones, and everything in between. “I think I’ve always had this self-awareness of the bad parts of myself,” she reflects. “I remember feeling as a kid like I hadn’t suffered enough, which is kind of a strange feeling. And then I remember in middle school feeling like I wasn’t being nice enough to people.” Her self-awareness has only expanded with age: “As I’ve gotten older, sometimes I just feel like I’m watching myself from somewhere else and think, ‘Who is this person?… Who am I, and is it good or bad?’” Unsure of who she is, anything does seem possible. The cover of Allie X’s latest album and full-length debut, CollXtion II, features her literally reassembling herself, slotting cubed pieces of her shin back into her leg. The visual perfectly captures what The Story of X, the name she has given the narrative that arches across all of her creative output as Allie