Nov 29/2016 WORDS by Erin Lowers
PHOTOGRAPHY by Brendan Meadows
STYLED by Leila Bani
ASSISTANTS: Whitney Lykins and Kristin Morawski
MAKEUP by Jon Hennessey
HAIR by Tania Becker
SET CREATION by Danny Vermette
ASSISTANTS: Sean Best & Maria Turner.
When Leon Bridges debuted Coming Home in 2015, his classic, soulful sound drew comparisons to some of the greatest black musicians of bygone eras, like Marvin Gaye and Same Cooke. The album also earned him a Grammy nomination – an experience that shocked a then 26-year-old Bridges, whose musical career spanned no more than a couple of years at the time of being nominated.
“It was kind of like one of those out-of-body things. I didn’t even believe it was happening,” he says. “Just to be a fan of music and R&B since I was a kid, and to see the reality that I was in that same line of my favorites… being at the Grammys, being nominated for the album – it’s crazy,” he continues. “My guitar player/producer [and I] went, and we left super inspired.”
The Grammy nod led Bridges on a worldwide tour and quickly propelled him to unprecedented levels of stardom. Eventually, he found himself at the White House. Bridges’ meeting with America’s “Royal Family” was a moment that cemented his career choices. “Man, I was able to meet the President, I was able to sing in front of the President, I was able to represent my name. I made my family super proud; I made my city super proud. It was an incredible experience”, he excitedly recounts.
Bridges’ short conversation with President Obama is one he’ll remember with fondness for the rest of his life. “It was super brief, but I told him that I loved him,” he laughs. “I didn’t know what to say! But he said, ‘I see you! An upcoming soul Texas star,’ or something like that, and it’s all I needed to hear.”
Like many Americans already mourning a future without the Obama administration, Bridges can’t help but speculate what a change in leadership will mean for artists of colour. “You look at, like, the honouring of Ray Charles and before that, they did a vintage soul thing… it’s not gonna be the same thing, you know?”
While Canada’s neighbours are facing some of their darkest days in recent history with regards to police brutality, socio-economic divides and racism, these burdens have not fallen on deaf ears. Black artists have unleashed an outpouring of support for victims of police brutality and other heinous crimes, and for Bridges, that fight is one he’s ready for as well. “A lot of people point at me to carry the responsibility because of the music that I make, like, ‘Oh, Sam Cooke did this, Marvin Gaye did this,’ so you should do it, too. That’s definitely the wrong motive. If you feel [strongly] about a certain thing, and want to say something about it, then you should,” he states firmly. “With that platform, we [artists] should use it to speak truth… I feel that I have a responsibility to myself to speak the truth, and that’s definitely what I’ve been thinking about as far as songwriting. I’m no politician and not a man of many words, but I can put my thoughts into a song.”
With 2016 quickly coming to a close, Bridges says he has three goals (some more tongue-in-cheek than others): read more, find himself a supermodel girlfriend, and perhaps most importantly: “Hopefully finish my record, or at least finish writing all the material.” While details of Bridges’ upcoming album are still largely under wraps, he does reveal that it takes a “different direction” than Coming Home. “It won’t sound so much like a period album,” he explains, adding that it is more of a cross-genre project.
Leon Bridges expects to release his forthcoming album in 2017.
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