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.
Three years after the release of his first EP, Augusta, Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman has unleashed his debut full-length LP, Hôtel de Ville, a collection of 12 alt-pop coming-of-age tracks. The 22-year-old Toronto native who successfully broke into the music industry in his mid-teens earned himself two Juno Award nominations, certified gold status for his hit, Bungalow, and began quickly fielding comparisons to the likes of Vance Joy and Jeff Buckley. With a new level of acclaim awaiting him, Helman has recently finished his cross-Canada Scott vs. Ria tour with fellow Juno nominee Ria Mae. We thought it would be the right time to ask him about his momentous musical journey. G—You got your first guitar when you were ten. Was this what led you to become a musician? Scott Helman—I used to mess around on my friend’s guitar, and really wanted to learn how to play. So, I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas. I remember coming down the stairs and seeing it, and knowing instantly what it was because of its shape. I never put it down after that. G—What kind of music did you listen to growing up? SH—My parents are British immigrants, so I was
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