As I am sure I’ve mentioned at least 10x times since launching this website, I am a huge fan of contemporary R&B. It’s been a little over 2 years since Bryson Tiller made it cool to enjoy the genre again rather listening to the same dance-pop music that controlled airwaves for who knows how long. Artists have emerged from all over the place such as Sabrina Claudio, H.E.R, Syd (from the Internet), and now Phé.
Since her debut in 2016 with the song Incredible, the nostalgic slow-jam that can only be compared to the love songs of the late 90s early 2000s era, she has been able to capture the hearts of the thousands who have listened to and shared her music.
I got the chance to catch up with her and see what she’s been up to since her last release back March, her time at Berklee College of Music, and some of her long-term career goals.
Enjoy the interview!
Q: For someone who may have never heard your music, how would you describe it?
A: To be completely honest, I feel like I am still in the process of discovering my “sound”. Overall, it has a very R&B oriented vibe, but I think every song focuses on a different element on R&B and the feelings that those elements provoke.
Q: Is music something you’ve always had an interest in? When did you realize that you wanted to do it professionally?
A: I’ve been singing and performing since I was a little girl, and music was always something I was passionate about, but it wasn’t always something that I believed I could do professionally. It wasn’t until I got into the Berklee College of Music, and started releasing my own music that it became a profession that I could realistically pursue.
Q: When you decided to take music on professionally, did you have the support of your family (and friends)?
A: I knew that I was going to do something within the music industry, but I didn’t start actively pursuing a career as a solo artist until I was in my 2nd year of Berklee. I sort of realized that it was time to cut the crap, stop being afraid, and just put 100% of myself into my own music.
Luckily I have a SUPER supportive family and amazingly supportive friends, and they have my back 100% on this crazy journey.
Q: You’re now an alumni of Berklee College of Music (in Boston) – how was that experience? Do you think it benefited you to go to a school where you could practice your craft rather than having to go to a school and practice your craft on the side?
A:I definitely feel like I benefited from going to Berklee. I’ve met some of my very best friends there, worked with INSANELY talented people, and learned so much about myself as a person and a musician. I made some of my biggest mistakes (at least for now) while at Berklee, and also some of my biggest achievements which really taught me how to stay grounded, humble and true to myself.
Going to a non-music oriented school was never really a thought in my mind, so had I not gone to Berklee I would have ended up somewhere else where I could study music. I actually wanted to study musical theatre for a really long time, but during my gap year decided that musical theatre was a little too niche, and that I would enjoy a school like Berklee more.
Q: What kind of advice could you give someone who may want to go to an artistic school but are too afraid of what others may think?
A: DO IT! No matter what you do in life, there will always be people who will judge you and try to bring you down… but that’s their problem, not yours. Do you. Cause if you let fear stop you from following your dreams, I promise you will regret it.
Q: In 2016, you officially debuted with your song Incredible which has gained over 40,000 plays, 500 likes, and 120 reposts; how does it make you feel to know this many people appreciate your music?
A: I was really really shocked that Incredible got the support that it did. As my 1st single ever I didn’t have any expectations for it, but to see that people were receiving it and relating to it was huge for me.
My only wish is that people can relate to my music and that it will spread and promote change and love, and help people to heal. Growing up, music was a place where I felt like I was being seen for who I really was (rather than just for how I look) and was a space in which I was really heard, and it is my dream to create that same space for young men and women today. Watching people connect with Incredible was super inspiring for me, and sort of reaffirmed and motivated me to keep pushing and keep creating honest music.
Q: Incredible can be categorized as a contemporary R&B ballad, what is your opinion on the state of R&B music as a whole right now? Some people claim the genre has taken a backseat to genres such as Hip-Hop and Pop, while others have claimed there will always be a space for it on radio. What are your thoughts?
A: I will forever be a huge R&B fan! There are so many powerful young woman in the genre that have so much to say, and I find that super inspiring. It’s cool because R&B has always been a genre within which I could look to and “see myself”. And now, being a young woman in the genre I get to help young girls see themselves, and can speak inspiring messages to them.
I think the music industry, in general, is really R&B centric right now. It’s interesting to watch the world and the industry interact with that sound and the culture that surrounds it.
Q: Your second song About Us, was released in early March, can you briefly explain what the song is about?
A: About Us is about time in a relationship I had — that wasn’t actually romantic — where I felt that the relationship itself wasn’t really about the two of us, but rather it felt like it was about this other person using me as a way of making up for things that they maybe weren’t receiving in their other relationships. And I was trying to be there for this person and help them, but felt like I was being manipulated and used, and like I wasn’t fully being trusted and couldn’t fully trust them.
Q: Do you write all your music? Where do you find inspiration to write? Have you ever had a creative block?
A: I do write all my music, and love being able to use that as a creative outlet to sort through all the stuff in my head. Two of the songs off the EP are co-written with some amazing writers that I went to Berklee with. That was a really different process for me and is still something that I am working on being totally comfortable with, but is definitely something I want to explore more.
I’ve actually been going through a bit of a creative block since moving to LA about 7 months ago. It’s been a huge overwhelming change and I think it’s left me a bit scared of what will come out if I really let go and just write. But since the start of the new year, I’ve been challenging myself to do exactly that, and while it’s been challenging and not always fun, it’s also been super rewarding.
Q: Are there any artists that you look to for inspiration when creating music?
A: I definitely get inspired by other people’s work. I find that more often than not, I am inspired by the honest and unapologetic truths that young artists are speaking and the ways in which they are now choosing to use their platform.
But musically, I think artists like SZA, NAO, Sabrina Claudio, Jorja Smith, Daniel Caesar, and Billie Eilish have created what I really interesting musical landscapes for themselves.
Then of course there are the women I grew up listening to, like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Sade who are such powerful and wise women and who definitely influence me daily as I grow and become the artist and person I hope to be.
Q: Who are some of your favorite current artists?
A: I’ve been on a bit of a kick right now, and have just been trying to discover a lot of new music and artists. But my go-to listens are SZA, Kehlani, Jorja Smith, Daniel Caesar, Sabrina Claudio, and Black Party.
Q: Are there any artists that you would want to work with in the future? Do you have a dream collaboration?
A: I would absolutely love to work with Daniel Caesar on a project! His musical style and poetic truth is so beautiful. I would be so honored to create music with him.
I would also love to work with Stint — a Canadian producer who is also from Vancouver (shoutout Vancity) — and GRADES!
Q: You have performed live on several occasions, what do you do to prepare for the stage? Do you have any tips?
A: REHEARSE! Ahaha
No but seriously, I hate feeling unprepared, and always strive to put on the best show that I can. But besides that, a shot never hurt, to loosen the nerves a bit.
Q: If you could go on a tour with three other R&B artists (could be of past or present) who would they be (and why)?
A: I think I would almost prefer to go on tour with someone who doesn’t do R&B because that would create a really interesting energy and give the audience a flavor of different things. But if I was to go on tour with R&B artists it would be the following.
Solange — I’ve been interning for her team the past couple months, and absolutely love her artistry and her music. It would be an honor to share the stage with her and to be in a creative space with her.
The Internet — I LOVE their sound and vibe. It’s super down to earth and groovy, and I just feels good to listen to. I saw them live at Camp Flog Gnaw Fest in LA this past weekend, and they were really cool!
NAO — She’s got such funky, shiny sounds and I think it would be super fun to share a stage with her. Her music hold so much anticipation and release, and I think that our energies would bounce off each other really well.
Q: Is there any place you would want to perform at? (Ex. Essence Festival, Coachella)
A:I really really want to play music festivals. (Afropunk, FYF, Osheaga, Coachella, Essence, Made in America etc)
Q: You have yet to release a full project, is that something that you are working towards dropping in 2018?
A: I’m actually finishing up my debut EP, which I will be releasing this spring. I’ve been working on it for WAY longer than I had expected, but these songs are important to me, and my goal has always been to create a work of art that is meaningful, so I am just trying to take the time needed in order to do that.
Q: In 20+ years when you’re looking back at your career, what are some career milestones would you have wanted to reach?
A: I want to reach people with my music, and give them a channel through which they can find peace and explore vulnerability — whatever that may mean to them. And I guess, for me, that would look like going out on stage, looking out into the audience and having everyone sing my music with me, all of us completely present and experiencing a moment of pure joy together.
Q: Last but not least, is there anything you would like to tell your supporters?
A: THANK YOU! It really means the world to have people supporting you and enjoying your music. It’s really powerful to see people enjoying and resonating with something that you’ve created.
To hear her debut song Incredible click here.
To her her latest song About Us click here.