Meet The True Blue, an alternative r&b/pop based in Detroit, Michigan. For whatever reason, out of all the music I listen to, there are only 3-4 groups that I actually listen to – The True Blue, being one of them. The first time I heard their music, they had just released a song called “pLAyed out” and within hours of listening to it repeatedly, I knew the song word for word.
Through consistency, hard work, and undeniable talent, this band has gained a cult fan base who not only love the music, but the band itself. In this interview I got a chance to learn about their beginnings, how they deal with live performances, and more!
Q: For the readers who are being introduced to you through this interview, can you briefly explain who The True Blue is.
A: The True Blue consists of Jake Burkey, Koda Hult, Ben Wilkins, & me (Christian Koo.) We’ve been friends for a long time & simply wanted to make music that helped us express all the most impactful experiences in our personal lives, & hopefully make connections with other people along the way.
Ben came up with the name, when we were on the road in an old project. “Blue” being used to describe nighttime or sadness, which we found fitting for a lot of the subject matter in our content. It’s not about dwelling on that sadness, it’s about expressing & moving forward with your life.
Q: When you first decided to become musicians, did you have the support of your family/friends? What kind of advice could you give someone who may not have any support?
A: All of our families have been fully supportive with our decisions to pursue music as a career, whether or not they’re musicians themselves. We can say the same for our friends for the most part. But even if we didn’t, that would never stop us from being who we are & creating what we want to create.
For anyone who might not have that support, just know that it’s a luxury. It doesn’t define who you want to be or what you want to do.
Q: Is music something that you were always attracted to? Are there any artists that made you think “wow, I want to do this too?”
A: Always. And of course there are plenty, too many to name honestly. Inspiration comes in new forms & people every single day.
Q: I know some current artists you (Christian) are influenced by are SZA, Frank Ocean, and John Mayer. What qualities about each of them do you admire?
A: Their music exudes genuine expression. I don’t feel that they are making music so it can be popular. They make music because it’s given them an outlet to say what they want to say & make real connections with an audience who’s going through similar situations.
Q: This group was originally an alternative pop/rock group. What made you switch genres?
A: As we got older, we grew tired of what we were writing & playing. The fondness for the kind of music we play now is in no way a new development. We’ve grown up listening to so much pop, pop rock, R&B, & hip-hop over the years that it got to the point where we asked ourselves, “Why aren’t we making the music we’d want to listen to?” Then, The True Blue started.
Q: One thing I’ve noticed about this group is how consistent you are. Do you feel it is necessary for artists to be consistent in order to attain success, especially today in age?
A: Yes & no. I think sometimes artists get caught up in the oversaturation of artists & content out there, which is a fair concern. However, sometimes I think quality is overlooked because people fear if they don’t deliver, they’ll be instantly forgotten.
It’s become a bit of a toxic relationship between artist & audience where content is relentlessly demanded. Artists may rush their projects & deliver a product that’s subpar but available because of the fear of being irrelevant. That being said, we feel it important to be consistent as a small artist but certainly not at the cost of quality or a clear vision.
Q: Besides being consistent, you guys also produce quality music. How do you find inspiration for your songs? What is the usual process of creating a song?
A: Personal experiences. Find the feeling, what’s causing it & explore that. I try my best to find what that feeling or experience sounds like, or what color it is. I guess it’s a fairly abstract process to make something tangible, in this case a piece of music.
Q: In June you released your debut album Other Summer was released. Can you briefly explain the theme of this album for those who have not heard it?
A: We were unsure of where that summer would take us, not only as a band but also in our own lives & relationships. The True Blue has been such an explorative, creative experience for us & we knew that summer would simply feel different than the rest. It would be distinct from previous summers, unique in itself, the “other.” The emphasis on “summer” being that it’s a season typically used to refer back to as far as your growth in life.
Q: In an interview with STHeart you (Christian) mentioned that one of the most personal songs for you on the album is “At All.” In September, that song reached 100,000 streams on Spotify. How does it make you feel to know this many people appreciate your music? Were you nervous about how it would be received when you first released it?
A: Incredible. It’s an insane feeling. Talking to people about that song & how they can relate to that rock bottom feeling is incredibly humbling. We’ve all been there & it’s nice to know you can share that weight with anybody when you feel that alone. I was excited to get “At All” out there but yes, very nervous because lyrically, that’s the most vulnerable I’ve ever been. It was all necessary, though.
Q: Do any of you have a favorite song off the album to perform live?
Q: Do you remember the first time you guys performed live? Were any of you nervous? Any tips for aspiring artists when it comes to live performances?
A: I think we all remember it vividly. Our first performance as The True Blue was a very emotionally filled day. My grandfather actually passed away that morning. I knew it would happen any day but even when you’re half expecting it, it’s always a shock. We dedicated the set to him & we just got up there & played our hearts out. We didn’t perform on stage for almost two years until then, so it was nerve racking but overwhelmingly exciting & cleansing for us.
Something I can tell aspiring artists that has helped me appreciate the live experience is to do it for you. Don’t worry about crowd approval or whether or not they like you up there. People are drawn to genuine feeling. They want to see you up there doing you, not catering to them. At least, that’s what my favorite artists do for me. You will feel that much more comfortable & yourself on stage if you’re doing your best to take it all in.
Q: Is there any event that y’all have not performed yet that you want to? (Ex. Coachella, Afropunk, etc.)
A: All of them. Any festival that’ll have us, we just want to be a part of it. We’d really love to play Mo Pop in Detroit this year.
Q: Last but not least, is there anything you want to tell your supporters?
A: Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. It sounds cliche, but you have no idea the kind of impact you’ve made on us just from listening or coming to a show. The connections we’ve made with some of you have allowed us to reflect on our own lives & learn so much about ourselves, life & moving forward. The love we have for those who support us is immeasurable, so thank you.
To listen to their album Other Summer click here.