What inspired you to pursue music at such a young age?
Music has been apart of me since I was about 6 years old. My family always played music around the house. When I got older I started doing singing impersonations of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and other artists. It was the best way for me to express what I was feeling. That was the beginning of me finding my own voice. It just evolved from there and it never went away.
How would you describe your musical style?
I’m very much a soul singer but I can pretty much sing all kinds of styles depending on what it is. I try not to label it too much. My style really comes down to the mood of what’s going on.
As a producer, I tend to be funky with soul and pop appeal but that can also change quickly. For example, sometimes I’ll start with a version that’s got all of the elements I like to go to. Then I’ll do a remix of the same song and go in a completely different direction.
What artists do you look up to right now?
There are so many artists out there doing their thing. I really look up to anyone that has been in the game for a long time. To keep going means that the music industry hasn’t taken anything away from their drive and passion.You’ve got to love it to be in this new world of music. I also look up to anyone who appears to have made it overnight. There is no way that is possible. We’ve just heard about them overnight. I’m sure Adele, Pharelle, Meghan Trainor, Ed Sherian, Sam Smith and any other artists that aren’t household names have amazing stories. There are too many other artists to mention. The grind is real.
You recently released your new single “Always There”, what has been your thought about the reaction of the new single?
My reaction has been amazement. I’m pleasantly surprised that so many different audiences have gotten into it. You just never know how people will react to something. It’s been very positive. It was written at a time that was truly difficult. I had so much that I wanted to get out. I wanted it to be empowering and not sad. The comments have been far from sad. So many people are sharing the video and looking up the lyrics even if they don’t speak English. It just tells me that the expression is universal. It’s just the perfect fuel to keep going. I have so much more to share. I want to continue to connect with all different people. I love hearing from the younger generations wanting to know more. You will definitely get answers if you keep asking.
Can you tell us the meaning behind “Always There”?
“Always There” is the name of the song title but is nowhere in the lyrics. It’s a statement saying that no matter what has happened in my past, present or future I’m always there. That is my character and what I stand for. It was also a great way to get out what I was feeling in a positive way. The obvious approach would have been to be negative but I wanted a different prospective. Whoa as me is not cute.
How did the idea for this song come about?
I actually wanted to pay homage in the style of Marvin Gaye. The vocal phrasing and mood just fit. “Always There” is definitely one of the most enjoyable songs I’ve ever recorded and produced. It was so cool recording a live string section and watching the magic happen. The song literally wrote itself. Those are the best songs to do. It wasn’t forced at all. I love when a plan comes together.
Any fun moments while creating the song?
The fun moments happened making the video with Sean Blodgett and my sister Sylvia MacCalla directing. We did a scene where I’m playing chess against myself. They had me clear the board with both my hands. It just felt good. Then shortly after we lost a couple of the board pieces in the bushes. Not so fun. I also like the scene driving off a bunch of times. The perfect take was when I threw my hat in the air. You don’t see the hat you just see me making the peace sign driving off. That footage will be coming out in the near future. Shameless plug.
Are you planning to perform your new song live anytime soon?
Absolutely. I’m going to be performing live in London in early September. We have some undisclosed locations planned but we will keep you posted. I’m coming back to London after promising in April that I would be back. I’m looking forward to that. After that I’ll be all over the place. I’ll let you know when Facebook live and Instagram stories are happening.
What does it feel like to perform your own music live in front of your supporters?
One of the most surreal moments in my life is watching people sing back the lyrics to something I’ve recorded. I say to myself wow you know this? I should know that they know it but it still gets me. It’s always a great moment. What also gets me is when people break the phones out to record me. I didn’t think I would like it but it’s pretty cool. I keep to myself for the most part off stage but on stage I’m a different dude.
How do you want your relationship to be with your supporters?
I want to create a music community for people to be able to go to. Something people can continually check in on. My message is to encourage self-empowerment and love. I’m all about supporting people wanting to connect on this level. I like seeing the comments, sharing the lyrics and expressing them selves. That’s what gives me the most excitement is to see that connection happening. Being apart of that circulation is what it’s all about. I also want people to go a little deeper following me on other upcoming platforms from podcasts, books, performances and more music.
What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?
I became a referee on my own comment page. It was crazy. I like to reply to people sometimes when they don’t know I’m paying attention. In this case, I was brought into a conversation as a third party mediator. It’s hard to explain. Let’s just say it was young love. He acted like he didn’t like her but it was obvious he did. He was embarrassed to own it and several comments later between the two of them I had to cut that off. I wasn’t feeling my page blowing up like that. I did get new fans out of it. They thanked me for listening. To this day I still don’t know what they were talking about.
What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your supporters?
I tend to gravitate to Facebook at the moment. It seems to be the most intuitive for me. I like being able to interact instantly with my community and stay connected. It just works for me.
Are there any other projects in the works you can tell us about?
This record Always There is going on a project. It will be on the album “In Reality”. It’s a record that will be released later this year. I’m excited about. “Always There” fits my new reality. I also look forward to the video projects, podcasts, collaborations and excerpts of my new book.
Do you have any last things you want to tell your supporters?
I just want to say thank you for supporting me and getting to understand what I’m about. I think that the support that’s happening right now is authentic. I don’t think there is anything I’m doing that’s not me. Being accepted as me is the best compliment anybody can give. The support has been great. Anything anyone can get out this for them selves means the most to me. Just continue to follow because there are more things to come. I want you guys to take the journey with me and share it with other people.