INTERVIEW: Bryson Tiller

[Written for CLASH in March 2016. See the published version here.]

 

My 2016 got off to a pretty exciting start when I was given the opportunity to interview Bryson Tiller. I had his TRAPSOUL album on repeat since it came out in October 2015 and I was completely drawn in by everything about him – especially this air of mystery he was (and still is to an extent) shrouded in. The lack of interviews he had done up until the beginning of 2016 also made me even more curious to see what he was about. So being given the opportunity to directly ask him questions about all the things I hadn’t yet heard him talk about, that was special.

And I’m pleased to say he didn’t disappoint. I’ve interviewed a lot of artists and celebrities in the last few years and I sometimes find myself expecting to be let down by an uninspiring conversation or being given stock answers, which their representatives have fed to them beforehand. But Bryson appeared genuine and opened up about captivating subjects such as his first meeting with Timbaland, how he has trained his own voice to sing through endless practise and how he gave his first big paycheque to his church.

I’ve included the beginning here, but as always head over to CLASH to read the full story. It’s worth it.

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Tickets for Bryson Tiller’s first headline show in London sold out in five minutes, if that. Hours later, his somewhat obscure name was still trending on UK Twitter and an unfaltering outrage from fans flooded the timeline, prompting Tiller to add another two London dates to his European tour – both of which sold out just as quickly as the first. That’s a pretty impressive feat for someone who was still sleeping in his car trying to make ends meet just over a year ago.

In 2015, TRAPSOUL skyrocketed Tiller from a young Louisville native looking for a much-needed break, to a rising star known not only in wider America, but now overseas. The project was Tiller’s official debut and introduced him as an artist who is already comfortable blurring boundaries and experimenting with his sound.

“I’m an artist because I just do whatever,” Tiller explains. “I saw someone tweet sometime, ‘I don’t get Bryson Tiller, is he a rap artist or is he a singer?’ and I’m like ‘I’m just an artist.’ [I don’t have to define what music I make], which is why I like TRAPSOUL because it’s not even a real genre. It’s just genre-less.” TRAPSOUL also has a notable lack of features, making it a true introduction to Tiller and his unique artistry. “My team said it would be better if I just stand alone and make a name for myself,” he says. “I thought it worked great.”

Then again, if Tiller had wanted to include someone else on the TRAPSOUL tracklist, he admits that asking his peers for their input makes him a little nervous: “I’m kind of weird about asking for features because I feel like they might tell me ‘No’. So I just don’t ask. I keep doing what I do.” Unsurprisingly though, an abundance of artists have already been lining up to work with the 23-year-old star, eager to bring Tiller into their fold.

One such artist who seized the opportunity to reach out to Tiller at the beginning was Drake, who reportedly made a bid to sign Tiller to his OVO Sound record label last year. However, after a lot of careful consideration Tiller turned the offer down in favour of a deal with RCA Records instead, which felt like a more stable business decision and gave him a “whole team” to work with…

Continue reading here.

Let me know what you think of Bryson’s music and what you thought of the discussion by leaving a comment below or tweeting me: @natashananner

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