Bryson Tiller Speaks To The Wrap Up
We sat down with the 22-year-old to talk about his official debut release, his musical beginnings and why he’s the “hottest thing out of Louisville since Muhammad Ali”...
As an artist who both sings and raps, how would you classify your music on iTunes?
I’m in R&B/Soul and I feel like all my music is R&B driven. Even some of the songs that are more rap, have an R&B feel, so I’m with that.
Back in 2011, your project ‘Killer Instinct’ caught people's attention and set you on the path to releasing your debut album ‘TRAPSOUL’ towards the end of 2015. How do you feel you changed both musically and personally over the years between the two projects?
I think the main thing was me having a daughter. I just knew that I had to be a man, so I grew up real quick. Then I started caring about my music more and I feel like that was the main change between ‘Killer Instinct’ and ‘TRAPSOUL’. I was just like “I need to take this more serious and watch the things I say”. I started doing much less, not as many runs and harmonies and just kept it simple.
Would you agree that ‘TRAPSOUL’ is a much more well-rounded project than your previous work?
Yeah for sure. With ‘Killer Instinct’, I was 17 years old and I just wanted to kill everything or at least try. I was in high school and I was having fun. I was getting a lot of beats, meeting a lot of rappers and doing songs together. But it was cool.
I read that the first track you put together was over Usher’s ‘Lovers and Friends’ instrumental. Is that true?
Yeah, I was singing for some girls in high school and word got around that I could sing. Then dudes was like “yo you should come record at my crib man” and that was the first time I ever recorded.
Was that the first time you’d ever really sung seriously too?
Nah. I used to only sing for my little brother and some of my family. We went to church like three times a week and my little brother said I should sing on the church bus, so I did it one time and everybody at church loved it. So then I tried to sing at church sometimes and I’d sing on the church bus every day on the way home. Then I got less and less shy and so started singing at school and on girls voicemails.
You’ve said previously that Omarion is a huge inspiration for you musically. What was it about him that you enjoyed so much?
It was just because I was always hearing groups and he was like the first solo artist I really listened to. My uncle listened to 112, Boyz 2 Men, Jodeci and even B2K when they were coming up. Then I heard Omarion and my Uncle started playing his album ‘O’ and I heard a lot of songs on there that I just really liked. It made me really wanna sing, so I just started singing.
I guess then, given the opportunity, Omarion is an artist you’d love to work with at some point in the future?
Yeah. We’ve actually talked about some stuff and potentially doing some songs in the future.
Even though ‘TRAPSOUL’ has only been out for a few months, artists are already saying it’s inspiring them to make music and some are even using beats from the project for their own tracks. How does that make you feel?
Wow. It’s amazing man cos so there are so many songs and people that have inspired me, so the fact that somebody is inspired by me is amazing.
You’ve said before that you’re the “hottest thing out of Louisville since Muhammad Ali”, but are there any other artists coming up from your hometown that we should be looking out for?
Yea there’s actually two artists that I’ve worked with and you can check that out on my Soundcloud. One goes by the name of WunTayk Timmy and the other is King Vory. They’re two dope rappers from Louisville that I wanted to do a song with and at least try and have people get into their music. But I think they’re dope. I can’t wait to see someone else from Louisville make a hit song cos that’d be dope. I can only imagine how J Cole would feel if somebody just came out of Fayetteville and started booming with some crazy records.
You’ve worked with a handful of artists in the past, but on ‘TRAPSOUL’ there weren’t any features? Was that a conscious decision to try and to showcase exactly what you could do without any distractions?
Yep. It was a team thing. We all decided that it should be just me standing alone on my own two feet.
If you could make one artist/group call you right now and ask you to feature on one of their tracks, who would you pick?
Somebody who really inspired me to wanna start writing songs is The-Dream, so if The-Dream was to hit me up and be like “yo you wanna do this?”, I’d be all for it. I would love that actually.
An artist I’m always hearing you mentioned in the same breath as is Tory Lanez. How do you feel about comparisons with him & other artists and do people bring them up with you a lot?
Nah I don’t hear it much. I know it’s an internet thing but I don’t mind it. People are gonna make comparisons all day long. He’s a dope artist though. I haven’t heard of anybody who wasn’t compared to somebody. Whenever a dope artist comes out of nowhere, the first thing you do is try and compare it to stuff until you realise that that artist is just them and eventually those comparisons will stop.
Having grabbed people's attention on Soundcloud, what advice would you give to young artists looking to break through into the music scene, especially considering that the Internet and social media plays such a vital role these days?
I would just tell them that I did it by myself. Two monitors, my laptop, a microphone stand and I recorded it myself. A lot of people don’t know but I even mixed the song ‘Don’t’ myself. But I feel like the best time for people to work is when you’re alone. They say sing like nobody’s listening and dance like nobody’s watching, so what’s better than just being in a room with a microphone and you’re just trying new things. I try all types of new things when I’m recording cos no one’s listening.
Interview by Matt Tarr
Online Edit: Ra’ed Khan