• Wed. May 25th, 2022

Masego opens up about Grammy Nom, Drake sample, and “Yamz” music video – Billboard

“At the start of the year, one of my mentors told me that the 28th was a big year for me,” begins singer-songwriter and now Grammy-nominated artist Masego. “In terms of growing as a man, thinking differently,” he says – just starting to scratch the surface of his 28th year on Earth and his sixth in the music industry.

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Indeed, the fundamentals of his career and personal life are very different from what they were a few years ago – he is now adapted to the flow of an industry that leaves little room for healing with its rapid turmoil. and constantly evolving.

“[My mentor] was right – a lot of me has changed, ”he admits. “I was looking at my photos of myself on my phone, all the photos from 2021, and I just did a lot of stuff. Lots of changes since where I started.

That’s an understandable prospect for an artist whose first introduction to the world came as a surprise, never having planned to share music beyond a small circle of friends on SoundCloud. In 2015, Masego released his first project with producer MEDASIN titled Pink polo shirt, which featured the single “Girls That Dance” – a contagious jazz-inspired track that features trumpets and scat, creating a distinctive mix – with a sound that Masego later coined as his own genre, “TrapHouseJazz”.

Pink polo shirt was a humble introduction to the colorful arrangement of sounds that Masego further explores in his now Grammy-nominated project, Study abroad: extended stay – the deluxe edition of his 2020 EP. This January, the Jamaican-born singer based in the United States is in the running for the best progressive R&B album at the biggest night in music. Boy in love certified, for an excerpt from Sego’s 2017 streaming hit “Navajo.”

Despite the rapid development of his career at the moment, Masego says he’s actually “pretty calm about everything. I feel like I have an enlarged view of everything. Otherwise, it’ll probably take too much. It’s a very interesting industry – I can’t even begin to describe it. He then likens his career to a video game with levels and missions – where a Grammy nomination is the final reward.

Billboard caught up with Masego hours before taking the stage in Miami, Fla. (December 10). The musician shared details about his new music video “Yamz”, hinted at an ongoing animation project, and reflected on the next person he will collaborate with.

There are a lot of things to discuss today. You are now a Grammy nominated artist, you were sampled by Drake… how do you feel? Tell us about your treatment of this crazy year.

I was in New York when I found out [about “Champagne Poetry”] and I didn’t know if I was going to be in the album or not for sure. Because at the end of the day when we’re dealing with people at this level – they might make a decision at night [of release]. So of course we worked on it for months. I do songs everyday that don’t make the album. I had to put my emotions in limbo and so I stay awake to listen to the album, like the rest of the world.

As soon as I turn it on, I hear myself – and I’m like a geek out! [Laughs.] I was like, “This is amazing!” And it was crazy. My hometown showed me so much love. It was a great moment. I hang out with a lot of high profile people, and I don’t put my emotions into it – because you don’t know what’s true. When I found out it was true, I was a geek! I was super happy with it, happy with the Grammy – all that.

The music video for “Yamz” – it has this really unique approach, different independently unfolding stories that merge together at the end. What prompted you to use this type of storytelling in particular?

I have to credit this to me for being a Gemini. Whatever you think of the video after hearing that 80s / 90s vibe, I just didn’t want to do that. So I was like “Step one: don’t do exactly what this song looks like and wants to be visually”, and also at the time, I had just received this grill and I really wanted to wear it in the video, where it did. sense.

I had just bought a house in Atlanta at the time and was falling in love with the area. I’m on a different path these days. My team tries to weave my work together while I do it. They were like ‘Okay. Sego, you just bought a house in Atlanta, you should shoot your video here. ‘ And I was just like, ‘Bet’, because I have so many friends here and I love to involve my people in what I do. My roommate said I’m Howl’s Howl’s moving castle. This is this anime from my favorite director [Hayao Miyazaki], and that’s how I move in life. My team puts everything in order except the ideas I get on my phone calls and all that. I think it’s beautiful that they’re listening and letting it happen – so they let me have fun with the video.

Japan and Tokyo in particular are points of inspiration for you. It is said that you have an animation project in progress, can you go into detail on that?

In 2020 I was listening and watching everything Hayao Miyazaki and I became obsessed with his work, I was a fan of his minute details, how long he stays in countries when he studies a culture. He was just the guy I wanted to be someday. I started to implement my version of the Hayao Miyazaki inspiration into my life.

I just take pictures of all my travels and mix them up to create these worlds. I have met so many people, I just write stories based on these people. I’ve lived a lot of lives so now I just write stories about them and I feel like when it comes to anything – you want to see yourself in the art you consume, so it’s the same with music. I make the music I want to hear, I make the art that I wish it had already been released.

me being a fan [of Hayao Miyazaki] and Japanese culture, writing – Korean writers are amazing too – I feel like I want to challenge myself to raise the level of art I consume and of course associate with them . I have already collaborated with a lot of them, I have had people who co-write with me in the field of animation and video games. I just have a lot of interests and I try them all.

You are certainly also busy playing. You’re about to take the stage in Florida today, and you also have an upcoming UK and European tour – what do you think of that?

I’ll do like a little show, a bar show, whatever. I love playing and I miss small, intimate performances so I focus on a lot of them. The tour is definitely going to bring me back to my fullest form, starting in February of next year, but I’ve performed at some festivals again and it was so awesome. I traveled to Mexico to shoot this video for [“Mystery Lady (Sego’s Remix)”] – for me, it’s the performance itself.

I’m playing with a symphony tonight, which I think will be amazing. Because I see myself as always building the foundation of who I want to be, but being at the level where a symphony learns your music and takes the time, takes it so seriously – it’s pretty funny, but it’s really cool.

I have always wondered, can you enjoy traveling on tour?

You sure can’t. I’ve always compared the sleep you get on the road like when your laptop goes to sleep and then you just move the mouse slightly and it wakes up instantly.

My first couple tours, I got to see a lot, but it’s that flash of everything, and you don’t really have time to lay a foundation in the places you visit. So my new journey is just about finding ways to stay longer – that’s why I’ve been buying properties all over the place like crazy.

I have just organized my tours so that I can still live there. It’s much better now – we do all the shows, but I still have time to be human.

You said in a previous interview that you were quite selective in your collaborations. You have added two new names to Extended stay, Sheléa & TeaMarrr. How is your recruitment process going for them?

It is certainly me who is looking for them. I’ve been a Don Toliver fan since [2018 mixtape] Donny Womack days, I must be a fan of it. I have never been good at “being wrong”. I can not do it. It’s either I rock with you or you’re my enemy. [Laughs.] It’s beef or it’s love.

You are truly a Gemini …

I am a Gemini manual! But with Sheléa, I have summer a big fan of his. She has an amazing voice, she is in my group chats all the time. I just became a fan. So I contacted her, and we took the time to make music, and she let me put that on my album.

With Tea – I have been involved with Issa Rae and what she does. I was looking Awkward black girl To college. So to see where she took her career and all those who are attached to her, it was like a beautiful cultural moment. And Tea’s got a crazy talent, she’s got a lot of personality, she’s a little sassy. It was cool to have that energy on the project, because everyone’s afraid of liking talking to me a little bit of nonsense – because I’m the cool guy – but it was cool to see a little sound battle. Like, we’re arguing on the track – it was so much fun.

I saw on Twitter that you shared some of your best songs on Spotify Wrapped. You had “Tropicana fruit juice” by Ycee & Bella as your number one and I believe I saw Tems up there too. My question is, if you had to choose now, which female artist would you see yourself working with on a collaborative style EP?

I have to find out who in the Amapiano realm I’m about to collaborate with, because there are women who are like producers and DJs – I have to find the specific names but I’m definitely going in that direction. I love what South Africa does and I would definitely make an EP with that kind of energy – because every song is like a jam session, low-key. They last about seven minutes and it just adds up, it’s so good.

What has been the most surprising part of your music career so far?

I think people like certain songs. I’m from the SoundCloud world, where we just make music for small groups of friends, so whenever people decide to champion a song, it always surprises me. I love all of my songs – I mean all of them, equally. I love the manufacturing process. I don’t even know what a hit means, I just feel like it comes down to when something falls – what the culture does, then having the right person to perform it – but that’s it. just too stressful about, so it’s always a surprise.