Col3trane Returns with R&B Psychedelia on BOOT
As the sun fades and we settle into the second half of 2018, our playlists will shift accordingly. Summer bops will be replaced with autumnal anthems, and carefree songs about sunshine will give way to more layered, introspective takes. Is this a massive generalization? Perhaps. But in that respect, BOOT arrived right on time.
Last November, Col3trane’s Tsarina came out of nowhere, a tornado of musical creativity that scoured England’s R&B landscape. He was hailed by the music literati as one of R&B’s next young stars, and flown to Los Angeles for meetings and sessions.
But the avalanche of features that usually follows such acclaim never arrived. The 19-year-old Col3trane burrowed into his craft, splitting time between longtime producers like J Moon in London and new faces like Cadenza, Rogét Chahayed, DJDS, and Nicky Davey in L.A.
Eight months later, BOOT has arrived. The title stands for Breathing Out Of Time, a concept Col3trane explains thusly: “Breath is one of the few things in life which is universal, that everyone can feel and relate to. Breathing out of time…you feel like you’ve fallen away from the universal thing that connects everyone.”
That stress and anxiety has dogged the young artist since Tsarina, but it’s also part of the reason he’s creating in the first place. Col3trane describes the past year as “trippy as hell,” and BOOT brings that comparison to life.
The project’s surprise announcement was accompanied by a double video for “Fear and Loathing” and “Britney.” Both songs set the stage for big things, but the video is a tangible indication of Col3trane’s rising ceilings. The deserts and psychedelia that define Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal work are given new life in the Oscar Hudson-directed video, as Col3trane weighs heady questions on life and death in an acid-induced haze.
The new music is just as exciting. Just seven tracks long, Col3trane’s Tsarina followup is what happens when an artist makes good on their potential. The songs range from contemplative and contrite (“Roses”) to effervescent (“Resume”), each one packed with the dense lyrics and references that have become something of a calling card. The Frank Ocean comparisons that followed Tsarina will undoubtedly crop up for first time listeners, but BOOT is proof Col3trane is out on the cutting edge, with a sound all his own.
Watch the “Fear and Loathing” video below, read on for our interview with Col3trane, and listen to BOOT at the bottom of the post.
How’d you come across the book?
I think it was my stepdad. He’s always giving me stuff to read, shit I should just know. I think I read Less Than Zero first, then he gave me Fear and Loathing.
How did that factor into the video for “Britney?”
We were trying to do something with the movie. The song is based around the story of the book, but I just wanted to put my twist on it, and what “Britney” means to me. Britney is basically just a whole lot of bad stuff. It’s a negative character… I put a lot of negative feeling into that character, all the bad shit that happens in life. It’s all about how you get attached to those things.
Is that how you usually interact with music, is it a cleansing, therapeutic thing for you? What was going on in your life during BOOT?
I definitely write my best stuff when I’m not in a good head space. When things aren’t going as they should be, that’s when real emotion comes out. And [BOOT] is a commentary on my whole life. Shit has changed for me so much in the last two years, and BOOT is about all those changes. I’m making it sound depressing—it’s fucking amazing, but it’s hard to deal with sometimes. You never expect something like this to happen, it’s wild. But sometimes it’s trippy as hell, even through the best moments.
Where did you create BOOT?
Three of the seven tracks were created in L.A. The rest were made in London. Jay (Mooncie) produced a couple of the tracks in London. But it’s a small community, maybe seven people all in all.
L.A. was cool, it was different. When I went out there the first time, I was just lost. I was out there on my own, I didn’t know anyone. I had one friend of a friend, but I didn’t know anyone really. I would be going to sessions with people and be like, “What are you doing later?” Trying to be friends with people, which is, you know, kind of goofy. [Laughs] It’s cool, but not when that’s really your sole purpose.
But I’ve been back there a lot in the last year, now I have a good group of friends that I really trust. It’s a second home now, I feel really comfortable there, and I feel good working there. I know amazingly talented people there that I can go and work with.
I DEFINITELY WRITE MY BEST STUFF WHEN I’M NOT IN A GOOD HEAD SPACE. WHEN THINGS AREN’T GOING AS THEY SHOULD BE, THAT’S WHEN THE REAL EMOTION COMES OUT.
Is your family still in England? What do they think of your last couple of years?
They love it, my mum is definitely my biggest fan. She’ll actually buy the music, and no one else is going to do that. Shout out Mumsy. She’s a theater producer, she works a lot in New York. Used to work here….my family’s all American, so I’ve been here a bunch. She can sing, she’s very much into the whole world of art. Which is definitely something that’s impacted me.
What’s the meaning behind the two different Col3trane’s in the “Britney” video?
There’s definitely a duality, between someone doing good, and someone all trashed and messed up. I wanted to show the two sides of what “Britney” is all about—you can be okay on the outside, but inside you’re not doing too well.
Your lyrics are always full of references. You’re talking about “bat country,” MC Ren, and Pisces on “Britney.”
I’m not a Pisces, I’m an Aries. I’m not really into astrology, but loads of people have been talking to me about the different star signs. I read something about Pisces as a whole that really stuck with me, something about confidence and durability.
So the line is, “Was a Pisces holding an ankh/Now I got a sprain by the tat on my ankle.” The ankh is a hieroglyph from ancient Egyptian times. It was a key to the Nile, and is supposed to represent eternal life. It’s this thing [leans forward to show earring]. It was looking like I was going to live forever, and now I’ve sprained my ankle.
Do you have fans digging into these lyrics? There are a lot of references on this new tape and Tsarina.
It’s weird to think that I have fans. I’ve met some people that were really cool at my shows, and I love it when people go into my music. It might not even be something that I had done consciously, or that I even know was there. But one of the things I love most about music is that I can listen and interpret it in a completely different way than you.
Where do you find your lyrics?
I’m always writing stuff down that I like, even if it doesn’t mean anything at the time. You can draw inspiration from anything, I’m always voice noting stuff. Then when it’s really time to write something, it’s always music first. I wanna get the music right before I go on. It changes every time though, it’s so random. My process with Jay is way different than my process with Eden. Jay is insane, my sound doesn’t really exist without him. He just does shit I’ve never seen anyone else do, and shit just happens when we’re in the studio together.
Anything you want to add?
There’s a lot of different flavors on there, I tried to jam in as many different sounds as I could while keeping one broad sound. It sounds like a project, but there’s a lot of different shit in there.