Where does LANDR fit into that picture for you? How does it fit for independent artists at large?

My favourite way of using LANDR is to test mixes out when I’m traveling. It gives me a chance to experiment with how the final version of songs will sound in a way that I wasn’t able to do in the past. 

I also like how it democratizes mastering and makes it less of a scary thing for young artists to think about.

In an interview you talked about how putting out music for free is the right way to gain an audience. What’s your take on that now?

I think it depends on the kind of music you’re making. But I generally do think that it’s a good way of thinking. You’ll see it with certain artists, SoundCloud rappers like Lil Peep—they’re just flooding the world with so much music, and getting exponentially more fans. I guess the idea is that if a person doesn’t like one song, maybe they’ll like the next one. And you keep giving them a chance to like you.

Where I’m at in my career though, releasing physical records really appeals to me—having it at the store. My new album is getting pressed on vinyl. But I also feel like with Spotify, music is basically free. If someone wants to listen to my album, they don’t have to pay for it. And I think that’s better than the way it used to be, where if somebody leaked your album it was the end of your life—the worst thing that could possibly happen. And you would just never make any money from that record ever.

But now with Spotify that’s changed. And that’s one of the only good things about the streaming era. You don’t have people out there on black market websites trying to download an MP3 of an album. That feels really gauche now.

Do you also collect vinyl yourself?

I love vinyl, I have a bunch of records. I kind of changed the way I think about records. I used to collect all my favourite singles to DJ with. Now, I listen to vinyls more domestically.  I want all my favorite albums ever and I want to have the hard copy, so I can put it on when I’m cooking. That was a weird thing that influenced this album: I wanted it to be an album that you could put on and listen to the whole album in your house. You can do stuff around while it’s playing. I always felt like the music I made was super intense and you had to focus only on that. This time around, I want to give people a choice.

What are some of the topics on your mind that made into songs on your new album?

There’s a few themes that were present when I was making this album: the idea of self-reliance, independence and knowledge of self—getting to know yourself and who you really are. I think that’s something that happens when you get older and I’ve seen it happen for myself.

Another recurring theme in the last part of the album—the last three songs—is all about conspicuous consumption and our relationship to products and technology. I’ve found myself wrapped up in how I engage with social media and technology. In the song “Infinity Pool,” I talk about the experience where I almost fell off a mountain cliff trying to take a selfie for my Instagram story. That would have been so embarrassing if I died doing that!

There’s also a lot of meditations on what I call ‘dancefloor politics’ on this album. The song “System” is all about micro-aggressions. Whether you’re a black man or a woman, there are different little things that can happen to you over the span of a day. Going to the club is supposed to be a release for it, and sometimes it doesn’t work out that way—even though that’s what we’re searching for when we go to the club. I love analyzing stuff like that, rapping from different perspectives, thinking about how other people feel.

I haven’t put out an album since 2012, it feels good! But I was doing stuff the whole time, I’ve been productive and alive. 

To quote Andre 3000: “You’re only as funky as your last cut” … it’s a nice feeling to have something new out there!

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