Let’s be real: Canada’s sonic identity is often conflated with Toronto’s—but that doesn’t accurately illustrate the scope of Canada’s sound. Outside of Ontario, the True North is chock-full of artists doing double time as they breathe new life into the country’s musical tapestry while simultaneously changing the game.
One of the most exciting emerging acts outside of Toronto is Myles Lloyd, a Laval, Quebec-based vocalist blurring the lines between radio-friendly pop and moody R&B. With tracks like “Monster” and his latest single “Counting Days,” which just dropped today, his sound is at the uncharted intersection of gritty and bubbly. Since dropping his 2019 debut Goodbye, Lloyd has been flexing his musical wingspan by shifting between acoustic and upbeat. The versatility is a welcome attribute: just last week, T-Pain made headlines when he made an impassioned (and hilarious) plea, begging artists to “Just fucking do something else! God damn it! Do some different music!”
When we ask him about his new album, due out later this year, he attributes his versatility to an array of influences. “I made (the album) while I was in L.A.,” he tells us on a phone call shortly before premiering “Counting Days.”
“Three or four songs were recorded there and the rest were recorded in Canada, so it’s a mixture of cold and hot. Some songs have a hotter feel, but I’m always missing the cold. You can tell in the songs—I’m immersed in what’s around me, but I’m reflecting home.” Though the album has wide-ranging inspiration, it will have a more personal feel. “During this pandemic I learned how to self-record and that’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I finished the entire project that way.” The project won’t have any features, which Lloyd says was totally intentional. “I just really wanted people to get to know me.”
We recently got to know the R&B crooner over an early morning phone call. Read on to learn more about his decision to drop out of school and pursue music, his tight-knit bond with his producer frnch//hmwrk, and why he’s leaning into tunnel vision.
Now that we’re approaching the other side of the pandemic, what are you most excited for?
I’m most excited to start performing. Before the lockdown, I had three shows: one in L.A., one in Toronto, and one in my hometown Montreal. Just before that was going to happen I got the call that they were cancelled. So I’m excited to perform the songs I’ve been working on.
How challenging is it to keep the momentum going when you’re an emerging artist and you have to be your own hypeman? Is doubt a recurring character in your personal narrative?
I would have way more doubt if I didn’t hop on the phone every day with my manager. He’s my number one fan. We meet on the same level. If I’m making a song and I feel like the song’s not great, he’ll listen to it and tell me what to fix. Having someone else there motivates me.
Are there circumstances when he doles out tough love?
100 percent. I do it to myself, but hearing it from him lets me know when I need to step things up or focus. I make a bunch of songs and sometimes, a lot of artists get into this mood or delusional stage. I try to avoid it, but it happens.
“Plan A is make or break—there is no plan B.”
Is the delusion you’re referring to believing your own hype?
Yes, or just not asking for opinions. It’s amazing to trust yourself but you have to ask for opinions.
Being an unsigned, independent, full-time artist, do you ever feel the inkling to pursue a more conventional career path?
For me, having a plan B is like planning to fail. I focus on my plan A and just roll with this. This is it. There is nothing else. It’s like the delusion I was talking about with artists, but this is in a positive way. Plan A is make or break—there is no plan B.
That delusion is necessary, though. If artists didn’t have that, doubt would be a main character in artists’ personal narratives.
I love music so much that there is no thinking about other stuff. In my everyday life, I’m either talking about things pertaining to music, making music, or watching something music-related. There is nothing else.
How did that passion emerge? Did you grow up immersed in music?
Growing up, I’d watch Michael Jackson tapes on VHS. I would watch him all day on a little TV. I think that was my parents’ way of keeping me occupied. When it would finish, I’d rewind it back to the beginning. I would change into the same clothes he had on, I would learn the choreography.
In Montreal I grew up playing hockey, baseball, and soccer, but after I did my first two years in college, I knew I had to get back into music. Thinking back to my childhood, mimicking Michael Jackson’s singing style, learning, watching, obsessing, that’s when I was happiest.
After you graduated from high school, is that when you made that step to become a full-time artist?
I didn’t want to let my parents down. It’s not like I went to school, failed, and did music. No, I graduated high school and when my parents told me to go to college, I went to Dawson College. Once I realized that it really didn’t make me happy, I had to be vocal and tell them that I would rather create. I had to make people feel what I feel when I make music. And they were supportive! I had done school, I had done sports, now it was time to do me.
Your parents sound super supportive. What’s your background?
My mom is from England, but she’s Jamaican and Bajan, and my dad is Haitian.
How has Haitian and Jamaican music influenced your style?
Every time I go to my dad’s house, I listen to Haitian music all day long. I went to a Haitian club and the vibe is very close up and sensual. That’s why I make the music I make. I want to touch every genre. I want to have a foot in every single genre. I’m not saying I would make Haitian music, but the way people dance to it is how I want them to dance to my music. I have a song called “Monster” and it’s that type of vibe: close-up, slow, and smooth. I have a couple of unreleased songs that have a reggae/R&B feel, too. Even the way I pronounce my lyrics is probably very Jamaican-influenced.
There’s a commonly-held belief that in order for an artist to pop off, they need to have a tight-knit sonic bond with a producer. Do you have that type of relationship with a producer yet?
My entire first project was produced by my best friend frnch//hmwrk. I’d be at his house all day and he was the first producer to work with me. Now, I find that it’s not only the producer who matters, but the engineer. My current engineer is based in L.A. and I get a similar vibe with him. Those two are my main guys.
Which other producers are on the album?
This album was produced by frnch//hmwrk and my engineer Chris, plus two other guys: John Joseph, who I met in L.A., and this guy I connected with on the Internet who is based in Sweden. We talk every day and he’s amazing.
What did making this album teach you about yourself?
I learned so much about myself as a writer. I write everything alone. But when I got in the studio with other people, it really allowed me to open up to the people around me. That was really different.
Tell us more about “Counting Days”—it sounds like it’s inspired by the pandemic.
Totally. Everyone is counting the days until the world opens up again. It has a dancey feel to it, but it’s telling people that they’re not alone: we all can’t wait.
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