SoundCloud’s newest episode of its award-winning music docu-series, SCENES, highlights acclaimed talents leading the “resurgence of R&B” in Southern California.
Alex Isley, Destin Conrad, Fana Hues, India Shawn, Kenyon Dixon, Mack Keane, alongside producers D’Mile and Jack Dine define what R&B means to them while also sharing their thoughts on R&B’s evolution, despite the futile, incessant notion that rhythm and blues has withered away.
Hues felt R&B is hard to encapsulate because it’s grown so much from its origins. However, the flora + fana singer explained, “R&B is where I go to release the emotions that normally would be reserved for myself only. R&B is where I find my freedom.”
Grammy-winning producer D’Mile reflected on his early musical influences like Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” Shawn cited Destiny’s Child, Brandy, Lauryn Hill, and Mariah Carey as her formative predecessors while Dixon named Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Coincidentally, he aptly has a song named after the late soulful pioneer on his latest project, Closer.
“I picked records from them I really loved, and I tried to match those feelings. Figuring stuff out like producing my own music. I went through a lot of different sonic changes where I kinda tried to figure out what I thought was cool,” said Dixon before breaking out into song.
Conrad reflected on knowing music before knowing words, crediting his older sister for engraving R&B into him, and of course, Isley comes from one of the greatest musical families of all time. Keane spoke to his creative process and the direct correlation between how his present emotions feed whatever he’s working on.
Dine shared how he and Isley became musical companions. “I heard her singing this old jazz standard, and I felt that same connection listening to Stevie Wonder and Al Green as a kid. To this day, I still feel our creative chemistry is pretty unmatched and it’s something that I chase with everyone I work with, but you know it doesn’t always come that naturally.”
Collectively, the pair have released two projects together—Wilton (2019) and Marigold (2022).
To celebrate the launch, SoundCloud has joined forces with Pandora to debut a new station, “SoCal Soul by SoundCloud,” geared towards spotlighting acts including the ones featured on this episode of SCENES. Watch the full episode above and see how each artist defines R&B for themselves below.