Khalid finds inspiration for his blend of new wave, R&B and soul in the most reclusive spaces. Before the teen made his TV debut on Fallon Wednesday evening (March 15), The artist behind the breakout hit, “Location” chatted with Beats 1’s Ebro Darden about his creative process for his debut album American Teen at Apple’s Brooklyn location last week (March 8).
Since the release of “Location” last year, the artist has found success in the streaming, as well as the radio world with listeners gravitating towards his unique cozy sound. The standout track produced by Syk Sense, Tunji Ige and Smash David, isn’t alone on American Teen as tracks like “Saved,” “Hopeless” and “Angels” help tell stories of love, self-reflection and determination.
Speaking with Darden, Khalid shared how casual moments like being in the shower gave him time to focus and find the right groove for his project. “A majority of the records started out in the shower,” he said as the crowd raised a united chuckle. “I would have my phone out and make voice memos in whatever mood I was in. I would get to the studio, meet with the producer and say, ‘This is what I was feeling, let’s build off of this.’ Half of the time the lyrics would be already written, sometimes they wouldn’t We would go in and build it from the ground up. I feel like spending all that time on the record allows me to connect emotionally because it’s almost like your child.”
Khalid went deeper with Billboard last month as he explained the moment he realized the effect his music had on people.“This one teacher I had told me that my voice wasn’t really the one for choir music,” he said. “I sang the song, and she cries … and I don’t get picked. I was curious, like; you cried, why didn’t you pick it? She was like, ‘Your song is too sad.’ How can a song be too sad? Things like that crafted me throughout high school,” he continues, “and eventually I was like, I’m over this choir shit. If people are telling me I’m not singing the right way and that my songs are too sad, I’m going to sing them the way I want to, and I’m going to sing my sad-ass songs and someone’s going to like that shit.”
As far as collaborations go, Khalid isn’t limiting himself. He hopes to work with fellow contemporary acts like Kehalni, 6Black and New Jersey’s Russ. “Angels” was also recently given the remix treatment by DJ Carnage, showing he has fans in every genre.
Check out the rest of Khalid’s chat and performance of “Location,” above.