When I spoke to Col3trane, it was a Tuesday night for me, but early morning for him. In fact, he had only just woken up. You could hear that just out of bed groan in his voice, and you could picture the sleep in his eyes.
It’s no wonder he’s tired—the London-born artist has a busy schedule. He dropped his debut project Tsarina in 2017, and followed that up with BOOT last year, while also spending a good chunk of the year supporting Dua Lipa on tour. When you stay this busy, early mornings are a neccessity.
A few weeks ago Col3trane released his new EP Heroine. Using trap, R&B, and dance, the project explores themes of love, lust, and introspection. It finds him assessing relationships in different areas of his life, whether it be through the high-energy, summer love feeling of ‘The Fruits’ or the sombre, nocturnal vibe of ‘Problems in Us’. It’s a short, sweet journey through romance, with flexing, rapping, and crooning as his chosen storytelling devices.
In celebration of the project, Col3trane and I talked about living between London and LA, the creation of Heroine, and his love for Hunter S. Thompson.
Col3trane, what have you been up to man?
I woke up about 10 minutes ago. [Laughs] It’s morning over where I am, so I’ve just been chilling. Doing good.
Congratulations on Heroine. How does it feel to have it out?
I feel good man. It feels good to finally have it out there, you know? I end up sitting on projects for a while, so it feels good that it’s not just my little private thing anymore. It’s everyone else’s now. It’s out of my hands, it’s a nice feeling.
I’ve read that you’ve been jumping around the globe a little bit. London, Beverly Hills. Where was this project primarily recorded?
I wrote it everywhere man. A lot of it I wrote in East London. A lot of it I made in LA, some of it in Venice, some of it in Beverly Hills, some of it in Burbank, so I really took it everywhere.
Do you feel that your process and mindset changes depending on where in the world you’re creating?
I mean, I never used to pay attention to it, but I think I’ve realised now, yes, definitely. I make music based on what I feel and what I think, and location plays a big part in that, so I’ve started to pay attention to it more.
I know you grew up in London, but were raised in a primarily American household. Now that you’ve spent some time living in LA, what country feels more like home?
I don’t really know. I think it’s a strange one for me because when I’m in London for a couple of months, I’ll end up feeling sort of restless, anxious, and ready to go. Then I’ll go to LA for a couple months, and then I’ll feel the same way.
So, I don’t know. I like that I’m able to just float. Skip back and forth and experience both worlds. Both sides of the pond. I’m not really sure where home is right now but I’ll figure it out. What I will say is, there’s something special about London in the summer.
Your career has grown a lot since Tsarina. I’m sure you’ve been exposed to more of what’s happening behind the scenes in the hip-hop and R&B scene. How have you adjusted to this?
I’ve been talking to people a lot about this recently. It’s about the balance. Finding the balance in your own life, especially when you’re self-employed. All this [that] I’m doing relies on me, so I’ve got to stay motivated. You know what I mean?
You’ve gotta’ be able to find a balance between the necessary evils of what you have to do, and also understanding what the unnecessary evils are and cutting them out. You have to listen to others, but at the same time, not give a fuck what people say.
I think balance is definitely important, especially in art. When you’re not spending your time making music and doing interviews with journalists in Australia, what are you doing?
I’d just be chilling man. [Laughs] I’ve been intentionally spending a lot of time doing absolutely nothing, and being with someone. I feel I’m savouring the moments that I have with certain people.
I’ve always felt like being alone doing nothing is super underrated. Do you feel the same?
I did, but now I’ve found someone to do nothing with, and I think doing it alone is overrated.
I feel that. Sounds like you’re really in tune with your emotions and the type of headspace you’re in right now. What are some things that influence you outside of music?
I like to take inspiration from a lot of different things. I think a lot of my inspiration comes from books and literature old and new. Obviously with the last project that I’ve done there were a lot of references to like Hunter S. Thompson and Brett Easton Ellis. So, you know, I take a lot of inspiration from that.
I wanted to touch on Hunter S. Thompson. Do you feel like you’ve had a Fear & Loathing moment in your career thus far?
I think Coachella this year definitely felt like Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail. It was a lot. It was amazing. That was like a smack in the face. It was dope though.
To me, Heroine feels like an assessment of love from both the inside and the outside. Was that the inspiration behind it?
It’s dope you say that, but not really. But who the fuck am I to tell you not to feel that from this project? It’s open to interpretation. To me, it’s sort of about being lost and then being found. It’s about finding things that are both good and bad for me. It’s about that balance.
People interpret Fear & Loathing in different ways as well. Some call it a drug story, some call it a story of introspection. Is that what you want to do with your music? Create different meanings?
100%. I’ve had a lot of people look at the title of it and say I’m just talking about drugs, but really I’m talking about the concept of being a hero. It’s definitely like an introspective thing. I’m very much talking about myself the whole time and different facets of my character. It’s just like an extra little dose of who I am.
One song I love is ‘Problems In Us’. It tackles real problems that occur in relationships. Do you find it hard to be vulnerable like that?
Most of the song was made in about two or three hours. It was very, very quick. It was just like I had written a lot of it and then I was frustrated at a situation and then yes, it just sort of all came out. It’s funny because with songs like that, making them is therapeutic. And, then you know, I made that song maybe something like November, December last year. So, I had a lot of time to sort of sit with it and come to terms with, feel comfortable with it, you know?
So, by the time songs like that come out, they feel very different to me than how they did at the time. Which is a good thing I think. Especially with shit like that because if that had come out at the time that I’d written it, I’d definitely [have] got in some trouble.
Do you think sitting with songs before releasing them has helped you develop as a person?
I think there’s a lot of positives and a lot of negatives to sitting on music forever because it’s like sometimes I’ll make a song and I’ll be like “Shit, I want to put this out yesterday.” [Laughs] And then for one reason or another, I can’t.
But, sometimes I think letting a song age is good because I might sit on it for a year and not think it’s good anymore. So one thing that I’ve started doing recently [is] trying to make a little less music and be more direct and purposeful with the music that I make.
Is that the vibe of the new album you’re working on? Direct, purposeful?
Well first of all, it’s an album, which is crazy to me. I think I got to a point where I was like, “I love albums”, so I’m like, “I want to make a fucking album.” I think definitely direct, definitely personal, I think definitely something a little bit different that maybe people aren’t expecting. Well, maybe people are expecting, I don’t really know, but it’s a little bit different from what I’ve done already and I’m very, very excited for it.
Lastly, you have a song called ‘Superpowers’. What is your superpower?
I think my superpower is that I’m really good in the morning. How do I do it? Do interviews with people in Australia? [Laughs]
For more on Col3trane follow him here.