Brent Faiyaz has been picking up a pencil to fight his demons since he was a child; sketching his escape from whatever was plaguing his young mind. Now in his twenties, writing has replaced drawing; from poems in his iPhone notes, to words poured through melody onto a canvas of tender production. The form has changed, but the function remains the same.
For Faiyaz, the act of writing is a selfish one. It’s a self-serving process that helps him navigate life’s obstacles. The fact that his work is attracting an audience is something that is relatively new, and genuinely surprising to him. He’d be doing this anyway, but he’s overjoyed to look back and see thousands joining him for the ride. This year he’s watched a hook he recorded for D.C. rapper GoldLink become the platinum selling ‘Crew’, and ‘Into’ a project that he put together with regular collaborators Dpat and Atu - collectively known as Sonder - lead to a sold-out headline tour across the states.
Throughout this period he’s simultaneously been working on ‘Sonder Son’, a deeply personal collection that follows his journey from daydreamed sketching in his Baltimore high school, to dealing with a successful music career in Los Angeles, with a hell of a lot of hustle and hard work in between.
A few days prior to the release of ‘Sonder Son’, Brent Faiyaz spent half an hour unpacking his creative process for us…
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This album is your autobiography. How did you distill your life into this collection of tracks?
Initially when I first started the project it was going to begin when I got to L.A. and it was going to be conceptual and based off my experience when I got here. But then I realised I’d be skipping out a lot of shit.
It’s one thing for somebody to hear some music, hear shit that you write, and really take it in and resonate with them, and it’s another thing for them to have the same experience and to then [resonate with you as an artist]. So there’s a lot of things that I want to say and a lot of subjects that I want to speak on, but if the fans don’t really know who I am then they’re not really going to listen to that shit. I feel like an introduction piece just to who I am, to let people know what I’m about, is the best way to go about gaining real fans and people that really fuck with me.
It was natural though, it wasn’t really a considered effort to make this shit super personal. When you’re writing music I guess the easiest shit to flow is the shit that you’ve really been through, so that shit just kind of came out.