As a singer, songwriter, and producer from Los Angeles, Vincent Coleman is a jack of all trades whose talents stem from a very musical family. If you're searching for an artist that encapsulates new wave, soul-enriching R&B, look no further. I recently discovered his latest gem of a single, "Purify Me" while scrolling through my SoundCloud stream and it's the kind of song that is rejuvenating to listen to on any given day. While Vincent's amazing falsetto could rival the likes of Gallant and Khalid, Vincent Coleman's sound is all his own.
In addition, Vincent is no stranger to talking about social issues through poetry and his mini YouTube series called Can We Talk About It. After reaching out via email, Vincent was open to talk over the phone and share a little more about his musical influences, his experiences as a PoC, and his thoughts on black masculinity. Feel free to check out our Q&A below!
How would you describe your sound to someone who's never listened to your music before?
Alternative soul. It's definitely got some kind of indie influence. Vocally, I'm soul and R&B first. I really enjoy taking the experimental sound from my influences and throwing soul and R&B vocals over it.
Tell me a little about your experience growing up and your upbringing. How would you describe your family?
I grew up in LA in an area called Ladera Heights, which is predominantly black. It's an interesting mix because it's right on the top of a lower income community. It's an area where you get lower class, middle class, and upper class black people. It gave me an opportunity to grow up and identify with a lot of different people.
I have two little brothers, my mom, and my dad. My whole family is pretty musical and that helped me love singing and writing. They laid the foundation for me and having this gift of singing is something I don't take for granted. I'm really thankful for it. My family taught me a lot in regards to being humble and loving the gift that I have. I use it to the best that I can, not just for myself, but for other people.
How did your parents react when you first told them that you wanted to pursue music?
My parents were actually really cool about it. I think it's because we have a lot of musicians in the family. My aunt is a singer who was one of the main singers on Dancing with the Stars for a long time. She wrote theme songs in the early 90s for shows like Moesha and Sister, Sister. Growing up, my mom knew from when I was a little kid that I loved singing. My whole family has always been very supportive.
What type so challenges have you encountered because of your race? Have you had to combat any form of stereotypes in your career?
One of the biggest things I've come up against as a black artist is being put into boxes. Growing up, I was influenced by Grace Jones, Nine Inch Nails, Incubus, but I was also inspired by D'Angelo, Jill Scott, and Alicia Keys. These different artists brought so many things to the table and that has really shown itself in the way that I create music. I've gone through times where I've been asked to be like a Chris Brown or a Ne-Yo. And not that there's anything wrong with those artists, but sometimes I feel like we can be pigeonholed into a particular idea of what we as black artists create. It's shifted a lot when you think about musicians like Sampha and Tyler the Creator breaking out of that mold. I respect and appreciate these artists for challenging that stereotype that artists in the past had to give over to in order to find themselves. Whereas now, we've grown so much and I think there's more space for people to be themselves as opposed to feeling like they have to be a certain way because of the color of their skin.
Speaking about Tyler, he had his Golf Wang fashion show last year and he had great commentary on masculinity especially has a black male. Even with as much progress as there is now, there is definitely more dialogue to have and a different spectrum of issues we don't always get to hear about.
Oh yeah, 100%. I really like artists like Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange and artists who like to challenge masculinity and don't particularly like the idea of limiting sexuality for individuals. It's very powerful. There are so many expectations outside the black community that are placed on us. It's nice when we can challenge that from the inside, so that it can affect the outside.
In your YouTube video series Can We Talk About It, you talk about politics, slut culture, and sexual racism. Is there any other topic you wish people talked about more?
I like the idea of challenging masculinity. In my opinion, masculinity is a societal construct and I don't think it particularly matters. It's something that was created that can hinder men and women from being able to express themselves the way they want to. I like that we're having more conversations about masculinity, especially within the black community because there's a different expectation on masculinity in this space. I think you can see the ramifications of being boxed into this idea of masculinity. Even within the gay community, there is a struggle of wanting to appear masculine because of being afraid of expressing themselves in any other way that isn't masculine. Breaking down these barriers is something that's very important.
Are there any other PoC bands, musicians, and producers that you are a fan of and personally inspire you?
I really love D∆WN. I think she's amazing. I respect her hustle and she's been doing her own thing independently for a very long time. I'm an independent artist as of right now and it's a hard struggle. You are a business person, a creator, an entrepreneur, a marketer, a publisher. There are so many hats that you wear and I appreciate it because you learn so much. Like I said before, I love Dev Hynes and the message he stands for. I love Sampha's pure, authentic creativity. I'm also a big fan of Miguel vocally and I think that he has beautiful vocals. I like artists who are rebellious and not necessarily in the sense of causing trouble, but that they go against the grain.
On May 26th, you dropped your latest single called "Purify Me." What was your creative process while writing this song?
"Purify Me" was really fun to write. It was actually one of the first songs that I wrote in 10 minutes. I sat down and started playing the keys, and the religious idea of baptism and renewal came to me. I started thinking about my own relationship and how being in it has made me feel happy and baptized in a way. When I started thinking about these images, it all started flowing. I created a demo and brought it to my friend Kevin who produced the song. We sat down for a couple weeks and went back and forth coming up with ideas. I'm really proud of the way it turned out. I wanted to create a song that celebrates love in its purest form when it's healthy and authentic.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I plan on releasing more singles. I've released an EP in the past and as much as I enjoy releasing EPs, I want to challenge myself to create individual songs that are the best songs that I can make. It's kind of nice because it's freed me from having to think about the writing process in the form of an EP. It's given me the freedom to individually release these songs and allow people to connect to them. It's like having a diverse group of friends and each single represents an individual group of them. Besides music, I also create a lot of poetry and a lot of my songs start off as poems. I just finished my first book and I'm super excited about it. I'm in the process of talking to different people about what my options are right now to get it published.
Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives of color?
Stay authentic. You are going to come up against challenges and sometimes we have to recognize that not all those challenges have to do with race. My mom has always talked to me about being who I am and being authentic to that. We need to allow people to be themselves and to promote creating from a real place, as opposed to creating from something someone else has created for you.
Last but not least, what is your favorite Drake song?
I really like "Passionfruit," but my favorite Drake song is "Take Care" with Rihanna. I love the production on that song and I'm a big fan of Rihanna. I appreciate Drake because he challenges masculinity too in the way that he's emotional.
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