Growing up, what were your biggest influences in life?
It was pretty non-musical initially, but of course there were tons of artists I listened to early on. Mainly '90s R&B stuff that kinda made me feel a certain way. There wasn't anyone I really idolized in that sense. I was a huge anime guy though, like Digimon. That dude always wore goggles, so I went through a phase where I wore goggles a couple of times. I regret telling you that — I definitely regret wearing them.
How much thought goes into your overall aesthetic?
A little — I put a lot of thought into the album cover. How the sad face ended up on the
shirt is like a whole different thing. But, honestly, I made the shirt initially just so I could wear it — just to have. Then it became merch, obviously, and I was like, "Right, I'll make a hat so I can wear it," and then that became merch too. That's the closest I've come to intentionally wearing something. Even that isn't extremely fashionable, it's just a way for me to express some sense of individuality.
Would you say you have a particular style?
I think it often changes, but when it is
something I'll wear that, like, every day, man. But yeah, I'm hoping I'm getting a bit more diverse as my options start to grow, because it used to be very, very limited.
How do you handle expectation after having achieved so much so young?
I mean, I'll take it as it comes. I don't think the expectation is really there because I'm so unknown at this point. But I'm really doing it for me — it's helped my growth and my evolution on just a human level. So to also sprinkle that with things like meeting the president [and] all these other little things I didn't think were possible has humbled me, and made me incredibly grateful and honored to have that be a part of my narrative.
In what ways does being an artist in today's world help or hinder you?
I don't think I've ever bought a CD in my entire life. Maybe I bought like one or two old CDs to play in my car because it didn't have an aux cable, but for me it's aways been, like, you go online and you download everything. I think streaming has done an incredible job, not just on the democratic process of selecting who rises to the top and who kind of flutters at the bottom but shifting the narrative away from sales and onto listens, which is a much more important statistic to add up and much more truthful too. You're not scamming somebody to listen to something twice, but you can easily scam somebody to buy an album.
Looking forward to 2017, what have you got in the works?
I've just got a lot of collaborations going on. Especially the beginning of next year — I'm going to live in LA for a while and focus on working with peers that inspire me. I think during this year I hadn't really had an incredible opportunity to sit back and be more creative, because I was touring so often. But I have started to open the gates through my series
In The Room — I collaborated with Jack Garratt on that, and also had Seal and Sufjan Stevens. So I'm really looking forward to exploring that avenue of working in the future.