These days you’d be remiss if you didn’t include Tik Tok in the vernacular surrounding virality. It’s now common knowledge that the platform has proven the best weapon in any artist’s musical arsenal, giving rise to some of the year’s most infamous and catchy hits, from Doja Cat’s ‘Say So’, to Saweetie’s ‘Tap In’, to Megan thee Stallions ‘Savage’.
Fousheé’s ‘Deep End’ is no exception. Gaining notoriety after being sampled on Sleepy Hallows ‘Deep End Freestyle’, at the time Fousheé’s vocals lay anonymous and uncredited. Tik Tokers from around the world questioned the identity of the blisteringly catchy artist. When Fousheé did finally come forward following attempts by others to claim the spotlight, her career was launched into the stratosphere, and after requests from fans, made a full-length single.
A year on and with newfound fame, Fousheé has completed her first fully-realized project ‘time machine’, constructed under the same alt-umbrella as ‘Deep End’. 9-tracks of what Fousheé describes as ‘alt-soul’, the triumphant release relishes in themes of coming up an underdog as a black woman in the industry, but also blazes through topics of love and break-up, and includes, almost surprisingly, a cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘enjoy the silence’.
In celebration of the release, we sat down with the upcoming artist to talk about being homies with Steve Lacy, the importance of black women in alt-music and her beginnings with the viral hit ‘Deep End’.
Hey Fousheé, how’s your day going?
My day’s going well, actually recording right now. It’s a nice day, good weather today.
Congratulations on the release of the ‘time machine’ project. How are you finding the days after your project release?
It’s so exciting, there’s so much going on. I think it just kind of opened the doors for some brand new opportunities, so I’m excited. I’m working with new people, I’m working on new music so the ball is still rolling, it never stops. Just going and going.
Didn’t even have a few days off?
Maybe a few days break but you know, I like my job so I don’t mind it.
I guess it doesn’t feel like a job if you love it.
So how long has this latest project been under construction?
I would say about a year. I kind of had a project ready before ‘Deep End’ came out and then after I saw what ‘Deep End’ did, it made me re-approach the project. So it was another year of just working and working until I found a group of songs that I really liked and those are the songs I ended up with. I’m very happy.
Was there a bigger pool of music to choose from, and you just chose your few favourites?
Yeah, I made a lot of songs and I feel like these songs made the most sense together, especially with what my goal was, which was to take up a little bit more space in the alt-world but I make a lot of different types of music. I grew up on R&B, hip hop and reggae, and then I gained an appreciation for rock and jazz and different genres. So now it’s just a blend of that but with this project specifically, I wanted to be able to be more alt, and by that I mean more alternative rock by just adding simple things like every song has guitar in it except for one. And a lot of the songs are broken down or very simple so that it can fit into a lot of different genres. But I did do this project with alt in mind. So I’ll just say alt-soul.
So I read that alternative or music that falls under the alternative umbrella, that’s what you’re prioritizing. Over the years, coming up in music, why has making alternative music been an important aspect for you?
Over the years, performing in New York and being around those musicians, I used to make a lot of rock and classic rock. It just made me want to explore that world more, but I think ‘Deep End’ is kind of what motivated me to do that with this album because it was top 10 on Alt-radio, which is the first time that a black woman had done that in like 32 years. So it made me realize how much we were being neglected and I felt like black women should take up more space there and that’s why I chose to do that with this project. But with future projects, I’ll be a little more fluid, but I did want to set the tone with this one.
So you have two collaborations on this project, Lil Yachty and Steve Lacy, why these two artists for this first project, and what was your experience working with them?
Well I worked with a lot of different people but, like I said, it was more so about the songs, what went best together. The song with Yachty was a fun song, people can dance to it and I’m a big fan of Yachty. When I made it, I thought of him and I just kind of sent it to him hoping that he would fuck with it and he did. He just sent back his verse and I thought it was perfect, and I put it on the project.
With Steve, also a very big fan, and his knowledge of music is so amazing. The first time we worked together it was for his project and we did five songs that day, just off rip. There was a second session where we sat around the piano and did a 10 minute song, and then ‘candy grapes’ was the first time that we had a session. And that was also a very long jam and I loved it so much that I wanted to keep that same feel to it. Like that feeling where you’re in the room, but I wanted to feel like you were in the room with who was creating it, so there was a moment in the song where he’s like ‘there’s this, this and this and that’, and he’s like ‘okay, I got it’, and that originally happened when we were writing the song so I wanted to include that. He’s just the beast on instruments and it was kind of like a mushroom trip cause he was just going crazy on the bass and guitar and just singing all these crazy notes and shit. It kind of reminded me of being in New York and performing in New York live where you just get lost in the music. So I wanted to end the project on that note.
Is it important for you when you’re collaborating to get along with the person as a person or do you respect the musical process itself?
It’s kind of rare to find an artist that you mesh well with but I think it makes the song better. Not that it’s completely necessary, cause you know you can’t get along with everyone. You may be a fan of someone’s music and then how they present themselves in person is completely different but luckily with Steve, we get along so well, I’m going over to his house later for game night. Yachty, he lives in Atlanta but when I saw him, it was all love. I guess I lucked out. All the artists I’ve worked with so far have been really sweet.
I wanted to talk about one of your earlier releases, a song called ‘Suburbia’. I think it was released about a year ago but it’s actually one of my favourite songs that you’ve released, just cause I relate to it a lot, especially the line where you say ‘We should ask her for all the black stuff, like gangsta rapping’, I can guess the inspiration but what’s the story behind that song?
Well when I was pretty young my mom immigrated here from Jamaica and she worked really hard to get us in a good neighbourhood. So we kind of started off living in pretty bad neighbourhoods and her working at entry-level jobs, until eventually we moved to a good neighbourhood in the suburbs and I took it pretty hard. I was one of the only black kids in school and it was difficult, I was angry at life. People used to ask me stuff like that, like ‘How do I be Ghetto’ or they’d ask me the craziest questions about my hair and my culture and it was a little bit of a culture shock, that’s when I went to high school. So it was difficult and it kind of made me resort to music more because I just kind of felt alienated but I wanted to address that in a song because I think we either hear the story about living in the hood a lot, or we hear stories about people about being happy in the suburbs, but I wanted to tell a different story, I wanted to just tell my truth. It was therapeutic.
Listening to the song I was just like ‘that was me in high school’.
I feel like not a lot of people talk about it, it’s just really hard cause you don’t have those examples at school, you know, you’re still learning how to be a kid and you’re growing into yourself but then when there aren’t examples of your culture there it gets a little hard cause you don’t know where you belong and you might feel alienated in that neighbourhood in the suburbs. Then you know I would go home to my family, and certain people that lived in other neighbourhoods that had more black people in it would be like, ‘Wow, you talk white’, you know, it just feels like you don’t fit in anywhere
It’s like that lyric ‘Too black for the white kids, too white for the black’, that’s Earl Sweatshirt.
Oh wow, I love Earl. That’s the homie.
I wanted to talk about your music videos. You always have these really entertaining narratives around the songs, like in ‘single af’ when Tony Touchdown gets in the elevator, or in ‘my slime’ when you’re holding up the bank. There’s always a lot of humour involved. Is that an important aspect when you release music?
Yeah, I love serious art but there’s like a quirkiness to my personality so I think I always love to incorporate that. I don’t want it to be too serious. I always want it to be fun and, you know, not take myself too seriously. When I write songs I kind of have a visual picture of how I want it to be. So especially with ‘single af’ and ‘my slime’, I wrote the treatments for that and directed both. I just wanted to make sure to include my personality in there as much as possible and be as clear in my vision as possible, because I wrote the song and it comes from a real place and only I could give you the clearest perception of the visual because you know I’m the author. So I like to be very involved in the visual.
I love the bank scene when the hostages are dancing.
They’re like ‘ la la la’ (laughs).
Yeah, that was a nice little touch.
Yeah, I figured if I’m running around with a gun, I can’t make it too serious. Otherwise, they’d be like ‘we scared of her’ (laughs). I kind of thought about Harley Quinn, Bonnie and Clyde sort of thing, cutsie but dangerous.
So you’re probably sick of answering questions about ‘Deep End’ but I know that that was the first track that got the ball rolling. I’ve read that it moves into themes of Black Identity. I firstly just wanted to ask, does the guy in the video clip for ‘Deep End’ represent White patriarchy, or am I off with that?
I mean it turned out to be that way cause the song definitely has that in there, but I was just like I wanted it to feel like Kill Bill, and I was like I want a guy to follow me, and that guy I think is actually Latino. When I look back on it I think it’s very fitting (laughs).
So it came up on Tik Tok and that’s how it gained its clout, through Sleepy Hallow’s release, but how have people reacted now that they know the deeper meaning behind the song?
I think that’s what made people want to support it more because it became a moment for black women and people who are the underdogs, or felt like they went through a similar situation, and it’s a very uplifting song. I wrote a few versions of it and purposely wanted to come out with a version that was more uplifting than angry. I was angry even though I was hurt and there were a lot of emotions that went into it, but I wanted to make it more happy and triumphant because it’s a success story. So I wanted it to be translated that way, and I think it made people want to support it more because they relate to it and they want to see someone who had been through that sort of thing come out victorious because I don’t think it always ends that way. So it’s good to see the good guy win, type shit.
Your mum was in a reggae band when you were growing up, what kind of impact did seeing a woman in music have on you. Was that a big inspiration for you to see your mum so involved?
Well she stopped that band way before I was born, but I used to watch the tapes of their performances and I always thought it was cool, that it was completely normal. She put me in dance pretty early, so I think that entertainment and performing was just something that everyone did. Or at least in my house, it was very important. Like all of us gathering around in the living room and dancing, or me performing for my family. I think it came from the Jamaican culture, and when I went out there there was a lot of that. There was a lot of dancing until the sun came up and you know people just enjoying life. So I think I just took all that in subconsciously.
Do you think you’d ever intertwine more reggae influences into your music in the future?
Of course, yeah. I definitely want to do that. I could see myself doing afrobeat or straight-up reggae.
Last question, but as you move forward in your career what are your hopes and dreams for the future?
Make an album, cause this is just a project. I want to do an official album, I just want to see where I can take my music. Even though I’ve been doing it all my life I feel like I’m just kinda stepping into the door, so I just wanna build even more and see what I can do with music, even greater songs. And the visuals too, I just make the things that I just think up into a reality and be creative in the way I present them. So I just want to challenge myself as much as possible and keep everyone entertained.
I’m sure you’ll definitely be able to do that.