As I sat with TroyBoi amidst a generous pitcher of Pisco in a Midtown Manhattan hotel, it really felt like I was talking to a close friend, not an internationally touring artist with hundreds of thousands of fans, and counting.
With a brand new full-length album and a North American tour on the way, I managed to catch trap music’s favorite Londoner in between a hectic flight schedule and any sleep he could attain. Of course, we discussed the highly anticipated Left Is Right album, but I had to ask about his beginnings as TroyBoi, his future as SoundSnobz and his thoughts on the current state of dance music.
Throughout our entire conversation, one thing was clear: he has an unbelievable amount of love, gratitude and respect for his fans. Even when I asked him about his favorite part of being in the United States, he stated, “I think it’s the people, you know? Every time I’ve come here, it has always been an incredible reception. Just personally and also just with the music, and that’s obviously one of the main reasons why I’m here. America has shown me a lot of love and I’m very, very grateful.”
TroyBoi is hitting the tour circuit later this summer with his ‘Left Is Right’ North American Tour in honor of his brand new album. But it won’t be a regular DJ set; he’ll be playing 100% original material. He cites “a lot of cool surprises” and a step above his previous tours.
“If you, or anyone, saw the Mantra tour, it’s been taken to the next level. This is, for me, what I’ve always desired to do. Yes, I’ve played festival sets and stuff, but the true goal has always been to be able to do a set and show the people what I’m all about in the sense of all of my music, and give people the complete submerged show and take them into the world of TroyBoi.”
Joining him will be SLUMBERJACK, Louis Futon, YehMe2, and Grandtheft (L.A. stop only), all of which he is super excited about. Giving credit where credit is due, he said: “I think everyone who is jumping on the tour brings fire to the table and produces great music.”
Ever since Troy came onto the scene a few years ago and started racking up plays like many artists can only dream of, his sonic identity has become as recognizable as his ‘T-R-O-Y-B-O-I’ stamp. I had to ask how came to find and embrace his own sound, something a lot of artists struggle with.
“Well, I mean obviously it’s always a bit daunting in the beginning. I think it came down to the first track which I ever put online to be honest. I think I’d been perfecting my sound for a number of years, so when I put the first song out and people were saying, ”This is great!” I continued to just do me and not worry about what anyone thought. I think, for me, that just encouraged me so much more to just keep doing what I’m doing and that I was on the right track. And through that, I’ve evolved even more and I can honestly give that advice to anyone who is creating their own sound: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Doing you is what’s gonna make you stand out from everybody else.“
He has a completely no-fucks-given attitude, but he puts 110% into his music, which he considers an extension of himself.
“I’m just very happy that it’s managed to translate so well and everyone likes what I do. And if they don’t, god bless you, because it doesn’t matter, I enjoy it.”
His upcoming album, which features 20 TroyBoi originals, is full of material like we haven’t heard from him before, some of which he cites as his favorite work to date. “For me, it’s about moods,” he sad. “And I feel that there are so many different songs that I’ve made that can fit certain moods. I think a lot of my best work is on my new album, some of my personal new favorites.”
When we spoke with him at BUKU earlier this year, he revealed that he always starts with the drums when creating a new track, but since I believe his melodies are just as powerful as his basslines, I had to learn where he finds the inspiration to put them together.
“Man, it’s crazy, it’s so hard to explain. Honestly the way I would explain it to you is I’ve taken inspiration from the late and great Michael Jackson and he’s always said, ‘Don’t concentrate on the music, let the music write itself.’ And that has always stuck with me. Whenever I’ve just kind of done the drums and things like that, something will pop into my head and I’ll put the idea down, maybe flick through my custom sounds that I’ve made and something will just stick out. When it feels right, i just go with it. When that next piece comes together, something will just pop into my head and I just keep going and going and going. It just works.”
Admittedly, TroyBoi hasn’t had his ear to the ground for a while, since he’s been stuck in album-mode, but as for artists he’s excited about? SoundSnobz co-member icekream, Sam Gellaitry, Stööki Sound and YehMe2 come to mind.
Speaking of SoundSnobz, which is Troy’s bouncier side project with London pal icekream and something he describes as “a perfect marriage of music and friendship,” he revealed some good news.
“It’s just been on hold. But now once I’ve completed this album, me and Ice are gonna be back in the studio working on the SoundSnobz album, which is the next big thing we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. But we’ve always said you have to be patient, and that’s why going back to my own album, I was super patient as well, because I didn’t want to rush and put an EP out or anything, so I feel like this is definitely the right time. Going back to SoundSnobz, we’re going to be doing a lot of new work and we already have. So yeah, look out from the new album from us.”
TroyBoi uses Logic as his main production software and he was gracious enough to reveal some of his favorite plug-ins and some tips for creating a signature sound.
My favorite plug-in that I use is the EXS 24 in Logic, which is actually one of the standard ones. Since 2007, I’ve made so many custom sounds. I have this folder of maybe 2000 custom sounds, it’s ridiculous. I use that a lot. That’s why I can craft my sound because there are a lot of familiar sounds that you’ll hear, which I always purposely use in my tracks, so people can go, “Oh, that’s a TroyBoi track.” Then I’ll do something else or recycle it in a certain way. I used to use Gladiator, and on the new Logic 10 there’s Alchemy, that’s another good plug-in. I’m about to get my teeth into that Komplete 11 or Komplete 12, the Native Instruments package, so when you hear the new music, a lot of the sounds are gonna come from there.
Before our interview, I found out that he was mentored by the legendary Jim Beanz, who has worked with Timbaland, Empire, The Simpsons, Rihanna and more, which he calls “an absolute blessing.” We agreed that Timbaland’s productions are all bangers, but he admitted that he’s received some timeless advice from Beanz as well.
His most incredible talent is in his writing abilities and his melody abilities. One of the things he’s always taught me and told me to do is to remain myself and like I was saying before, don’t worry about what people say about your sound. If you feel it’s right, just go with it. That’s one of the most important lessons he’s always taught me: Don’t be afraid to be different.
He continued to stay humble by revealing that while he trusts his instincts, he’s not afraid to take feedback and advice from friends and other producers.
Interestingly enough, TroyBoi mentioned that the gaming scene inspires him as well, in terms of music, sounds, energy and excitement. The DJ/producer is also extremely talented in the world of gaming, revealing that, at one point, he was the 381th best player in Europe for the game Street Fighter.
Finally, we had pretty much covered all the bases we could manage before heading into the land of Left Is Right. The album, which came with a few surprises, is finally here and I was happy to see that his excitement met mine in regards to its release.
“The ‘Left is Right’ album is what I’ve always wanted to do for the longest time, just purely because everything I was releasing was free downloads/singles, or just singles. I really wanted to create a full body of work which, in a way, told a story, and also showed people what I can really do as a producer, not just make bangers or create this kind of song or that kind of song.”
“I really wanted to do something where I could feel somewhat of an emotion, to show that I can do interludes and just kind of be me and allow people to just understand my headspace through music.”
He cites “Wavey” as one of his favorite tracks on the album, “even though it’s the most different song on there.” The inspiration he felt as he watched a beautiful sunset from his home in Miami is so clear. From the ocean samples to the delicate synths, it’s a clear depiction of the versatile and impressive production abilities that he was trying to emulate within Left Is Right. Admittedly, the track’s undeniable vibes make it one of my favorites as well.
“The moral of ‘Left Is Right’ is that people have always said to me, ‘Your music is great, but it’s considered very left of center.’ So I say, in my head, it’s right. So therefore, ‘Left Is Right.’ Then on top that, it’s just to represent creating your own lane and not being afraid to do what you want to do because it still can be the right thing and you still can be accepted and there’s no wrong answer to anything. That goes with life as well as music; create your own lane and you will succeed.”
He continued to demonstrate a contagiously positive and inspirational attitude throughout the remainder of our conversation.
“I mean this is so much more to me than just music.”
For new artists, he advises consistency, but quality. He disclosed that in his beginning stages, he was putting out two to three songs a week and every one thing led to the next. Now, he is touring across the world promoting an album with features from artists like Jim Beanz and Ice Cube.
“If you’re doing this for the money, you’re in the wrong business. If you really want to make something for yourself, you have to concentrate on the thing that’s important first and that’s the music. And anything else, whether its the money or whatever, that will come later. The times when you feel like, ‘Oh, I wanna give up,’ if you just wait an extra five minutes, you will get there.”
Last, but not least, I had to ask about one of my personal favorite tracks from the album, “What You Know.” He revealed that, like me, he has nearly injured himself from performing that song, but he divulged some unexpected information about the track’s beginnings as well.
“I made that song out of pure frustration. So prior to that, I was just making a lot of music and at the time, I was sending stuff to major labels who were like ‘we love your songs’ or ‘can you give us a track for ‘x’ artist?’ or ‘can you give us some new music so we can put it out on the label?’ So I’d send them music, some of which is on my own album now, and they’d go ‘it’s great, but do you reckon you could commercialize it a bit more or drop this sound?’ I was like, ‘Excuse me, did you want a TroyBoi song or did you want something from someone else?’ This happened a numerous amount of times that I just got so pissed and I wanted to make a super angry song like, “What the fuck are you talking ’bout?’ I found the sample and I was like, “Perfect.”
“This song is just for everyone who’s ever doubted their music, and if you don’t like my shit, what the fuck do you know?”
He doesn’t say it, but I think his beliefs on the track translate to the entire album. It’s a fuck you to rules, to labels and to anyone who said he couldn’t do it. From start to finish, his tracks tell a story of a regular kid from South East London who found something he loved, devoted his entire life to it and finally has a remarkable body of work to show for it.
My recommendations? Set aside some time to listen to the entire album from beginning to end, and travel to the mind of TroyBoi with Left Is Right, out now. You won’t be disappointed.
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