Choker On Musical Discovery and His Midwest Roots
Emerging R&B artist, Choker, released his second full-length, Honeybloom, in August. His eclectic style and coded lyricism is born out of the influence of the modern Internet era and the small musical world millennials come up in. TIDAL spoke to the 22-year-old Michigan-based artist about some of his influences, his Midwestern roots and the influence of visual art.
The sound of R&B has evolved so much over the past few years and there is no specific regionality tied to a sound anymore, but I wonder if there is anything about your Midwestern roots that you feel impacts your music?
Yeah, definitely. I think the overall musical environment of having influences from the hip-hop community, like J Dilla and Danny Brown. The Motown sound definitely still lingers around today. I do think the internet has enabled people to draw from influences outside of your immediate surroundings. I think, growing up in this area, it’s hard not to draw influence from my surroundings, though.
What else do you draw upon for influence in your music? Any noise music?
In the last year, yeah. People like Brian Eno and Aphex Twin have become inspirational to me. There are Ohneotrix Point Never tracks that I really enjoy. I find inspiration from Japanese artists lately, too, like Susumu Yokota. I think what they’ve done really helps drive my music forward.
Do you feel there is an aspect of your personality clearly communicated in your work?
To an extent, yeah. I was a pretty quiet kid. As I grew and got my comfortable with my individuality, I learned to embrace that. I try to let that show in my day to day life, through conversation, in addition the music I make.
Is there any connection between your eclectic style and that time of discovery in the late ‘00s where many millenials first started digging into the internet as a place to find music?
Definitely. I think we were the last generation to experience the world before the internet was as powerful and influential as it is now. I think there is something powerful behind the idea of understanding how easily we can connect with each other now. There are people across the world who can pick up on what you are doing and saying, in the span of 30 seconds. I think it’s not only important to understand the power of that, but to also choose your words wisely so things are immediately digestible. You can’t control how people decipher things, so you have to be a little more careful about how you carry yourself.
Do you feel you are careful about how you express yourself?
Yeah, there is definitely a “handoff” point with your work where eventually it stops being yours and you have zero control over how people will take it in. There is a slight sense of being attentive to what you are making throughout the process. If you’re not focusing, I think it ends up resonating with how people are perceive the music.
You have very intriguing cover art for both of your records, Honeybloom and Peak. How do you let aesthetics inform your musical choices?
I was always interested in writing from the standpoint of scripts and movies, not so much poetry, or lyrics. Movies have always been very informative to my style, because of the mix of all of these mediums, like the soundtrack, the cinematography and fashion. All of these elements produce a final product and I think it’s important to note how all of these things impact each other. When you’re putting something out, you have to consider all of the elements that inform the music, like the merch and visuals, because they are all connected.
Listen to Choker and more of tomorrow’s R&B stars in the TIDAL Rising: R&B playlist below.
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