Sylvan LaCue On Doubt, Longevity and Independence
TIDAL Rising’s Artist of the Week, Sylvan LaCue, spoke to TIDAL about his newest album, Apologies in Advance, and his navigation of the music industry of the course of the previous few years.
You’re in a special position of being a young artist, but also one who was navigating the world online mixtapes in the late ’00s? What lessons did you take from a professional perspective on working in that world and constantly having to negotiate your position in an ever-changing media landscape?
I’ve learned a lot, professionally and personally. The period between the late 2000s through now, in my opinion, has been a time where we, as a culture and industry, have changed the most. I’ve gone from selling CDs in school, to spamming my MySpace page onto other pages, to uploading songs & mixtapes on ZSHARE, to dropping shit on Soundcloud, to where we are now. Paying attention to the climate of the industry & finding ways to continuously evolve my narrative I feel was my best aid. I’ve always said that my main goal is to remain consistent & stand the test of time. I had to learn how to gauge energy with my audience, cultivating them and studying demand. Learning from my wins and mistakes quickly and making sure my next move never replicated my previous. Coming up in this industry, you have to dictate and control your narrative before the world decides to do that for you. There’s no room for interpretation, only your truth.
How involved are you in the creation of the music on your records?
Incredibly involved. My most recent body of work, Apologies in Advance, was engineered, produced, & written by myself. Somewhat out of necessity, but it’s also been the reason I feel I’ve made the most impactful music I’ve ever made until this point.
Tell me more about Apologies in Advance. What was your overall goal when creating the album and do you feel you’ve achieved that set goal?
Apologies in Advance is a concept album. A 12-step program towards growth and acceptance. Each song is an emotion and each “step” is a resolution when confronting that emotion. I wanted to create something that would force myself, as well as the listener to face and heal ourselves. That was my biggest goal with this album and I feel I’ve achieved it.
You’ve had to endure personal setbacks and for better or worse, your loved ones have impacted your trajectory, how do you separate leaning on others with your independent streak?
It’s a conscious decision at this point. I still get PTSD, because I’ve been so accustomed to moving on my own and not relying on others to push myself forward, but now that I do have help, it honestly challenges me out of my comfort zone. The right help is always beautiful when it comes along and my team and I have developed a system that I believe will take us exactly where we want to be.
While having quality releases over the course of the years, you’ve had times where you had to decide where music sits in your life. How do you power through doubt? I think esteem matters to a lot of people, and a lot of people get defeated on the first “no.”
Esteem matters a lot. Esteem gives you the motivation to accomplish what you’ve set to do. Sometimes that esteem runs low, or runs out completely, and I believe the fumes you run on when that happens, is love. If you have love for what you do, it pushes you through anything when you have nothing else. My answer to my doubt is love. Even when I doubt myself, I know the only thing I can’t doubt is the love I have for music.
Why is it important for you to make storytelling a part of your musical process? What were some musical moments from the artists you admire that impacted this?
Everyone loves a good story. The best stories challenge your perception on life and force you to think differently. They stay with you forever because they transcend entertainment and seep into your personal life. Every beautiful story I’ve ever heard, in or outside of music, remains sacred to me to this day because of what it did for me in that time. When I heard Nas’ “One Love,” JAY-Z’s “Meet The Parents,” or Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool,” those stories sat with me forever and changed the course of how I wanted to be remembered musically.
When you changed your name from QuESt to your given name, Sylvan LaCue, did that impact your output? Did it force you to make your music a little more personal?
My music has always been personal from the start, to be honest. Changing my name, in my opinion, just opened up an avenue for me remain authentic over a longer period of time. I reached my cap with QuESt early. I was going to be a certain artist and have a stigma that I wouldn’t be able to shake for the rest of my career. Sylvan LaCue sheds that stigma entirely.
Your music is not typical of any of the music that traditionally comes out of Miami. How has that impacted your creativity?
At first, it used to force a chip on my shoulder (laughs). People don’t remember, though. I grew up in Miami at a time where yes, of course we had Trick Daddy, Pitt, Uncle Luke, JT Money, etc., etc., but mainstream media was still centered around East Coast rap, at the time. JAY-Z and Nas became my main influences. They had the most impact on my creativity.
What does WiseUp mean to you, in theory and in practice? What is your true role and what are the plans for it?
WiseUp is an idea, first and foremost. It’s been the mantra for my entire life. Taking time to learn from my experiences and sharing what I’ve learned through the stories I tell in my music. My role is to speak to my audience and, God willing, the world. Right now, it’s a label, WiseUp & Co. I’ve recently partnered with my manager Amir Abbassy & Blame The Label, so now I feel were in a position to bring both of our worlds together in order to push our message further. Music is where it started and that’s the foundation, but I have plans to expand into other markets that personally interest me, as well as my team members. I want WiseUp to stand as the idea and action, that we should start sharing our experiences with each other more frequently, so we may broaden our perspectives and have another aid towards what we want out of life.
TIDAL is proud to announce the world's first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and expertly curated Editorial.