Kentucky’s Bryson Tiller is America’s next soul superstar, says Leonie Cooper
Bryson Tiller is the 23-year-old R&B singer-songwriter from Louisville, Kentucky, whose 2015 mixtape ‘Trapsoul’ fits perfectly into the sexy but sad world of Drake and Frank Ocean. He’s in London this week for three shows at KOKO (which sold out in under two minutes, thanks to a rabid fanbase) and he’ll be returning to play the rest of the nation later this year. Here’s what you need to know…
He started singing as a pick-up technique
A teenage Bryson began singing to brush up on his flirtation skills. “I used to sing to girls in the hallway at school,” he explains. Word of his talent soon spread and friends began to invite him over to work on tracks. Music was just a hobby until the birth of his daughter, when he was working part time at Papa John’s Pizza and for delivery company UPS. His hard work paid off – he tweeted this Christmas: “Last year I had to borrow money for my daughters xmas gifts but because of yall, this year we xtra good. so thank you.”
A Bieber collab in on the cards
In January, he played his biggest show to date at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre. In the crowd was a certain Justin Bieber. “That was crazy,” says Bryson. As soon as Justin was pictured at the show, rumours of a possible collaboration spread like wildfire on Twitter. So Bryson, is it going to happen? “Oh yeah, definitely.” You heard it here first.
He turned Rihanna down
Rihanna was at the LA show too. “Being in a room full of celebrities there to see me was very strange,” says Bryson. “We talked for a second. She wanted me to come on tour.” Sadly, due to his own shows, he had to pass on the offer. “I would have loved to go on tour with her!” Next time Bryson, next time.
He’s Drake’s one that got away
Drake wanted to sign him to his label OVO. Bryson had other ideas. “I had a few offers on the table, one from Drake, one from RCA and one from Interscope,” he explains. “I made a lot of bad business decisions in my past, based on my emotions – I was naïve. So this time around I had a lawyer and I had a manager. RCA just seemed really interesting.”
His biggest tune was recorded at home
Bryson put ‘Don’t’ – a slow-burning sex jam over trap beats – on his SoundCloud account in 2014. “I bought a bunch of stuff on eBay and it all came in the mail one day. I woke up one morning and it was the first song I recorded on my new equipment. I did it before my daughter woke up,” says Bryson. Yet the session didn’t go entirely to plan. “My computer messed up and every time I tried to record there was just a bunch of static. The song was supposed to be longer but I had to cut it short because I couldn’t record anything else.”
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Bryson Tiller plays London’s KOKO, Mon 28-Wed 30 March