It’s been a while since the last New Artist Spotlight installment. For 2020’s first New Artist Spotlight entry, I got to talk with Chicago R&B artist Lassai about his new single “Superficial,” creating art during the pandemic, and more!
- Congratulations on your new single! Tell me a bit about what inspired the new release.
Thank you! Releasing “Superficial” was actually a very impulsive decision. It was a record that I initially put away in the vault. I decided that it didn’t really fit sonically with my upcoming project “Wonderland,” but the message was so parallel to what I was thinking and conversing about in my day to day life. Spirit woke me up on a Tuesday and told me to release “Superficial” by Friday (April 3, 2020) and the rest is history.
2. How have you been holding up in the midst of all the coronavirus drama? Has social distancing impacted your creative process in any way?
It has been a journey! At first, I was very anxious and scared because I immediately lost the gig that I was working on at the time along with everything I had lined up in the future. The panic for money and resources was something I had to deal with first. My community is so special because we have really come together even more by simply being there (on FaceTime or Zoom) for one another. At this point, I’m very entertained by all the conspiracy theories.
Also, I’m a Pisces so social distancing is my “thing” to be honest, and now having the freedom to create without focusing on time has allowed me to conjure up some of my best work yet. I’m actually gagging, I’m so excited to share!
3. You’re a singer and actor from South Side Chicago, how did your environment impact the art you create?
I think my environment made me extremely aware of my paradoxical life and has impacted my art tremendously. I grew up with many extraordinarily gifted artists who have taught and affirmed me throughout my childhood. The things they’ve taught me vary from Gospel, R&B, Hip-Hop, House, and Jazz to Musical Theatre, Opera, Ballet, Stanislavsky, and African Spirituality. I marvel at how I grew up technically poor and impoverished, but culturally so rich. I was raised by geniuses.
4. What is your earliest musical memory? When did you know that this is what you were meant to do?
My earliest musical memory is set in the youth choir at Way to Salvation Missionary Baptist Church. I had to be around 6 or 7 years old when I joined, but I didn’t get my first solo until I was 8 years. I remember it vividly because the day I first sang it to the congregation happened to be my birthday. At that moment, in my soul, I knew that performing was my purpose. I wasn’t really grounded in that idea until high school.
5. To swing things back to the new release, you choose very organic instrumentation which is fairly against the grain in terms of today’s R&B? Why?
I mean, I just fell in love with the melody and chord progressions that Br8keboy (Producer) created, on top of the natural soundscape that made it calming and meditative. Overall, sonically it took me to another world, which is perfect because I’m an escapist. I imagined myself sitting in the woods, on a rock, near a waterfall, and writing in my journal.
6. Who do you consider your biggest influences vocally and musically? Dream collaborations?
I’m inspired by so many people. Vocally, I love the greats: Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Philip Bailey, Mahalia Jackson, Luther Vandross, Maxwell, Jessye Norman, and so on and so on. Musically, GUY, Teddy Riley, Timbaland, Missy, Lauryn Hill, Inoj, Xscape, TLC, again the list can go on and on.
7. If you had to pick one song of yours to introduce yourself to a new listener, which one would you recommend? Why?
Hideaway! I just think it’s a pleasant song and it’s empowering. I’m all about spreading empowerment especially when it comes to self-care and self-love.
8. Any news you want to share about an upcoming project?
My latest “Wonderland” is in its final FINAL stages. It’s the first project where I’ve recorded and engineered everything on my own. So I really want to take my time with it, but I’ll definitely be releasing more singles within the next month. I got some really dope collaborations coming as well.
9. What are you listening to and watching right now?
I’m super into watching video game walkthroughs! I just watched this guy play Resident Evil 3 for PS4 on YouTube for five hours lol. I’m listening to a lot right now: Summer Walker, Giveon, PartyNextDoor, Cowboy Black, tama gucci, Tink, Azealia Banks, and The Internet.
10. Now for some fun questions: Destiny’s Child or TLC? TLC. They raised me. Coke or Pepsi? I don’t drink pop, but if I had to choose Coke. Twitter or Instagram? Twitter is such a ki, the amount of laughter and joy that it brings easily takes the top. Favorite sign and least favorite sign? I have a love for my fellow Pisces that really transcends all. It’s really like we’re in our own coven. My least favorite sign at the moment is Capricorn, only because I was just played by one [laughs]. Aside from that personal reason, I have no beef with any other sign.