Thibault’s “Sunday Soul” series has brought a lot of great energy to his supporters over the last few months. For his first solo release as a producer, Thibualt brings us “Back 2 School,” a mixtape blending a batch of all new Sunday Soul beats with a capellas from some of his favorite artists. By exploring a variety of styles and combinations with his selections, Thibault brings new life to his production and showcases the versatility and unexpected combinations that are possible within his music.
We caught up with Thibault to discuss the inspirations behind this project, his creative process, and the release event he’s throwing with Hard Gallery on Sunday, October 25th at Flamingo Vintage in Southwest Detroit! The event is from 7pm-10pm and will feature music, food, art experiences, and more, so check out the interview below and be sure to catch the event to get a first listen of Thibault’s new project! (masks required, of course).
B: Tell us about this project and how it fits into your discography / artistic direction.
T: This project is going to be the first “official” offering from me as a solo producer. I’ve produced a lot of songs for different artists, including Cassius Tae, Neena Roe, Gabriel Duran, Whiterosemoxie, Sam Austins, and others. But this, the Sunday Soul stuff, really originated from the beats that I would make and share on Instagram. The more I would post, the more people would suggest that I put a beat tape out with those tracks, and I always liked the idea but it was mostly just a thought in the back of my mind. Then there were like three specific people, saying “whenever you got a project ready, just let me know,” and I was like alright, it’s time to make it happen. I’m working on another project right now as well, but I thought that this one would work well as a precursor to the rest of the upcoming work. I wanted to show people what I could do production-wise, showcasing the variety and the different combinations that are possible with my music.
I really respect producers that can work well in a variety of styles, so I wanted to embody that by mixing my own production with acapellas that I know and love, from artists that bring their own unique style and approach to music to their vocal deliveries. That’s what this offering is, it’s really a collection of ideas and explorations in blending my production with a wide range of vocals.
B: The create process between a producer and an artist is a unique type of give-and-take. How did that work for you with this project, given that you were producing the beats and also choosing the vocals?
T: All of these beats were made before I had the intention of putting acapellas over them, so it was really a process of me listening to the beats and thinking about what artists might provide an interesting combination with that particular sound. Honestly, the acapellas came kind of randomly, sometimes it would just fit perfectly out of nowhere, other times it took some searching to find the right one.
There’s one specifically, “When You’ve Been High,” that’s gotta be my favorite one. First of all I just love that sample, and then when I found the “Drug Dealers Anonymous” acapella, it just all made sense, both thematically and sonically. Jay Z’s verse fit so perfectly over it, I swear it could almost be a real song (laughs) that’s how great it sounds to me. On the other hand, “Back 2 School” just feels like a Cam’ron beat, back when he had Kanye producing for him; and the Kanye one, “Live On,” that was one where when I listened to it, I immediately thought “this sounds like Kanye needs to be on it.”
So I approached each track in a different way, taking the beats that I’d already made and trying to bring a new life to them. They didn’t always work; it was a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I went through multiple acapellas before I found the right match, and sometimes it hit on the first try, it was all just an exploration until I found something that sounded right to me.
B: It seems like this project is meant to be a one-stop shop for your range as a producer. In the individual songs that you produce for artists you work with you’re able to show different styles of your creativity, but this wraps a lot of examples into a single, succinct package…
T: Exactly! It’s crazy, some of the beats aren’t even recent. Some have been sent to multiple artists already, been in the vault for at least a year or two, etc. That’s the way collaboration works as a producer, you send out a bunch of shit and then you pursue what works out. If artists don’t pick certain tracks, it’s not a big deal it’s just all a part of the process. But I can’t lie, part of me is like “ok, I’ll show you what this track can do then,” (laughs). If the listeners hear these combinations and find something that they like, maybe they’ll find new combinations that they’re interested in or new styles that they’d like to hear from the artists that they love.
B: I’m getting some Knxwledge vibes from this…his Meek Mill tapes in particular.
T: Bro…shout out Knxwledge, he was a huge inspiration for this for sure. I saw those tapes and I thought that it was such a great idea; I’m not sure the connection between Knox and Meek, but that also made me think about wanting to have some Detroit acapellas on my tape. I wanted to showcase some of the combinations that were possible, from artists in a city that I know and love.
B: Right, and putting those pieces together might show people what types of combinations are possible with your music, even if you haven’t had the chance to make them happen yet.
T: Exactly, seeing those possibilities was a fun experience.
B:…and even if it’s not those specific artists, other people that are in certain lanes might see these combinations and think, “damn…I never thought about that, but maybe I could work on a beat like this too.”
T: Yes, definitely.
B: Going back to the point about Knxwledge and Meek Mill, I feel like those mixtapes have even changed my own understanding of Meek Mill’s artistry, like I would have never heard those raps in the same way if I didn’t experience them over those Knxwledge beats. So maybe another function of this project for you, could be to show people another side of an artist that they may already know by putting their lyrics and verses in a different context.
T: Yes, I think that sums it up pretty well.
B: What do you hope that people will think and feel when listening to this project? What do you hope that it shows them about who you are as an artist, or what possibilities are out there for unexpected collaborations?
T: Versatility, honestly. For myself, but also for the artists that I sampled, any artist out there that makes music, and even for the people that are just engaged listeners. Whether my project inspires someone to want to collage, or whatever it is, just the potential in taking two very different things and bringing them together. That’s something that I’ve always searched for in music, a sort of contradiction or more so just versatility. Being both French and American, I’ve felt those influences heavily in my life as a person and as an artist. They’re both rooted in so many different things, but I’ve always had this desire to bring them together. I am the product of growing up in France, moving to America, experiencing hip hop and Black culture in general, and then having the opportunity to be involved in it by working with all of the great artists that I have in Detroit, it’s a special opportunity that I’m very grateful for. So I just hope that those combinations, juxtapositions, and possibilities are brought forth in the project.
B: Do you have a certain image of how people might experience the music? What’s your idea of the best way to engage with this project?
T: For me, it really feels like morning music. Stuff to get you ready for your day, something to wake up to and get energized. That’s also part of the inspiration for the title, “Back 2 School,” which came from the fact that I was creating this when most kids were returning to school, or people were returning to work, just the feeling that Fall can bring. It feels like a playlist, something that’s new but also familiar.
B: How does this project represent your musical path up to this point, as well as what’s to come in the future?
T: I mentioned my upbringing, so I think that’s a part of my past that I brought into this project; the mixing of cultures and influences that you wouldn’t always expect. Going forward, I think it’s just a representation of what I can do, and what potential lies ahead in unexpected collaboration. Being able to collaborate with all of the talented artists that I work with is a huge inspiration to me, and it brings me to new opportunities and new experiences that continue to shape who I am and how I create. “Back 2 School” is a tribute to that.
This project is also a great preview of the next one, because that next one is very collaborative; it features a lot of artists that I work with now, over samples and influences that I bring from my own personal experience. It builds on a lot of the themes that are present in “Back 2 School,” and takes them even further by incorporating the people that have helped me become the musician that I am today.
B: In closing, what do you want people to know about this project, or about you as an artist?
T: First of all, these beats have been used on this project, but these are all essentially drafts on a mixtape of sorts. If someone hears one of these beats and sees a new possibility within it, let’s make it happen! I hope that this can open people’s eyes to new possibilities and new potential that I can bring to my production. I think that the live event for the project will build on that as well, we’ll be trying to recreate all of the excitement that comes with meeting new people, doing new things, and being inspired by the possibilities that you may not have recognized before. So I hope that people can join us for the event, and of course please help us keep it safe by wearing your masks and practicing social distancing whenever possible! Feels a little weird to have to say that in an interview, but it’s just the time that we’re living in, so let’s try to make the best of it.