Collard is a 26 year-old singer-songwriter who was raised in Surrey but is now based in South London. The artist recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of debut album ‘Unholy.’ Growing up in a household where his Welsh grandmother adored Janis Joplin and his parents religiously listened to Nina Simone, Collard fell in love by default. Being one of four siblings, the musician became obsessed with Biggie Smalls, eventually writing his own records and uploading Jack Johnson covers to Youtube.
Collard describes himself as “a fairly young man,” who’s been singing his entire life. “I’ve been on an artistic quest most of my life, not really figuring out or knowing what I wanted to do,” he states. “Collard now is someone who’s figured that out. I gravitate towards more of a feel musically. I’m a chill guy, nothing too crazy.”
Most recently, he released the official music video for “Favour,” soothing listeners all across the world with his smooth, sultry voice. The new release follows his critically-acclaimed debut album Unholy, which was released last year via Lost Ones/Virgin EMI. Fans were able to see Collard perform cuts from the project at his residency at Laylow and numerous sold out shows across London.
Flaunt caught up with Collard via FaceTime to discuss his upbringing in South London, the one-year anniversary of Unholy, inspiration behind “Favour,” career goals, and more!
How is it quarantine over in London?
We haven’t been very successful at it .We’ve been pretty bad as a country. There’s a lot of people at the beach today. It’s a pretty miserable beach. It’s not like the beaches in the States.
What was it like growing up in Surrey?
It was nice. It was definitely a juxtaposition: being black, growing up in predominantly white country areas. It took me a long time to become confident in myself completely. It’s harder because you’re always trying to figure out what things you’re a part of or what you identify with. That can stunt your growth as a person, you’re trying to fit into too many things that aren’t really natural to you.
What was the environment like?
There’s not much culture. There’s a culture, but it’s a predominantly British, white, middle-class culture. For me, it’s figuring out how to be a unique person in that setting and be comfortable with it.
When did you realize music could be your career?
When I was 17, I did this freestyle. I was playing about rapping, I freestyled at my friend’s barbeque. It was actually a music video shoot in a back garden with this clothing brand called Trapstar. I went to his shoot, put on this beat and started freestyling. It gained a lot of people’s attention. People I was fans of who I heard rapping before said “you’re cold bro, you should keep doing this shit.” I thought “oh, maybe I should take this seriously and try to put something down a track.”
You released the visual for “Favour,” who or what inspired this record?
“Favour” is very different from my past music. I normally write about quite heavy topics, either with some religious context or a negative outlook on love, passion, and relationships. This one’s inspired by a new outlook I had where if you can find that person, then you favor them. That’s what it’s about. You can be as bad as you wanted in past relationships and think that will carry on or think you know what you want, so you won’t budge on anything in your next relationship. “I know how I want this to work,” but you can meet someone who throws that all out the window. Makes you have a bit of perspective and compromise. It’s a corny song for sure, it’s my corniest song I’d say.
It's my sweet voice song man.
Best memory from shooting the visual?
We had this man-made pond in the video, I remember nearly dying in that shit. I was trying to be mad cool: loafers, the coat, everything. Trying to be real slick with it. I got this female protagonist, the actress who’s in the video with me is waiting up there. Somehow, she’s floating up on the rock. When I got up there, I slipped. I was a mess, I was falling in the water. In hindsight, it’s funny. It was a dangerous fall.
How did you catch the attention of Last Night In Paris collective? They compare it to Odd Future in the States.
I was really young, doing a few things in music. Recording a few things. They reached out online like “listen, we're doing this collective.” They’re around South London, so we’d link up and record music. We did a few projects, a few videos. It was cool, it was this network of creatives. Singers, graphic designers, videographers, more than 10 of us at one point. It started off really networking, then we all vibed. Some of us chilled everyday, became a part of each other’s everyday lives. It was good back in the day, you’re chilling with your friends but you’re learning about productivity and being your own boss. It was a good experience.
How’d it feel to have Unholy turn 1 year old?
Man, I was so happy. I was so nervous about it in terms of “oh man, it’s been one year.” When the day came, I forgot about it. It's crazy, someone had to remind me. It's nice because a one year mark is when you can reflect on everything, what you gained from it. What I gained definitely outweighed everything, so I was super happy.
What’s one thing you want fans to get from Unholy?
I want them to get a picture of me as an artist. I'm not really in it for the popularity. I'm in it for people to have bodies of work to criticize, to love, to hate, to connect, to cry to. An actual catalog. I don’t really want to do the popularity thing where you put out teasers and teasers. For me when it comes to liking an artist, I have to see a body of work first. I need to know they’ve got a few narratives they can tell.
It doesn’t matter: 7 tracks, 12, 14, I need to feel they’ve got a narrative to say. They write about something. A project is where you can gain that insight on an artist. You can get a full spread of what’s important to them on that project or what their message is, then decide if that message is important enough. I want people, consumers, fans to have that experience with me. They don’t think I’m out here to peak their interest once, then keep it pushing. I want them to connect with me from day one.
You’ve performed numerous sold out shows, do you miss the stage?
I miss the stage crazy. I started off being super nervous about shows. I'd be up in the changing room before my show and no one was allowed in because I’m stressing out. This Coronavirus thing came the time I was the most comfortable I'd ever been on stage. Getting sort of self-gratification from doing things and reaching checkpoints. Omeara was a big capacity venue for me, the last show I did. After that, sky's the limit. Get me out on the road, I'm ready. I’m on it now. I'm not a scared little boy anymore, then quarantine. [chuckles] A whole virus stops everything.
How have you been adjusting to quarantine? Any new hobbies or interests?
Same hobbies: drinking whiskey, trying to be creative, walking my dog. I'm definitely getting more into design. I'm really trying to research more architects, old literature and poems. I never was into poems like “that’s soft.” I'd write poems, but I hated reading other people's poems. Now all of a sudden, I want to read poems. [laughs] More poems based around design because I want to get into designing clothes.
Talk about your love for fashion.
I want to do a line of t-shirts. I want to keep it simple. My creative director Sosa who does all my directions, me and him are thinking of partnering up and getting some designs together. Making simple, high-quality t-shirts. We focus so much on our artwork and creative direction, why not incorporate it into a design?
Top 5 artists in rotation?
James Brown, Bon Iver, Solange. I fuck with Solange heavy. Rolling Stones. Palatine, they’re a French jazz group. I’m always playing them everyday, trying to make myself sad. FRIGS, a Canadian band. They’re rock metal grunge, crazy sound.
Goals for yourself at this point of your career??
Securing that triple treat status: on stage, penmanship, and visually. What I find important in my design house in terms of writing, music, visuals, and performance, I want to reach the peak of all disciplines. My goal is to make timeless music. I want people to understand that when I perform, when I’m on stage, it's never 80%, always 100%. The vision’s always there, the creativity’s always there. I want to be known for being one of the best, for always writing thought-provoking shit. It's more the critical acclaim, more the recognition from peers I respect and put up there in that light. Build something comparable to what they do, on that level.
What can we expect next?
More music. I'm taking it easy. I spent a big bulk of my music career, 3 years with Unholy. Now, it’s about getting in the studio. I've already got songs lined up, but making more songs and not having to create a massive narrative. Not stressing myself out about everything like an album. Releasing music as I see fit and letting people decide if they want to mess with it or not. Keeping it easy, back to basics. When you arrive with an album, it becomes about logistics a lot and that can take away from the love or the passion. There’s nothing more simple or more natural than making a song, loving it, and releasing it.