Raised as the son of a Baptist pastor and a gospel singing mother, Tolliver grew up in the ‘wild 100s’ on the South-side of Chicago – an area associated with large-scale gang wars and a sickeningly high murder rate. He set out on his own secular path to LA to pursue music further. He sought inspirations from anonymous sex and the tides of emotions that come during and after. With its Alt-R&B kinks, his songwriting encapsulates mélanges of anxiety and breakdowns; releases and recoveries, and his experiences of hedonistic in-the-moment pleasures – and suffering the consequential repercussions.
Tolliver now releases the second single from the upcoming EP “Rites” – “Emmanuel”. Initially subterranean synthesisers emerge with Tolliver’s own 6-8 syncopated vocal samples, making for a dense, yet unsteady composition. The stability, or lack thereof, in arrangement force-feeds us his anxiety and the premise of the track – the uncertainty of [for want of a more eloquent description] whether one’s caught a sexually transmitted infection. The void of percussion gives us little sense of time-passed and how fast – something which parallels the artist’s unknowingness. Tolliver escapes clichés here and finds his own classification which resides between the realms of Alt-R&B and Contemporary Pop.
“It’s about having sex with strangers and getting tested over and over, panicking and thinking every cough, every sore throat is a sign of death, then going ahead and doing it all over again – ‘paranoia’ is the word of the day. The video replicates that cycle; I start off alone in glory under that blue light, get all gussied up in the mirror, only to panic and cut my dick off, and end up wailing in the night… Then it’s right back to the blue light.”