Ant Clemons On ‘4Play,’ Kanye West, & Performing At The Inauguration

Working within the music business is lots like working at Crimson Lobster — take it from Ant Clemons, who’s executed each. Whether or not you’re taking drink orders or laying down tracks on the studio, “you’re in service to folks,” Clemons tells Bustle. “You simply have to make use of no matter God has given you to inform your story to assist another person with theirs.”

Making music serves Clemons, too; it’s all the time been his outlet. He wrote his first songs within the aftermath of his mother and father’ divorce as a excessive schooler in south New Jersey. After he made the transfer to LA in 2017, Clemons waited tables, sofa surfed, and shared his songs along with his mates within the business, dreaming of changing into the following Kanye West, Drake, or Lil Wayne. Clemons’ sultry falsetto and catchy R&B hooks started to get consideration from large producers. He was engaged on a monitor with Jermih when it fell into the best palms — Kanye’s, to be particular.

Kanye gave Clemons his large break with an especially attractive characteristic on “All Mine,” from his 2018 album Ye. All of the sudden, the alternatives began flowing in: Clemons was flying to Miami to spitball with Pharrell, writing enormous hits for SZA and H.E.R., and collaborating with none apart from Beyoncé. He launched his debut album Pleased 2 Be Right here to acclaim in 2019, incomes a Grammy nomination for Finest R&B Album, and carried out at Joe Biden’s inauguration alongside Justin Timberlake. In just a few quick years, his easy vocals and crimson knit beanie have grow to be immediately recognizable. “The inconceivable occurred,” says Clemons.

Now, after a string of singles, he’s persevering with to journey the wave along with his new EP, 4Play. Although his feel-it-in-your-chest beats are as mesmerizing as ever, it’s his songwriting that actually packs a punch. The lyrics examine love in all its varieties, conjuring up intimate moments and posing questions that we’re often too afraid to ask our companions. It’s a subject Clemons has been mining since his highschool days. “Love is all the time my baseline,” says Clemons. “The throughline for 4Play is the frequency of affection.”

Beneath, Clemons talks about collaborating along with his idols, slow-dancing in center faculty, and discovering solace in Chick-Fil-A.

On Screaming In Kanye’s Face & Working With The Greats

You’ve now labored with the likes of Kanye, Camila Cabello, Kali Uchis, Beyoncé, and Ty Dolla Signal. Do you get nervous whenever you meet people who well-known?

I attempt to be the child that I used to be rising up in each surroundings I’m in. Which means, I’m telling you the way large of a fan I’m. I’m the identical means within the room with them. The primary time I met Kanye, I screamed in his face and he began cracking up. I used to be like, “Yo, you’re Kanye West” and he was like, “Yeah…good to satisfy you,” and I used to be like, “NO, I do know who you’re, that is nuts!”

So sure, I am excited, sure, I am right here with a number of the people who I’ve solely examine in journal articles or seen movies of on BET. All of that led me right here, however that’s not why I am right here. I’d look within the room and be like, “What am I speculated to contribute right here?” Eradicating the ego of, “that is about me, that is my second, this is a chance, I’d by no means get once more,” I made a decision to modify the attitude to, “if God introduced me right here, I will need to have one thing I’ve to do right here.”

Pleased 2 Be Right here was actually private — the cellphone name together with your mother that you just sampled on “Mama I Made It” is so candy. What was happening in your life whenever you began working in your new music?

I am all the time working. When Pleased 2 Be Right here got here out, I had a set of songs that I had gathered from the time frame [when I was] coming to LA. That was the journey of coming to LA — sleeping on flooring, getting a tune positioned with an artist that fully modified my life — and I needed to seize that emotion and that feeling of being completely happy to be right here. [Now] I’m at this part of my life: I’ve been in LA for about 4 years, I’ve had time to regulate to the place God has positioned me in my life.

You’ve mentioned you like writing about love. Do you discover it troublesome to reveal your soul lyrically?

Music actually grew to become therapeutic for me round 2009, when my mother and father acquired a divorce. I didn’t have an outlet to speak about it. I really feel like loads of my mates grew up with out each their mother and father in the home, so I didn’t need to be insensitive to their experiences. I didn’t even know how one can relate to or take into consideration what I used to be going by means of, so I made a decision to make use of music as my outlet to speak about all the pieces that was happening in my precise life. Since then I’ve been utilizing music as my launch. Anytime I’ve a thought that’s too loud, I get it out by means of tune. Anytime I’ve an idea that’s pounding on me, I get it out by means of tune. Anytime I am going by means of something in life that I really feel like a dialog with one individual gained’t fully alleviate, I get it out by means of tune.

On Sluggish Dancing To Ne-Yo & By no means Giving Up On Music

What’s the primary tune you sluggish danced to in center faculty?

Mario has a tune on his second album referred to as “Music for Love” and that was one in all my favourite songs in highschool. It was a sluggish dancing tune. When “Music for Love” got here on, when “Mirror” by Ne-Yo got here on, these are the songs that you just’re like, “Oh, it’s important to go get a lady, as a result of it’s time to bop.”

Was there a second whenever you felt such as you made it as a musician?

A number of. This name proper now, any probability I get to carry out, performing on the inauguration with Justin Timberlake, having my first pageant expertise performing with Kanye — there are such a lot of reminiscences.

Was there a second whenever you needed to surrender on music?

I can’t truthfully say I’ve ever needed to stop. Early in my profession I signed a horrible deal. That was completely far more difficult after I noticed what a great deal was, however even that didn’t make me need to stop making music. It type of simply made me need to be taught all the pieces that I didn’t know, which acquired me extra within the music. I knew that not solely myself however everybody that might come behind me wouldn’t fall into the identical lure coming into the music business.

You’ve achieved main skilled success at a time when the world’s in turmoil. How have you ever taken care of your self during the last couple of years?

I went by means of lots, like the remainder of the world. I went by means of a breakup in the course of the pandemic. I invested that point into the studio and dealing on myself. I purchased a motorbike and began using my bike a little bit extra. Being extra lively and fewer on my cellphone has been actually useful. I field each morning. I like Chick-Fil-A. I’m a Chick-Fil-A addict. I work tremendous laborious on the fitness center and I erase that work with Chick-Fil-A. That’s one thing I do this jogs my memory of my completely happy place, it jogs my memory that is cool, nothing is mistaken and all the pieces is okay.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

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