Jan 13, 2017 4:21PM

Game-Changing Rapper GoldLink On The Future Of Future Bounce

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GoldLink is changing up the game and making his mark with future bounce — a sound that fuses house with hip-hop and R&B. He racked up millions of hits on Soundcloud in the early days, before dropping The God Complex mixtape in 2014 and catching the eye of legendary producer and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin, who he now calls a mentor.

The DMV artiste continues to remain hype off the back of his 2015 debut album And After That, We Didn't Talk, with a constant stream of upbeat singles and features released over the past 12 months. His refreshing and easy to vibe sound, combined with smooth rapping and funky rhythms, make his enduring popularity easy to understand. We caught up with the good guy during his Australian tour to talk formative musical experiences, the future of Future Bounce and the value of real life people and real life time.  

Darren Luk: You've been touring for the past 12 months. Has there been a city that was a highlight?
I want to say Belgium. Belgium was a wild one. It was really, really crazy. It was everything. They seem to really, really love hip-hop. Everybody just had a had a good time and it was packed, it was just crazy!

What's the funniest thing that's happened on tour?
There was one dude who was acting like a janitor to get backstage.

Like, he dressed like one?
Like, he grabbed a mop! [Laughs]

That's a real fan! Do you remember your first experience as a fan, or the first album you bought?
That made me want to do [music]? No. But I'd say a pivotal moment was when I was watching Pharrell's 'Frontin'' video in Virginia Beach with my family when it premiered in 2003 — it was fire. It was a pivotal moment in my life. It gave me a perception of what I thought I wanted.
You've mentioned previously that you have a variety of different influences. Is there anyone you are vibing right now?
There's a lot of young cats that are really cool. I'd always say Sango. You know, someone like that, he's really one of the very few that's fire to me.

Where do you see Future Bounce heading?
I think it's going to take things over. I mean, it has to, just the way that everything is positioned. I think it's going to be the sound of the world. It's so easy to digest, you know?

Agree! Growing up in the DMV, how do you feel the music scene has changed over the years?
Man, the music scene just existed. We never [really] had one. So I think the biggest change we have in the music scene here is having a music scene we can call ours. So I guess we're very new.

You've released a bunch of collabs over the last few months — 'Fall in Love' featuring Ciscero, 'Untitled' with Isiah Rashard, 'Rough Soul' featuring April George, and recently 'Crew' with Brent Faiyaz and Shy Glizzy — how do those usually come about?
It's a blend of accidental and deliberate, because I deliberately want to work with certain people to get a vibe, then I'm accidentally with certain people and catch that vibe. Like, I didn't know if I would have a record that would spark, but I was hoping for a record that would spark, but I didn't know who it would be with. So It's like half-half.

I saw that you had April George performing on electronic violin, which is pretty cool! What made you want to add that live element?
In this certain leg of the tour run in particular, I wanted to specify the instrumentation that was used on tracks so that people could appreciate instrumentation and the time that goes into that.

I'd consider you a game changer, who is changing the game in music at the moment for you?
I think Smino would be one, Anderson .Paak is great and Kaytranada, even Mick Jenkins. Those guys are game changers. Isiah Rashard is setting a really high bar for the newer cats. Hip-hop is in a crazy good space just off from the few guys I just named.

Legendary Rick Rubin is named as one of your mentors, what was it like being invited to his famous Shangri La Studios last year?
It was cool man. It felt elevating. You know, like, 'I did this, to get here?' It's crazy. It was a refreshing feeling to be there.

What did you take away from the session you had?
Just focus on your art and everything else will fall into place.

If you ever experience a creative block, what gets you out of it?
Time. I give myself time. I feel like people should give themselves more time. Like, diving headfirst into everything with no break
is not healthy and not good. The creativity suffers. Time and people. Real life people and real life time.

Speaking of people, I saw Chloë Moretz post about your music on social media. She's obviously a fan of yours and I assume you guys are friends, how did you meet?
Yea, yea [laughs]. She DM'd me and then my manager called me [and said] that we're meeting at a show. Then we randomly ran into each other at an airport and we solidified that we should be friends.

Are there any songs of yours that she's particularly into?
She really likes 'Palm Trees', that was her favourite. That's her shit.

So you don't drink or smoke, what's the reasoning behind that?
I mean, it just never made sense to me. I just never understood what that could do for me that I couldn't do for myself. A lot of people do it because they want feel something, so what is it that they are trying to feel? Like, feeling they're not alone? Trying to forget something? Or trying to be happy?

It definitely sounds like you have a good sense of self.
Right.

Can you describe GoldLink in three words?
Talent, sexy, black [laughs].

Photo: Darren Luk

Darren Luk