The Virginia-hailing multi-hyphenate chats latest single “Tongue Tied”, his resistance to genre boundaries, and his hopes of one day collaborating with Tame Impala.

Floyd Fuji

Photography by Tom Bender (IG: @tombender)

Floyd Fuji
Photography by Tom Bender (IG: @tombender)

“My approach to making music is always making a band in my head with me as the frontman on guitar,” Floyd Fuji explains. “And, mixing up the band members from song to song. For example, ‘What would it sound like if Pharrell was on drums, Flea was on bass, and Bjork was on synths?” Floyd Fuji (Kyle Thornton) has an expansive approach to music-making, unconstrained by genre or conventions. The now LA-based artist cites The Isley Brothers, D’Angelo, and Two Door Cinema Club amongst his myriad of diverse influences, the eclecticism of which illuminates through his musical world, loosely orientated around the R&B genre.

Moreish latest single “TONGUE TIED” exemplifies this, as well as Fuji’s knack for magnetic melodies and piercing lyricism. It follows “BREADWINNER”, a team-up with New Jersey rapper Topaz Jones, and precedes upcoming sophomore EP “Sunspots”, due October 7th. Now based in Los Angeles, the move to the bright lights of Hollywood has had pros and cons for the artist, however, musical opportunities certainly haven’t been scarce. Namely, Fuji performed as part of Kanye West’s house band for his Sunday Service and has found himself in the studio with icons like Babyface and Anderson .Paak. With a support slot for Hablot Brown also on the agenda, Fuji’s ascent to similar eminence in the industry looks set only to continue gathering pace.

Head below to read our chat with the musician about “Tongue Tied”, the “Sunspots” EP, his secret talent, and his bucket list of future collabs…

Hey Floyd, how are you? Can you sum up your headspace today in three words?
Feeling focused, healthy, and blessed today. Thanks for asking.

We love “Tongue Tied”! Tell us about the day you penned it.
Tongue Tied was made in the middle of the pandemic/lockdown era. One day, my good friends NASAYA and Robotaki were down to hop online via Zoom and make music remotely. NASAYA sent over some drums he programmed and I immediately hopped on bass and guitar in my room and came up with some chords. By the time NASAYA got the chords back, he’d added the warm synths you hear. At that point, most of the instrumental was done, but Robotaki came in at the end and showed us this beautiful outro he’d made that switched up the energy and created this cinematic ending. After the instrumental was done, I went and tracked vocals and did some vocal production. I love working with the two of them. We give each other so much space but are always on the same page sonically. We knew it was special from the first demo. I still trip over the fact that it was all done remotely essentially in one day. The track actually has this computerised but human feel to it that I’m glad we kept in the end.

You’re a multi-talented artist – a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, but what’s a secret talent that most people don’t know you have?
I’d say another talent that’s a bit unexpected is my decent to average skateboarding ability. I grew up skating a lot with my brother and friends. Apart from music, it was one of the only pastimes I really dedicated myself to. It brought me a lot of peace and taught me independence. It taught me a lot about style and culture. Even the skate videos influence how I approach making projects and music today. The professional skate videos are these guys’ [equivelants of] albums/EPs. It was a collection of tricks filmed over a span of time that were carefully filmed and put to match the beat of some obscure song that would live on my iPod for the next few months. There are some clips of me flipping down stair sets and jumping off ramps somewhere on Youtube.

You grew up in Richmond, Virginia but now live in LA. How did you find making the move from a smaller city to the bright lights of Hollywood?
Moving to LA was different. I moved here with friends so I feel it made the transition a lot easier. Besides the industry tribulations and just getting footing, I found it most difficult to fit in; eventually realizing that I didn’t have to. Richmond is a slow city surrounded by trees. There’s a lot of musical and cultural history, along with a very diverse music scene. As a kid, I’d be on so many different concert bills with rappers, metal, math rock, and indie bands. It informs a lot of my music. Here in LA, I feel like because a big portion of the scene is so business based in all genres, it’s boxed a lot of people in. “You make this type of music, so you go to these events, shows and sessions, and make this sound. Your brand is this, so you should wear this so people know what you’re into, and how to associate you.” I’ve never fit that mould, and I feel like a lot of music lovers living and moving to LA don’t see or hear things that way either. My mission moving here is to dive into different genres and scenes and be the through-line that connects them.

The “Sunspots” EP is on the way on October 7th. Congratulations, first of all! Can you talk us through the title?

I’ve always wanted to release music in the summer. I feel like my sound lends to the heat and the outdoors. So the plan was to drop all of these songs through 2022 and make it a recap of a summer relationship, that in actuality is just a love letter to remind myself that I’m changing every day. Getting to know oneself is a journey that shouldn’t be taken lightly. During the covid lockdown, I was working on lots of music and even released my debut EP, “Black Pontiac,” during that time. During lockdown around 2020, I was neglecting my health a bit and went to the doctor and found that I had a Vitamin D deficiency. Never knew all I needed was some supplements, some sun and self-care to feel and take care of myself. That’s how the name came about, finding the spots where the sun shines thru and being able to see myself in different lights.

Your own musical consumption is eclectic and has a strong bearing on your limitless approach to R&B. Talk us through how the different components of your listening comprise your sound.
I’ve just been exposed to so much music throughout my life. Though it all can’t shine through in the music, every listening experience has elements to take from it. There’s no such thing as a bad song. Genres have made it so we can differentiate artists and collectives and be able to sift through music on streaming platforms and record shops, but it’s halted a lot of the creativity that allows us to see how our tastes are similar in order to create something new. So much of the music industry has begun rewarding conformity in music. My music is absolutely rooted in R&B, but I never want a sonic expectation of my sound. I always want to make things that feel familiar, but also stand out as its own thing; with my voice and my production being the constant. My approach to making music is always making a band in my head with me as the frontman on guitar and mixing up the band members from song to song. “What would it sound like if Pharrell was on drums, Flea was on bass, and Bjork was on synths.”

You’re heading on tour with Hablot Brown this year also, what can fans expect from you as an opening act?
You can expect a very personal and energetic experience. I wanted my live show to feel like you were in my room while I was making these songs. So you’ll definitely dance. If you wanna cry there are songs for that too. I love performing live, and the fact that I get to do it with my good friends is a blessing. It’s not a bill that was put together by industry heads. We’re all genuinely homies, which I think will make for a special experience every night.

Where do you think the ideal setting for a Floyd Fuji concert would be?
My ideal show would either be somewhere in a mountainous wood, or some beautiful Japanese Garden. Definitely somewhere outside!

You’ve already teamed up with the amazing Topaz Jones for “BREADWINNER”. What other artists would you ultimately love to tick off the list?
Yes! Loved working with Topaz on “Breadwinner”. Would love to work with Tame Impala, D’Angelo, and Pharrell. They’re all just so musical and have the bounce in whatever they do. It’ll happen at some point.