Simply put, Ballad is more than an R&B artist. He’s a vocalist in the purest sense of the word. His latest music displays his love for music. On singles such as “Orange”, you hear the live instrumentation which bounces off his vocal progressions like a summer time game of tennis.
Ballad is not making music for today, it is clear the music being put out is music that he wants to last a lifetime. This level of polish requires many years in the game. Ballad has been making music for a long time, working out the kinks, and finding his sound. Thankfully, almost 10 years from the origin of his journey; he’s able to reflect on his journey with 20/20 vision.
I wanted to take it all the way back and ask you where are you from and how has that area impacted your taste for music?
I’m originally from Angola. Came to the US when I was 7 and have been based just outside of Boston ever since. I grew up listening to a lot of Angolan music, a lot of music from Brazil and Portugal, and of course from the US. My dad was a big DJ, so that played a huge role in the music I listened to
Was your dad your introduction to music?
I would say so! He had a lot of records, and was a pretty popular DJ in Angola. As a kid I would hear him playing a lot of MJ and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Nice. So when did you realize you could sing? When did it hit you that your voice was a talent?
It honestly didn’t hit me until my senior of high school. I had always loved singing, but I never thought that I could do it for real. I dreamed of being on stages and making music, but I thought it was just that, a dream. My senior year in High School I got put on the spot and had to sing in front of my class.
I was nervous as hell, but they loved it. That was the first time I ever got to see the impact of my voice. It made me feel like this was something I could, like this was a gift I could share with others.
So your senior year ends. At this point you learn you have a gift, you love music, you may also be getting pushed to go to college/get a job. What direction did you go in post high school?
My senior year ends and I was stuck on the pipe dream. At this point I knew I wanted to pursue music, but I didn’t know how. I got a job and I started making money and looking into ways that I could get into the music industry. Tried moving to LA for a bit, but that didn’t pan out. Ended up back home, but learned a lot from taking the risk.
Eventually an audio engineer studio came across a video of me singing and wanted to get me into the studio. I got in the studio with him and professionally recorded some of the covers that I had. I uploaded them to YouTube, and that led to my now producer “Jay Muse” finding me and wanting to work. We’ve been working together ever since then.
Why didn’t LA pan out? And talk about what you learned taking a risk like that.
Mostly because the transfer at my job didn’t go through. I mean, it did, but not at the location I wanted. I had been there for months, and I was running low on funds. So I just decided to pack it up, go home, and come back when I had a more stable plan. Honestly I learned how to dedicate all my time to music from taking that risk. I didn’t know anyone in LA. I was by myself.
That led to spending days in my apartment and just making music all day. I experimented with my voice and what I could do, and what I still needed to learn. That experience really helped me grow as an artist.
Wow. Is the experimentation what allowed you to experiment on different production? The beats you choose to use are very musical if that makes sense.
Most definitely. I was experimenting with a bunch of genres. I feel like R&B is at my core, so I take it with me in whatever genre I choose to dabble in. I definitely played a lot with my sound and took time to really see what worked for me. I still do that now, although I have a much better grasp now of what I want to convey with my work then I did back then.
So to circle back to moving from LA. You found your talent, you’re now actively pursuing it, and you have locked in with your producer Jay Muse? What happened next?
Me and Jay Muse focused on honing our sound. I got with a vocal coach, and started recording original material. I also started performing for the first time as well. We’ve been at it for years.
How were you able to start performing initially? What kind of shows were you doing at the time and around what year was this?
So my producer Jay Muse is from St, Louis. I would travel out there to make music. He knew some people in the city that hosted events. My first show was for an open mic event.
They had a band an everything. Usually you’re supposed to sing a cover, but since we knew the people who organized the event, we were able to have the band play my original music. We would try to find opportunities like that where I could perform my own original music. This was around 2012/2013.
You’re doing spot shows and making music, when I go to your Spotify profile there’s a gap in the music from 2014 to 2017. What happened?
Some of the music from that time was taken down and some were just never uploaded to DSPs. I believe my soundcloud has close to a pretty accurate timeline of my music. Although some my early work is no longer online.
Makes sense. So when did you see your career take that next big jump after 2014?
The year after. In 2015 I drove down to Atlanta to attend a music conference. I had the opportunity of playing one of my songs for a panel of judges who were in the industry. They loved it and I was in the studio making music that same night because of it.
I was able to network with a bunch of dope producers who had done work with a lot of big names in the industry. I was able to do a lot more songwriting work. The following year I dropped an EP titled “Croix” which did really well. My career has taken a big jump since last year. My last few singles have amassed a good amount of streams, and visibility on my music has gone up.
And how do you feel now, present day, with your visibility, numbers, and connections at an all time high? Considering the grind over the course of a decade to get to this point.
It feels surreal. To be doing this for a decade and finally feeling like my art and efforts are being recognized is a blessing. Especially knowing that it’s just the beginning of it. I feel like the viability is the culmination of all the work me and my team have put in, and we can’t wait to keep pushing even harder.
And what does that look like going forward? What are some of those goals you have as you continue to ascend into another echelon?
Just consistently releasing quality material that can stand the test of time. I’m always excited to start performing again. As soon as the pandemic hit I put a pause on it. Hopefully next year I can get back on the road and hit some cities.
I know my fans have been waiting. I’m also currently working on a mixtape. I feel like it’s been too long since my last project, and I want to give people a story that they can resonate with. I big goal of mine is to have my first album be a classic. I kinda use that as my North Star.
Have you been curating your first album yet or are you still focused on putting more music out first before you begin creating your debut?
I’ve had a basic outline of how I want it to sound that I’ve been adding songs to. So essentially I’ve been curating it. Nothing is set in stone, but the debut is always slowly being added to.
Last month, you gave us a beautiful record in “Orange” that showcased your vocals. There’s a lot of instrumentation on that record. What is the studio process like recording a song with this much live instrumentation on it. How does a record like that come about?
Thank you for that. “Orange” was a labor of love for me. It was one of those productions that just instantly hit and made you feel something. It pulled a lot of vulnerability out of me. I heard it and let it lead me to where I needed to be. It was very easy to record, because my mind already knew where it wanted to go.
Lastly, what can we expect in the near future for you?
As for what I have in store next, I want to continue to showcase my vocals and how my writing ability has grown. One of my main goals is to connect people with their emotions, and I want to continue to elevate that with everything I do going forward.