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PAUSE MEETS:

6LACK

Talks Since I Have A Lover, purpose, and balancing creative & real-world energy. 

Artist: 6LACK // @6lack
Interviewer: Amal AlTauqi // @altxuqi
Photographer: Callum High // @callumhigh95
Creative Direction/Stylist: Taija Weeks // @taija_leorelle
Producer: Johnson Gold // @Johnson_Gold
Assistant: Jotaro Joden // @joejoden
MUA: India Rawlings // @facesbyindia_

“Have a deeper purpose and take care of yourself. A better you, is a better me, is a better us.”

A sense of celebration permeates the air, despite the fact that we are ponds apart. It’s a Friday evening when me and 6LACK connect over Zoom [arguably one of the most anticipated days of the week]. For most, St Patrick’s Day celebrations are in full swing, erupting into utter festivities across the land. For us, the vibrations are equally as high, as we look towards exactly seven days until 6LACK’s long-awaited return and the release of his third studio album Since I Have A Lover.
Now, the moment is here and 6LACK is back.
In a humble ode to embracing almost all aspects of love, 6LACK’s anticipated comeback album sets the scene for an artistically ambitious return. Having left fans hungry since 2020’s 6pc Hot EP, 6LACK’s soul-searching examination into his own romantic capabilities is sure to satiate the appetites of even the most ravenous of palates.
In a moment of aching admiration for creativity and compassion, he tells me, “It’s good to be back working – I now wake up with the mindset I used to have to force myself to have.” Speaking to 6LACK is like having a refreshingly honest conversation with a friend who is never too far away.
With PAUSE Magazine, 6LACK explores the unrefined side of life, love, and sacrifice. And as we find ourselves in the midst of a world often characterised by necessity – reading this is the equivalent of a big hug – and sometimes that’s all we ever really need.

Full Suit – Juh Jung, Shoes – Rick Owens, Silver Thorn Bracelet & Thin Silver Necklace – Hatton Labs, Rings – Aymer Maria

Nothing is more beautiful than witnessing growth. You bear a different side to you as you return to our soundscapes. One that signifies that you have ascended and have moved on from where you once were. Is this a new chapter?  

It feels good to be back working. Absolutely. Every album has been a chapter of its own. I think the first album showed where I was at that time – coming out of a tough situation, heartbreak, and a bad record deal. I was in my own way and not coming to terms with any accountability yet. The second album put me a little closer towards my feelings and the expression of myself. It opened my eyes and my heart to new ideas. This album has shown itself to be my reminder that there is a certain level of happiness I want in my life, and this is what I want to do. 

You’ve been working on this gem for quite a while now, so do you feel any pressure now that it’s almost time to release it to the world? 

I think initially, maybe a little bit yeah. But this process, for me, has allowed me to graduate to the point where as long as I am being true to myself and where I am in my journey, I don’t really have to worry about what happens once it’s out. The goal is to make it, create it and put it out – that’s it, no expectations. It’s not about numbers, metrics, charts, or anything like that. This is my journal entry. [Exactly] like the first time around before most people knew who I was, it was my journal entry. I always want to treat and respect it the same. 

I love how you’ve maintained that same mindset and trajectory that you had the first time around. Nothing else matters as long as you just put it out there: this is you and this is authentic to who you are.

Mhm. It’s the best way to because you can get distracted by all the outside influences and outside opinions. I think for me, I’d be more disappointed in myself if those things were able to get in and affect the way I create. [I’d never want to] look back and think “ah, I never did this because so-and-so said this…”. I just think – know what you want to do, what you want to say and that’s the end of it. 

To not let anything penetrate your thought process, damn you need strength for that.

Absolutely. It’s been the biggest task of this year and the last few years. It’s like you know and have all the ingredients for what you want to do and how you want to feel but in order to get to that part – you really have to be patient with yourself and have grace. And, if you fall off at any point, there’s always a new 24 so just get up and try it again. 

Oh my gosh, I’m going to save this recording and use it as a mantra every-day. I need that energy.

Haha, I’m telling you. It’s worked wonders for me and like I said, it’s just doing that work and doing that practice. Pushing through those tough moments of self-doubt, [you know], things outside of music, relationships, family things, all those things were the building blocks to get my creativity back. I had to take care of those things first. 

I mean, let’s face it, we are on this floating rock and every-day we learn something new about one another and ourselves, I’m just genuinely inspired by how calculated you are. Do you find yourself aligned with your own manifestations? What are some ways you channel your inner goals and dreams and make them a reality? 

Since the very beginning, I had the mindset that I knew what I wanted to do, I knew what I was passionate about and what makes me happy. I also knew what that would do for other people in the world. I knew that if I wanted to do it, I had to buckle down and earn it for myself. It’s one thing for it to be a hobby and it’s another to create things. I really had to earn my place. Even before ‘PRBLMS’ dropped, I had to work my way up; so when it actually all happened, I was like: “ok, this is the reward for what you have been talking about this whole time – and now you know for sure.” It’s like what the old folks say back in the day: if you really want to do something, you have to put your mind to it. If it’s something that God wants for you or whether you want it for yourself, run with it. 

Co-ord – Raf Simons, Boots – Rick Owens

Amen. In fact, only the other day I read this quote that said something along the lines of: “To be your best self, you have to show up as her/him every day.” 

Absolutely. When you’re in that mode and you’re operating at that frequency, all the things that you used to worry or wonder about, they just start to fall in place. Like today, I started off my morning by losing my wallet. I was a little annoyed, but I was running around doing all these nice interviews and I thought to myself “how did I lose my wallet that easily?”. We walked back into the hotel 5 hours later to see that someone had brought it back. Little moments like those matter to me and I could only imagine what it would have been like if that had affected me, and I would have carried a bad attitude the whole day. It would have impacted the way other people saw me. 

I think that goes to show that it’s reflective on the type of person you are, and how you handle situations. Who knows, today we could have been moody with one another.

Haha, exactly. But no, I’m happy. It could have bothered me for a moment, but I went about my day. 

So, how do you fulfil yourself outside of music? How do you balance your creative and real-world energy? Of course, taking into consideration that you are also a loving father to your daughter Syx. 

I think I just keep reminding myself that outside of music, there are a ton of things that I love. I love to be out in nature. I make sure that at the very least I go outside for a walk or go for a drive. Going to the beach or going to the mountains, it inspires me to be able to see things and process the world outside of the world I grew up in. Even spending time with my daughter Syx just reminds me of how precious and innocent the world is before we get all filtered out and compressed. Being around a kid reminds me of my ability to have fun and be filter-less. It’s things like being home and being safe, that also make me think about where I was versus where I am. It makes me feel comfortable and allows me to wake up with a mindset I used to have to make myself have. Now, it’s natural. It just goes back to what Since I Have A Lover is all about. It’s not necessarily about romance but it’s about finding something or someone that you love and honing that. 

Hat – BODE, Trousers – 1017 ALYX 9SM x Blackmeans, Shoes – Mihara Yasuhiro, Rings – Aymer Maria

Speaking on the album – Since I Have A Lover reveals a bigger purpose behind everything you create, you say.  Describe how you see life from a new perspective, approaching things differently and having a new outlook? Is there a track on the album that you’re particularly close to because of how personal it is?

Hmm. If I had to pick a track, I just keep going back to the title track. For me, on a good day it reminds me of what that sounds and looks like and on a not so good day it offers itself as a pick-me-up. I resonate the most with it because at the moment, it matches on both my good and bad days. 

Which leads me on to mentioning that as the title indicates, this album wholly embraces both ups and downs, not just in musical terms, but also in terms of the themes it represents. You allow us to enter your mind almost completely. With every song, we’re part of the journey. Do you intentionally consider your projects a combination of a body of work and storytelling? 

It’s intentional. For me, each time I have to present myself to people – whether it’s this new chapter, this new story, this new version of myself – it has been a healing process for me. If it does it for 10 people or a 1000 people, I just want it to carry that exact same energy. 

Well, if it has helped you along the way, it’s going to help others for sure.

That’s the goal. 

Coat – Raf Simons, Trousers – Balenciaga, Shoes – Maison Margiela

When it comes to music in general, do you think we sometimes overlook the importance of love and focus instead on our sorrows? 

Yeah. I think there was even a time where even my body wouldn’t create things. It was as if I was on punishment because I would try to create songs and make them in the same way I would’ve started them back in 2018 and say something that would feel more negative. I had to stop and listen to myself, telling myself that it’s not where I am anymore and it’s not where I want to be. [I’d tell myself] if you can’t say anything else, then I guess you’re not going to record today. I think that it’s great that we can make art from bad times but it’s almost as if we have trailed into a place where its fetishised – the dark part of it is romanticised. I guess over time it’s shown that negativity sounds sweeter and catchier to people no matter the struggle or resistance. 

With that and obviously as a lover of music and an artist – what’s something you wish the industry would talk more about? 

I wish people would have more conversations about healthy relationships. I know what music did for me in some of my darkest times and I want people to have that same reference point. I love when one of my favourite artists can pick me up out of a place and take me somewhere else to motivate me. More positive conversations, healthy relationships and analysing why we get to certain points.  

Looking at it, you’ve always maintained that you are here for a reason throughout your career. For the purpose of helping others. Do you remember moments when music helped you feel the same way, perhaps whilst growing up? 

I think the way Andre (3000) expressed himself inspired me. The fearlessness of how he expressed himself in so many different ways. Erykah (Badu) was another person that was almost like an aunt or a mother walking me through life and giving me tips. Besides that, people like Kendrick (Lamar) always had a purpose or a deeper meaning within their music. He’s always been super with always having a deeper meaning, especially Section.80 and good kid, m.A.A.d city times.  

I think it’s amazing that you can be an artist yourself, but you take the time to appreciate other artistry from a different standpoint. 

I’m a fan first. 

For me, I’m feeling that there is an overwhelming sense of rootedness in that old-school typa’ love. Having a desire to be loved is something we all feel.  What does the word love mean to you? 

To me, obviously on different days, there’s different meanings. Recently it’s been understanding. To understand is to take yourself out of situations and be reflective. For example, I used to be so reactive and if something wasn’t said in the correct way, it would determine how the rest of the conversation went. Now, I am at a place where I’m like: “alright, what’s the actual point, let me get to the core of it and only respond to that…”. Love means true understanding, it’s learning what ‘unconditional’ means.

  Jacket – Oliver Ross, Sunglasses – Bottega Veneta, Silver Thorn Bracelet & Thin Silver Necklace – Hatton Labs

Do you think that more and more men are exploring their vulnerabilities in the music industry? Have we made progress? 

I don’t know for sure, but I’d hope so. I think we are in more of a vulnerable era overall, even outside of the music industry. Everyone’s a little more sensitive and aware so I would like to think that it’s parallel with the music industry.

Let’s talk more of the album. The track ‘Cold Feet’ opens with someone expressing their desire for new music. “Your fans are starving – feed us”. Are you excited? Are you feeling the buzz right now?

Absolutely and as much as I have to take as much time as I need, I understand what music does for people. It comes with territory. As long as there is a line of respect there, I am happy to be back in it, to speak directly to people and to see how the music translates on stage when we get back on tour. 

It also features a few excellent collaborations. ‘Wunna Dem’ features Quin. Whimsical, soothing, and full of fantasy the chemistry of a collaboration is unmatched. What makes a collaboration worthwhile for you? A little birdy told me that a collaborative tape with Jessie Reyez may be on the cards too…

Haha, that’s been floating around. We obviously make cool music together and we’re good friends, so it makes sense. I think with collaborations, being friends with the person first is what makes it for me. It takes the edge off it and makes it much more fun. If I can meet somebody and have a good relationship with them, naturally we will make good music. 

There are a few songs that refer to ATL. These seem to evoke the memories of old places, old people, and old ways of living. While talking about the pain and the struggle to move past things in some moments, you seem optimistic about getting out there and achieving your goals in others… 

It’s definitely been 50/50 throughout this whole process. There are ups and there are downs. There have been days where I have been completely burnt out with not much to give and I’ve had to tend to myself and reset. That for me has been one of the biggest pictures I’ve wanted to paint on this project. I’ve wanted to be realistic about what it is I feel, how it is to work on an album, and then to work on a relationship. It’s not always the best and it’s not always the worst but you figure it out, find your light and keep grinding. 

You really hit the nail on the head when you mentioned being realistic. There’s nothing worse than listening to something and feeling like you can’t relate. So, the fact that you can listen to a body of work and feel better about having a down day or having to take some time out for self-care and TLC, it’s important. In fact, as important as those days where you’re like: “Ok, let’s get the bag” …

It’s all about balance. At first it was all music, and let’s do this and do a show and get back and then once I exhausted that part of myself, I had to take a few steps back and reconsider…

Humans are naturally resistant to change; it happens to all of us. Speaking of reconsidering things, did you ever experience a defining moment in your life when you thought, “Hold on, things have got to change.”?  

I think it was the voice in my head that was telling me that I had to work on certain things. Sometimes it’s easier to put things off for another day, and another day, and another. Then suddenly, it blows up in your face when you haven’t done it and you realise you weren’t listening to yourself. I had so many of those moments throughout the pandemic and it took getting to the point where it felt like things were falling apart and slipping through my hands – it felt like it was between the feeling I wanted to have versus the days I was having. I felt I was about to mess up my life for no reason, so I went to a therapist (who was waiting for me to call her). Once I got into that, I had soon realised that I didn’t need a solution – I needed to say stuff out loud. 

Well, in the past, you have actually referred to yourself as the hood therapist and love doctor. Is it yourself that you often turn to in times like this? 

For the majority of my life, it was always me. What I learnt through therapy is that I started to develop that mindset from a young age. It’s taken me this to acknowledge that at this point in my life, it’s great to know that you are able to have yourself, but we don’t always have to rely on that getting you through every little thing. Especially if there are people around you that are willing to support you.

So finally, on the subject of support – I thought it could be fun to go through some of the comments taken from online to really get a sense of what people are feeling. One fan said: “6LACK’s music made me get through so much in my life and I’m sure that’s the same for many of us here, whatever you do man keep doing it because sometimes people really do need it.” Another said: “I’m a highly anxious person but somehow I feel so calm listening to this track.”  Magical, huh?

That is literally the reason why I do anything I do as far as music goes. It’s great to have that gift to create things and see the effect. That’s the biggest reassurance and reward that no cheque could ever make me feel. I will never, ever, take it for granted.

And finally, what do you hope people take away from our conversation today? 

Every single day that you get up, you have the opportunity to just practice. It’s not always going to be easy, but we are all playing the same game. Have a deeper purpose, take care of yourself for the better. A better you is a better me, it’s a better us. I can’t stress it enough; I love to surround myself with people that are responsible for themselves as individuals as it makes me a lot brighter. Everybody just working on themselves. It really does make things a little smoother in this crazy, crazy world. 

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