in , ,

Interview: Until The Ribbon Breaks

Piper Ferguson

Until your ribbon breaks

A short time ago, I enjoyed an intimate evening with Republic Records and co. on the Lower East Side, and I must say, it was truly an inviting experience. From sitting beside Until The Ribbon Breaks, the enthralling new talent, to being solicited by an Asian woman who sold packs of Marlboros and “DVD Porn”, it was a typical New York night, for sure.

If you’re wondering what makes him so special. Ladies, my next sentence should make you drown at your desks. He was lovable, handsome and most importantly, in my book, belly-busting funny. We guffawed until my adult curfew neared. Before me was a 90-minute journey and I was alone. To be straight up with you, quite frankly, frolicking on the streets of New York City at 3am, in any borough, alone, as a woman is never a good idea. You’d be inviting “adventures of the night”. For now, that’s all I will voluntarily say about that.

When thinking about his musical talents, why he’s so good and how he effortlessly fulfills your desires and expectations without subjective dispute, desperately, the human in you wants to connect it to something. You want to point it out to people that he’s here, in the market, because he is supposed to be. He was born to be here. Much like creativity, you cannot truly explain it. You feel it and it is your job to show it and share it with the world.

I find that there’s a meaty difference between creating a single, or a record that borrows from an era (See: Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines) and legitimately embodying a timeless spirit. What type of spirit you might ponder? The spirit that once was nurtured and molded from a structural, outfitted era in pop music. What I am telling you is that, his authentic skill cannot be fabricated and I, as a journalist, felt the need to yoke it with formal training or traditional, classical influences. Not bad for an act that’s been around for 18 months, isn’t it?

I remember thinking, “Perhaps, his musical cadence can be linked to training during childhood, or maybe a musical family attribute” and indeed it was. Both of his parents are musicians, much like The Jackson’s parents. All I could think was, “My God! We’re onto something.” His dad makes parts for instruments and his mom plays in the ballet. I get him to go in depth about his musical beginnings.

[quote]There was always pianos in my house. There was always music going on, so it’s difficult to say an actual date. I was always kind of making music,” he said. “Not making music, but at least, listening to music,” he corrected.[/quote]

When it comes to his current sound and influence of his style, he says:

[quote]I just wanted to do a project that was completely — making music based entirely on what I wanted to do. Not thinking about genre, or anything. Not thinking about anything, anybody else. Just making something that I would want to listen to myself.[/quote]

He made a collection of 10 or 11 songs, he played it for his friend, and he asked, “What are you going to do with it?” because it just jumped around from genre to genre. “Like, how are you going to present it?”, he added. His response would have been considered foolhardy to most. When he was a kid, he used to make mix tapes for people on cassettes. “You would give it to a girl you would try to impress,” he explained. “And when someone gave one to you, it was so precious that you would play it until the ribbon breaks… And as soon as I said it, ‘I was like ‘Bang!’ That’s it. It was like a light switch. By him asking me that question, he gave me the name.”

Well, whoever he is has to be happy that he did.

Interview Highlights


In the U.K., as a 14-year-old skateboarder, he disclosed that he listened to a lot of Hip-Hop music.

[quote]I’d go home and my parents would be listening to film music or Paul Simon or Nina Simone, Elton John — Like classic songs. So, that mixture with Hip-Hop and proper songwriting over the top of it, that’s kind of where I’ve ended up, I think,” he said. “I hope.”[/quote]

When asked if he has any challenges, he responded:

[quote]Firstly, I would never complain about anything because I’ve managed to get to my age and make music for a living, so I’m blessed. So, there’s no problem but — the big but — I guess sometimes you suffer from like — you worry about your place, especially nowadays, I think there’s so much coming at you. There’s a million songs at least a day. Cause sometimes you can feel that you’re getting a bit lost. I guess you just have to have faith that if one person touched by what you do, then you’ve done okay. You can’t look at a bigger picture than that. I think if you look at a bigger picture than that, then you’re being unrealistic. If I get one message on Soundcloud or whatever that says ‘Your song really did something for me’ then it’s still doing okay.”[/quote]

On the Inspiration for ‘2025’

[quote]I think it’s just incredibly scary, sometimes now, when I’ll go on the tube [subway] tube, for anyone reading, is the British subway.[/quote]

“I was thinking YouTube,” I admitted.

[quote]You notice more and more that people are glued to their phones and I don’t discount myself from that. You find yourself sometimes with a laptop on your lap,” he laughs. “Sometimes, I’ll have a laptop, and an iPad and an iPhone and someone phones you and then you worry about your emails. The more and more that becomes people’s focus of attention, I think the more people will separate themselves from each other. The more technology you put in front of you before another person, the more the human relationships are further apart and I think that’s really scary. So, I think ‘2025’ was like an imagination of ‘What about in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years? If this continues in the rate we’re going at, it’s the end of connection. If we all disconnect that much, we’ll be completely lost,” he laughs and jokes, “It’s a really happy song basically.”[/quote]

On ‘Pressure’

Pressure sounds like it’s about a relationship but it’s actually about — there we some riots in London, and it’s about kind of falling out of love with the way that your government or your country deals with something like that. Without going too far into it, it was like the way the media manipulated people, and then, the way that the people reacted to the media and it was just a kind of similar to ‘2025’. A lot of the record is [telling you to] open your eyes [and question], ‘Is this really where we’re at?” If we keep heading this way, we’re fucked and it’s not in a preachy way. It’s not like I’m different. I’m in this boat too. Fuck, we’re heading nowhere very fast. That’s what a lot of the songs are about.


He just released what he likes to call a “reimagination” for Lorde’s ‘Royals’. You can listen to it below. We’ve also added ‘Pressure’ and you can click here to listen to ‘2025’. You’ll love this song!


For more Until The Ribbon Breaks, just click here.

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is part of the Complex Day Ones, an exclusive community to help make the Complex experiences even better.