Today I’d like to introduce you to a soulful electro-pop duo ‘Tropic’! Tropic is comprised of singer/songwriter Jo-B Sebastian and DJ/ Producer Phuse (Jarel Hill). I got to pick the duos minds on their music (including their latest single) and much more. Check it out below …
I always start out with an easy and quick question. So CD or Vinyl?
Jo-B: Vinyl! My parents kept a bunch of records around the house and firing up the record player was always a big event when I was a kid.
Jarel: I burned so many CD’s in high school. CD’s helped me talk to girls, so I’m gonna have to give this one to them. Thank you CD’s.
So for my readers who don’t know how did Tropic come to be?
Tropic: We met through a mutual friend, We heard each other’s music and both became a fan of the other. We started chatting on Facebook messenger, which led to Jarel remixing Jo-B’s single, and eventually we started working on our first single together, “Breathe Again”. We actually didn’t meet until maybe 4 months after we started working together. We finally met when Jarel invited Jo-B to his birthday party. We started playing with other ideas, one song turned into another, and another until we realized we worked better as a pair, and Tropic was born!
So you just dropped your debut EP “Bittersweet”. Can you tell me more about the creative and writing process behind that?
Jo-B: I actually heard the early sketch of “Bittersweet” before we even started collaborating on “Breathe Again”. Our mutual friend was listening to it one day and I remember thinking, “oh my God, I need to get on this song somehow.” It was just the perfect soundscape, equal parts electronic and R&B, a bit of a throwback without sounding dated. When I brought it up to Jarel, he admitted that he had no idea where he wanted to go with it and that he was considering just shelving the track. We agreed to work on it together and I sat at the piano, put the track on loop, and came up with a chord progression, wrote the lyrics and melody and sent it his way. It’s been the most collaborative and organic process I’ve experienced working in music. Each song containing elements intrinsic to ourselves as individuals, combined to make something uniquely Tropic.
Jarel: All of the songs on our EP started off with a rough draft of something I have been fiddling around with. Once I come up with something that I feel Jo-B can sing to, I send it his way. If he likes it from there, it’s a back and forth process until we’re both 100% happy with it. Whenever I get back the vocals from him, it always changes the way I think about the song. Also chopping up his voice has been a huge part of all the songs on the EP. Jo-B even contributed additional chord progressions, bass rhythms and melodies, so it’s truly been a team effort.
Let’s talk about your new Earth Wind and Fire cover. Why did you choose September? What were you hoping to convey that was new and fresh with this cover?
Tropic: We made this list of songs to cover and this song was at the top of both of our lists so we decided to try it. They’re also one of our top bands of all time so we really wanted to do it justice. It’s the most feel-good song in the world and our EP was pretty melancholic, so it made for a perfect contrast.
What lyric from ‘September’ do you find yourself most drawn to?
Jo-B: “Our hearts were ringing / in the key that our souls were singing”. I like the imagery of heart and soul being perfectly in sync and in tune.
Jarel: “Love was changing the minds of pretenders”.
Where do you draw your biggest inspirations and influences from? In particularly on the “Bittersweet” EP?
Tropic: One of the things that brings us so closely together as musicians is how in sync our musical tastes and inspirations are with each other. We’re inspired by both the new and the classic. New being guys like SG Lewis, Majid Jordan, MNEK, Marian Hill and classic being Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson &, Earth, Wind and Fire.
Which musician would you like to collaborate with next? And Why?
Jo-B: There are so many artists I’d love to work with. It’d be an absolute dream come true to collaborate with Mariah Carey, she’s not only an untouchable vocalist but her songwriting abilities, while constantly overlooked, are just as inspiring to me. On a more contemporary note, I’d love to collaborate with SZA, MNEK, Tom Misch, and SG Lewis.
Jarel: SO many in so many genres! Right now I would love for us to link with a rapper. Goldlink, Amine, Anderson Paak. would be some of my dream collabs.
What lyric have you written means the most for each of you?
Jo-B: “Sun comes up as I come down / never one to say goodbye”. I wrote these lyrics during the tail-end of a relationship. I couldn’t sleep, my head was just racing with all these negative thoughts, I literally had to tire myself out and would finally drift off by sunrise.
Jarel: “Sheets are warm with the smell of you” really sticks out to me. It’s like something Jamie Foxx would say and I LOVE Jamie Foxx.
Are there any artists that have been “On Repeat” for you as a band lately? What music have you guys been digging?
Tropic: NAO, SG LEWIS, Disclosure and Majid Jordan have some new songs we’ve been enjoying. SZA’s Ctrl album is still in heavy rotation. And newcomers Blasko, Moli and Weslee came out with EP’s that we both love. We have also been waiting impatiently for that Bondax album.
Throwing in a fun one here… What’s your favorite ’90s jam
Jo-B: Tough, I love ‘90s music but I think it’s a tie between Mariah’s Heartbreaker Remix with Da Brat and Missy Elliot and Janet Jackson’s I Get Lonely. Can go wrong with Mariah and Janet!
Jarel: Pony by Ginuwine
And what’s next for Tropic?
Tropic: We’re getting out there and playing this new music. We’ve got two music videos coming up from the Bittersweet EP. We’ve got more covers, and some remixes to round out the end of the year. Also we may or may not have started working on our next project 😉
Anything else you guys would like to add? Thank you for your time!
Jo-B: Just wanted to take the time to thank you for having us! Grateful for the opportunity and we hope you all stay tuned. We’ve got big things coming, we’re just getting started!
Jarel: No, thank you! Great questions. Really appreciate your time. Cheers!!
Stream Bittersweet EP below:
Tropic // Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tropicofficial
Tropic // Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tropicgrams/