R&B/Soul singersongwriter T.Wong talks us through his smoldering sophomore album, ‘The Upside Down’
By Sound Check
June 5, 2017
Ohio artist T.Wong recently released his sophomore album, The Upside Down. A 14-track body of work, The Upside Down was penned entirely by T.Wong and co-produced alongside Ohio producer/writer Parker Louis, lead vocalist for Forest and The Evergreens. Throughout the album, the pair push the r&b envelope as they pull from several different genres to create one, cohesive, super-chilled album.
T.Wong sat down with AFROPUNK to break down a few the album’s standout tracks.
By Ayara Pommells, AFROPUNK contributor
“This track wasn’t supposed to exist. I walked into the studio several days after Parks (producer Parker Louis), Vada Azeem, SPEAK Williams, and I had sat for hours walking through tracks that should or shouldn’t go on the record and Parks was playing the guitar rift that opens the track and hits in the chorus. Immediately, I was like “what is that?!” It was something from Parks’ personal archive, I asked could I get it and he was game. We went to work and in a couple of hours we had Wild.”
“I was feeling pretty dark that day in the studio and Parks was playing some pretty heavy stuff on the Akai. The more he played the more I felt this spiritual juxtaposition edging inside myself. I believe we all have polarity within, that fight between what we feel is light or dark or good or bad, ya know? Spiritually, I believe that God reveals himself as being both mercy and savage or beauty and pain either through and by himself, through the Son, or through other creation that may or may not have reign over this realm. And, as such I think we all have a little bit of that in us (i.e. let us make man in our image), some a little stronger than others, but its there and that balance can become a battle.”
“There was this book on Dizzy Gillespie sitting in the studio and I was already feelin’ some type of fresh that day, I don’t know why (laughs). So, when Parks hit some notes on the keys the first thing that came out my mouth was “Dizzy.” And, after that it was all about making the world dizzy from feeling your vibe, your walk, your style. It was an articulating of being your own rule-maker your own truth rather than exercising every suggestion people force feed.”
Photo credit: KVIZWHL
“Well, I love acoustic so I couldn’t let a project go by without trying to add a touch. I had just listened to BJ The Chicago Kid and he did this “yea yea” phrasing that was so dope, so I wanted to play with my own version. The more I played with melodies the more I thought about relationships and how dope they can be even in silliness and how toxic it feels when you stay on the surface of something that could be great. When I hit the studio with a melody in mind stemming from that idea, Parks and I set up cell phones in the studio and turned on the system and just played the guitar and sang the concept into existence.”
“I think it was raining that day, so I, maybe me and Parks, was in a very chill space. He was on the electric guitar and giving a Tony! Toni! Toné! vibe. The guitar was lulling me like a drug or like a siren, so my thoughts went to what it feels like to be coerced by temptation. Whether the temptation be good or bad, whether it be sex, drugs, money, love, learning, or what not, it exists. And I think sometimes we make it such a negative when it actually can be positive, or at least hella fun.”
“Parks typically prefers to start with a percussion line, which we would go back and forth about, but he laid this clean line with a simple kick and snare rimshot combo. Then he grabbed the guitar and while he strummed I heard a line in my head, of course I can’t play like him, so per my norm I sang the line to him and we got the chorus line. From there we built from the chorus. I was in a D’Angelo mood especially after seeing a D’Angelo vinyl in the studio while sitting next to the mic, so I followed that vibe through mixed with a little Isley influence.”
The Upside Down is out now and available via all digital outlets.
Follow T.Wong on social media @TWongCreates
*Ayara Pommells is Owner of UK website Rawroots.com and freelance writer for several outlets. She is also a member of Rapstation’s SheMovement and of Rap’s first Performing Arts Group, The Black Opera. Follow @YahYahNah.