How would you describe Chrysalis?

I would describe Chrysalis as a collection of songs that take you through a journey of what I've been through for like the past, I want to say, well, I was really reflecting on my entire life. So I guess from childhood up until now, you know, a little piece of me. That's what I get mostly.

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Before you started and finished Chrysalis, what was your vision for your debut? And do you feel like you managed to achieve it?

Kehlani reposted it. That's really big. I could not have imagined that I was just joking, I didn't think she was really gonna see it, you know what I mean? She's on the internet, but maybe not at the same time as me, so I feel like that was a surprise. I was completely surprised. That was like one of those things I was like, “holy crap!” I don't really know if I had any expectations for it, if I’m being honest. I just wanted to put it out there and just see how people received it. So I mean, people have been receiving it very well so far, which is not surprising, but encouraging.

Honestly, it's so good. I was like, wow, this is - this is good. Honestly though, because you know, when I listen to smaller artists, sometimes it can be - you just don't know what to expect because they're just emerging and this really impressed me. It sounds like she’s been making music professionally for a long time. It sounded very polished, so props to you for that. It was amazing. What was the biggest challenge you faced when making Chrysalis?

Traveling. I made the album with my producer, I only have one producer. She executively produced the entire album. Her name is Tamira Slade. I would say traveling during COVID. I stay in the Midwest, Wisconsin is right above Chicago. Just to give you some references, like Illinois, but yeah, I had to travel all the way from the Midwest out to the East Coast in Maryland. So traveling that far of a distance during literally a pandemic was very stressful, but we've done it.

How did you travel, train or?

At first I was doing plane but recently when I came, I drove here by myself. They were canceling flights and everything. So I was like, I'm not finna be stuck, nowhere, no airport. Nope. Gotta hop on this road and I'm gonna get there 'cos I ain't got time to be playing. It's only me and a car so it’s like socially distanced, you know?

Honestly. It's pretty much everywhere in the Western world that shut down with travel and even going like to and from certain places here had been really difficult. So I completely understand and especially when you've got deadlines to make and actual stuff to do. So what was the writing process like?

Tamira would send me - this is how we first started the album - I had just met her and we had been texting for a little bit 'cos we were internet friends and she found me off of SoundCloud and we'd just been like this 🤞🏽ever since. I was telling her how I want to make like an album about growth and all this other stuff, so she just started sending me so many beats, like literally so many beats. Like I didn't like [complain], she's a producer. She would send like 10 and then I'd send a song right back. I didn't really have that much of a problem writing for this album. I want to say it was relatively easy to write for this album and like Tamira would send melodies and stuff like that. So it was very collaborative, it was really like in flow, that's how I would describe it, writing this was like being in a spiritual flow.

Wow. That sounds really inspiring to be honest, it just sounds like it felt natural.

I mean, I told myself that I wanted to - cause this is my first project, I've never had like a full length album before, like [I] had like this EP that I did when I was in high school, it's on SoundCloud, it's not mixed - but this is my first like "album album", so I told myself that I wanted to be as vulnerable as possible and also as me as possible. I wanted people to actually be able to get to know me as an artist because I feel like I didn't really have anything out there for people to really understand who I was. Singles can only do so much, but to have a full body of work and to be able to introduce yourself to people, that's always my favourite part of listening to new artists. I'll be like, "oh my God, I love this song" and then I found out they have an entire project. That's always exciting for me, I'm like, "I get to have more!"

What was the feeling like when you put the album out?

I was honestly just very grateful to have it out there because there was, like I said, I spent two years, making this album with Tamira. There were a couple of moments where I was like, "this is never getting out." It just felt like it was never going to get out, you know, from having to travel and having to worry about funding for travel. Then once you get your funding for travel, then you have to go send these songs out to get mixed, find a good engineer. It's a lot, it's a lot that goes on, but I feel like it really shaped me now because now I know everything that goes into putting out an album. So it was definitely worth it, 10 out of 10 would do it again, will do it again.

I hope so! So who are you influenced by influence?

I feel like this is going to sound so cliche, but early nineties, late nineties through the 2000s, like that R&B, everybody knows that's a golden era. It was just something in the air through those decades, but I feel like definitely TLC. I love TLC. Didn't realize how much I loved TLC until like my friend had - her mom had given her a whole thing of old CDs for her car, 'cos she had just gotten her first car. Her mom had given her a TLC - the album CrazySexyCool and my friend put it in there and I was like, holy shit. I know a lot of songs off this album, I really fuck with TLC. They were easily one of the best and most successful girl groups. Loved Left Eye, I found out that she's a Gemini and I'm a Gemini rising.

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I'm a Gemini.

Are you really?

Yeah! Wait, so what's your big three?

Okay. My big three. I'm an Aqua sun. I'm a Taurus moon and a Gemini rising.

That's really cool because I have all of those in my chart. So I'm a Gemini sun and Aquarius rising and Libra moon and Taurus is somewhere in my like six, fifth, seventh house. I have no idea where I'd have to look at my chart again. Anyway sorry, continue :)

So, love TLC. Aaliyah, my mother played a lot of Aaliyah, a lot of Aaliyah, in the car growing up. A lot of neo-soul too, Erykah Badu, India Arie, a little Jill Scott. Classic R&B and neo-soul acts had really shaped me. A lot of older - I would say my mother played a lot of Luther Vandross too, a lot of Luther Vandross, [I] love Luther Vandross, so I know Luther when I hear him. Stuff like that, a lot of gospel, obviously, you know, I don't know which ones, cause you know, when it's playing is playing, but yeah, a lot of gospel music. Obviously Kirk Franklin, everybody listened to Kirk Franklin. So I feel like I just have a lot of influences from that. Me personally, one of the first artists that I was like, I found them [on] my own - like not from having my mother play it around the house - was Amy Winehouse. Amy Winehouse, definitely - was, I was like, holy crap, who is this? Amazing voice and talent. But yeah, that's just my short little list of influences I can think of off the top of my head.

Okay. And who would be your dream collaboration?

Okay, Kehlani obviously, come on. I'd be goofy not to say that her, so that's why a lot of people were like "oh my God, a big artist recognised you!" but for me personally, I've been listening to her since I was in middle school. So that's what it was for me. If I could go back and tell [the] little version of myself that she would be listening to my music, I'd be like, "girl you crazy." But yeah, Kehlani obviously 'cos she introduced me to another one of my favourite artists of all time, Lexii Alijai. She was a rapper. I love her. Her penmanship definitely influences my writing 100%. She not only writes, she delivers like an artist. But yeah, I love Solange. I love NoName, definitely NoName. Smino that sounds odd, but yeah I fuck with Smino and Kari Faux, just because she makes baddie music. And I think we can make some baddie music.

I could totally see you and Kehlani collaborating, 'cos I feel like I'm not going to say like, the music is the same, but I feel like it would compliment each other on a playlist and I feel like your sounds blend quite well. I could see it. So manifesting for you. How did you use TikTok as a marketing tool for crowdfunding and releasing the album?

Well, my biggest following is on TikTok, I think only have like 4K followers on Instagram, I think I just reached like 50K or something on TikTok the other day. I was like, "holy crap, that's a lot of people." But yeah, so I feel like I knew that I had a larger following on there and like I had been on TikTok for over a year at that point. So it wasn't like I was just like now trying to find like my target audience. So I guess that made it a little easier, so people have been relatively familiar with me. It wasn't like I was just making an account and being like, "Hey. Please send me things" you know people were - they knew me so that would made it a lot easier. And then also knowing how vast the community is on there of queer people, of black people, of women and I had seen other people post their crowdfunding campaigns and everything so I was like, "yeah, I could definitely do that" and people were like "yeah, you totally can," so that was very surprising. But I think what helped it out the most was like me being able to be myself, that's always my biggest thing 'cos I don't ever want to come off across as detached and distant. We all on this app, especially if you follow me, evidently I got something that you're cool with, you probably got some that I'm cool with too. TikTok the way that the algorithm works, mutual interests, strongest algorithm out there, honestly. It's insane, 'cos how TikTok be knowin' I have my issues before I even know I have the issues, someone needa look into that. So just asking for my community's support. People knew that I made music. My entire content before was talking about other queer artists so these are people that already want to support, already want to love music like [mine], we have a lot of things in common already. So just putting myself out there was the biggest thing where I was like, "yeah, it's time." So knowing that there was a large group of people who wanted to support me was very overwhelming.

That's really like interesting 'cos I feel like TikTok and music especially. It's grown together over the year from a marketing perspective. And I think it's cool because a lot of artists, big and small, are able to not just market their music, but really showcase like their personality in a way that they weren't able to do before. So I think it can be a curse sometimes, but it's more of a blessing I would say. What can we expect from the virtual and hopefully one day a live show?

I'm giving dreamy. I'm giving black girl magic all around. The set - 'cos we're currently, well I'm figuring out how I want the set to look right now and lots of pink. Very, very pink. I'm a very visual person, so lots of visuals as well. And just overall a good time. A night of quality entertainment.

I can't wait to attend, I'm going to like write a review and stuff. I'm really excited. So whenever it is, I really can't wait to see it. Where do you hope to go from here?

Well, what I can say is the album needs to reach, or I hope that it reaches who it needs to reach. While we were creating the album, I was very intentional. And that was another thing that I loved in the article that you wrote, because I felt very seen, like, I was like she gets it. I was like she just understands. But yeah, I was speaking a lot of intentions throughout this album and if I'm being honest, I was just manifesting the entire album. About life and how I felt like life should be coming in soon. I would say that I hope that it continues to reach whoever is meant for that's ultimately my goal, because a lot of people - I got this DM from this girl who had just like randomly found my music somehow. I think she said off of TikTok and she DMed me and talking about the significance of butterflies in her life and how she really resonated with the album and how a lot of the things that I was talking about, she had just went through and I don't know, moments like that, it reminds me why I love making music, you know, for being able to connect with people and know that. That's always what I've loved too, in an artist, someone who's real, someone who's relatable. For example, in grateful, the first line of that song is "shit ain't how I want it yet but it ain't how it used to be" and my friend, Dominique, she was talking about how funny that line is "because I feel you on that" and I was like, yeah, I do just be saying shit sometimes. So knowing that things I literally felt resonate with people so deeply to the point where people said that they have cried from the album, just listening. Yeah. And I was like, whoa, I didn't know that music that I made in a bedroom, I have this heavy of an impact on people. So I guess continuing to just reach whoever needs to reach so they can get whatever message they need to get.

That's so inspiring. I feel like you're so pure as an artist, your intentions are so good and thoughtful so I really hope that the universe brings it all back to you.

Stream Poet22's debut album, Chrysalis here.

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