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Fousheé Is Done Sulking and Wants to Rage
Fousheé Is Done Sulking and Wants to Rage,Vulture had plans to speak to Fousheé about her new album, ‘softCORE,’ and her tour with Steve Lacy when “Bad Habit,” the No. 1 hit she co-wrote, and Gemini Rights, the Lacy album she collaborated on, got nominated for four Grammys.

Fousheé Is Done Sulking and Wants to Rage

If you heard the most recent albums from JID, Steve Lacy, and King Princess this year or Vince Staples’s self-titled album from last summer, you encountered the elegant, ephemeral hooks of the singer-songwriter, producer, and guitarist Fousheé, a guest on The Forever Story’s “Dance Now” and “Sistanem” and Staples’s “Take Me Home” and a collaborator on a few Gemini Rights songs. We had plans to discuss her winning feature run, her tours with Lacy and James Blake, and her new album, softCORE — a project inspired by a trip to New York and an appreciation of punk and metal acts such as Bad Brains and Deftones, on which the artist exchanges the soulful delicacy of her 2021 debut, time machine, for riotous punk tunes, sarcastic New Wave anthems, and more — when “Bad Habit,” the No. 1 hit Fousheé co-wrote, and Gemini Rights got nominated for four Grammys including Record and Song of the Year and Best Progressive R&B Album. We spoke the day the Grammy nominations were announced about the new music, the cookie-cutter roles allotted to Black women in the music industry, and the alleged chaos of the Gemini Rights tour as seen on TikTok.

Congrats on the Grammy nod! How do you feel? What’d you do when you found out?
It’s exciting. I’m really excited for Steve, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I called my family and smiled really hard. I got off the phone with Steve earlier.

How does he feel?

It’s incredible to have this happen the week you’re releasing an album.
It feels like pine timing, but it’s also very chaotic. I’m trying to ground myself and prepare for all these big things and make sure I’m taking in these moments.

How did you meet Steve, and what was it like working on Gemini Rights?
We met organically through mutual friends. Working on that project was just that, a conversation between friends that we just happened to write out and put over music. He’s amazing. He plays all these instruments, so it felt like we were kids again, just working our way through the studio and trying different sounds and throwing lines at each other. A very organic and fun, refreshing experience. There’s so many memories of us running around the studio and drinking Yerbas, and his dog, Eve, and hearing the project in its entirety for the first time. I have good memories. It’s a tidal wave of emotion. There were days where we were laughing and days where we were more introspective.

You were around for the Gemini Rights tour. What do you think about the people who’ve suggested it went badly after seeing viral videos of show interruptions and fans not knowing the words to the single?
From my perspective, every night was consistently great. It’s funny what they took from the tour because I see all of it. I remember everyone singing along to every song and fans waiting by the door from the morning or the day before. His fans are die-hard. It’s funny what the internet runs with. Tour was great. Everyone wants to be viral.

You sang on Lil Wayne’s “Ain’t Got Time,” and he had a guest verse on your song “gold fronts.” How did those come together?
We met online, and I expressed interest in working with him, and he was really welcoming, so I went down to Miami. It was a really special experience, hearing all the wisdom he had and seeing his process. I understand why he’s one of the greatest rappers of all time. He had two rooms. One had a skate ramp. He would go in there and skate and come back and knock out songs. He went back and forth between the two. In the middle of me writing one verse, I think he recorded six songs. It’s efficient, what he does. I didn’t know if he liked mine or if he’d even get on a song like that because it was different than his other work. I recorded on some of his songs, and I left him with “gold fronts.” Later, I was in L.A. at this intimate birthday dinner when I got his verse and heard it for the first time. I heard the lighter flick and I heard him say “Fousheé,” and we were all running around. It was crazy. He’s become a great friend. He’s very true to his word. He came through to the video and delivered every way he said he would.

Let’s talk about softCORE. You’re doing something different with your music and voice right at the moment when other artists might want to establish one familiar sound.
This is just a journey, me learning myself and learning palettes. I had a lot to get off my chest. I was dealing with anger and wanted to place it in a creative way where it felt more freeing and fun. I didn’t feel like that girl sulking with the guitar anymore. It felt like a different energy, more aggressive and gritty. My lesson through the project was finding a balance between both styles and knowing that each are a part of me and I don’t have to choose. I can co-exist in both worlds. I hope people feel that same freedom when they hear it. I hope people understand that I’m not an artist who really sticks to one sound. Expect the unexpected. I think the tone of the writing is consistent in all my work, but the palette always changes as I grow. I try to be honest. It’s really hard to fake it. You can hear it in the performance if it isn’t genuine.

I listened to a lot of punk, metal, and post-punk. I took a deep pe with dark, gritty sounds, and I think they’re prevalent in this project. I wanted to be able to perform something I would have fun with and gender-bend within the writing and the role that I’d be playing as a performer. I feel like guys get to have so much fun onstage and are respected when they make music that is similar. They can rage and be rock stars, and I don’t feel like there’s a lot of spaces where girls get to do that. Not to say this is limited to girls. I am challenging gender roles in this project. It’s inclusive to everyone. But I do want to just create a space where women and whoever else feels like they can come rage and feel as free as I feel when I made this music. There’s a little bit of everything on softCORE. It’s soft, it’s hard, it’s vulnerable, it’s rage, it’s balance.

What past experiences with music gave you that versatility?
I grew up listening to a blend of sounds. My mom is Jamaican and was also a musician. She played the drums. She created an environment where we were free to explore creatively, whether it was music, dance, drawing, fashion. I was a quiet, shy kid. Art was how I felt most comfortable expressing myself. I danced and I wrote my first song when I was 5. Music was always there. That was always the plan.

One of the first writers and artists that I heard was Bob Marley, and he was someone who was writing about very controversial but powerful issues that were current, and he was just playing guitar and shaking his hair. He was always really freeing in his music. There are Black women who paved the way for music I make, like Rico Nasty and Kelis. Black women were really important in rock and roll, from the start to now, but we’re not always perceived with respect. People feel like women should play a certain role and make certain music. I don’t know why the response is so negative when we express anger. Anger doesn’t always have a negative connotation. I want to be one of the people who help to clear that path out.

I’m curious how you feel about words like progressive and alternative as descriptors for Black music.
It feels a little bit like segregation, but humans have a need to categorize things. I can’t wait for the day where music escapes those titles. I’m definitely grateful to have a seat at the table, but I want to shake up the table. I want my own table, maybe, one day.

When you drop an adventurous song and video like “supernova,” can you feel certain people sort of tense up? 
I think people don’t know what to do with it. They’re scared. They don’t understand it. It isn’t my intention to push boundaries. I just get bored hearing and creating the same type of things over and over. I get excited when I hear something new and different. That’s what I want to put out. Different is scary. But I would encourage people to stop being a bitch. Embrace different. Be a part of the renaissance. Embrace change.