Feature: The Ingredients of RITES with Tolliver

Monday, November 5, 2018

Last month, R&B artist Tolliver shared his debut EP RITES. The son of a pastor, Tolliver's EP is an exploration of his identity, as well as his connection to religion. To celebrate its release, he dives into the story behind the EP for us.

Late Night Parties
Late night parties were the strongest influence on this EP. Not only in the sense that the songs are hedonistic, but also because of how wrecked and paranoid they left me the next day. I’m nocturnal by nature and don’t really feel at home in the light. I also met my two closest collaborators, Kellen Malloy and Ramiro Zapata, at a late night party. So. Go figure.

Grindr was everything to me around this time. I was having sex with hella dudes, an experience that was more beautiful than I thought it would be. The temporary, intense intimacy. The exploration, kissing complete strangers. I loved it all. This eventually led to serious paranoia, which I both regret and understand. 

(Photo is unrelated, I just really like this picture. maybe I'm on the way to a guy's house.)

Dez Fink
Dez Fink was the band I met at that late night party, and their music and aesthetic shaped so much of my sound. They brought me on stage when they had big shows, introduced me to so many great friends and artists, and let me crash at their house when I needed to. 

Echo Park Lake
Echo Park Lake was my place to fuckin slowwww down. A stark contrast to the bombastic, beat-soaked warehouses I basically lived in, it was peace. It connected me to the real world and to nature. I had like, favorite animals I would see in the park all the time. I sketched out a lot of songs here. 

Church was the biggest influence on this EP, and it will be the biggest influence on everything I subsequently write, think or feel. I can’t shake the shame of letting down everyone I grew up with, but I find so much joy in the music and community. Rites is about that conflict, as is my life. 

You can listen to RITES by Tolliver below: