Floyd Fuji Talks Latest Single “Tongue Tied” And Gender Fluidity

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The multi-hyphenate from Virginia discusses the latest single “Tongue Tied”, her resistance to genre boundaries and her hopes of one day collaborating with Tame Impala.

Photography by Tom Bender (IG: @tombender)

“My approach to music is always to create a band in my head with me as the guitar leader,” says Floyd Fuji. “And, mixing up the band members from song to song. For example, “How would it sound if Pharrell was on drums, Flea on bass, and Bjork on synths?” Floyd Fuji (Kyle Thornton) has an expansive approach to music creation, unconstrained by genre or convention. The now Los Angeles-based artist cites The Isley Brothers, D’Angelo and Two Door Cinema Club among his myriad diverse influences, whose eclecticism illuminates his loosely R&B-oriented musical universe.

Moreish’s latest single, “TONGUE TIED”, is an example of this, as well as Fuji’s talent for magnetic melodies and piercing lyricism. It follows “BREADWINNER,” a tag team with New Jersey rapper Topaz Jones, and precedes the upcoming “Sunspots” EP, due out October 7. Now based in Los Angeles, the move to the bright lights of Hollywood has had its ups and downs for the entertainer, however, the musical opportunities have certainly not been uncommon. Namely, Fuji played in Kanye West’s house band for his Sunday Service and found himself in the studio with icons like Babyface and Anderson .Paak. With a support slot for Hablot Brown also on the agenda, Fuji’s rise to similar eminence in the industry is only set to continue to accelerate.

Head below to read our conversation with the musician on “Tongue Tied,” the “Sunspots” EP, his secret talent, and his list of future collabs…

Hi Floyd, how are you? Can you sum up your headspace today in three words?
Feel focused, healthy and blessed today. Thanks for asking.

We love “Tongue Tied”! Tell us about the day you wrote it.
Tongue Tied was made in the middle of the pandemic/lockdown era. One day my good friends NASAYA and Robotaki came to connect via Zoom and make music remotely. NASAYA sent in some drums that he programmed and I immediately jumped on the bass and guitar in my room and came up with some chords. By the time NASAYA picked up the chords, it had added the warm synths you hear. By then most of the instrumental was done, but Robotaki came in at the end and showed us this beautiful outro he had done that kicked up the energy and created this cinematic ending. Once the instrumental was done, I went to record the vocals and did some vocal production. I love working with them both. We give each other so much space but are still on the same sonic page. We knew it was special from the first demo. I still stumble over the fact that everything was done remotely basically in one day. The track actually has that computerized yet human feel that I’m glad we kept at the end.

You are a multi-talented artist – a singer, songwriter and guitarist, but what is the secret talent that most people don’t know about you?
I would say another somewhat unexpected talent is my decent to average skating ability. I grew up skating a lot with my brother and my friends. Apart from music, it was one of the only hobbies I really devoted myself to. It brought me a lot of peace and taught me independence. It taught me a lot about style and culture. Even skate videos influence the way I approach projects and music today. Professional skate videos are from these guys [equivelants of] albums/EPs. It was a collection of stuff filmed over a period of time that was carefully filmed and set to the beat of an obscure song that would live on my iPod for the next few months. There are clips of me going down stairs and jumping off railings somewhere on Youtube.

You grew up in Richmond, Virginia, but now live in Los Angeles. How did you find the transition from a small town to the bright lights of Hollywood?
Moving to LA was different. I moved here with friends, so I feel like the transition was a lot easier. Besides the tribulations of the industry and gaining a foothold, I found it very difficult to fit in; finally realizing that I didn’t have to. Richmond is a slow city surrounded by trees. There is a lot of musical and cultural history, as well as a very diverse music scene. When I was a kid I was doing so many different gigs with rappers, metal, math rock and indie bands. It informs a lot of my music. Here in Los Angeles, I feel like a lot of the scene is so business-based in all genres, that it draws a lot of people. “You make this type of music, so you go to these events, shows and sessions, and make this sound. Your brand is this, so you should wear it so people know what you like and how to relate to it. I don’t never fit that mold, and I feel like a lot of music lovers who live in and move to Los Angeles don’t see or hear it that way either. My mission here is to dive into different genres and scenes and to be the line that connects them.

The “Sunspots” EP drops on October 7th. Congratulations, first of all! Can you tell us about the title?

I’ve always wanted to release music in the summer. I feel like my sound lends itself to the heat and outdoors. So the plan was to drop all these songs until 2022 and make it a recap of a summertime relationship, which really is just a love letter to remind myself that I’m changing everyday . Getting to know each other is a journey that should not be taken lightly. During the covid lockdown I was working on a lot of music and even released my first EP, “Black Pontiac”, during this time. During lockdown around 2020 I was neglecting my health a bit and went to the doctor and found out I was vitamin D deficient. Little did I know all I needed was supplements, sun and personal care to feel and take care of myself. That’s how the name came about, finding the places where the sun shines and being able to see myself in different lights.

Your own music consumption is eclectic and has a strong bearing on your boundless approach to R&B. Explain to us how the different components of your listening make up your sound.
I have been exposed to so much music throughout my life. While not everything can come through in music, every listening experience has elements to it. There is no bad song. Genres have made it possible for us to differentiate between artists and collectives and to be able to sift through music on streaming platforms and record stores, but it has halted much of the creativity that allows us to see at what our tastes are similar in order to create something new. Much of the music industry has begun to reward conformity in music. My music is absolutely rooted in R&B, but I never want sonic expectations of my sound. I always want to do things that feel familiar, but also stand out as things in their own right; with my voice and production being the constant. My approach to making music is always to create a band in my head with me as the guitar leader and mix the band members from song to song. “What would it be like if Pharrell was on drums, Flea on bass and Bjork on synths?

You’re touring with Hablot Brown this year too, what can fans expect from you opening for it?
You can expect a very personal and energetic experience. I wanted my live show to feel like you were in my room while I was composing these songs. So you will definitely dance. If you want to cry, there are songs for that too. I love playing live, and the fact that I can do it with my good friends is a blessing. This is not a bill developed by business leaders. We’re all true pals, which I think will make it a special experience every night.

In your opinion, what would be the ideal setting for a Floyd Fuji concert?
My ideal show would either be somewhere in a mountainous wood or in a beautiful Japanese garden. Definitely somewhere outside!

You have already teamed up with the incredible Topaz Jones for “BREADWINNER”. What other artists would you like to finally check off the list?
Yes! I loved working with Topaz on “Breadwinner”. I would love to work with Tame Impala, D’Angelo and Pharrell. They’re all so musical and bouncy in everything they do. It will happen at some point.

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