This past week I was able to connect with Canadian rapper/artist, Powfu, to discuss his newly announced LP Gathered By The Lantern. I also asked him about his breakthrough single, “Deathbed (Coffee for your head)” that featured Beabadoobee, his upcoming touring plans and what keeps him motivated as an artist. Powfu will be embarking on a European tour soon.
Thank you for your time today! I understand you’re gearing up for the first single to drop from your upcoming LP, Gathered By The Lantern, called “No Balls.” Can you describe how the new single came together, and the lyrical inspiration behind the track?
Yeah, so basically I have a friend from New York named Skinny Atlas and he’s really good at guitars and making up little things and stuff . So he was visiting me up in Canada and he came up with a guitar part, and I was like “oh this sounds epic!” So then I recorded it and I just started kind of free-styling on it, like I always do, and then I came up with the main melody for it, the hook part. I just really liked it. So I sat down and wrote lyrics for it. The lyrics, I was pretty excited about them because I remember when the no balls part kind of popped in my head. I was like, oh it’s sick because it sounds super punk to me. Like, not everybody’s gonna like it. It’s kind of weird talking about it, and having no balls. But I thought it was super funny and also serious at the same time.
Sure, yeah I thought it was a cool mix of both. It works pretty well. I just listened to the record again this morning. It sounds good! So you may be best known for your collaborative single with Beabadoobee, called “Deathbed (Coffee for your head)” from Poems of the Past. Can you walk me through the process of how look for samples on songs like that one?
I mean, with that one I was listening to a lot of lo-fi beats at that time. And I remember I just found the beat on SoundCloud, and it was like it already had her sample and stuff. And I was like I literally would just listen to the beat and then my friend was like, “you should try rapping on it.” So then I went home and I literally just wrote whatever to it and it was very quick. I wrote it in like 20 or 30 minutes or something, and I thought it was actually kind of cool. I went with a deep theme for it like I don’t want to talk about just drinking coffee and sleeping and stuff. It was kind of boring inside. So I took it to another step and it ended up doing pretty good.
Yeah, it did really well for you. So congratulations on that and for your future success, too. So what is the process for writing your new material, and how has this evolved since the early days of your career?
I mean this is pretty similar. I still use most of my beats from my friends or from SoundCloud. I feel like in terms of reverting lyrics and melodies, I’ve just gotten a lot quicker at it compared to back then I’m better I’d say too. Like I still write it the exact same way I always do, start with the beat, and then I’ll come up with melodies or the rap, or whatever, and then I’ll write lyrics. And it’s what seems to work for me.
So what do you find most your inspiration to to write the lyrical material? Do you look for other inspiration from other artists, or what’s your feeling on that?
Not really other artists, I’d say. I don’t feel like I used to a lot when I started SoundCloud, because I was working part-time at that time, so I’d listen to a lot of music when I was working. But nowadays I don’t really listen to much music. I find I’m just making music more than listening to it. So I feel like music, I don’t really listen to whatever’s <popular>. I used to be super knowledgeable on what was trending. But now, I literally have no idea. I feel like I find inspiration from everything from TV shows to movies and the real life stuff, what’s going on in my life. And what’s going on in my friends’ lives.
Your second full length album will be released later on this year, and it really showcases your growth as a vocalist, too. I think you’re really coming into your own as an artist. Can you explain why you call the new record, Gathered by the Lantern, and who designed the album artwork?
Thank you. So, I called it Gathered by the Lantern because of my tour of Europe I’m also doing the same name. So that’s what I’m getting ready for right now. I thought it would be really cool to just drop an album as soon as I’m heading out on tour, especially with the same name, to tie it all together. But the first tour I did was called Flooding the Gates, and so I wanted to kind of keep the same theme. I just like those majestic types of names. I like castles, oceans, and all that big, giant stuff. Cam Heyes was the one who designed the album artwork.
What continues to motivate you as you progress in your career? You obviously found success with some of the singles I mentioned before, but what keeps you going?
Naturally, I think music has always been drawing me in. Growing up, my dad used to write a lot of music, so it’s kind of ingrained in my brain now at this point. And I think I’ll always be making it, but in terms of what’s keeping me positive, I would say God is probably the biggest thing. Even in having a music career, there’s a lot of depressing things that can go on. Everybody will have a rise up, and everyone will have times when they’re going down, and I feel like a lot of people base their whole life…I have a few friends who are also artists, and as soon as their views start declining, their whole life kind of declines with it, you know? You can sense that they’re stressed. I try to not let that stuff phase me, because it happens to everybody. I didn’t start music to get views, I started it because I truly enjoy making it. I just focus on the good things and praying, and staying close to God keeps me humble.
So you mentioned you’re going to go on tour in Europe soon, right?
So what songs from the new album do you think will translate well to the live setting?
Hmm, that’s a good question. I gotta think of the songs quickly <Laughter>. I actually think the new single, “No Balls” will be really good live. There’s another song called “Walk On Wine” that’s a new project I started with my high school buddy, Cody Lawless. The new project is called Milkshakes In The Valley and “Walk On Wine” drops on Sept 22nd. It’s kind of an indie-pop song, which I don’t have a lot of stuff like that. I have another song, “Mario Kart,” that has a similar beat. But I feel like those songs are fun to do live because it has some real drums, beats, and people can jump to it.
And also, the single “No Balls” has some interactive parts to it in the refrain that you may be able to have some fun with the audience.
You’ve collaborated with so many great artists like Blink-182, Travis Barker, and Jaden Smith, so I’m wondering if you had a “wishlist” of other artists you admire that you’d still like to work with in the future?
I don’t think I do, honestly. With Jaden Smith and Blink-182, I feel like those are some of my favorite artists. I mean, if we’re going big, I’d be cool to work with Taylor Swift. I grew up listening to her.
Yeah, you covered one of her songs on your last album…I think it was “Mine”?
Yeah, that’s the one! I’d also say Olivia Rodrigo has some good stuff she’s put out too. I don’t really listen to much music these days, so it’s kind of hard to say.
Anything else you’d like to share about the tour?
Check out my new single, “No Balls,” and the new album will be dropping out later this year. And yeah, if you’re in Europe around when I’m touring be sure to come stop by.
Thanks again for your time. Good luck on promoting the new album, and stay healthy on tour!
Thanks, Adam. I appreciate you.