Ones To Watch: Angelnumber 8
Angelnumber 8 is a 23-year-old musician and fashion consultant that isn’t too worried about being boxed into one speciality. Instead, he’s interested on focusing on the overall melodic approaches to his music. Having recently worked with YEEZY since moving to California in the summer of 2017, he’s also released three singles in the past year. Angelnumber 8 was born and raised in New York City, originally hailing from the same projects of some members of the iconic Wu-Tang Clan out in Park Hill area in the Staten Island borough. As a young teen, he was stripped of the metropolis city lifestyle, moving to Houston with his family, which really enabled him to find his strengths in creative interests: music and fashion. It took moving back to New York City and running around the post-tumblr, pre-Instagram fashion scene, to realize that in fact, he wasn’t supposed to find his craft in his familiar background setting. Across the coast in Los Angeles, California in fact is where he would go on to explore his artistry.
Angel’s quality over quantity approach really defines and ties in together the euphoric mixes of sound that go into his music, from genres all across the spectrum like pop, R&B, rock, and rap. We first met at Joan’s on Third through a mutual friend Ben Buckley, and had lunch on a rare rainy afternoon in May. Afterwards, we drove over to Sprueth Magers gallery across LACMA on Wilshire.
You’ve spoke with Milk before in the past year. First off, what has changed since the release of “Club Lights” and your latest single “260”?
Just been working on more music. We just dropped “260” the beginning of this month of May, the song as well as the music video, so I’ve just been gearing up for the release of my first project.
You mentioned where you’re from in your last interview with Milk, speaking about the video premiere of your song “Club Lights”. I’m curious how you draw inspiration from your origins of being born and raised in New York, to moving to Houston as a young teen, developing your craft in Los Angeles, and placing it in your latest singles off this upcoming project this summer?
With music man….. I think I put everything into the music. My lifestyle I live and my experiences go into the music, so I feel like they are all connected. I’m from New York so the song in particular, “260,” the one we just did, the story is just about me growing up in New York, super young, 6 years old, and something that happened during that time that shaped me at a young age early on. All influences are coming from lifestyle. What I see. What I feel. Me just analyzing it and putting it into words where I feel more people can…..you know…. gravitate towards.
Definitely. From your past three singles it’s obvious that you have a great way of blending certain genres. Who are some of the artists that you draw inspiration from for all these different mixes and blends of various genres and sounds?
I listen to a lot of music man. My first exposure to music I guess is from my family. My parents are from Africa, so I’ve always been around sounds from them and then them getting more familiar with the on going American culture at the time. My pops interested me to Tupac, by him playing me songs….. driving us around. My mom would play African music, stuff that reminded her of back home. Then, my sisters in the crib…… I have two older sisters…..my older sister was around 15,16,17 during that time while I was just born, so she was like the adult of the family in my eyes. She would get out there and really understand what was going on in New York at the time. She would always go outside and come back in with the things she’s learning of the culture, and open the book in a sense, then sit down and teach us. “I just heard of Sean Paul, I just heard of Ashanti, I just heard of this person named Lloyd.” She would pop open the computer and go on Limewire at the time it was happening, start downloading music or have a bunch of burned CD mixes, she put out all the time. I was always taking pieces from anybody and everybody that was around me then. Just being around New York period man. Music and style is always around you……literally….as soon as you open your door! My first influence was Kanye, as well as Kid Cudi. Me just taking information from rather the music or style cues. Going into my later years, I started to really like ILoveMakonnen and fatmankey (Key!), both from Atlanta. I love how they were just coming with the different with the different sonic musically especially Kid Cudi, and I can’t forget Theophilus London. They weren’t just rapping they were experimenting with their voice and shit, showing the world there is space to do fly shit that’s not just rapping. You can come on some like melodic approach with twisting and blending genres and make your own pool. You can still swim with all these people but you can have your own pool as well.
I always loved older music too, that transpired into me developing my sound. One of my favorite artist, who I love is Joni Mitchell. The way I try to really express my inner self and relate to people around me comes from her.
Agreed. A lot of kids now don’t realize how original Cudi was. From the music to the faded APC denim with real vintage rock t-shirts and Jordan 4’s. A look that was super uncommon eight years ago. As well as going back to Makonnen. Those “Drink More Water” albums by ILoveMakonnen were ahead of their time for people our age.
[ILoveMakonnen] has so much work that is unheard of, you feel me, that guy is a legend in his own right to our generation and not to many people know. Maybe he is good financially, I hope so, but i feel like some people don’t get the recognition they…..
Maybe I shouldn’t even say deserve, maybe there is a reason he stayed underground for whatever the reason being. Maybe cases like this happen the way they do for people like us to go find it on our own, the same way I went to go search for his singles that didn’t blow up like others. Songs in an artists catalog that they’re just as good or in cases even greater to me than popular tracks. I read a book one time and it was talking about certain clues about life’s not out there completely because everyone has their own purpose in life and if it’s meant for you, you’ll keep digging until you strike that gold. Maybe he is supposed to be underground until he finds that inner power.
Going back to the foundation of your music, what made you really wanna click to the point of seriously pursuing it and going after your craft?
The love of music came first. Going on sites like “A-Z lyrics”, printing them out and just reciting them around the crib, getting yelled at by my parents and shit for cursing haha. When I moved to texas is when it really started to get serious. I had a best friends was always rapping in New York, so when I moved away we would call each other each day and he would always tell about this new wave of artists about to change the landscape of rap coming out in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. He would call me and say “listen to this guy Joey Badass, listen to this guy Kendrick Lamar, listen to this guy J. Cole” this is 2010,2011,2012. He would send me beats and tell me to fill in the open spaces….I would record on this bullshit mic….just tryna experiment and find my sound. For two years I would rap and I would just be like……”this doesn’t sound right”……I needed to find out what was right to me. I just kept expanding my sound and tried to pull influences from people I would listen to…..not even pull influence……but more enjoy what I was being exposed to because of them. Forming what is today unconsciously.
I remember that whole early 2010’s New York scene musically was coming about. The perfect example is the track “1-train” from A$AP Rocky’s debut studio album. You see this showcase of every groundbreaking artist at the time, come together, and perform a cypher basically on record.
That’s now our OG pond which is crazy to think about but at the time, this was the beginning of our culture musically. Everything was evolving back then, tumblr era, the beginning of Soundcloud. You were seeing organically the growth of music as well as style on these platforms develop into what we see and hear today.
Your music videos for songs like “260,” “Club Lights,” and “CA Girl” all transport the listeners and viewers visually to different worlds. What is the creative process behind them? Do these different videos represent different places and stories you’ve lived in your life so far……sacrifices you’ve had to make?
All three music videos have been shot and edited by Wyatt Winfrey and Nathaniel Leshem. I met Wyatt in New York…..maybe three or four months before we shot the first one in August 2017. One morning I just woke up two weeks later after I recorded “CA girl” in Williamsburg, Brooklyn….sitting on a bunk bed…. In the bottom bunk telling myself, “I need to get out of New York for now, my time is done.” So I called Wyatt that morning and told him “Yo let’s shoot the CA girl video in LA.” He tells me basically if I can be there in 10 days or less he can do it……so I was like damn. This is my call to sell a bunch of shit……borrow some money from a close friend…..and make this really work. The reason why I fuck with these guys is because they right away understand artistically what vision I aiming for by just listening to the song or me explaining to these guys the real meaning behind the sound. The picture came into their head right away……found the model, location, even the vintage car, and put it all together naturally. “Club Lights” and “260”, we work hard on finding locations, as well as getting all the precise props.
For the “260” video we stayed in upstate New York at Wyatt’s godmothers crib on this farm, something I’ve never experienced before. These 2 guys (Wyatt and Nathaniel) learned the camera that exact morning we were up there to start shooting just from watching online tutorial videos! Three straight days, we would shoot from morning til dark then call it in, until the last day we drove right after back to New York City. The process has always been trying to give it as much natural space as possible, what feels right in between set up locations for videos but at the same time have things filmed naturally, because sometimes that can be the flyest shit in videos.
Besides music, I actually first saw you on YEEZY Supply’s online look book on their site, which was actually shot in Milk LA’s marble pavilion. Can you tell us about your experiences working outside of music?
Growing up I’ve always been into clothes….better yet style, period. Just from being from New York, style is in your blood. Just going outside to being at school, you’re not worried about your grades. What you are worried about is did I get the new Jordans or not this weekend, cause my friends about to have them on monday for example. I was always watching kanye style wise, going back to overall inspiration. By being around woman around all the time in my household, really got me to dive into style full force. After I came to LA in August 2017 to do the “CA Girl” video as I’ve mentioned, something was really telling me there’s something else for me here besides making waves with my sound. A week after the video was shot, I had no bread, no real place to stay, just posted up at a friends spot……..no exaggeration…..I get a call. It’s Wyatt on the line, speaking about him doing some fit modeling stuff for YEEZY a couple weeks prior. He then proceeds to tell me there’s someone in the brand that wants to get me in there. We got in contact quick and I was told to come to the office that Wednesday, later on being changed to that Friday. That Friday came and I went up there to find out I was doing the first E-Comm shoot with the well established and respected photographer, Jackie Nickerson. From that day on, I was there everyday for almost 2 years. Doing a lot of fit modeling and e-comm shoots. I shot with YEEZY at Milk LA in 2018 in May, around this time I was also doing a lot of concept research with them.
Now conjoining the two creative forces, how do music and fashion coexist with one another or in a better sense feed off each other?
Everybody’s different with it. Everybody is different with how they want to tie it all together, but at the end of the day it’s all tied together by self expression. Fashion music art are all expression tied together by emotion. For example, “I wore this grey sweater for this interview because today is rainy and I feel a sense of sadness.” Life, period, is about what can you channel into your heart through different images of expression and emotion.
Lastly, What can we expect from Angelnumber 8 summer 2019?
Summer 2019 I’m putting out my first project the end of June, “Sound Math.” I’m trying to introduce the electronic boom genre. I’m flying to Texas to record this project at A-red Recording in Houston. Getting this project mixed and mastered, get it all finalized, to put out into the world. Keep connecting different people through my craft and see the perception of the outcome.
Stay tuned to Milk for more ones to watch.