Making his name known from Toronto, Canada, Five.others is an indie-soul artist who implements R&B sensibilities into his funk-inspired music. A veteran in the Toronto indie music scene for over a decade, Five.others have written, performed, and engineered for various acts such as The Lipstick Junkies, Swift Arrow, Naked Wild, and more. Five.others debut EP “Sweet Blue” juxtaposes melancholic R&B and soul with funky slacker rock guitars to create something equal parts jazzy, groovy, and contemplative. Emerging with the weight and heart of a full band, Five.others’ emotional and jazz-infused sound and style throughout this new EP is superb, melodic, powerful, honest and insightful.
Following the release of “Sweet Blue” in August 2019, Five.others were back in the studio and just over a month later he released his 3-track demo on Soundcloud. I was going to highlight one specific song but all three are a pleasure to experience. Whether you’re looking for a groovy tune to tap your foot to or a completely blissful moment of escapism within the music, Five.others will deliver. He is an artist on his way to the top and with another demo on the way this month, we have no doubt he’ll make up. Check out “Sweet Blue” here.
Welcome back to BuzzMusic Five.others! It’s such a pleasure to be chatting with you again. “Sweet Blue” as a whole is extremely versatile and diverse! How long was this project in the making?
Thanks BuzzMusic, it’s definitely nice to be back. “Sweet Blue” is a compilation EP in a sense. The process began in mid 2017, as I spent about 18 months making demos with the hopes of finding my style somewhere within the 40+ songs I would eventually record leading up to “Sweet Blue”. After I felt that I had started to settle into a style, say spring 2019, I sat down with my good friend and longtime collaborator Brian Davis of Goodday/Badday Productions with the goal of curating those demos into a more concise and cohesive debut release. We took the original demos and renovated them in a sense; we redid the vocals, ironed out some issues, Brian re-recorded some of the bass tracks, and most importantly mixed and mastered the songs. We did the whole thing in our home studio setups and it probably took about 3 months as we were working on it between a bunch of our other projects at Goodday/Badday.
“always” is a great new track but it seems to have a meaningful message behind the lyrics. Can you tell us more about this song and the 3-track demo you released in September as a whole?
As a reference I’ll start with the lyrics for “always”:
Here I am
Mysterious a higher plan
Delirious I just can’t stand
That things have gotta change
Things have gotta sway
But I won’t, no
No, I won’t go
Ever and always feeling so blue
Ever and always wanting to
Ever and always somebody new
Ever and always lonely too
Here I am
This song is definitely more straightforward and personal than most of my work, and is really emblematic of my intention moving forward after the release of “Sweet Blue” in August 2019. It’s really about being compassionate with oneself. After spending the better part of 2 years leading up to the public debut of five.others, playing some live shows, doing some (probably not enough) promotion, and achieving these goals I had set for myself, the first thing I could think to do was to get back to making demos. I mean, I have written and recorded more than enough songs, and focusing more on my social footprint is probably more constructive for my career as five.others. The couple hundred streams, the visibility of being public, and all the support, validation, and attention I received since August have been so nice, but ultimately fleeting within the vacuum of my self. There’s a lot of ambivalence that I experienced throughout all that, pride, shame, gratitude, envy, disappointment, that is all very displacing, and “always” is really about taking a stand against those forces, highlighted by the assertion “here I am”. For better or worse I am myself, I must continue to walk my path, and let that affirmation and acceptance of self propel me forwards. Self love is a muscle.
Since you’ve been making music for several years, how would you compare some of the earlier material you’ve written to what you’re currently working on? How have you honed your songwriting style over time, and what do you think are the main qualities that make a song truly connect and last in the long-run?
In general, five.others is a lot more relaxed than my previous works. Since it’s just me I can really do whatever I want, and for now, a big part of that is making my songs shorter than normal. Mostly I’m writing the song as I record it, so I’m not really even planning it out too much or writing the song beforehand. Since I’m in a place where I’m writing alone and in large volumes, I find it’s useful to keep my approach fresh. Maybe it’s not using guitar (my main instrument), or writing as much of the song without an instrument at all, or starting with the drums, any little challenge to alter the process forces me to grow and round out my skill set. In general, recording and mixing my own songs and working with a DAW are areas that I am still learning and improving at. Over time I think I’m learning to think less and trust my instincts more, lean into my isms, and not get too attached to any song or part in particular. Ultimately, that might represent the most important qualities in songwriting, in that there’s a level of honesty that needs to be conveyed, but really there’s no one thing in my mind.
What would you say is the most useful piece of criticism you’ve received thus far within your career? Do you typically take criticism to your advantage?
It is quite difficult to take even the most constructive of criticisms constructively, especially with something as subjective and personal as art. Often times too, the advice we most need to hear is also the hardest to hear. The most thoughtful and exhaustive criticism I’ve ever received was in the summer of 2012 from producer and songwriter Arnold Lanni, who was working with my band at the time. We had met and played for him, and eventually, he came to Toronto from California to produce an album or at least a song with us. It wasn’t so much one specific piece of criticism as it was 2 days of feeling my dreams go up in smoke. We all definitely learned a lot through that experience and I hope that I’ve been able to use it to my advantage, as I would with any feedback.
We’re really looking forward to hearing some more new music! What can we, and your evergrowing fanbase, expect from your upcoming project?
I’m going to be writing, recording, and releasing more demos on my SoundCloud, and continuing the precedent of curating them into an official release with Goodday/Baddday. I’d like to continue building on the scale of five.others’ infrastructure as well, perhaps a full length album or videos of some sort to help grow the project. In the meantime I’m hoping to release demos every 2 months or so, so I’d love any feedback or support while we’re still in the early stages.
Thank you so much for chatting with us again! Do you prefer the more intimate recording process over live performance? How do you personally feel when you're performing your music live?
I was always a pretty shy person, so I’m proud of myself for being quite comfortable and confident in live settings. Especially playing my first shows solo as five.others and being relaxed and in control has made it very enjoyable for me. My sets have been jazzy and intimate and very chill. That being said, I’m not sure there’s anything I enjoy more than writing and demoing.
Except maybe doing interviews ;) seriously though it’s an honour to be back and I really appreciate the platform and those who take the time to read this and/or interact with five.others.