Yesterday Is Heavy

Lil Silva

Yesterday Is Heavy

“‘Do the wrong thing’ is my thing,” TJ “Lil Silva” Carter tells Apple Music. “Because everyone thinks, ‘Oh, we've got to use this bassline, or do that sound.’ But actually, we should all strive to be in the now. What feels good, right now?” More than a decade on from his teen emergence in the UK’s Funky House scene, Lil Silva’s genre-bending odyssey lands here: a debut LP hosting a vigorous bout between ego and self-doubt. “It's all self work,” he says. "But that’s important, because how much time do you want to invest in yourself? What do you want to unlock in your brain that you haven’t? How much are you worth?" These questions arose for the producer, singer, songwriter and DJ throughout the course of deep meditation and Theta healing (an energy healing technique and spiritual philosophy), and lay central to his ongoing exploration of the self. Yesterday Is Heavy crafts a moving elegy that explores feelings of alienation (“Backwards”), raw emotion (“Another Sketch”) and disjointedness (“Still”) experienced throughout lockdown, and remedied in rich, experimental textures that draw on the sincerity of Silva’s bluesy vocals and arrangement style, plus some eclectic collaborations (including standout moments with Sampha and Little Dragon). “I’ve always been skeptical about being genre specific,” he says. "I’ve always known that Lil Silva is going to be a sound. Yes, I’ve been influenced by Timberland, Pharrell, and even the early grime era of Davince, Plastician, Jon E Cash, Wiley. All have defining sounds. But I wasn’t listening to music for about two years when making this album. I was only going back in my archive, and bringing out what hadn’t seen the light of day.” Here, Lil Silva talks us through the 12 expansive tracks of his debut album, track by track. “Another Sketch” “I’m constantly inspired by the changing state of water. The idea that something can be, in real time, one thing, in the past something else, and in the future have a different existence, state or body. This song is about heritage, and moments in time, whether that’s in the past, present or future. So it’s about family, also.” “Be Cool” (with Little Dragon) “I started writing this song with [producer and multi-instrumentalist] Mansur Brown. He’s dangerous to be in a studio with because in between trying to finish a song, he'll play something crazy, I think we made five songs that day. His [guitar] playing is insane, and the way he's got his pedal game is a joke. He was playing this groove, and I done this whole beat around it. And after I wrote this song, I sent it over and [Little Dragon’s] Yukimi [Nagano] loved it. It really related to her, and she also added in a few things. I’d done some remix work with Little Dragon before, but we’d been itching to get a song of our own together.” “Vera (Judah Speaks)” “This track picks up from the tempo of the intro. I started with the drums off the top, working with [producer] Duncan Laurence, we did “Deja Vu” [on 2016 EP Jimi] together, and working with peope that I consider family on this album just felt right. We created this orchestral feel and had strings played by [composer and arranger] Sally Herbert. I’ve always known I’d have some strings on my album—and that goes back to my early tracks like [2008 single] “Seasons”, with the brass influence, I’m just pulling from that.” “Leave It” (with Charlotte Day Wilson) “This is a message about celebrating what’s right in front of you. There’s no need to worry, or at least don’t worry for too long. The clouds of doubts that hover over, in life, and sometimes in love feel like you’ll never move out of. But, however grey and however challenging, there’s a way to get through it. It’s too easy to get caught up in everything around you. “September” “There was a lot raw emotion in this. I was definitely feeling a lot of grit in that day, and it all came out in ‘September’. I was with James Vincent McMorrow and Benji B, and we’d clipped through this sample, and Benji played it for me at the perfect time. I was like: ‘Wow, I've never really put samples on my song before like this.’ So, it was paying homage to it I guess. James is dope, really dynamic, and always comes up with these crazy interesting melody trips. And Benji has done a lot. He’s the perfect guy to have in the room, for his energy, and knowledge of music, to radio, and fashion. It wouldn't have felt right if I didn't have the [club brand] Deviation family in-and-out of this, to bounce the energy off, because my music's gone from the club to here, and he's been a massive part of that.” “To The Floor” (with BADBADNOTGOOD) “It's in the title, man. Just get to it, basically. With BADBADNOTGOOD, we had this unconventional arrangement and it was about just pocketing those grooves, and the funk. This was one of the five, myself and Mansur had done, but I was like, man, this could definitely have an extra bit of funk—there's a groove that could be interesting here. So I played the idea to BADBADNOTGOOD, and they came through with: drums, guitar, and even some flutes!” “Backwards” (with Sampha) “This song touches on the feeling of alienation and constantly venting in the matrix you find yourself in, whatever that may be. Restricted and feeling guilty to move forward, constantly going backwards mentally; I guess the song is about being in a never ending cycle and the heaviness that can bring.” “What If? (with Skiifall)” “I really channeled inspiration from our roots on this record. You can hear the reggae, bashment and grime influence weave in and out. This track is about the course we find ourselves on, without even thinking. It’s about the huge role that love and family plays in our lives, but staying grounded and never forgetting what got us here.” “Colours” “I was coming into the studio shoot for about four or five days, I kept singing, ‘There's colours, colorus, colours’… it's like, why is this bugging me? It's every day, saying the same thing. It just kept trickling through my brain. And I made that into this beautiful soul thing, and eventually I switched it up. This bassline you could say comes from grime—but grime is in me. I used to be in [Bedford grime collective] Macabre Unit back in the day.” “About Us” (with Elmiene) “It was good for me to get back into my archive, it was like a massive soundboard for myself with sounds and work I could take. Across this process when I would have a block, I would just dig in my archive, as you would, it's almost like I'm going to remix one of my tracks that no one knows about this. It's all there.” “Still” (with Sampha & Ghetts) “We were all in the room jamming for around 30 minutes. And as I’ve dissected this beat—everyone behind me, they all loved this bassline. But I didn't like it. Just how familiar, or how close to familiar it was, so I flipped it and found the right bass. Then Sampha dropped the first line, and I knew he had to repeat it. It's so honest, man, it's just like, ‘Fuck, I still got all this shit to do’. And he just kept on flowing. And that was the thing: If it feels good to me now, we're going to do it now. This shit was lighting me up. Because if it's not lighting you up, why are you doing it?” “Ends Now” (with serpentwithfeet) “So we’re back to Mansur’s crazy licks. I breathed a vocal on this, and asked Serpent’ to try some vocals on it, and he fell in love. He just got it. Then he's taking my lyrics and putting them in places to sustain his vocal in moments, and pocket it differently. He’s also not trying to do the conventional thing, it’s all about what feels good.”

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