The Concordian sits down with Toronto R&B artist Anders after his Osheaga performance to talk about his first platinum record, sold-out shows and the powerful team behind him
Anders is nowhere to be found. His team greeted me and sat me down on a park bench in Osheaga’s “Artist World” where we’re supposed to meet for our interview, but the man of the hour isn’t in my line of sight. There’s talk that he’s eyeing down some sunglasses at a nearby pop-up shop, or that he may be refuelling after an exhausting hour of work. After all, performing in front of a crowd of hundreds in the blistering heat of the summer isn’t always easy.
Mere minutes later, Anders joins our table and introduces himself. Whatever he was off doing, he made sure to make himself comfortable after his performance, grabbing a glass of wine and opting out of his “Off-White” Jordan 1s for red Palm Angels sliders that matched his t-shirt. Anders is an extrovert – made most evident by his bubbly personality and genuine desire to want to speak about his craft. At just 24-years old, the Toronto R&B singer has a lot to be proud of.
Anders has most recently achieved his first platinum record as a for his collaborative track with Canadian DJ duo Loud Luxury’s Love No More. He compared the timing of the release of this song to the story of David and Goliath, since it came out following the worldwide success of Loud Luxury’s multi-platinum single, Body – a truly hard song to follow.
“Me and LUCA, who is kind of my right-hand guy, we created the song one late night in a studio called DAIS back in Toronto and it was originally called: I Don’t Want Your Love,” said Anders. “But I linked up with Loud Luxury, who were like ‘Yo, we wanna work, we wanna do some shit.’ At this time they had just put out their hit song, Body, and it hadn’t blown up yet. It was just sort of starting to– I remember at the time it was like two million plays and they wanted to do some shit so I was like, ‘Yo, I got this one I already recorded if you guys want to do something to it.’ I sent them the vocals, and then they bounced me back Love No More saying ‘We’re gonna roll it out, we’re gonna go with it.’”
The success of Love No More wasn’t Anders’ first prominent feature in the music industry. Following the release of the artist’s second EP, Twos, Anders sold out his debut performance at the Phoenix venue in Toronto that holds over 1000 people. This accolade was documented in detail with the release of The Road to Phoenix, a YouTube documentary curated by NST – the team, friends and label that Anders wholeheartedly stands by.
“Me and my two team members, Derek [Hui] and Will [Nguyen], when we started coming in the scene and making music, we wanted something that was more than just being an artist,” Anders said. “We kind of wanted a brand to go with it as well. So we created NST. In the beginning, we were just selling merch and hats, but eventually, we want to do music, labels, you know. Film, fashion – everything. That’s just a brand we created to kind of rally behind and it’s also something good for, you know, if ever I want to take some time to chill, we still have NST. It’s not like we’d have nothing to do.”
Anders’ relationship with NST is a two-way street, with both sides often consulting one another before making their next moves. Anders’ relationship with music, which dates back to his early childhood when he was forced into piano lessons and band practice, allows him to play a hands-on role in his songs’ productions. While he takes care of the musical aspect of NST, his teammates help boost the brand and market the products.
“In the beginning, me, Derek, Will – we were just independent artists with no connections to labels, wondering, ‘Ok, how do we market? How do we push the music?’” said Anders. “Will and Derek came from a background of producing events, so we said ‘Let’s do what we’re good at. Let’s put events out.’ So we did a little run of going from city to city to do these listening parties, because that’s kinda what we knew. We didn’t know that other shit. I don’t know how to get on a playlist.”
While Anders relied on real-life networking from city to city to build a fan base, the artist is aware of the role that his own city played in his success. Toronto is home to countless of international superstars, namely Drake and The Weeknd– two of Anders’ inspirations and influences. Without these catalysts, Anders thinks that musicians wishing to make it in Toronto would have a harder time doing so.
“It’s tough cause you know, even Drake, if it wasn’t for Drake I wouldn’t make music,” said Anders. “When you have somebody around you to look up to and say ‘Oh, they did it. Why can’t we do it?’ Right? But if you’re in the middle of fucking nowhere, where nobody made it, you kind of have to lead by example… There’s so much inspiration but if there’s nobody around you to see that, you kinda gotta draw from other places and pave that path on your own. It’s definitely a blessing to have an example.”
Similar to his idols, Anders does not want to box himself in as just an R&B artist, or just a rapper, but a multi-faceted artist with a lot to show for. In the short time that he’s been in the scene, Anders is proving just how far a strong network, devoted fan base, and loyal team can take you.