Interview: Bilal Talks New Single and Video “Satellites”, His Thoughts on “Neo-Soul”, & More



WIG_4076(All photos by  J. Wiggins)


Veteran soul singer/songwriter/musician Bilal sat down with us and talked about the new single and video “Satellites”, and also his upcoming fifth studio album In Another Life. This album is a collaborative production with producer/musician Adrian Younge . He was very open and honest about the direction he was going with the concept of the single/album, and as well as his feelings of the term “Neo-Soul”.


Interview by Q. Lynn Green – @qlynngreen 



You released your last album “A Love Surreal” in 2013, when I first heard “Satellites”. The first thing that came to mind was “I get it.” It’s a lot more edgier than the last album. Was “Satellites” a natural transition for you from “A Love Surreal”?

Yeah. “Satellites”, this record is natural flow progression. I didn’t really force anything. I didn’t even know I was going to record an album, I just went to hang at Adrian Younge’s. Because we had just done South by Southwest, and I came out to check out the L.A. scene. Because when I was doing the “A Love Surreal” album, I recorded my vocals out in L.A. That was my first time recording out there for that long. So, I just wanted to soak in a little bit more of the vibe. Since I had some time off, and I went to his (Younge’s) house to chill, and we ended up making a sh*t load of music. Like, by the end of the week we had like 10 songs already. So, I was like I’m a just stay out here and kick it.


The musical direction, and creating process of making “Satellites”. Did the music come first or the lyrics?

Yeah, everything with this project, the music came first. Adrian would have a figure on the piano or drums, and then the song would come next.




“I make music to be a mirror for someone else.”

When I seen the artwork for this single, and later the video for “Satellites” was released. I looked at it as abstract art, and didn’t look at it from one perspective.

And that’s exactly what I want you to do. I make music to be a mirror for someone else. Because I know what it feels like for me. In art, I don’t want to tell somebody how to digest the sh*t. My biggest thing is to spell it out, and put it out there for you. What you take from it, is for you. It might be something I didn’t even see, and you tell me, and it makes me look at it differently.


It was certain parts in the video, it connected. I was just taking in the visual aspect of it, with the lady at the ATM, and you coming up behind her. It was so many symbolic references in the video. I sum up the video as, “thought provoking, self-reflective, and observational”. Was is it easy to come up with those concepts for the video visually?

Everything really just flowed. It really wasn’t a big complication when it came to anything. Even with the visuals…. My manager directed the video. (laughs) Everything was just like over a cup of coffee. (laughs)





Wow, it’s so rare to see artists that have a clear concise concept for an album project. Usually, the first single is how you get a peak into the album.

Yeah, exactly.

This next question, personally I have a hard time digesting this word “Neo-Soul”. I don’t like it. Because I think it boxes in artist like yourself, and the artists they put this label on. Their music is so different from each other. I know it’s a marketing technique, but I really don’t see artists embracing that term. I know it’s a style some musicians play as well, but I never saw it as a genre. How do you feel about it?

Honestly, I think that sh*t is straight up f**king bullsh*t. I know artists and musicians that have personally, personally f**king told me that my sound, and what I’ve been doing in the past has inspired them in what they do…. And they’re white. But they are considered high-end jazz, next level, futuristic jazz band, sh*t like that, and I’m still f**king “neo-soul”? That’s wack. The first time someone ever told me that, I was like f**k you. (laughs)

Right. Just to reference, “A Love Surreal”. When I first heard it, I heard so much rock/soul/jazz. I never once thought “Oh, this is a Neo-Soul record.” I know you have a lot of musical influences, I just took it for what it was, a masterpiece. That’s the only way I refer to it. It’s one of my personal favorites.

Thank you.

What can fans expect from the new album, “In Another Life”?

Expect just.. Don’t expect anything. Just kind of really have an open mind, and let it take you somewhere. You know what I’m sayin’? This music on this album, I would say is cinematic. Every song has its own story to it, you know? I wouldn’t say I was speaking on one consistent thing on this album, you know? That’s another reason I called this album, “In Another Life”. Because it’s just my take on other people’s life story. From listening to other people talk, or checking out the news and sh*t. Just writing from there, and not a place of my own life, you know?


Bilal’s new album “In Another Life” will be released on June 30th. The new single “Satellites” is available now digitally, via iTunes and Amazon Music.