A musical exhale after a year of holding our breath, Alt Therapy by Canadian Breakout Star Emanuel, offers a refreshing sense of perspective and introspection. Grappling with love, loss and everything in between the 12 track project stands as a moment of cultural catharsis connecting with R&B lovers across the world for its transparency and relatability. 

The introduction of 5 new tracks from the JUNO Award nominee, gives listeners a chance to experience Emanuel’s story in its entirety showcasing his masterful songwriting and soulful vocals.

Here’s what happened when IndustryMe caught up with Emanuel to learn more about the man behind the music.

Emanuel in conversation with IndustryMe

You’ve had what many would describe as a whirlwind year at one of the most collectively confusing times in the world. What’s it been like navigating that being unable to do typical artists things like touring and shows and like?

It has been difficult not being able to perform. Navigating the waters of remaining content have proven treacherous but healed a special endurance. It will be even more sweet when shows begin to return.

After ending up on so many end of year lists, what was your mindset going into 2021?

My mindset going into 2021 is as it’s always been. To remain grateful, present, and curious. Regardless of what’s going on around me. Keep growing. Keep healing. Keep creating.

Your lyricism is very raw and it’s clear you don’t sugarcoat when it comes to your feelings particularly on tracks like “Thought It’d Be Easy.” Why this approach?

There’s nothing more rich than the truth. I think the true power of the music lies in the testimonial. My attempt to access that power comes through being as frank as possible.

We’ve had disillusion and transformation. What stage would say you’re in now?

I feel like I’ve been in a season of pain but needed change. Separation sometimes feels like desertion to me. I feel like I’m at a time of forgoing anointing. I believe this time comes with a degree of struggle.

One of my favourite tracks from the project is “Black Woman”. Talk to me more about what inspired it.

The track was originally inspired by my mother and her experiences. During the creation of the song, it became a love letter to all Black women. I think the song at its comes from a deep yearning to have a conversation I find difficult to start in my day-to-day communication with Black women in my life. So like most things I have trouble speaking about with others, I choose to write about them.

The project also features 5 previously unheard tracks. What was the creation process like for those?

My creative process usually consists of me and few players just jammin off the floor. I like to freestyle, and build songs from that spontaneous energy. I believe that’s the best way for me to create.

As the title of the project would suggest there are means outside of traditional therapy to help get you through hard times. What are your 3 go to pick me ups when you’re having a bad day?

My top 3 pick-me-ups would have to be some weed, a good conversation with a close family member or friend, and some prayer.

On a more serious note, as you’re met with more critical acclaim how do you ensure all the outside voices don’t infiltrate your creative space?

That’s a tough one, I think it’s really a matter of how you see yourself. I feel like my family and faith keep me grounded. Making sure the creative process is kept holy is of the utmost importance.

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When are you at your most peaceful?

I feel most at peace when I’m in good company.

How does it feel to be part of the renaissance of Black art?

It’s something I yearn to be a part of, and something I don’t take lightly. I’m so honoured to be thought of in the same breath as some of the trailblazers and future/current legends I see making brilliant art.

Finally, what’s next for you?

Hopefully some shows, and to always stay creating. I hope to get started on a new project as I work towards getting some live performances secured.

Listen to “Alt Therapy” by Emanuel here: