By Kyley Jones | March 20, 2023
VINCINT is back, and he’s ushering in a new, joy-filled era. In 2021, Vincint Cannady, known as VINCINT, released his debut album, There Will Be Tears. After a year-long hiatus, the singer-songwriter is finally ready to grace the world with new music, and we got to groove along with him as he catalyzed the start of an exciting year.
The show at Racket was a celebration of his recently released single, “Romance,” and a thrillingly intimate experience that allowed fans to connect with the artist. The song is a vulnerable expression of the all-encompassing feeling that arises when you witness someone you admire not receiving the affection they deserve and think, “I could love you better.” Or, in VINCINT’s case, “I could give you romance.”
Despite the rain, fans made their way to Racket to kick off their Friday nights. The Philadelphia-born, Los Angeles-based musician opened the show with his debut single, “Marrow.” An intense song about loving someone with a depth that penetrates every fiber of your being, VINCINT’s passion radiated to every corner of the room. Throughout the course of his hour-long set, he commanded the room with an electrifying presence that almost made the stage seem too small for him. On two occasions, he left the stage and floated through the room, enrapturing the audience with an up close and personal moment that we’re sure many fans will never forget. Bodies moved and grooved to the heavy pop beats of songs like “Higher,” and soaked in every note the singer had to offer.
VINCINT’s contagious sense of joy could make anyone believe in romance, and his new single is only a small chunk of what he has to offer to the world. He teased the audience with several new songs and announced the upcoming release of not one, but two new albums this year. In a mid-set interview with People Magazine’s Jack Irvin, VINCINT spoke about recent legislation targeting the LGBTQIA+ community and reminded his audience of largely Queer listeners that the most radical thing they can do in these moments is maintain a sense of joy. His words were a refreshing reminder that the world has the capacity to be as great as it is difficult.
It’s clear that VINCINT has no problem laying his emotions on the table, and he
wants his audience to do the same. He has a unique musical ability to juxtapose these often sad emotions with upbeat dance hooks that are callbacks to pop divas of decades past. This contrast points to the ebbs and flows of heartbreak and demonstrates that in the midst of struggle, emotions are rarely black and white. Rather, they are messy and complex. Sometimes you want to cry, and sometimes you want to get up and dance. Sometimes you want to do both at the same time, and VINCINT’s music gives you the freedom to do that.
We caught up with VINCINT before his show at Racket, where he answered a few questions for the groovement:
How are you feeling about your show tonight at Racket?
I’m feeling good. I’m excited because I haven’t played in New York since tour. I’m really, really pumped because I’m playing new music tonight. I’m always anxious before playing something new. I’m like, hope the girls like it! It’s been kind of revving up to this since I started working on the music. I’m in the moment, so I’m just gonna take it in.
What is your pre-show routine (anything you need to do, eat or drink)?
I have to have Aloe water, tea, and I have to listen to every girl band that I’ve ever loved in life. When you walked in, I was listening to HAIM, then Beyoncé. Then SZA was on during the walk here. Just all girls who get me empowered to feel safe and calm.
How did your experience in music begin?
My dad was a singer, and that’s how I was introduced to music. My grandmother was a singer as well. He sang in a professional gospel group, and that’s how I first started off. My dad was always singing around the house and kind of influenced and nurtured me into singing, and I figured out that I loved it. When I was around seven or eight, I started writing songs, I joined a choir, and it kind of evolved from there. I went to school at Berklee in Boston, but [my dad] was a catalyst for me feeling alive in music and wanting to make it a lifestyle.
Have you ever thought about what you would have done if you hadn’t become a musician?
Really, all the time. If I wasn’t a musician, I would for sure be a chef. I wanted to go to cooking school. I cook a lot at home, and I bake a lot. My grandma taught me to cook. My family has really influenced a lot of aspects of my life.
What’s your go-to meal?
I make this amazing smothered chicken. It’s like this cream of mushroom smothered chicken. I stuff it with rice, and it’s on this bed of cabbage and wild greens. It’s a whole thing. It’s really tasty. I’ll make it for you some time.
We won’t forget that. Okay, going back to music. What was the first show that you performed?
The first show I ever did was at my church. I was probably 12, and I had an opportunity to do a little showcase for everyone there, and I put on a full show and sang all pop songs. Me, in North Philly, singing Björk. They were like, “Are you good?” I was like, “This is the coolest fucking thing and you guys are losers because you can’t do it. You’ll understand it one day.” That, for me, was the defining moment. It was like, cool. It doesn’t matter what you think. If you really love this, you can do it.
We love that. How would you describe your music? Either by genre or general vibe.
I think the music I’ve put out so far would be described as emotional pop. I’m a big dance ’til you cry kind of person. Because I, like other human beings in the world, hold a lot of things in until it’s too much. Then, everything boils over and everything comes out. In my music, I make sure that’s there as well. Like, there’s always a culmination in the song where it’s like, “this is as much as I can take,” and then it has to be released. So emo pop, but now I’m making dance pop. That’s something new for me. I’m in a new phase in my life.
How are you tapping into that new energy when creating new music?
I did this thing last year where I kind of got quiet. I didn’t release anything. I wanted to find a different way of expressing myself than I had before, because most of the music that I had made came from sadness. I had never taken the time to experience what it’s like to be really happy and then write about it. For some reason, artists are like, “I have to be broken. Right?” Like no, you psychopath. You could just be happy. And you can also write about that, because people want to know what that feels like. So that’s the space I’m writing from now. I’m still a little afraid of it. Sometimes I’m like, this is really cheesy. But maybe cheesy isn’t bad. It’s just cheesy because it’s vulnerable. What I find is most honest, is always a little cheesy. I feel that you should be okay with owning that.
Who/what do you draw inspiration from?
I always say, my obvious inspirations are my vocal divas like Mariah, Celine Dion, Beyoncé. Right now, it’s been my friends. I have a bunch of friends who make really, really incredible music. Parson James, Betty Who, Boy Blue, Jared Gelman, Storyboards, Leland. There are so many people in my life who are so good at being vulnerable. And I’m learning from them. It’s been this really awesome thing to listen to my friends, get their stories and notice that we’re all in the same place in life trying to figure it out.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I used to say that I want them to leave better than they came. And that is still true. But now, when they listen to the new things, I want them to leave in love. Whether it be with someone or with themselves. I want them to leave strong because that’s where this music comes from. It’s from a place where I felt really, and still feel really, good about me. I want them to leave feeling open to the idea that at any moment, they could take control of the situation and there will be a different outcome. Because I feel like when I leave a concert, I’m always like, gosh, that made me feel like I can do it.
Yeah, that’s why we go to concerts and why we go and experience live music. It’s just a totally different experience.
Exactly. I had a teacher at Berklee, and he would always say, it’s your responsibility as the artists to make sure that that person leaves this show feeling alive. A lot of people walk into shows dead because the day has killed them. They want to leave alive. They may not be fully alive, but at least somewhat alive. From there, it’s their responsibility to take up the battlefield and fight for themselves.
When you think of what success means to you, as an artist, is that what you think of?
Success for me is doing things like this, you know what I mean? When I was little, I was sitting in my house being like, “Hi. This is my world tour.” I dreamt of being able to sit in a cool dressing room in New York City having a conversation with an interviewer and being like, “This is so tight.” That’s success. I’ve done the things that I said I would do when I was little. But the best part is that I haven’t done all of them, and I have time to do them.
What has your experience been navigating the industry as a Black, Queer, pop artist?
It’s exactly what you think it is. It’s hard, but I’m not gonna say every day is a battle because every day isn’t a battle. I refuse to look at my life as though it is a struggle every day because that would be doing a disservice to the way I was raised, the way that I view myself, and the way that I view my life. I could live my entire life wanting something different, or I can live my entire life making something different. There’s the plight of the sad black boy who can’t make it in pop. He’s trying every day to make it work, and it’s like, well, that’s not the narrative. That’s the narrative that they would like to see. The narrative for me is I’m doing shit. I’m in it. I could not be in it, and then that’d be a different story.
I’m sure those feelings stop a lot of people from even starting. What other advice would you have for somebody who is in that mindset?
Turn off the noise because the thing about it is, opinions are so loaded. They can either make you feel like a million dollars, or they can make you feel like the scum of the Earth. And it’s not ever about you. It’s someone’s thought about what you’re doing, and they either have no experience in it, didn’t make it work for themselves, or have been scared the entire time to go after it. What you do with your life is solely up to you. You can only blame yourself for the things that don’t happen if you didn’t go after them.
Is there anything else that we haven’t touched on that you’d like to put out into the world?
For all the POC, Black, LGBTQIA people, gender non-conforming and non binary people: It’s okay to be happy. Even when the world is trying to make us feel as though our happiness is not at the forefront. It’s okay to be happy in the moments when it’s hard. Because that’s the shit that gets us through. The best thing you can do to someone who wants to bully you or make you feel bad is smile in their face. Because it’s like, you still suck, and still I’m happy. Like, I still rock, and you still want to make me sad?
📸: shot by Tim Watrous