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On 'Gemini Rights' Steve Lacy Gets Personal About Red Flags & Trusting His Instincts
On 'Gemini Rights', the artist best known as a collaborator with Kendrick Lamar, the Internet, Solange, and Vampire Weekend delves into break-ups, personal discovery, and playing director with his mother and siblings.
The ever-elusive Steve Lacy has come out to share his latest, Gemini Rights, out July 15. The wunderkind producer, musician and guitarist for GRAMMY-nominated band the Internet — whoj has collaborated with the likes of Chlöe x Halle, Blood Orange and Kendrick Lamar, among others — announced his sophomore album (his first release with RCA Records) during a live performance of the then-untitled "Mercury."
The album's lead single combines '60s Brazilian bossa nova and '70s funk with Lacy’s soaring falsetto, adding a more majestic mystique to the Compton native’s discography. Gemini Rights continues the singer-guitarist’s growth, and is an even more personal offering than his 2019 debut solo effort, Apollo XX1 or his 2020 deep-cut demo offering, The Lo-Fi.
Majorly self-produced by Lacy, Gemini Rights has only one guest appearance. On "Sunshine," Lacy and emerging singer and multi-instrumentalist Fousheé, present a "savage, hilarious, tender, sexy, and gender-fluid" escape that "wears its heart on its sleeve in the best way possible," as he shared with Apple Music 1’s Zane Lowe.
Lacy spoke with GRAMMY.com about his new album, how exploring his own red flags on Gemini Rights helped him to trust his instincts, and why playing director with his mother and siblings was "too much" for him.
For those who are now just hearing the first two singles, can you share a bit about the story surrounding Gemini Rights?
Gemini Rights is essentially me coming into myself after a breakup. It’s a story that is very fluid [and] very fun. To me, the subject matter could be sad if you look at it that way, but I feel like it is way more hopeful — and that’s the story: finding happiness. I’m finding myself after a heartbreak and I am excited for people to hear this record.
Even with "Sunshine" a song with myself and Fousheé, I feel like that song is perfect. It ["Sunshine"] sums up Gemini Rights because it has all of this anger and animosity towards the person who affected me, but, as you’ll hear in mine and Fousheé’s verse — I still want to f—. [Laughs]. I still love them, which, to me, is some real s—. And that spectrum of emotions sums up the whole of Gemini Rights.
Between Syd’s Broken Hearts Club and your latest, love and break-ups are an interesting thread when it comes to y’all’s discography. Do you and the rest of the band talk about love and relationships as friends? Do you have any advice for those who want to have an enjoyable "shoot your shot" summer?
I don’t know if we really talk about love that much together as a group, but I know I’ve talked about it more with Matt [Martian]. We always talk about love, but in a way that is free, unconditional, and letting people be who they are. We’re not into that love that’s like, you need to do this and be this way. I appreciate a love that is more like just do your thing.
When it comes to shooting your shot, that’s a good question, but I’d say just do whatever feels good to you.
Has Gemini Rights helped you to work through, or work on, any red flags that you might personally have?
I think [that] red flags come from us not trusting our instincts. So, I learned that instead of pointing a finger at someone else, I have to trust those emotions inside of me. That’s the biggest thing that I learned about myself on this album — trusting my instincts. Because you can see red flags within yourself and others, but you’ll bypass them if you don’t check in and listen to yourself. You can find yourself blaming everybody else, saying that you have trust issues, but it’s only because of a boundary that you didn’t set up or didn’t say.
I’m learning that it’s all on me. I’m responsible for what I want and how I interact with others. I tell all of my friends that everybody has a choice. Because I’m not the friend that’s just going to agree with you when you’re in a sad place. I’ll ask, "Well, what’d you do?" I love to talk about all perspectives because emotions, feelings, and how people handle things are all so different and we all handle them differently. So, I’m always trying to open myself up and free myself [from any limitations].
What were some memorably weird moments that happened to you while in the studio?
I’ve been blessed to work with the most amazing people on this planet. And it’s such a good feeling to be around those whose music translates to others based on the interaction you have with them. Plus, I get to maintain these relationships with these wonderful people as well. Thankfully, though, I’ve never had a weird studio experience myself.
Fousheé has been incredible when it comes to her own work, and you two together certainly make magic with this record. How has it been working with her on Gemini Rights?
It was really natural. We were just hanging out and building a friendship while working. It wasn’t transactional in any way. We didn’t want anything from each other, but [putting together Gemini Rights] just felt right. Those moments are rare — and I never felt anything like that until I met Fou. She found me when I was in a slump about what to do next because everything [at the time] was weighing on me so heavy.
At one point, I’m wondering where to go next [with my music] and how to deal with the [end] of my relationship. And she was just like, "just chill out." We would then just start writing and having conversations where we’re coming up with bars that we just loved, and kept adding to. But then there we some days where we’d just get stoned, laugh on the mic, and just do dumb s—. [Laughs] Altogether, making Gemini Rights was fun.
By the time we got to "Sunshine," which was one of the last songs written for Gemini Rights, Fousheé and I were in a good groove. The way that we’d work is by writing, and then when a new idea pops up, we’d just sing together on two mics. When "Sunshine" comes about, we’re freestyling that s—. It’d get up to about 20 minutes long and [then] we’d chop it up to be shorter. With "Sunshine," though, she just had this hook and we were harmonizing for a moment on that part. It became the chorus, and then I was like, "You might as well just be on this song. Just be the only feature on my album."
She thought it was cool or "whatever," [laughs], and that’s why I think our process was so supernatural. We were just in a natural groove [and] I like that.
How does it feel to have Gemini Rights as your first RCA release? Does this moment impress upon you what you’d like to see once the Internet’s deal with Columbia Records ends?
It’s so far, so good, to be honest. I was really happy being independent for a while, but then I was talking to [RCA Records CEO] Peter Edge, and we had a really good conversation before finishing the Gemini Rights demo. He’s just been very patient and respectful of me and my artistry. [RCA] had a roster that I appreciated out of anyone in the game. And from what I knew of RCA, they allowed their artists to have their own narrative and help put it all together.
As for [the Internet’s] situation, we’re going to see what happens. Ask me that question next year and I’ll have a clear answer for you.
A while back you previewed "Mercury" during a live performance, which had a positive reaction. What feelings, if any, go into sharing yet-to-be-released work like that or demos like The Lo-Fis?
It makes me feel good to see people take it for themselves and interpret it how they want to. I don’t have too much ownership of how I want this [music] to be taken. Performing it live, specifically before it came out, is a risk that I took — but it felt really good. It felt natural.
I felt good to be the leader of the energy at that time. I’m genuinely excited and it was cool to look around and [see] they’re also excited. We’re just sharing this excitement together. In all of this, I am learning to express my bandwidth when it comes to performing in front of a crowd of people, which is kind of crazy.
Your family is also heavily featured on Gemini Rights. Can you talk about how it was to direct your mother and siblings? Also, where do they appear on the album?
Yes, yes! They sing the "la-la" part on "Helmet." They do the "oohs" and "aahs" and the "ba-ba-ba-ba" part on "Mercury," but they were a little pitchy [laughs], so I couldn’t use it. I got them on "Amber," singing on the big swell when the bass comes in. They’re all on that part. I then added them to "Give You The World," where they’re on the "goodbye" part, and that was it.
How was it to play bandleader and director for those moments?
[Laughs] It was too much, man. No, to be honest, it was fun and really sweet. My family is funny as hell, but I think they caught me on a day when I was really tired. They have a lot of energy. It’s three women — my mother and two sisters — and we’re all our own very different people. We have a very special camaraderie that makes being together funny as hell.
My mom kept screaming into the mic and I’m like, "Girl, stop! Voice control. If you’re going to belt, you go further [away from the mic. Why [are] you going closer to scream?" It was hilarious, though. I got the footage. Maybe I’ll post it one day.
Does this mean there will be a Gemini Rights: The B-Sides as well?
Maybe, yeah? I make a lot of stuff, so I learned with this album two things: the superpower of editing and that you got to make trash. Doing that freed me. When I used to think that I would dream up something perfect, I realized that I just had to let it come [to me.] Just blurt words out and vomit them out, let it go, and edit, edit, edit. I would treat [Gemini Rights] like how a rapper would and that made it way more fun.
With that said, how do you feel about your own evolution as a songwriter and producer after hearing the final version of Gemini Rights?
I thought that [the final result] was great. And I know that I’m still growing in that space. I’m confident in this work that we did, but [I] also know that it is all practice. I’m going to get better on the next one, and I [know that] I am never fully satisfied because this is all practice for me and I want to constantly get better. [With Gemini Rights,] I’m confident where I am at right now, but I am going to do so much more.
I love the craft of music and developing sounds using the knowledge that I have of music, where meshing so many things together just creates unique experiences for myself and others is exciting to me.
So, what expectations or predictions do you have for fans who will hear Gemini Rights when it drops on July 15th?
My predictions are that it will make people feel more unconditional love for one another.
Watch Backstage Interviews At Essence Fest 2022: Questlove, Sevyn Streeter, DreamDoll, D-Nice, Raekwon & More
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The 2023 GRAMMYs Effect: Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo & More See Major Sales And Streams Boost After Record-Breaking Show
Take a look at the impressive gains that 2023 GRAMMYs winners and performers made in Spotify streams and album/song sales, from Beyoncé to Harry Styles.
The 2023 GRAMMYs weren't just historic, they were iconic — and the numbers show it.
The telecast itself saw a 30% increase in viewership, with more than 12.4 million viewers tuning into the Feb. 5 ceremony, the best ratings since 2020 per Nielsen data. In turn, several of the night's winners and performers saw major spikes in sales and streams.
Album Of The Year winner Harry Styles returned to the top 10 of the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart, as Harry's House — which also took home the GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album — earned 38,000 equivalent album units in the U.S., a 51% gain. His previous two albums, 2019's Fine Line and his 2017 self-titled debut also made gains, the former up 15% and the latter up 11%.
Kendrick Lamar and Adele also enjoyed increases in sales and streams on several albums. Lamar — who won three GRAMMYs this year, including Best Rap Album for Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers — had a 20% gain for his fifth LP, as well as a 26% gain for 2015's To Pimp a Butterfly, 11% for 2017's DAMN., and 6% for 2012's good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Adele's 30 had a 25% increase in equivalent album units, while her 2015 album 25 went up 14% and 2011 release 21 went up 10%. (30's lead single, "Easy On Me," earned Adele her fifth GRAMMY for Best Pop Solo Performance — a record in the category.)
After Beyoncé made GRAMMY history at the 2023 ceremony with her 32nd win, her Best Dance/Electronic Music Album-winning RENAISSANCE made a huge jump. The album earned 37,000 equivalent album units, up 109%, helping Bey move from No. 24 to No. 11 on the Billboard 200.
Rising jazz star Samara Joy also had a monumental night, scoring the coveted GRAMMY for Best New Artist. As a result, her 2022 album, Linger Awhile, made its debut on the Billboard 200, with an equivalent album units gain of 319% and a 5,800% increase in Spotify streams in the U.S. The project also hit No. 1 on the Jazz Albums, Traditional Jazz Albums and Heatseekers Albums charts for the first time, as well as the top 10 of the Top Album Sales and Top Current Album Sales charts.
Blues great Bonnie Raitt's win for Song Of The Year (for her 2022 track "Just Like That") served as one of the night's biggest surprises, but also served as a catalyst for some serious streams and sales success. The song spiked from about 10,000 daily on-demand streams in the U.S. on Feb. 3 to 697,000 the day after the GRAMMYs (Feb. 6) — a gain of around 6,700% — according to Luminate. The song's sales were even better, gaining more than 10,000% on Feb. 6; the rest of Raitt's discography also climbed 161%, from 333,000 on-demand U.S. streams on Feb. 3 to 869,000 on Feb. 6.
Most of the 2023 GRAMMYs performers also celebrated sales and streams increases post-telecast. Show opener Bad Bunny saw gains on his GRAMMY-winning albumUn Verano Sin Ti (up 16%), as well as his 2020 albums YHLQMDLG (up 11%) and El Ultimo Tour del Mundo (up 8%). One of the songs Bad Bunny performed, Un Verano Sin Ti single "Despues de la Playa," also saw a 100% increase in Spotify streams in the U.S. in the hour following the telecast.
Lizzo delivered a soaring medley of her Record Of The Year-winning smash "About Damn Time" and the title track from her AOTY-nominated LP Special, the latter of which saw a 260% increase in Spotify streams in the U.S. after the show. Special also moved 11,000 equivalent album units, up 52%.
Steve Lacy won his first GRAMMY in the Premiere Ceremony, Best Progressive R&B Album for his album Gemini Rights. He also took the GRAMMYs stage for a sultry rendition of his hit "Bad Habit," all helping Lacy see a 16% increase in equivalent album units for Gemini Rights.
Sam Smith and Kim Petras also celebrated a historic win at the 2023 GRAMMYs, taking home Best Pop Duo/Group performance for their viral hit "Unholy" — marking the first win in the category by a trans woman. That moment, combined with the pair's risqué performance, helped the song see an almost 80% increase in Spotify streams in the U.S.
The heartfelt In Memoriam segment catalyzed stream increases, the biggest coming from Quavo's "Without U," which he sang in tribute to his late Migos bandmate and nephew Takeoff; the song jumped 890% in U.S. streams following the show. Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird," which Mick Fleetwood, Bonnie Raitt, and Sheryl Crow sang in honor of late Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie, experienced an almost 100% increase in U.S. streams.
In other U.S. Spotify stream gains for performers, Harry Styles' "As It Was," saw a more than 75% increase; Brandi Carlile's "Broken Horses" saw a more than 2,700% increase; DJ Khaled's star-studded "God Did" (featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and John Legend) saw a more than 650% increase; Mary J. Blige's "Good Morning Gorgeous" saw a more than 390% increase.
Streaming numbers are from DKC News, a PR representative of Spotify.
12 Classic Moments From The 2023 GRAMMYs, From The Heartwarming To The Surreal
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Here's What Harry Styles, Brandi Carlile & More Had To Say Backstage At The 2023 GRAMMYs
Backstage at the 2023 GRAMMYs, established and emerging stars alike — from Harry Styles to Samara Joy — opened up about what Music’s Biggest Night meant to them.
Like every edition of Music’s Biggest Night, the 2023 GRAMMYs featured a wealth of funny, touching and inspiring onstage speeches — both at the Premiere Ceremony and the main telecast.
But artists tend to express themselves differently, more intimately, backstage — and this certainly applied to GRAMMY winners and nominees at this year’s ceremony.
In the litany of videos below, see and hear stirring, extemporaneous statements from artists all over the 2023 GRAMMYs winners and nominees list, from Album Of The Year winner Harry Styles to Americana star-turned-rocker Brandi Carlile to Best Global Music Performance nominee Anoushka Shankar and beyond.
Throughout, you’ll get a better sense of the good jitters backstage at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 5, and hear exactly what the golden gramophone means to this crop of musical visionaries.
The list of videos begins below.
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Stringer / Getty Images
Watch Kim Petras, Muni Long, Steve Lacy & More React To Winning Their First GRAMMY
Many first-time GRAMMY-nominees became first-time GRAMMY-winners on Sun. Feb. 5 at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Hear the first-time winners react after their GRAMMY-winning moments.
Many first-time GRAMMY-nominees struck gold at the 2023 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 5, where they received their very first golden gramophones.
Among the first-time nominees to become GRAMMY-winners were Samara Joy, winner of two GRAMMYs for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album; Steve Lacy, who secured the GRAMMY for Best Progressive R&B Album for Gemini Rights; Kim Petras winning alongside Sam Smith for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with "Unholy", and Germaine Franco of Encanto. Hear what these winners and many more had to say when they spoke with The Recording Academy and press after their GRAMMY-winning moments.
Head to live.GRAMMY.com all year long to watch all the GRAMMY performances, acceptance speeches, the GRAMMY Live From The Red Carpet livestream special, the full Premiere Ceremony livestream, and even more exclusive, never-before-seen content from the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Samara Joy, GRAMMY-winner for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album - Linger Awhile
Steve Lacy, GRAMMY-winner for Best Progressive R&B Album - Gemini Rights
Muni Long, GRAMMY-winner for Best R&B Performance - "Hrs & Hrs"
Kim Petras, GRAMMY-winner for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - "Unholy" with Sam Smith
Ashley McBryde, GRAMMY-winner for Best Country Duo/Group Performance - "Never Wanted To Be That Girl"
Carly Pearce, GRAMMY-winner for Best Country Duo/Group Performance - "Never Wanted To Be That Girl"
Masa Takumi, GRAMMY-winner for Best Global Music Album - Sakura
Kabaka Pyramid, GRAMMY-winner for Best Reggae Album - The Kalling
Stephanie Economou, GRAMMY-winner for Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media - Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok
White Sun, GRAMMY-winner for Best New Age, Ambient, or Chant Album - Mystic Mirror
Photo: Timothy Norris/FilmMagic
Steve Lacy Delivers An Intimate Performance Of "Bad Habit" | 2023 GRAMMYs
The experimental R&B star offered a glittering take on his inescapable hit at the 2023 GRAMMYs, which received three nominations including the coveted Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year.
After charming audiences around the world with his sophomore studio album Gemini Rights in July 2022, Steve Lacy eased into a comfortable sway with his 2023 GRAMMYs performance of the thrice-nominated single "Bad Habit."
Joined onstage by fellow Los Angeles experimentalist Thundercat, the singer/guitarist delivered a performance that got everyone from Lizzo to Machine Gun Kelly to sing along, Beyonce and Taylor Swift up and moving to the beat. Thundercat’s luxurious waterfall bass solo and Lacy’s Prince-esque sultriness felt just at home on the big stage, the Internet musician retaining his intimate vocal delivery even as the song radiated out through the arena.
"Bad Habit" has been a mainstay on TikTok since its release as a single in June 2022, with countless covers and live clips filtering through social media in the ensuing months. Drawing comparisons to everyone from Prince to ‘00s emo artists, the track spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, and got an added boost when Lacy performed it on "Saturday Night Live" in November.
Earlier in the night, Lacy took the stage to celebrate a win for Best Progressive R&B Album for Gemini Rights, and earned nominations for Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Record of the Year.
Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs.