True talent is undeniably found in the still somewhat unknown artistry of Toulouse, a New York-based singer-songwriter-producer. Stylistically, the music of Toulouse could be described as alternative, soulful R&B intermingling with atmospheric electronic landscapes, which altogether invokes a range of emotions, but most importantly always leaves a deep impact. On the rise with a string of singles and finally a debut EP, Extended Plea in Sept. 2017, we can only hope that Toulouse’s reach will grow to earn him the recognition he so deserves.
Nigerian by birth, Toulouse grew up in a culture that didn’t celebrate or recognize “careers” in the arts. At age eleven, he moved with his family to the United States. The first in his family to explore the music-making process, he set out to teach himself everything he now knows. A graduate of NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Toulouse began creating instrumental music for ads before being signed to a publisher.
Initially a “mystery man” of sorts, the artist has gradually unveiled more about himself over this last year as his career has started picking up pace - getting signed to Terrible Records and becoming labelmates with the likes of Solange and Moses Sumney.
Toulouse took advantage of an especially prime opportunity to get his name out there and reach a huge audience by landing a song, “No Running From Me,” in the high-profile Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack released in February 2017. The jazzy big-band retro track is a departure from the artist’s typical smooth, modern style, but served him well - it is now almost his top-streamed Spotify song, second only to his “I Will Follow You” single, both reaching around 7 million streams to date.
“I Will Follow You” has an interesting story of its own, especially for only being Toulouse’s second single (dropped in Sept. 2016). The song quickly rose high up on Billboard charts that October after Apple tapped the singer-songwriter for an iPhone 7 commercial. “I Will Follow You” is Toulouse’s updated, gentle piano ballad version of a 1963 Hot 100 hit, “I Will Follow Him,” by Little Peggy March, a 15-year-old breakout star at the time. Later revived by the iconic Whoopi Goldberg in 1992’s Sister Act, this was actually where Toulouse drew inspiration from. Still, pleasantly surprised by her hit’s new treatment, the original singer Peggy March expressed her approval: “It’s so well done and Toulouse did a great job. It’s very modern and very pretty. He didn’t bastardize it in any way, and why not have a different rendition?”
While making a name for himself, Toulouse has also wisely chosen to collaborate with a select few other rising artists. In the summertime, he contributed feature vocals to the SG Lewis track “Times We Had,” as discussed in Ones To Watch’s recent Q&A with the upcoming UK producer.
Finally delivering a stunning full-length project of his own, Toulouse’s Extended Plea EP was released on Sept. 15. Opening track “Reach Out” is bathed in a rich mixture of sharp, gritty electronic accents with even surprising, gorgeously smooth traditional Asian pentatonic scales weaved into the track’s subtle texture. As he told Complex for the single’s premiere:
"This song is about inhabiting the sacrificial and most humbling role of loving a prodigal and dysfunctional person unconditionally. It takes more courage to love an imperfect being that to hate an imperfect being.”
An artist with a keen eye for clean, poignant aesthetics, Toulouse’s “Reach Out” music video is a must-watch for both its gorgeously haunting musicality and its grand cinematography:
The rest of his EP dabbles with all sorts of interesting sonic elements and lyrical themes, allowing each song to have a distinct life of its own, but together allowing Toulouse to boldly solidify his artistry. Following up already with a new track “Danger” with Slaters, he shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Heading into 2018, our fingers are crossed that we will be able to learn more about the still mysteriously majestic soul bursting with talent that is Toulouse.
Discover your new obsession as you listen to Toulouse’s soulful blend of dreamy, electronic R&B in his Extended Plea EP below: