Amidst her rapid rise, we head to LA to meet the freshest face in R&B, Summer Walker.
In the YouTube comments for Summer Walker’s ‘Girls Need Love’ video, a listener has written, “Yes. We women should continue to embrace our sexuality and put an end to all the double standards. I love this.” Another has picked up on the relevance of the song, both in its sound and message. Most, if not all, it seems, have found various ways to comment on Walker’s ability to create music which speaks to them in a way that transcends the capabilities of an ordinary artist.
This is important, but also a little ironic, as although Walker’s soothing harmonies have slid her to the top of the world’s ‘Artists to Watch in 2019’ totem pole, she’s something of a misanthrope outside of her music. “Don’t talk to me,” her Instagram bio reads, serving as a waggish indication of this wariness towards social interaction.
Walker’s relationship with music, however, is a different story. “Pro Tools Sessions are like my diaries,” she explains. “It gives me someone to talk to.” And I only need to listen to 30 seconds of one of her songs to understand that there’s perhaps no better way of describing her sound, and in turn, that Walker’s music alone is more than enough put her on the map.
Last Day of Summer, the Atlanta native’s debut album, is a soulful cache of sultry melodies, simmering beats and Walker’s own guitar skills. It’s a project that she was heavily involved in from start to finish, a feat that highlights her as one of 2019’s true DIY artists. “I wrote every song, helped out with producing and recorded and engineered myself,” she confesses when I ask her about this.
“I honestly like to be by myself during the entire creation process,” she admits. “From writing all the way down to recording and engineering my own sessions.” It sounds like a solitary process, but the outcome is anything but inaccessible. As her stream of YouTube comments suggests, Walker’s music is rousing fans from every corner of the globe. “You can’t keep just doing them girls like that/Thinking that nobody finna bite back/Losing your mind baby/Can’t be sure, time’s wasting,” goes the pre-chorus in ‘Karma’, lacing her gentle tones with the hard-edged strand of female empowerment that characterises her music.
Last month, Walker was named Apple Music’s first “Up Next Artist” of 2019, which has initiated a host of new challenges for the artist, including her first on-camera interview. “It was nice of them to consider me,” she says in her typically self-effacing way of addressing her success. Yet, she also owns up to the fact that her swift rise is also concurrent with new pressures, like that of social media: “I don’t like to post pictures but I do what I can.”
More recently Walker has released Clear, an EP comprising of four smouldering live recordings – a natural progression from 2018’s Last Day of Summer. She’s also about to embark on her inaugural run of headline tour dates, or, as she says: “just some shows.” You can’t get more self-effacing than that.