Roy Woods Wants You to “Expect the Unexpected” on UTU Compilation Mixtape
Roy Woods first made waves in 2015 after his songs "Drama" and "Get You Good" premiered on Apple's Beats 1 radio during the inaugural OVO Sound radio show. He's since come a long way, unveiling his debut EP Exis that same year and following that up with his Nocturnal EP and Waking at Dawn mixtape in 2016. In December, the Canadian singer dropped his long-awaited debut album Say Less, which finds the Brampton export immersing himself in vibrant grooves that run the gamut from breezy carefree compositions to more somber material.
Boasting guest appearances from OVO labelmates PartyNextDoor and Dvsn, as well as stateside compatriots 24hrs and PnB Rock, Say Less is powered by collaborative energy, but Roy Woods remains in the eye of the storm throughout.
Holding court in the artist lounge at Warner Bros. Records' Manhattan office, Woods sat down with XXL to give the scoop on Say Less, his upcoming tour and what he has in store next.
XXL: How would you describe your mindstate while writing and recording your debut album, Say Less?
I was in a growing state. I wanted to grow and make sure that I'm not rushing the music—just letting everything come naturally. Every bar, every song, I just wanted it to be right. It had to be, so I had to make sure I was in a focused state, but also growing within myself and the music.
How would you say this project differs in comparison to your previous projects?
I just wanted to show what I can do fully—bring all of me to the table. You're not just getting one thing, one sound—you're getting a whole bunch cause that's me. I wanted to make sure that that's what I gave on the album.
What are your favorite songs from Say Less?
The last one, "Undivided," that's my first favorite song. That's the kind of music that I've always really wanted to make. It started when I made this song "I Love You" from my Nocturnal EP and then it stemmed into that song "Undivided." I play that song all the time 'cause I never get tired of it. It just puts me in my feelings whenever I hear it and I love to be in that vibe and be in my feelings sometimes. "The Way You Sex" is another favorite because it's a more mature me, a more mature sound that I'm experimenting with, but I feel like I'm doing things with my vocals that they would've done in the '90s. Just a little bit. I like that and I feel like that's what we need today. That's where music is going in general—back to the old school and shit. I felt like it was refreshing to hear that and hear myself project my sound and voice differently in a way I haven't really heard it when it came down to using the falsetto in my voice, so I really like that in that joint right there.
You collaborate with dvsn and PnB Rock on "Balance" on the project. How did that song come about?
Dvsn, they're OVO family. We was just in the studio and made a remix to one of their songs, "Don't Choose." Then we did that song out of the blue. I banged out the hook and the verse and I sent it to PnB Rock. PnB worked on it when we were in L.A. and I did a joint for his album. We both made a song for each other's albums that night.
You recently announced your Say Less tour, which you'll be kicking off this month. Are you looking forward to getting on the road and performing these new songs?
I've done a couple of these songs live, but I'm actually really excited because it's refreshing new music that I get to perform and that the people are gonna be dying to hear, so I can't wait for that. I got UTU Family coming with me, TRIPSIXX coming with me and my DJ, Dolo In Da Cut. We're gonna have some surprise guests as well. It's gonna be lit, gonna get jumping.
As far as your personal life, the past few years have been a whirlwind of sorts. What would you say has been the biggest adjustment to fame and the expectations that come with it?
The way I carry myself, how I represent myself, my family, the people with my team. I'm realizing, "you're really grown now" and there's no going back. You always hear stories about it and shit, but now I really feel that way. I really have a lot to carry on my shoulders, but it doesn't feel like a burden at all. It's amazing.
Success comes with highs and lows, have there been any setbacks or low moments over the past few years that impacted you?
For sure, definitely. It's helped me to grow as a person, I never regret anything that I went through cause that's the reason I'm here today, those situations helped me learn. That was the only way I was able to learn, so I thank God that I was there. I definitely wouldn't have been feeling as satisfied with myself and making the music that I am if I hadn't been in those situations.
Have you been in the studio cooking up since dropping Say Less did you take a break?
Nah, no breaks, man. 24/7 we're always working. New tape coming soon. I'm just gonna promise it's gonna be in 2018. Getting that UTU tape out there, for sure.
That's the tape you're currently working on?
Yeah, UTU collaborative tape. That's what it is, so all my UTU family is gonna be on that tape, and other people as well.
How should people expect your sound to grow or expand on this tape?
They gotta expect the unexpected. That's exactly what's gonna happen.
What are three goals you wanna accomplish in 2018?
One of them is to... I wouldn't say take a vacay—I still wanna work on my vacation—but after the tour. I kinda just wanna get around a little bit with my guys and experience places to go, whether it's here or Canada. I just wanna go on an experience. The other two—shit, y'all gonna see what they is [laughs]. Everyone gonna see.
Are there any places that you haven't been that are on your bucket list?
I haven't been to Europe yet. Yeah, that's one place I've always wanted to go since I started traveling. Europe, London, Africa...
What about Europe attracts you?
It's the other side of the world, man, a different culture. I love culture, I love learning about culture and what it has to offer and the background and history. So I want to experience the lifestyle that they live in the UK. Italy, I wanna go to Asia, Japan. I wanna go all over and just experience the culture and soak it all up.
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