Daniel Caesar | Next?
Last fall, Daniel Caesar experienced the breakthrough moment that many love-struck guitar strummers and ditty-hummers dream of: Freudian, his 10-track debut album featuring gorgeous odes to significant others and heart-wrenching ballads to lost ones, dropped and became one of the most buzzed about efforts of 2017. Followers plucked lines from cuts like “Get You” and “Best Part” to show their boyfriends and gal pals appreciation via Twitter and Instagram captions. Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, and producer Rick Rubin became fans. He earned two Grammy nominations.
And now, at 23, Caesar is starring on Coachella stages, selling out venues all over, and has been crowned The Next Great One—the savior of an R&B genre that’s leaned a bit too far into its relationship with Hip-Hop’s rumbling drums and rap-like delivery as of late. He sings with the impassioned ease of Marvin Gaye. His introspective and conversational lyrics recall a young Stevie’s. Caesar’s skillset is serving him well.
“This past year has really been incredible,” the Oshawa, Ontario native says, a day removed from singing for thousands at the Broccoli City Festival in Washington, D.C.
He’s pleased with how Freudian resonates with people from different walks of life. “The love that I sing about is a love that was very personal and intimate,” he explains, “a love shared between two people. I wrote these songs while I maneuvered through its peaks and pitfalls. When you’re in love or going through something, you feel isolated. So to know that everyone shares more or less some of the same experiences is incredibly touching and comforting”
All that “Next R&B King” stuff makes him a bit uneasy, though. “I try my hardest not to think about the pressures of being ‘next up,’” he says, noting that to take the label, along with all it takes to maintain that status, would mess with his creative process. “I would begin to worry and think, ‘Would so and so like this?’ Or ‘If I make it sound like this, would people still be fans?’”
His newfound popularity and the uptick in requests for his services means life isn’t what it used to be. Simple changes like no longer being able to shop in public are ones Caesar can laugh off. But for a person who’s more of a homebody, others are a bit tougher to manage.
“As I continue to grow, so does my schedule,” he says. “That’s honestly been the hardest thing for me to wrap my mind around. When I’m in my room with my guitar, that’s definitely when I’m in my safest space. I’ve gone from being able to hang out all day there to having to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to board a flight or hop on a tour bus. But in the same breath, it’s been the biggest blessing, because I’ve been able to see places around the world that a couple years ago I couldn’t have even imagined going to.”
As is true with the greats, his international travels and new experiences will be represented in the music he’s penning now. Just know that the expectations of others won’t.
“The more visible I am becoming, the more aware I am of what people are expecting of me,” Caesar says. “However, much like the pressures of being ‘up next,’ they don’t weigh me down.”
Written by: Brad Weté
Photographed by Ian Morrison at OPUS Reps
Styled by Mui-Hai Chu
Groomed by Felicia La Tour using Baxter of California at Opus Beauty