Sylo, as his name suggests, is a bit of an anomaly for a number of reasons.
The first and most obvious is that he’s an R&B artist of Asian descent, and while there’s been a few that have risen to prominence in recent years (such as fellow Canadians like anders and Manila Grey), it’s still rare to see—especially when you grew up in a devoutly religious family like Sylo, formerly known as Sylo Nozra, did.
Another way that Sylo goes against the grain is in his musical vibe, which isn’t the synth-leavy, trap-leaning R&B like his previously-mentioned contemporaries. His is of a smooth, groove-driven variety, that incorporates such wide-reaching sonic inspirations as classical (that he listened to as a child) and rock music (that he favoured as a teen). His raspy, neo-soul vocal style has drawn comparisons to D’Angelo and Erykah Badu, and on first listen you should quickly be able to see why.
And lastly, across every project he’s released (an average of one per year since 2015), Sylo’s stellar songwriting has continued to be his strong suit. We live in an era where Lil Pump said “Gucci Gang” a whopping 53 times in two minutes and damn near went number one, so it’s safe to say that artists don’t always have to prioritize their lyrical content these days. However, Sylo has never let his pen slip up, and his songwriting skills have placed him in studios among Grammy-winning/nominated songwriters from Los Angeles to London to Toronto. He delivers yet again with his latest track, “Ginny,” premiering today here on Complex.
In true Sylo fashion, the track tackles a subject not often touched by the smooth sounds of rhythm and blues: addiction. “Ginny is really the vices of alcohol as a nickname for gin and sex and how the two are married in this story,” Sylo tells us via email. “I wanted to write about the cycles of addiction—whether that’s from substances or sex, the lines are blurred. It’s not the specific thing you’re using as an escape; it’s the urge inside of you.” The minimal yet funky production provides the perfect palette for Sylo’s signature vocals and layered harmonies.
While Sylo has certainly been putting in the work over the past few years and is slowly but surely building his fan base, it feels like the world is finally starting to catch onto his magic. His music has been charting virally on both Spotify and Apple, amassing well over 10 million plays across all platforms. With his debut album due to drop this August, it feels like it's only a matter of time before Sylo breaks down all barriers on his path to success.