It’s March 2020. The world has been in an uproar due to the COVID-19 pandemic brewing. Enoch Ncube and David May have just moved into their new place in Toronto's Little Italy, but all their plans have been derailed. The pair, close friends since 2005, are together known as the genre-blending duo MONEYPHONE.
Hailing from Toronto, a city where hazy R&B melodies and 808-filled trap music is currently prevalent, MONEYPHONE have set themselves apart, carving out their own lane sitting somewhere between hip-hop, emo, and bedroom pop. Back when Complex spoke with them in 2018, May stated, “We knew each other for years before ever deciding to make music together. Before MONEYPHONE, we were both heavily invested in a career as individual artists while also being roommates.” Turns out unifying as artists was the best decision they could've made. Now, with two EPs, a handful of head-turning singles, and a new mixtape out called Faith*, the duo continue to generate buzz by delivering a new yet nostalgic vibe to listeners.
MONEYPHONE champion their current sound as a variation of pop. But for the duo, pop is merely a communication structure rather than an all-encompassing genre. They deliver a sonic infusion of layered melodies, captivating bars, and intricate production that often blends dulcet, auto-tuned harmonies with live instrumentation. Enoch's catchy, pensive rhymes meld with David’s airy, translucent melodies to form something that feels wholly idiosyncratic and deeply personal.
One night earlier this spring, as they concluded a strenuous studio session, David and Enoch had a conversation that sparked a huge revelation. It was realization centered around faith, which immediately became the theme and title of their project. With the pandemic thwarting many of their plans, and their management of two years departing from their team, the duo looked inwards at their surrounding community of friends for support.
“The split with management wasn’t too bad. We’re still friends and we still talk quite often. Now, Nik and Milos—our roommates and friends—do a lot on the visual side of things. Our friend Emily does a lot of work, helping ideas come to life, and Oliver helped make our website," says Enoch. For MONEYPHONE, parting ways with their old management forced a perspective change that was pivotal to the duo's artistic growth.
Fast-forward to present day, MONEYPHONE has managed to overcome all hurdles and the new-age pop duo seeks to inspire listeners. We caught up with the two in order to discuss their new mixtape, faith, and the importance of community.
How’s it going guys? First off, I’ve got to ask: How did the name MONEYPHONE come about?
David May: [Laughs.] So we had a couple of friends over during the time period that we just started making music. Another one of our friends from high school came to visit for the day. We told him to write some names down, so we can figure this out. He created a list of 50 names, and as soon as we got to MONEYPHONE, everyone was in automatic agreement. It was instantly the one.
Aside from your music, your visuals are stunningly artistic and creative. Where does that visual come from?
Enoch Ncube: That’s this guy, David. [Laughs.]
May: Yeah, mainly myself and Nik [Arthur] direct and conceptualize the videos. We only had a rough idea before going into the "Indecision" video. For that one, we had like 15 people over, and that was it. We just had to figure it out once everyone was over. [Laughs.] The "Civilian" video was heavily inspired by the movie La Haine directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. We watched that with our friends in a group, and we were super inspired, stylistically and theme wise.
"Faith* isn’t based on faith as a religious connotation, even though Enoch and I were raised in religious households, but rather speaks on faith in the sense of knowing who to turn to at the end of day."
So tell me more about Faith*.
Ncube: We had a moment where we established that it’s necessary for us to keep faith in each other, the music, and the mission—despite everything going on. This mixtape is special because we were able to uplift ourselves, and built up our support system by reconnecting deeper with people we’ve always had around, but didn’t previously tap in with as much.
May: This project is definitely a byproduct of turbulent times for us. As we were figuring out the tracklist, we were thinking about the people who were indirectly helping us.
Faith* isn’t based on faith as a religious connotation, even though Enoch and I were raised in religious households, but rather speaks on faith in the sense of knowing who to turn to at the end of day. We wanted to highlight our family and support system, so the project includes excerpts by the special people in our lives.
I’ve been seeing this flower all over your social media. What does it symbolize?
Ncube: We came up with a community-driven way to physically give out the mixtape and merch. Our friend Biba did the flower initially for the "Indecision" video. As we were moving out, the flower became the icon for the mixtape because it felt like things were coming together and growing. We wanted to spread the flower as far and wide as possible—so we burnt 100 CDs, created tote bags, and gave them out to people who had been really rocking with us. We called up friends, family, and fans to help us give them out. We created a filter using the flower too, in order to just drive home the message of community.
With y’all being so genre-blending, where do your musical inspirations really come from?
Ncube: Inspirations can be an interesting question for us honestly, because I’m 24, and David is about to be 23. We’ve both absorbed and listened to so much music that it’s almost ingrained into our DNA—and sometimes it feels like you have to take stuff out.
Growing up, I had two older sisters who watched a lot of TV. I remember watching tons of MTV—the Total Request Live era and VMAss were huge back then. Nelly’s "Hot in Herre" track was the first pop song that I ever heard. I was imbued with so much music and celebrity early on.
As I got older, I got more inspired by the ethos of Kanye West and Tyler The Creator. Kanye took genres and treated it as a thing to play with—knowing at the end of the day, the product will always be Kanye. David and I also see it that way, where whatever we create is going to be MONEYPHONE, a blend of our individual sound and experiences. Tyler is inspiring as he showed the world the real DIY essence in the music industry, which is the point David and I are at now. We realize that we may have previously relied on our management too much—when they left, we just had to get to the nitty-gritty of things.
Amazing. Where are y’all at presently with the music after finding this newfound faith?
May: It’s funny because to me, the Faith* mixtape is the final evolution of everything that came before it. A lot of the music on this project was recorded some time ago. Right now, we’re working on the next stuff, and it feels like we’ve graduated from this sound. It’s sort of like the final chapter that concludes our Tolerance and Athletes EPs. We’ve been pushing it further sonically recently and have been exploring new ideas. It feels like we’ve shed our skin from the past after the Faith* mixtape.
Ncube: And it feels like that in the best way possible also. I liked the way David described that. The last two songs we made on this project were "Indecision" and "Faith," and I think the creation of those songs solidified us reaching this idea that we’ve been chasing for years. The fact that we were able to make those songs feels so good. Now we can move on gracefully knowing that we got them.