Roy Woods was a pivotal artist throughout the 2010’s thanks to his winning combo of 00’s baby-making blues and 10’s melodic rap/trap tendencies. Thanks to his genre-redefining sounds, the Brampton, Ontario native found himself signed to none other than Drake’s label, OVO. Woods was only 19 when he appeared on the scene after gaining traction online with his viral Soundcloud cut ‘Got It,’ before eventually getting his opportunity in the spotlight thanks to his mammoth track ‘Drama,’ featuring the 6 God himself. That track featured on his 2015 debut project Exis, a gloomy, sensual and introspective record that pinned Woods’s name down as new wave R&B’s most exciting talent.
In the years since that explosive breakthrough, the crooner has found himself exploring even more diverse soundscapes, including glistening pop, hard-hitting bars and tropical dancehall. There’s no denying Woods is an artist who embraces evolution with open arms. And that may be surprising for a star who has racked up over two billion streams across platforms, sold out headline tours across the world, and held a career that spans a decade – certainly no mean feat in the social media era. And now, Woods is finding a newfound maturity within his music. Here, HUNGER sits down with Woods to discuss his longevity, why authenticity is key and the progression of Toronto’s music scene.
It’s been eight years since the release of your debut, Exis, what do you think has been the reason for your longevity?
My fans are the reason; my music stands out from other people for being so different. I find it difficult to find that vibe and authenticity somewhere else.
How would you describe the era of your career you’re in right now?
I’m in a rebuilding phase of my career, and I had to make some team adjustments to execute things better than before. I’m nothing without my team.
You’ve always remained relatively low-key and given off a humble persona; what are the things that help keep you grounded?
Me being humble is me being me. The things I love and value haven’t changed since I got into the industry; they’ve only grown. I can say I’m not like many people before and since being in the industry.
You’ve explored a lot of sounds/genres over the years. Is there anything you’d like to experiment with in the future?
I definitely want to tap into my jazz bag; I’ve already started but haven’t gotten to captivate it yet, so we’ll see what the future has in store.
What has been the most surreal experience of your career?
Honestly, my whole career has been surreal. I’m just starting to land on my feet and understand what’s really up. The whole time I couldn’t believe I was where I was at, being from the town I’m from and with OVO at such a young age. It’s easy for everyone else to see you or themselves in my position and judge, but no one knows what it’s like being me, growing up how I did, and I’m okay with it.
What advice would you give to a young artist coming up in the industry today?
Be different, be authentic and be yourself. Learn, learn, and learn.
How do you feel the Toronto scene has progressed since you were coming up?
Toronto’s scene has grown tremendously since I started; there are many more avenues and resources, but with how fast it’s going and so many artists, we need more from our country to have it stand out the way we know it can.
What artists have been in your rotation recently?
I’ve been in my old school bag lately, a lot of early 2000’s R&B cause that’s what I grew up listening to mostly — people like Bobby V, B2K, Jaheim etc.
You’ve collaborated with some of the biggest artists in the game, but who would your dream collab be right now?
Usher, for sure; I’ve been needing that collab.
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2023 for Roy Woods?
Undeniable Bangers, being back on the road for tours in cities I ain’t been to yet, so hopefully, I get to meet a lot of new fans this year that have been rocking with me forever.