CTRL Interview: A Conversation With Col3trane

CTRL introduces Cole Basta, most notably known as Col3trane, the on the verge artist with a fresh approach to R&B. Switching up the formula, Basta has shifted gears with a modernized futuristic sound that has been making waves from across the pond.

In late 2017, Cole made an impact on the scene with his debut mixtape, Tsarina, a project that instantly gravitated with listeners on an international scale, with people quickly solidifying him as R&B's next breakthrough artist.  With an ambitious perspective to what he can accomplish, Basta tackles it all, both singing and rapping through creative lens. On his breakthrough single, Penelope, he manifested a new reality, one that allows him to live up to his full potential.

Following his debut mixtape, Cole released, B.O.O.T, an acclaimed EP that hinted at his intricate soundscape. With just two projects under his belt, he then proceeded to support global superstar, Dua Lipa on her self titled arena tour.

In 2019, Col3trane released his most conceptual work to date, Heroine EP. A project that is soulful yet an escape from the ordinary standards of the soundscape of current R&B. Since then, Cole has released a slew full of singles, including the sultry, Rendezvous with fellow northerner Miraa May, the tender, Someone To Watch Over Me, and most recently the feel-good anthem, Good News.

Col3trane is on a never-ending hot streak, and we’re witnessing just a glimpse of what’s to come. I spoke to Cole about his vision, and what’s next to come, which include a new EP, a SG Lewis collaboration, and more.

Your artistic growth has been on full display since 2017, as you’ve bended genres, captured the attention of fans on a global scale, and showcased the possibilities to your creativity. What would you say makes you stand out from the crowd? Why do you think people are paying attention to you, and why should new listeners pay attention to you?  

I dunno man I feel like that’s for other people to decide ... I don’t really like to gas myself up like that. I guess I just listen to and am influenced by such a wide range of music, that there’s a part of my music that’s kinda for every one, every feeling & mood.

Since Heroine, you’ve released a couple songs thus far, one being with fellow UK native Miraa May on the sultry, Rendezvous, and your most recent release, Someone To Watch Over Me. Will these songs be included in a project that’s to come, or did you just wanted to release them as stand-alone singles?  

Nah there’s a ting coming! The “It’s Safer Inside EP”. Will be out in May. My next single is out in a few weeks and it’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written... and now I’ve got a good friend of mine featuring on it too... really excited for people to hear what’s coming.

What has inspired your new music? What should fans expect this time around?

More than anything? Being in love & being comfortable in it.

Listening to your discography, fans can recognize numerous references to literature and pop culture, in particularly on songs like Fear and Loathing, Mario Cart, and Movie Star. As a songwriter, do you find the various forms of the arts to be one of your main sources of inspiration?

100%. I’m influenced by my environment and I’m living in pop culture... there’s a lot to write about. Movies & books tend to inspire me a lot ... if I love a book or a movie I’ll defo write a song about it or drop some references somewhere.

I’ve read that your mother was an independent film producer. Has being exposed to the arts since an early age made you challenge yourself to explore your creativity in different ways?

Yeah for sure. She worked in theatre a lot too... Just being around performers and the performing arts since very young I think has made me open to different forms of artistic expression... like really weird shit to more tame normal shit... I’m with it all. I’d like to think that shows in my music.

You’ve been described in the vein of a similar sound to the likes of Frank Ocean, with many naming you as the next “R&B Breakthrough”.  How did you learn to accept these comparisons? Do you feel as if it adds unnecessary pressure to live up to certain expectations or people just don’t get what you do?

Nah not really... i get now that people compare things to make themselves feel more comfortable in what they’re listening to. I do it too. it’s nice to be compared to someone so great... I love Frank’s music so at least it’s someone I fuck with and I’m not getting compared to music I don’t like!

It’s been clear that you’ve matured over the years, as it’s been well represented in your music. What have you learned the most since being in the music industry?

I just have become a way better judge of character... I’ve learned who not to trust. I’ve learned that not everyone is a wasteman but nearly everyone is... it made me grow up real quick and I think I’m grateful for that.

You’ve collaborated with FKJ, and SG Lewis on songs that approach what you do quite differently. Do you want to explore more of these sounds in the future?

Yeah for sure... me and SG got a new one cooked for the summer too.

Your songs have constantly been featured on CTRL’s curated playlists, but I need new suggestions. What are you currently listening to? What do you currently have on rotation?

Imma give you 5 songs in current heavy rotation.

Mad at Me - Kiana Ledé

Comfortable - Her

Face to Face - Ruel

Peace - Snoh Aalegra

Frió - Omar Apollo

Stream Col3trane's latest release, Good News, and be sure to look out for his new EP, It's Safer Inside due in May 


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