James Qupid, the singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who is breaking barriers when it comes to blending a variety of music genres, released his latest single, “Holy Water,” last month.
After teaming up with producer, Bless, both were able to work together to create the spiritually enlightening track entirely during isolation. An anthem for hope and positivity, gospel, hip-hop, and R&B influences rooted in his Floridian church upbringing remain at the core of the song’s melody.
The rhythmic beat is accompanied by memorable lyrics that are certain to make listeners positive they can get through the day, despite the trying times we are currently living in. “I can feel the blessings while I’m going through the pain / I can feel the blessings even though I’m in the rain,” Qupid expresses in the affirmative lyrics.
Qupid’s debut album, Love & Anxiety, was released in January and solidifies his talented ability to effortlessly and boldly pair his smooth vocals with other hybridized jazz, funk, and rock sounds into his music.
The Knockturnal caught up with rising musician James Qupid to talk about “Holy Water,” his previous album, and the role music plays in his life.
The Knockturnal: Your music is genre-bending. How did you about incorporating jazz, funk, R&B, and rock sounds into your music? What were some major influences growing up?
James Qupid: To me, music is one big expression, so whenever I add a jazz riff to an R&B song, it’s more about expression to me. Adding rock is edgy. Artists like Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, and James Brown all have a rock edge to them, and I love it. Michael Jackson was everything to me growing up and his rock edge introduced me to James Brown and funk. I express funk elements in my songs all the time, whether it be a slap bass stab or synthetic drops that are a funky bass line. I always incorporate funk. I study music, and I’m a huge fan, so groups like The Gap Band, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Time, Roger Troutman, and Zapp heavily influence my sound. Growing up, I was a big T-Pain fan and I noticed how he changed R&B by using hip-hop bass and drums on top of funky contemporary R&B melodies. To me, T-Pain is like the Lebron James of R&B music and Teddy Riley is MJ as far as merging genres together. A lot of people seem to forget about Jermaine Dupri, but his ability to merge different sounds together has also influenced me in many ways.
The Knockturnal: How has working as a producer and a multi-instrumentalist, in addition to being a singer-songwriter, informed how you go about your process to create music that feels like it is truly yours?
James Qupid: Creating music is therapy for me. Every time you put an artist on a track or write a song, it’s like the artist has to marry that song. So I know admittedly whether it’s a song for me or not. I’ve made some dope songs and held on to them until I found the right voice because that’s how important the music is to me. I have to take my artist hat off when I know a song is meant for someone else.
The Knockturnal: You released your first album, Love & Anxiety, in January of this year. In your opinion, how was it received and what elements from it will you continue utilizing in future projects?
James Qupid: Love & Anxiety was a great musical experience for me. That project was [made] for myself and my supporters at the same time, because I created what I wanted to genuinely put out in the world. I think people are still catching on to it, but everyone should go listen for sure if you haven’t yet. It’s one big love story from track 1 to track 13.
The Knockturnal: The reception for your newest track, “Holy Water”, has been really great. It’s so energetic and uplifting. During difficult times such as these, how has music shaped itself as a significant tool for healing throughout your life?
James Qupid: First off, I thank God for blessing me with the gift to create music because it’s really self-healing. Anytime I’m down or my day isn’t going the best, I could create a song after that and feel restored.
The Knockturnal: What are some practices that have aided your health, both mental and physical, during the past few months? What advice would you give to people who are trying to stay positive?
James Qupid: Physical, mental, and spiritual health have always been important to me, and in a time like this, I encourage everyone to pay attention to self-care. God has blessed us all with the time during quarantine to address these things. I’m not close to perfect at all. I’m just like anyone else, so for extra strength, I start with a prayer.
Listen to “Holy Water” here.