Talking Self Expression with Fusilier
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
Earlier last month Fusilier released his sophomore EP Treason. From the first track listeners are immersed into Fusilier’s world, brought on a contemplative journey of self discovery. After his release I got the pleasure of talking with Fusilier about the Treason, his thoughts on self discovery, and self expression.
Your new EP Treason is a perfect introduction to your artistic ethos. Throughout the EP you invite the listener to journey with you and contemplate true freedom and self expression. On the opening song “Peace” you begin with the poignant lyric “My gift to the world is to die in a whirlwind”, can you expand on this lyrics and tell us a bit more about the Fusilier ethos?
That lyric typically is sort of acknowledging that we're only here for like a blip in time. I alway feel like ya know you have to figure out what you’re willing to die for and stand up for, and for me that's sort of like true artistic freedom. With all this sort of weight of the world freedom as a black person in America–– I feel like it's really tough. I started my career talking a lot about identity in a time we weren’t talking about that, not realizing how I would be constantly explored and how I would be set up to be people’s mascot. People weren’t actually listening to the music, they were just retweeting my political statements. Sort of like this mask on themselves, and I feel like Treason it’s a rejection of all that. In a way that I do think was sort of me consciously being aware of that, um and stepping into this role I think that’s just not healthy for me. The art is ultimately for me and the people that it helps, but it’s not for the people to sort of give themselves a pat on their back by association with me.
Yeah I see what you mean, not for them to just cosign onto you.
Right, I don’t wanna be anyone’s like queer friend, or like black friend – I would sort of like to be an artist, but I’m very conscious of the way I viewed through the world and people see me but at the same time my art is realist about breaking those chains.
I wanted to ask lead single, “No Words” builds on several mantras culminating in a cathartic ending. You talk about “letting go of the thought that I’m not the main character in your own story”. How has that shift in mindset impacted your own self view and journey of self discovery?
I feel like I was subtly taught to not put myself first. In a lot of ways, in a religious context they always say you’re third –– god is first, then others, then yourself –– but I feel like that’s great to teach. I mean I hate to talk about race, but I’m from ya know a whiter part of Atlanta, and I feel like I heard that cause they were supposed to hear that but I don’t think that I needed to be receiving messages that I was less than because I always was receiving these messages subtly and I think it really came out in my attachment style too people. “No words” is really about me recognizing I was really attached with avoidant sort of behaviors, cause I was always trying to prove to them that I was good enough. I was trying to prove to other people I was sort of like good enough to be in their world, so that I would maybe cope things that were less than healthy or less than what I deserved. And that song is sort of just me saying I’m over it, and even if I’m feel like I’m falling into those sort of habits in real life again I can come back to that centering song and the memories, and I love the work for that reason.
Staying on “No Words” for a moment, the music video for the song opens with a poem written by you and recited by movement artist J. Bouey. Can you elaborate on the parallels between the theme of the poem and the song. Like the opening lyric “I’ve never been more than air”, I thought that was so beautiful I wanted to know if you could elaborate on the connection between the two?
Yeah, I really wish I put that on the EP cause its such a great bridge from “Peace” to “No Words”. I’m so obsessed with impermanence right now and how we’re all just so temporary –– and maybe like it should’ve been “you”, like it should’ve been like “I thought I was the autumn leaves but no I’m” –– you know we’re all just sort of touching and moving each other and affecting other people’s lives but its all sort of like this movement of energy and we’re also swirling around each other sort of like pulling one another into these various directions but none of us are really like the Thing. I was sort of thinking about molecules or the movement of atoms or electrons were they don’t really even exist in one place their just sort of like clouds of energy and probability and then they just sort of attach themselves to something else and sort of disappear –– It’s cause I’m thinking a lot about death lately and how in the grand scheme of things we’re all sort of already dead. We’re all sort of like somebody else’s memory, this conversation is sort of like for posterity this video somebody will discover it in 100 years like we don’t even –– we’ re just the memories that we leave behind. I guess “No Words” is sort of like my memory of me if it were different than the way it was going.
Interesting, and of the EP in the artist bio you said–– and I feel like we’ve kind of touched on this throughout everything you’ve been saying but––, “Treason is a sort of purgatory that I wander through, wondering if I belong to the ideal or to the monstrous. It’s a search for home.” And throughout the EP we definitely hear you going through this journey. I really love this quote and was wondering if you could expand on what home means to you, and how your experience as a black man growing up in the south has possibly influenced your journey towards self discovery? I know you talked about growing up in a Whiter part of Atlanta.
Treason’s about radicalization ultimately, and how I feel like it’s really the only logical –– we always sort of resist the idea of becoming a radical but in sort of the ways in which were treated, and there’s also limitations on our being it’s almost like you just wanna blow it all up, and you just come to that logical conclusion. I’m not sure –– ya know depending on who tells the story that makes you the villain or that makes you the hero. I think maybe, I hate when people talk about the south as the center of segregation, so I’m not gonna cause it’s just America. This idea –– I don’t have a fixed idea of home, its not something that’s tenable to me it’s always sort of like this temporary state of comfort, knowing the other shoe could drop at anytime, knowing that there’s no real sort of rest. So I think a search for home in my case is a life work, it’s like a search for happiness ya know.
Treason offers many questions but gives no answers, which leads me to ask do you think there is ever an end to self discovery?
Yes and no, I feel like we always are sure of who we are at any moment, right? I keep coming back to these scientific principals, what is it the Heisenberg Uncertainty Theory, where you can either measure speed or measure position of electrons, sort of like we can always know who we are in this moment, but we can’t really know where were going we can’t really know anything else about it so I feel like I do have answers about who I am in this moment, and there different than who I thought was ten years ago; I don’t know if I even know if who I was ten years ago , I hope that every year and every day gives me a different answers but I hope that they’re all as certain as where I am now, as sort of secure with where I am now.
Lastly, what advice do you have for artists still looking for their artistic voice?
Stop listening to everybody else’s voice. I think once again that changes, I think that if you’re doing something that other people could do you’re wrong. I feel like I really admire artists who are completely actualized, I mean there’s people like “man I could never do that”, and its not a knock on me it’s just they’ve found the thing that they do, and I think the advice I could give to everybody is don’t –– I mean look its the business so you’re gonna do what makes money, but ultimately at some point you have to just find out what it is that you do better than everybody else and just keep doing it.
Anything else you wanna say to Tonitruale Readers?
Thank you very much for caring about the work, it’s really an honor.
Stream Treason Now on Spotify