Thundercat: ‘Don’t be a purist, just try to bring people and experience life together’

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Ever since breaking out as an incredibly versatile and seasoned saxophonist in 2012 with his Grammy-nominated LP “Back to the Grind,” Thundercat has been a chameleon who could effortlessly juggle hip-hop production for Kendrick Lamar with Balkan hits for Ates.

His work on the latter, earning a Grammy for best Balkan/Gypsy jazz performance, gave us a taste of Thundercat’s street cred with hip-hop’s like Roy Ayers and Blood Orange . He later refined his offbeat sound by collaborating with Flying Lotus on the acclaimed “Never Catch Me” single for the Mercury Prize-winning album “You’re Dead!” He later showed off his pop craft on Daya’s “Hideaway,” scoring his latest single “Danger” with Bruno Mars .

So much of Thundercat’s sound has been inspired by traditional sources, like the siren calls of Middle Eastern music or Bulgarian and Gypsy rock. But it’s also raw, powerful and surprising — he’s his own thing. We sat down with the 41-year-old up-and-comer for an intimate conversation as he takes us on an enlightening musical journey.

Thundercat: “Don’t be a purist, just try to bring people and experience life together — that’s how I see it — that’s how I define it.”

This story was originally published at the day our feature was published on Nov. 16. It’s been adapted for The Verge’s Citieside column, a series that explores the lives and music of local musicians in the metro areas that define their careers. If you know a musician or band you think deserves inclusion, please share it on The Verge so we can consider adding them to our website and podcast.

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