It’s been a slow start to the year for J. Caesar, the musician-actor whose impassioned spin on soulful house has earned him a growing fanbase over the last year.
“I’ve got a load of voiceover stuff to do, and my first self-tape of the year,” he says over Zoom, peering from behind a plant before adjusting his camera. “I haven’t really got my head back into music yet, but I think I’m going to fire up Logic later. It’s time.”
Born in Harlesden, London, before moving to Buckinghamshire at the age of eight, Caesar’s first introduction to music was via the piano. He then got into indie music, followed by dubstep.
“Going from London, which is quite mad and multicultural, to a suburban town where you’re the only Black kid shaped me in a lot of ways,” he says. “I was in loads of bands. Then, when I was 16, I got into DMZ, Skream and Benga, that kind of thing, before making my way into 2‑step and garage. Since then, I’ve been on my journey, pulling inspiration from those various soundscapes.”
In November, Caesar released his EP Another Day, Another World, a four-track project written over the course of a year and a half. Poignant and spiritual in equal measure, it’s a trusty companion to a reflective day spent indoors or in the sunshine. The EP was heavily inspired by two relationships and a post-Covid world, with those themes playing out against a backdrop of house-influenced, atmospheric neo-soul.
“We were kind of figuring out what our humanity looked like at that point,” Caesar says. “I think I was searching for love. I was on a mission to live life a bit, finally.”
Having previously starred in The Witcher and Paramount+’s sci-fi thriller series Dollhouse, Caesar sees making music as a more instinct-driven endeavour. “I’m on a mission to connect with people through my artistry, whatever that looks like, whether that’s through interpreting other people’s work via acting, or by making music and speaking from my heart in that way.”
Ultimately, the main thing he wants listeners to take away from his music is hope. “But not blind hope – a big picture kind of hope.”
10% What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
Love. I remember as a kid being very embarrassed by love or relationships, but I’m a romantic at heart.
20% Are you self-taught or classically trained?
I’m a self-taught producer, but I suppose most producers are self-taught. I only say that because I’ve never seen two people do something in the same way during a session. But everything is based in my piano training. You get some producers that are very sound design‑y, but I’m more of a musician, dare I say it. I love ethereal soundscapes.
30% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
Identity is the root of all problems in the world, whether that’s internal or external conflict.
40% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?
I think about this every time I cook. I make a really nice sausage and broccoli pasta. Or maybe a prawn curry, with a mish-mash of different spices from east and west Asia.
50% You rule the world for a day. What goes down?
I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t say free Palestine. It’s really hard not coming up with a righteous answer! I’ve come up with this new term, “far righteous”. I don’t wanna be that guy. But on a less serious level, give everyone free bags of crisps or something. Everyone would just have a good time, free meals and the best party of their lives with no hangover.
60% Best hangover cure?
A red ambulance and a curry, ideally in the morning.
70% Love, like, hate?
I love Liverpool F.C. I like cycling through London on a sunny day. I hate Jordans. They’re such a reflection of horrible capitalism. Take the gross silhouette of a shoe and throw a big sport star onto it along with hypebeast culture.
80% What’s your favourite song of all time?
Mystery of Love by Dream 2 Science. No hesitation.
90% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
100% What can artists do to help save the world?
Just keep being honest and living life. Art is a reflection of life, it shouldn’t be the other way around.