R&B Singer Giveon Details His California Upbringing & Breaks Down His Latest Single “Like I Want You” [Interview + Premiere]

In an exclusive interview, Giveon unpacks growing up in Long Beach, CA, the story behind his new single “Like I Want You” and who he’s currently listening to.

A native of Long Beach, CA emerging singer Giveon is breathing life into the R&B genre one song at a time. One of three brothers raised by a single mother, he realized his passion for music at a young age. He credits his mother with pushing him to explore this early love for musicianship. One of the most significant artists who he fell in love with as a youngster was Frank Sinatra, his bellowing voice was inspiring to the blossoming talent. 

When expressing his upbringing he noted that his mother did a really great job at sheltering him and his brothers. He believes she protected them to keep them from falling to the societal pressures of gang culture and poverty. As he grew older, he looked to Frank Ocean and Miguel as sources of inspiration. 

At 18, Giveon attended a Grammy Museum program which proved to be a transformative experience for him. His instructor at the program pushed him to perform Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” for a project. “I had an epiphany after initially hearing Sinatra,” he shares. “It was the very first time I heard a baritone singer. I got into Billy Caldwell and Barry White from there. I realized my tone at this point.”

Over the years, he has worked endlessly to develop his own baritone delivery. During this journey, he caught the attention of August 08, a multi-platinum singer and songwriter who has worked with DJ Khaled and also Justin Bieber. He’s been somewhat of a mentor for the singer. 

In 2018, he debuted his singles “Garden Kisses” and “Fields” two easygoing, smooth tracks that showcase his unique voice and lush sound. Fast forward to 2019, he paired up with Sevn Thomas, a producer known for linking with global stars like Drake, Rihanna and Travis Scott to further carve out his niche in the R&B space. Unsurprisingly, Snoh Aalegra invited him to be a part of her 2019 headlining tour.

In our latest interview, Giveon touches on his upcoming project, his artistry and what he’s most looking forward to in 2020. We’re also premiering the music video for his latest single “Like I Want You,” you can watch it below.

Can you share a bit about your upbringing in Long Beach, CA and how you came to be an artist?

I grew up on the East side of Long Beach. It was fun, dangerous, and interesting all at the same time. My mom did a good job of making sure my brothers and I didn’t become a product of our environment, but she also gave us room to experience what it means to be from Long Beach. Becoming an artist came naturally for me. The quick version of how I became an artist: my mom noticed that I can stay in key, she forced me to sing at birthday parties, fast forward to high school and I did a music education program at the Grammy Museum, there I discovered who Frank Sinatra was and how I found my voice.

What was it like when you began embracing your unique voice?

I gained a lot of confidence in my voice once I discovered Frank Sinatra because I didn’t know baritone singers were a thing. Where I’m from no one plays that kind of music so I just thought I sounded weird. Now I’m really grateful for my tone because I stand out.

If you could describe the type of music you’re currently making, how would you describe it?

Contemporary R&B.

Why was “Like I Want You” selected as your first single of 2020?

“Like I Want You” is the perfect introduction to who I am as an artist. There [are] other places I can go with my music, but everything about [this song] is the foundation of who I am as an artist

Who are you listening to right now?

Artists I love right now are Snoh Aalegra, Summer Walker, and Kaash Paige.

What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

I’m excited to drop my first project in the next few months. Also, I’ve never had a crowd sing along to my lyrics during a show so I can’t wait for that moment to happen. If it happens this year it would be a dream come true.

Robyn Mowatt

Robyn Mowatt is a Staff Writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind on Twitter at @robyn_mowatt.

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Robyn Mowatt

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