Newer Jack Swing: Ypsilanti R&B singer Where She Creep was inspired by the past for his debut album, "Feels"
The 32-year-old Ypsilanti singer who performs as Where She Creep has created a fresh twist on that classic sound with his debut album, Feels, which came out earlier this year. He describes it as “healing music” that deals with new-age concepts to explore the politics of love.
“These are songs that aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, touching on the framework of healthy relationship dynamics and what honoring some of these values might look like and what they might not look like,” Love said. “It’s here to sharpen your belief system, make you want to hug a loved one, but most of all, to encourage you to analyze for yourself, for better or for worse.”
Influenced by Michael Jackson and many other soul-singing greats, Where She Creep also cites his cousin Brian Campbell, who taught him songwriting, and his producer and best friend, Pranav Surendran, as inspirations.
After dealing with some setbacks during the pandemic, Where She Creep recently declared he is throwing himself fully into his career, giving it 100 percent of his attention.
Pulp caught up with the singer to talk about Feels, his Chill Place Parties project, and more.
Q: Tell us about your unusual stage name.
A: When an artist’s name is the subject line of an action statement, it means something about that action statement is what they represent. There’s a mystery to it and it’s not meant for me to answer. The questions are obvious: Where is she creeping? Why is she creeping? Who is she and where is this place?
Creepin’ is a slang term for cheating and the word also holds the verb definition of simply moving slowly and carefully in order to avoid being heard or seen. It’s up to them to understand the context of me.
So here’s the challenge: If people don’t give my artistry the analysis it deserves then they might not be able to grasp what I’m doing. But if they appreciate the depth of my artistry, then they might notice that an artist named Where She Creep is an androgynous-appearing singer that represents love and care, unity and understanding, and challenging just about everything about the status quo.
So that name for someone like THAT might just be a kind of commentary on the societal hesitancy to challenge toxic masculinity’s standard of what a desirable man could be—or maybe it just means he’s the one your girl is creeping to.
I don’t explain my name because I have to remember that the fan/viewer being free to their own interpretation of what I represent as an artist is really supposed to be influenced by the art. That has to be OK and it’s simply because I can’t control what they think of it. I have to remember who I am and that's all that’s important. Like that quote, “What you think of me is none of my business.”
Q: What was your motivation for creating the album?
A: Feels began essentially as a honeymoon-phase gesture if you will. Five songs about my journey meeting up with a girl I was talking to long-distance—too good to be true but was true—that I ended up falling in love with. But it ended up being more of a reflection of the high points, the low points, and the most fruitful takeaways of that relationship, the healthiest one I’d ever had.
Q: What is your favorite song on the album?
A: "Feels," the intro song, because I did exactly what I wanted to without a care as to how it came across, I had the most fun making it, and it represents my ADHD brain very nicely. There’s a lot to unpack, as it is [difficult] to understand how anything truly feels; nothing is black and white, and quite often it’s the little details that tell the bigger story.
Audiences seem to respond to “Fly You Out.” It was the song that audiences liked the most at the listening party and it gets the biggest response when I perform it live.
Q: The past few years have been challenging for us all. How did the pandemic influence the songs on Feels?
A: As we evolve, so does the need for how we address the challenges that come with the changes. The pandemic is the best example I could mention in that timeframe, a crisis my generation has never seen anything like. A worldwide disconnect not only among the masses but with our neighbors, friends, and family, from person to person.
It feels harsh to use a word like "privilege" when speaking of these sad times, but I’m just gonna try to say what I mean, and bluntly: Some got the shitty end of the stick while others ended up with unique privileges. Examples as simple as people getting furloughed early during quarantine and forced to sit down and go on unemployment while others had to keep working.
I was one of those people who got furloughed while the majority of my family had to keep working. I was able to freely prioritize my mental wellness and learn a lot about how to lessen the baggage I was bringing to relationships. But most importantly, I was able to study examples provided by people who studied theories I wasn’t familiar with and sit with them. I realized that if I could incorporate some of these ideas into love songs, I might be able to reach those who haven’t been exposed to these new ideas. I was able to do just that in many of the songs on Feels through the storytelling; examples like self-accountability, reciprocity, and giving for nothing. Seeing the person in front of you as they are rather than what you think they could be, the harms of love bombing, and the hopeless romantic point of view. Not just the concepts but examples that give personal and relatable context.
Q: You also have a new creative endeavor. Can you tell me about The Chill Place Parties?
A: The Chill Place Parties is a multimedia production house focused on bridging the gaps between all demographics of people. It’s a community of creatives that promotes encouragement and support for the sentiment of speaking vulnerably; connecting and creating bonds while sharing the resources of everyone involved to produce projects for the world that are loving, forward-thinking, fruitful, and introspective.
The Chill Place Parties began in March publishing my album, Feels, and funding the production and art direction of my music video.
However, Chill Place—the psychedelic R&B band that I’m doing the majority of my performances with—is the band I’m in under the bigger umbrella of The Chill Place Parties. Under The Chill Place Parties [banner] I am Where She Creep [as well as] one half of a duo with my producer called The Goldenboyz, and, of course, Chill Place.
In addition to publishing and producing music, The Chill Place Parties have provided sound at live performances for events for reputable organizations such as The Interfaith Council for Justice and Peace, CultureVerse, Supernatural Brewing and Spirits, The RE: Claim Project, The Guild of Artist & Artisans, and Express Your Yes at Now Studios.
We hope to support Ann Arbor artists by offering a picture/video package with live audio, preshow interview, promotion, tickets for sales, merch booths, and special recognition, all free of charge to the performing artist, not to mention the after parties always accompanied with secret performances and DJ sets with the best vibes around town.
Q: What do you wish people knew about the Washtenaw County music scene?
A: That even though Ypsi is twice as inviting to Black music as Ann Arbor is, both still have a ways to go. But that shouldn’t turn artists away, if anything they should see it as grounds just waiting to be marked because we’re here to be heard and the opportunity is in arm's reach. We just gotta be persistent, support each other, and show that we want it.
Biba Adams is a Detroit-based writer with a passion for people, places and things. Her work runs the gamut from arts and entertainment to politics—with verve. She has written for Metro Times, theGrio, BET, and many more. Follow her on her social media @BibatheDiva.