The rollout for the third studio album from the OVO-signed duo kicked off in April with the release of “Waves Of Blue” — their first single in nearly three years. A lot has changed for singer Majid Al Maskati and producer Jordan Ullman, but, change is good. Fans might not get it at first, and potentially demand a return to form. However, evolution is inevitable, in both life and creating art. “Change is incredible,” Jordan told HNHH backstage at Montreal’s Osheaga Festival. “I always find it really funny that people want the old stuff, and you want the world to change.”
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Wildest Dreams is due out on Friday (October 22). It’s a project that, as Jordan explained to us, intends to offer a better understanding of Majid Jordan, as both musicians and humans. It’s in part why it’s taken four years to release their follow-up to The Space Between. While the idea of releasing an album in the middle of the pandemic was admittedly daunting, Majid explained that Wildest Dreams is meant to be uplifting after the harrowing year that was 2020.
“We wanted something that had lyrical content speaking about a life that’s worth living, speaking about aspiring to your wildest dreams, reminding people that it is possible. Believe in yourself. You’re capable. We felt that support,” Majid said.
Just before Majid Jordan’s first show in years at Osheaga’s Get Together in early October, we chopped it up with them about Wildest Dreams, returning to the stage, and their favorite songs off of Drake’s Certified Lover Boy.
HNHH: It’s almost been 4 years since you guys dropped an album, and you guys have been doing a very interesting rollout over the past couple of months. How does it feel, especially with Day ’N Vegas coming up, being back at Osheaga, and hitting the festival circuit?
Jordan Ullman: It’s been a long, long time since we’ve been able to reconnect with people in a concert setting, so there’s definitely a lot of pent-up energy. We’re ready to get back to it. It’s exciting. I’m very excited to just be here with Maj, and to be back in these environments. It feels like we’re finally getting back into the swing of things.
Majid Al Maskati: We’re doing it.
Is this your first show back?
M: Yeah, this is our first show in 2, almost 3 years, and it’s gonna be an amazing one. We love Osheaga. We had an amazing show the last time we were here, so it’s one of the festivals we actually look forward to a lot. We spend a lot of time in Montreal, just living. We have great friends here. Some of our family friends are out here. It’s a very special place in our hearts. We love Osheaga. We always say that. Other artists that we know that we meet on the road, or other festivals, they always talk about how great it is.
When I’m in certain cities and listen to certain music, it just hits differently. The whole OVO roster— when I’m in Toronto, it feels so right. Even cruising here, listening to “Summer Rain”, driving through the tunnels—in the rain especially—this sh*t hits differently. How do you think playing that in the fall would compare to Osheaga’s usual August scheduling?
M: I think it’s regardless. Obviously, it’s different here, but the fact that it’s raining today is kinda funny. Where we were just at right now, it’s still summertime. Quebec just gets colder earlier— but I think it’s gonna sound great. We’re gonna close the show out with this.
J: We’re very excited.
When you guys did the promo for “Waves of Blue”— one thing that stuck with me is that it’s a song that takes you to a place where we all want to be, our wildest dreams. Can you describe how that level of aspiration has fueled the sessions for these projects?
M: I think being here, in person— it’s pretty crazy. This is the moment where you realize what you’ve been working for.
J: 100%. We spent the time to really perfect putting together an album, and to be able to perform it is a huge reason why we make music. This is where you finally feel it pay off just ‘cause other people are enjoying it with you, all the hard work. As much as the rollout has been over [the last] few months, there’s a lot of music coming, and we’re just excited to embark on this next adventure. It really is something of our wildest dreams to be able to, once again, play Osheaga, to be in Montreal, to be with our friends, to be with artists that we love. Canada has some incredible musicians and just people, and so it’s good to be home. To play in Canada, my country, it’s a blessing.
M: To get that kind of response, and people coming out in the middle of a pandemic—and it’s cold, and it’s raining—it is our wildest dreams to stand on a stage. Where I grew up, where I was born, where I’m from, to come to Canada and be accepted, to grow the way I have as an artist, to keep being able to come back, it is wild, especially after struggling to find a place here, build a life here. I’m the only one from my family here, so everything I’m doing— it’s the first time. I’m still finding my feet, but now we have it. Now, we can make this album, and we can put it out, and we can tour the world.
Image provided to HNHH by artist. Photo credit: Laith Majali
Where’s your family from?
M: They’re all in Bahrain. It’s a small island. But I moved to Toronto when I was 18. My formative years were there— discovering art, music, the subcultures, the people. Our wildest dream is to be on those stages, connecting with people, and we both feel that same feeling, but for different reasons. When you look at someone’s eyes, they’re just happy to be here with the music. They’re just happy to be receiving that energy.
There’s almost a 4-year gap between these 2 projects. I feel like that speaks to how good the music is every time you guys drop. With such a unique sound, how do you approach each project and bringing that familiarity to your fans so that it’s not too far off, but still being able to fuel your own creative needs?
J: When we make an album, we’re telling more of the story. So, I think this time around, we wanted to let people know the story of who we are, where we come from, and what we really aspire to be as people and as musicians. We admire musicians from the past. We try to connect with them, and embody what they have done, and [remind ourselves] why we’re inspired to make the music that we are. All these things take time. To sit down and hear it out and collectively put it together so that people can really relate to it takes a little bit of time. We’re the type of people that like to work on a body of music that represents us, and put the story together with it. I think people are really gonna understand who Maj is, who I am, and who we collectively became over the last 10 years. It was a big gap, but we had to live life. We had to enjoy life.
“When we make an album, we’re telling more of the story. So, I think this time around, we wanted to let people know the story of who we are, where we come from, and what we really aspire to be as people and as musicians.”
M: And the pandemic hit, and everything changed. It was uncertain times. We didn’t know if this was gonna be a sustainable thing. I left my home, and all these years away from my family, the only thing I’m focusing on is making sure that none of that time was wasted. We have to get together, put this project out, and then [everything] with the pandemic is coming up— travel bans, vaccines, are shows gonna be a thing? All these digital spaces are becoming a reality. The story is basically seeing it through. What do we really want from life? We want love. We want happiness—for us, for the people that are around us, and beyond. We want to be able to do what we love. This album is an opportunity for us to do that, and showcase it to the world.
It’s funny because when you put stuff out and it’s different from stuff that some people may be used to — let’s say you’ve always been behaving a certain way around a group of friends, but you like them. You love them. But there’s a part of you that’s afraid to express something to them because you’re afraid of judgment. Whenever you switch up your behavior, they’re like, “Oh, you’re crazy,” or “Oh, that’s not what it is,” or “What do you mean? That’s not what you do.” [It’s] a similar thing, but just in music. You’re just expressing yourself in a new way, so there’s always going to be that resistance in the beginning, but it really does come from a place of love. They’re just worried. They’re like, “Well, are you changing?” But change is good.
J: Change is incredible. I always find it really funny that people want the old stuff, and you want the world to change.
M: It’s growth.
J: The two things go together. As much as we want these things from artists and stuff, we’re developing as human beings. For us to stay in the same place and make the same music, we don’t want that song twice. That’s why we made it once. That’s really what it is. It doesn’t work like that. Life doesn’t work like that. When you do the same thing, we’ve learned as humans, it doesn’t work. You have to move with the times, and I think this just represents what we want to speak about. We want to bring more people together. Releasing music in a pandemic, it was daunting. It just wasn’t the time to do it.
M: Yeah, and there were bigger problems. People were going through things. They still are. People are losing homes, jobs. It’s really crazy, so we wanted something that was uplifting on this project. We wanted something that had lyrical content speaking about a life that’s worth living, speaking about aspiring to your wildest dreams, reminding people that it is possible. Believe in yourself. You’re capable. We felt that support. We were lucky enough to feel that in our support early in our careers from people who were influential and really good at what they did. We just want to share that with anyone we come into contact with.
“People are losing homes, jobs. It’s really crazy, so we wanted something that was uplifting on this project. We wanted something that had lyrical content speaking about a life that’s worth living, speaking about aspiring to your wildest dreams, reminding people that it is possible.”
With the pandemic, you guys are going from touring the world, meeting different people, seeing different things— just experiencing life as you should be living it. How does the pandemic affect that creative space when you’re cooped up inside?
M: Your world shrinks. You’re isolated, so your brain goes places. It’s remembering the things that you were doing before. But I think what’s also important is to have that mental switch where you’re not dwelling on what’s happening and feeling bad for yourself, but focusing on what you’re doing now. What we ended up doing was making a bunch of music, and there’s so much music that we’ve made and built up. This is slowly all going to come to life. It’s the beginning of everything because the world came to a stop, and we’re starting again with no momentum. It’s an exciting time. It’s like a new beginning, and we’re excited to bring everyone along. It’s a wild dream. Whoever wants to tune in, let’s go.
You guys keep saying “Wild Dream.” Are you hinting at an album title? [Ed. note: the album title and cover art were revealed a day after conducting this interview]
J: [Laughs] I was gonna make a joke— we’ll see you in four years.
M: It is. It’s called Wildest Dreams.
That’s crazy. How many tracks have you guys recorded for it?
M: Right now, it’s 11.
J: 11 songs. I’m really proud of Maj. Being able to work with a brother and a friend in such a small environment during such a crazy time, we’re seeing it through. I keep manifesting the live performance, and keep seeing how people are gonna react to the whole album, so I’m excited. People are out here buying tickets during a crazy time. These moments are never taken for granted.
Roy Woods is performing. DVSN played last night. You guys are playing. OVO taking over Osheaga this weekend. How does it feel, not only being on stage with so many dope Canadian acts, but being able to share it with your labelmates?
J: Seeing people from Toronto anywhere in the world is incredible, but seeing people in Montreal, performing in Canada with these guys. Anytime we see them, we’ve known these guys for so long, it’s like family members.
M: It’s like when you come back to the barbecue, or catching up at Friday lunch.
J: You catch up, and it’s real.
M: We’ve known each other for so many years, and it’s still the same amazing people that we’ve known since day one. They’re just way more experienced, way more tapped into what they do, worked on their craft. It’s beautiful. The growth and everything is amazing to see.
Image provided to HNHH by artist. Photo credit: Laith Majali
Favorite track off CLB?
J: Man, that’s difficult.
M: If I had to pick a song off CLB that reminds me why Drake is so good at what he does, it’s “Girls Want Girls”. There’s something about how he tells that story, and nowadays, these conversations need to be had. It’s open. It feels more open, and people are able to have these conversations more than ever before. I love that. Girls want girls. So what?
“If I had to pick a song off CLB that reminds me why Drake is so good at what he does, it’s “Girls Want Girls”. There’s something about how he tells that story, and nowadays, these conversations need to be had. It’s open.”
J: Yeah, “Girls Want Girls” is probably my favorite, too. The beat on “TSU” is incredible. Shout out Harley. He killed that. I feel like that’s a project that, over time— it’s like a fine wine because it’s so much music that the more you listen to it, the more you understand, like, “Yo. People really sat down and made this.” You can’t just take that for granted and be like, “Oh yeah, it’s always gonna be like that.” It’s really difficult to do that over and over and over, and be as relatable as he is. That’s a real human talent. It’s hard for me to pick. “Champagne Freestyle” is another one.
M: “Champagne Freestyle” is crazy. Those are our top 3.