Q&A: JERSEY'S 'CLIFF' SITS DOWN WITH CO-SIGN RADIO TO DISCUSS DRAKE, WORKING WITH 'SOUNDSBYMOON', THE NEW YEAR & MORE...
More on Cliff:
New Jersey’s, Cliff, sits down with us at Co-Sign Radio to discuss his father being one of his early musical influences. Growing up with mixed-race family in Jersey, while originally in High School, feeling as though the music career was “Not cool.” With ending 2019 with positivity and countless support, Cliff is among our top five artists to watch in this new year.
Let us start things off with what I am sure people want to know. Who is Cliff, and what is your background? What was your situation like growing up as a child in Jersey?
Cliff: I was a mixed-race kid raised in central New Jersey. Though I was mainly in Edison, I grew up in the Carteret and Elizabeth neighboring boroughs. My father is Nigerian, and my mother is caucasian, French-Canadian. So life as a child was very interesting. My mother would always play Old School R&B and a lot of Michael Jackson. However, my father, on the other hand, is a musician himself. So I suppose that’s who I got my musical talents from.
Cliff (Continues): You could say I grew up in any typical mixed-race family situation in the early 2000s decade of New Jersey.
How did you come up with the alias Cliff, and does it have any significant meaning to you?
Cliff: Well everyone calls me “Cliff.” My actual full first name is Clifford, but I do not go by that name nor do I want to, haha. My favorite artist growing up was Drake. Which helped with deciding on Cliff, because I wanted to have a “name” brand, for my artist name, and the one-word self-title fitted pretty well to me.
Cliff (Continues): I made this decision when I was inspired by Drake, back when I started making music in 2015.
What was it like growing up in New Jersey? Did you (do you) enjoy the culture and music scene out there? Does Jersey feel like it is your calling, or would you rather move elsewhere?
Cliff: Jersey is the reason I am who I am today. I would say being in North Jersey, it bred me more culturally since where I’m from in central Jersey, not a lot of stuff is happening. The scene is far more serious in North Jersey and New York. I would say New York made me push my music career because I would be there every day buying clothes, hitting parties, and mobbing with my city friends as a bunch of creatives. Which was really dope at the time.
Cliff (Continues): It was the beginning of the Twitter & Instagram era and fashion scene. I used to make clothes at first, and only had videos of myself singing on my Instagram. But people told me to get in the studio over and over again, so I finally made the decision to do so. I used the clout off of my clothes to push my music career to engage people. So they knew I was serious about this, and now it’s my full-time job.
Was music always a passion since birth, or did it come over time? Do you have family members that are into music or was it a natural occurrence to pursue music as a career?
Cliff: Yes, always a passion, but in my early High School days I was a sports guy. Football and Basketball were my passions as I thought singing wasn’t cool, haha. Oddly enough, I figured out it was my true calling. But I didn’t start making music until I left High School and started my first year of college.
Name some of your favourites in the R&B & Soul genres, inspiring your sound selection? Why did you choose R&B music over other genres, or would you not categorize your sound?
Cliff: Even though he has hit his demise, R. Kelly was a big deal for me. But if I were really to say “Who?” influenced the music I make today. I would say “The Weeknd and Drake.” Without The Weeknd specifically, I would not have the courage to put my voice on a mic. He gets deep and real about things in his music, like in “Loft Music,” “What You Need,” “The Party & The After Party” & “Valerie”. Songs like that, as well as Drakes legendary albums like “Thank Me Later,” “Take Care,” & “Nothing Was The Same.” My favorite records of Drakes are “Cameras Good Ones Go,” “Wu-Tang Forever,” “Fancy,” “Shut It Down,” “Connect,” “Poundcake,” etc. I’m a soulful person and I would consider myself along the lines of R&B and Trapsoul, with a drop of Rapping on the side. But I am very big on songwriting, for sure.
Tell us how you became close acquaintances with your hometown producer ‘Soundsbymoon’? Whenever I hear “Straight up to the moon!” I feel entitled to download it because I know it is about to be a vibe.
Cliff: Haha thank you! And ‘Moon‘ is my brother man. We met back in 2018 through a mutual friend and I was still trying to find my true sound. I needed someone ready to fully invest their time into me so we could make our organic sound. We both sparked each other’s careers and made a lot of connections out of what we brought to the table individually and for each other. Moon is one of two people I would ever let touch any of my records, as far as engineering wise, because he knows exactly how I operate and how I work. We have a book of unreleased music and our archive keeps growing. If I wanted to drop a 30-track Album on some Chris Brown shit, I could do that right now and it would all be produced by ‘SoundsByMoon‘, haha. He’s a legend in the making and the best at what he does in his town, and people have come to see that locally. It’s kind of funny, but at first, I didn’t trust Moon to record my music because at the time I was only recording in Brooklyn with my boy, Myles G. Who was apart of me becoming who I am, today. As well as, he worked at a studio called Visionlanty, which was my first home. But one day I was like “fuck it,” let’s try to make a record, and now we are here. Two years later, looking like Drake and 40 (Oliver “40“), lmao. I think everything worked out, right?
What can we further expect from the infamous ‘Cliff’ & ‘Moon’ duo? Also, maybe some more collaborations with one of my favourite artists, ‘Dutchboy’?
Cliff: Well, what I can say is that the music is coming and “Chapter Three.” My long-awaited tape series, which will have a huge SoundsByMoon input on all of it. There are other producers in the tape, but he has majority say on it for sure. DutchBoy and I, in my opinion, are the best R&B artists coming out of Jersey right now, and you can quote me on that! As far as new music, I have one unreleased record with DutchBoy, still. But whenever he’s back in town, I’m always down to get more in with him. He’s somebody I was a fan of before I met him, and I respect him a lot for what he’s done and will do in the future.
Besides working with your surrounding Jersey artists and producers, who else could we potentially see you working with this year? Do you have any in mind you’re trying to reach out too?
Cliff: I can confirm, I will have music with JaxsonFree, Apollo1027, Kayeandre, Yhim and a few other “big artists,” real soon. I can’t say anything at the moment, but you guys will see how it unfolds over these upcoming months.
What is your take on the current music industry, would you ever sign to a label, or does it come to whatever you feel is necessary?
Cliff: I would only sign to a label if they see the bigger picture in me, and of course everything financially got to be looking right. As for right now, I’d rather stay independent until the right situation comes in front of me. But I’m definitely open to the idea of being apart of a label, but it just has to be the right fit.
Is there anything you would like to say to your supporters, that you have planned for this new year? Any shows, projects, videos, etc.?
Cliff: I would like to thank the fans who listen to and support me
every day because, without y’all, I would be nothing. You guys built the courage for me to become a musician and confidently keep dropping new music, due to your feedback.
Cliff (Continues): A few things I can say are, five videos will be coming between now and the month of May. I will be dropping “Chapter Three: Ascension” very soon. Before my birthday in May. I will also be dropping a new ‘EP‘ thread similar to “1AM Reminiscing..” from last year. But this project will be called “Late Night Pack Vol. 1,” and it will be out next week, so stay tuned. It will be mostly produced by SoundsByMoon & Monsayy, and there will be one feature.
What is one positive thing you could say about yourself?
Cliff: One thing I can say is that 2020 will be the year my fans get to see the real me on a visual level, and what my capabilities truly are. This year goes to positive energy and working towards my goals every day. To all my doubters, and people who gave up on me, you will see what all my hard work will do for me this year. There’s no looking back for me, only “Plan A.“