It is early November when I meet Toronto’s most recent music “mystery.” Though his identity is not as shrouded in secrecy as it once was—in the weeks leading up to the release of his first EP 669 and prior to his “Diamonds” music video—fans were hard-pressed long enough that it sparked a buzz around him. We all wondered, who Anders was and what he looked like, enthralled with the idea of this new faceless novelty from Toronto. To put it plainly, Anders lets you see what he wants you to see. “Even before putting music out, I didn’t have a social media presence. I wasn’t on Instagram or Twitter. I made [both] to put music up. I was just always very private. I didn’t like people knowing what I was up to,” the 22-year-old explains of his coy photos, which teased his identity for months, obscuring his face in hoodies embossed with his NST logo.
“So that’s been a weird kind of like transition, You can only give [people] so much. I like privacy so, I just gotta find out how to balance it.” After releasing standalone singles onto Soundcloud in the fall of 2016, the artist released two subsequent projects chronicling the inexorable rise and fall of love and relationships with last year’s 669 and his most recent EP, this year’s Twos. The latter project employs much of the same motifs throughout the eight-track lineup, yet feels very different than his first tape, despite choosing a numerical name once again. “[The name] stems from a lot of things. I'm 22 right now, “Twos” because it’s the second EP. My first show is Tuesday, May 22nd. So it’s just like a lot of things that organically locked in and made sense. If it sounds right and it’s calling me, then why go against it right?” He explains.
Anders’ second effort feels much more refined—a blissful R&B endeavor that teeters between a cheeky arrogance in songs like, “Bad Guy,” before being bookended by a track like “Rain” to satisfy Twos narrative. This project, executive produced by LUCA, exposes Anders’ tenderness in a heartfelt “Take it Back” and a heady, groovy, “Undone.” All the while, remaining thematically contradictory—employing a nonchalant, impassive approach to romance with songs like “Press it up.” “I’m Just figuring out still, you know, who I am or what I am and where I belong. That’s all just like a process you gotta go through,” Anders details. “It’s not just like you wake up one day and you’re like this is where I belong. I’m just constantly on a search.”
In an ode to one of life’s greatest lessons—that sometimes good things are birthed from bad situations—trouble with the law, was what pushed Anders to pursue music in the first place. Consequences, which extended as far as not being able to travel to the United States, forced the then 19-year-old singer to regroup. “It was weird it was kind of like, I had the idea to [make music] and then shortly right after that idea is when I got into trouble. And so for a long time I didn’t like, do music. And then after a while, I was like, okay maybe I should. It was kind of like a chain of events,” He said. “I was like ‘okay, I gotta do something serious now.’ So then that’s when I started making music, like a year and a half, two years ago.”
The youngest of three siblings, Anders is a self-proclaimed “black sheep.” Growing up in Mississauga, with brief stints living both in Brampton and Downtown Toronto, he recalls doing well in school growing up, eventually going to Ryerson for Medical Physics before deciding to drop out. “I tried going to University, but every time I’d go I’d go for like a week. And then next year would come around and I’d be like, “Oh im gonna try going to school.” And then I’d try going again and dropped out so I just stop trying eventually,” he remembers. “Growing up, I would always skip school. I was one of those kids, you know what I mean? I was just always out of school, I guess just being a kid, just running around, getting into trouble.”
Though he took a dislike for school in the traditional sense, Anders was certainly keen on learning. “I have a musical background in the sense where I was always interested in like playing instruments, so I would learn a lot of them... Not very well, just like the basics. I learned a bit of piano, I knew how to play the trumpet at one point, knew how to play baritone. Like band instruments,” he explains further noting that he has always loved music despite a professional career not coming to fruition until recently. “I wasn’t into singing. Singing wasn’t a thing until recently,” he eludes. “I mean like, I would sing around the house, he laughs. “You know when you’re a kid, everyone sings around the house. But I never took lessons or anything like that.”
In his minimalistic apartment in a quiet neighbourhood in Etobicoke, his dog fumbles around playfully, while Anders gingerly holds out his hand for a “paw.” “I don't know,” He continues shyly. “I just wanted it to be just about the music.” Many months have passed since our initial meeting and his sentiment has remained true. After releasing Twos, not even a year after 669 he has transcended the metaphoric “glass ceiling,” whereby artists are restricted to remaining a hyper-local sensation. A well-known fixture in the city’s music scene, he has managed to drive momentum further, superseding the expectations forged by the success of his first EP. With over nine million streams, Twos fits deservingly on Apple music’s top R&B/Soul Chart. Anders is now a seasoned veteran and no longer Toronto’s newest secret.
“I mean, I always feel that urgency to go above and beyond. There’s so much going on in that city and so many creatives here where its like you constantly have to be on your toes or you’re going to be behind. I’m just hopefully trying to lead the race, rather than trying to catch up. But that’s just kind of my thing. There are times you can kind of feel like you’re standing in front of a glass wall, but as long as you use that as motivation and not something to stop you.”
Andrea Gambardella is on Twitter