Travis Garland wrapped up a four-song set at New York’s SOB’s feeling rather satisfied. The crowd was a mix of music fans, some familiar with Garland’s entire music career and others who were just hearing the singer for the first time. All left satisfied at the performance they just witnessed. The 23-year old is re-introducing himself to the music world, not as a pop star, but as a full-time R&B singer and he is making sure people know he is here to stay.
Garland first gained notice as a member of the boy band NLT. When the band parted ways and his record deal with Interscope Records was finished, Garland was left at a crossroads of where to take his career. Enter in the production team of The Stereotypes (Justin Bieber, Chris Brown), who Garland credits to influencing his sound more than anyone and new music was born.
“I’ve known those guys since I was 16 or 17. We did writing sessions together, songs for other artists. When I got off Interscope, I sought them out and we took a meeting,” Travis said. “The chemistry was there instantly and we haven’t looked back since.”
Garland released his first EP, Fashionably Late, that was a mix that was equal parts pop, R&B and gospel. It was not until the recent release of his followup EP, Fashionably Late II, where Garland proves he is a full-fledged R&B singer and intends on staying that way.
“It was a natural evolution for me to go that route with my music. I come from a more soulful background, singing in church. It was only natural that I take that next step,” Garland said.
The change in sound is evident. Pop hooks were replaced with falsetto melodies. The tempo of the EP is slowed down, layered with sultry guitar riffs and futuristic synth beats. The sound is completely unique to Garland as it represents multiple styles of music, born from a recent trend of genre-bending R&B. Songs like “Where to Land” and “Homewrecker” are gaining Garland comparisons to the likes of Justin Timberlake and Miguel, two artists currently inspiring him today.
Garland is not naive to the fact that his pop past will continue to follow him around. He intends on proving to all those who think he is just a “boy band guy” that there is a lot more to him. Whether he is taking a crowd to church during “Abby Lee” or breaking down minimalist grooves on “Blue Electric Roses”, Garland shows there is more to him than what meets the eye.
Right now, he is not jumping at the opportunity to sign with major label again, instead choosing to trust in Stereotypes to help steer his music in the right direction. “Stereotypes are just so good at production. I come in with the lyrics and melodies and they take care of the rest,” Garland said. “It all just comes naturally. It’s an organic process. That's what makes the best sound.”
That organic sound has Garland gaining buzz all over the music industry. Fashionably Late II proves the best is yet to come for the singer. With a full lineup of concerts to come, Garland has definite plans to release more music in the near future, a possible full-length album could be in the works. His main goal with the new EP is to leave the listener asking themselves, “Who is this guy? I’m a fan.” As the crowd filters out of the New York club, many people are uttering those exact words. Goal accomplished.