From: Long Island, N.Y.
Launch pad: Born Ryan DeRobertis, Saint Pepsi honed his skills as a teen, but it wasn’t until he began releasing projects in late 2012 that the Internet took notice.
Sound: He’s a self-described “ambassador” of vaporwave, a buzzy genre where digital artists like Yung Bae and Internet Club mine obscure samples — 1980s Japanese pop hits, ’90s commercials — for tracks.
Influences: Reared on Duran Duran and Prefab Sprout, Saint Pepsi’s influences span producer Trevor Horn to Drake, whose run on Degrassi led to an obsession with the show. “It’s hard to transition from one industry to the other,” he says, “and Drake has definitely dealt with a lot of that — but not as much if he wasn’t as good as he is.”
Stepping up: Saint Pepsi signed with Carpark Records in June to release his retro-funk single “Fiona Coyne,” inspired by another character from Degrassi. “The hardest part going forward is knowing that I want to be a pop guy,” says Pepsi, who newly embraces live instrumentation and singing on the track.
Next: With “Fiona Coyne” racking up 500,000-plus hits on SoundCloud, Pepsi’s working on his official debut — and hoping the soda company is cool with his name. “I have a somewhat wholesome image,” he says. “I don’t think I’d be giving them any bad press.”