Multi-hyphenate Kevin Garrett is a master of creating feels. With 2015’s Mellow Drama EP, the Pittsburgh-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/producer broke and mended hearts with smooth numbers like “Control” and “Coloring,” possibly explaining why Beyonce had to tap into his emotional well for the Lemonade opener “Pray You Catch Me.”
“It was a collaborative effort with Beyonce,” the song’s co-writer and producer tells Billboard over e-mail from Jamaica. “It’s an incredibly special song to me because of the way it was written, lyrics first and on a guitar. Once she added her voice and her honesty to the track, it really pushed everything over the top.”
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Like many of Bey’s collaborators, Garrett embraced the unknown while praising her innovative talents. “You can’t ever really know what to expect with her,” he said, “because of the type of incredibly meticulous artist she is, taking from so many influences and pushing so many boundaries for the sake of yielding specific and meaningful art.”
As an artist who may be depicting loneliness on one track like “Refuse” or emitting electro-soul with Los Angeles duo KNGDM on an upbeat jam like “Baby,” Garrett can also appreciate the diversity in Beyonce’s genius. “Beyoncé is amazing at blending influences in her work, which really makes her albums less genre based and more Beyoncé based,” he adds.
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For the visual album (which premiered on HBO this past Saturday, April 23), the first words she utters from the song are “You can taste the dishonesty/ It’s all over your breath,” an arrow that aimed straight for the chest of anyone who could relate. “I was speechless to hear the song as the first on the visual album,” recalls Garrett, who was in Pittsburgh with a friend, watching Lemonade. “That first line is going to stay with people forever.”
Catch Kevin Garrett on his forthcoming tour kicking off in Brooklyn on Tuesday, May 4 at the Neon Gold Pop Shop as he heads overseas to Paris, Amsterdam and London as well as major cities in the U.S. and wraps in his native Pittsburgh at the Rex Theater on June 9.