Before combining their talents to form OVO Sound duo Majid Jordan, Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman’s friendship blossomed in a bar. It was Majid’s 21st birthday and he helped sneak a then-18-year-old Jordan into Toronto pub The Beaconsfield. Despite the small age difference (Majid is now 25 and Jordan 22), their thirst for drinks and musical knowledge jump-started their bond on wax.
“That’s Toronto — young people mix really well with different age groups,” recalls Majid, who was born and bred in the island nation of Bahrain before attending University of Toronto, where Jordan was also an undergrad. “When I was 19, I remember hanging out with 30- to 35-year-olds that were in the house music scene … Meeting Jordan when he was at that age reminded me of being around older people that knew so much [about music] and just wanting to understand that.”
Their introduction in a bar resulted in Jordan, an Aurora native, sharing a song with Majid that he flipped within a day of their meeting that eventually turned into “Hold Tight,” a smooth slow jam off their 2013 project afterhours — released under their previous moniker, Good People. YouTube hunting with Majid revealed their similar musical interests, which ranged from French house to all things Quincy Jones. Their mission: put good vibes on wax. Then, 24 hours after afterhours hit timelines, Drake‘s righthand producer, Noah “40” Shebib, slid into Majid’s inbox. “It was maybe that day we realized that we could make a project and work together,” says Jordan.
Fast-forward to 2016 and they have churned out two projects: the 2014 EP A Place Like This and their self-titled debut, a 12-track set that blends electronic funk with alt-pop on top of snappy grooves and sexy synths. (Standouts beyond the singles “My Love” featuring Drake and “Something About You” include “Small Talk” and “Love Is Always There.”) The pair notes that the change in scenery also lent to the album’s sonic aesthetic as they jetted to L.A. to work with producers like Illangelo, the Canadian beatsmith who frequently works with The Weeknd.
Los Angeles, which Jordan describes as the video game “Grand Theft Auto in real life,” also hosted around-the-clock songwriting sessions for the duo, who tackle different phases of relationships from honeymoon love to the end of the road. “The way we were working in L.A. was cool because we were spending so much time together. We were living in a house that had a studio in it. We would wake up, spend the day then go in and make the song,” explains Majid. “It was a live conversation that was being produced and recorded.”
The lone feature on Majid Jordan comes from OVO boss Drake, who recruited the duo for the two-step magnet “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Drizzy also took a hands-off approach to Majid Jordan’s LP during the creative process. “His involvement was more after we came up with the album [together],” says Jordan. “We were able to take it and listen to it with him, hear his advice and approach to it, which is incredible to have.”
In much the same way Kanye preaches positivity on “Ultralight Beam,” Majid Jordan takes the common human experience of achieving an end and actualizing it in their music. “We’re all working toward the same thing,” says Majid. “It’s about taking those experiences that we learned in life where it’s like how do we transfer that feeling of working toward that end goal and putting it to music?”
Not that Majid or Jordan need guidance — their studious approach to music has made them a sponge for different sounds and song structures that it’s difficult to stuff their catalog into one genre. The way Jordan describes the second to last track on their LP, “King City,” though, almost sounds like a metaphor for their personal journey.
“The idea of moving from a place that you love and going somewhere where you feel like there’s something calling you,” he says of the track’s inspiration. “You don’t really know what it is but you’re hoping that when you do get there, there’s a reason why this all happened.”
Majid Jordan recently announced the dates for their North American tour. See their upcoming itinerary below.
— Majid Jordan (@majidjordan) February 17, 2016