As Drake continues his unprecedented run in music, it’s his supporting cast from OVO Sounds that have garnered massive attention as of late. With a starry line-up boasting R&B acts like PARTYNEXTDOOR, DVSN and Majid Jordan, Drake’s roster is ready to pounce on any label willing to step up to the plate.
After PARTYNEXTDOOR dropped his 7 Days EP last September, DVSN warmed up the hearts of avid R&B lovers with their scintillating release, The Morning After earlier this month. To punctuate OVO’s blistering run, Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman are set to release their sophomore album, The Space Between on Friday (Oct. 27).
In 2016, Canadian duo, Majid Jordan captivated listeners with their infectious earworm “My Love.” With Drake’s colossal stamp on the record, “My Love” eclipsed over 28 million streams on SoundCloud and 7 million on YouTube. With high hopes of besting their self-titled release, within a year’s time, Majid Jordan deftly crafted their sophomore album with the intention of luring listeners of all ages. “I think that it’s really important to just reach as many people as possible. We just gotta keep it open to older people and younger people,” says Al Maskati.
The eclectic duo sat down with Billboard and spoke about their sophomore album, The Space Between, their progression individually, expanding their audience, and why they’ll always ride out for their OVO family.
It’s only been a year since you guys released your self-titled album. Why come back out so quickly with The Space Between?
Majid: I think just part of it was us wanting to go in and make more music inspired off of the first album and all the experiences that we went through. Like performing live around the world, having all of that energy and being like, “Ok, how does that translate into what we want to do with the next kind of idea, the next project.” We basically wanted to make a musical journey based off of that experience and we just went in.
It’s only been a year, but nowadays, people are coming out with new music all the time. I just think that it’s important to keep creating and to keep staying in that mode and you know, hopefully, something will come out of that as a result. For us, it’s this project that we’re so, so excited about that we cannot wait to be out there in the world. I think it’s gonna touch a lot of people, and it’s gonna really give people a journey to just accompany them in whatever they’re doing, whether it’s traveling or walking around and seeing things. This music will accompany them and open their eyes to things, I think.
What did you guys learn from each other musically on The Space Between that you may have not known when you both were working on your debut album?
Jordan: I think Majid just got closer to music. I think with the basis of how we write music and how we make our music just got stronger. That formula is just more evident in this piece of work. So, I mean, we just really dialed in on what we wanted to talk about and what we wanted the music to sound like. We’re super happy with this project, man. Like this is really one of our proudest moments, definitely.
Majid: I think also one thing that I learned from Jordan is that we were on the same page when it came to creating music. Like, we have this album coming out and it’s an non-explicit album. You know, all the bodies of work that we released thus far have been non-explicit albums. I think that it’s really important to just reach as many people as possible. We just gotta keep it open to older people and younger people. We just want to reach a greater number of people and not just so much like an in your face kind of thing, but to know that, I think it’s really important. I’m really proud that we’ve been able to do that and that’s what I learned about Jordan too, it’s that he really wanted to stick with that as well.
Because you’re widening your demographic rather than narrowing it down, does that make creating music more difficult or easier for you guys in terms of who you’re catering to?
Majid: I think there’s a misunderstanding between catering to and wanting to communicate to. We cater to ourselves and we cater to what we want to hear. I try to collaborate with Jordan on trying to tap into an idea that I want to tap into with his help and vice versa, but leaving it open to that wide ranging amount of people allows us to communicate to more people. That’s what I think is the most important thing.
Majid, how do you feel you’ve progressed as a singer/songwriter? And Jordan, how have you evolved as a producer?
Majid: I think as a singer, just going on tour and playing all these live shows helped a lot. It helped my voice, it strengthen my voice and everything like that. As a songwriter, I’ve been blessed to work with some really talented people. I’ve been in sessions with some incredible songwriters like Tayla Parkx and Bibi Bourelly that I’ve given my craft to and heard from them, as well. Those were like some experiences that we’ve really enjoyed and communicated about how different songwriters think and approached their craft. Some people are melodic, some people are lyric-driven. It’s all about the confidence and the delivery. That’s something I learned.
Jordan: I think with this project I’ve learned what the term producer means and what that means in studio rooms and bringing people together and finishing ideas and utilizing the tools that you have. It’s a whole direction of making music that I just discovered even more. Over the past year, it’s been me taking every single aspect of music making seriously. From making a beat to the chord progressions, to integrating Majid’s melody, it goes even further with the engineering and the mixing and mastering. I wanna learn as much as I can about all of these fields, because they all do actually go under the name producer, in a certain way.
Because you guys are so meticulous, which song was the most difficult to complete on The Space Between?
Majid: You see, this is an interesting question because we’re so meticulous, there have been times with every song where we’ve faced a point where we call it “giving it the treatment.” I think that’s more of a question for J to answer. J, what do you think?
Jordan: Yeah, I mean, with what Majid was saying, when we give that song a treatment or any idea a treatment, it’s basically Majid and I taking that idea, whether it be one verse, one hook, or something and turning it into a whole song. All the songs kind of took the same heart and soul from us. I can’t really think of one that was a struggle or anything like that, because also, we’re the type of guys where we make so much music that we don’t wanna struggle with one song.
You guys have close to 30 million streams on SoundCloud for “My Love.” Was there any pressure initially in terms of trying to top the success of that record when making The Space Between?
Majid: To be honest, we didn’t even know there was 30 million views on SoundCloud. So thank you for that information [Laughs]. I remember when we put out our first project and we got like 30,000 listens on SoundCloud and we were so hyped. We were like, “Oh my God. 30,000” to now 30 million? If you multiply by that same amount, you’re looking at like 300 million or like 3 billion people. If you looking at that multiplier at this point in time, to try to get to 3 billion, that’s a jump that’d occur over our life journey. That’s a lot of people. So for the fact that we were able to get to that many people is something that we should really be celebrating. So I think that it’s not so much of a pressure, but a joy and a sign of encouragement.
You guys worked with PARTYNEXTDOOR and DVSN — who are also members your OVO Family — on your new album. What made you guys decide to collaborate together more this time around as opposed to your debut effort?
Jordan: It was really the most organic way it could possibly happen. Both of those songs that you hear on the album, that you hear from different artists, were made in very different times and with different feelings. I think, of course, we really had the ongoing conversation that we wanted to have some features on the album, we’d just never thought it’d be like this with PARTY and DVSN. It just worked perfectly with us. It’s two different sounds from two different artists from label-mates at this point. It came super organically.
What was it like working with DVSN on “My Imagination,” especially since they’re a singer-producer tandem like you guys?
Jordan: Well, we’ve all been working together since 2012, so I just think we’re all in different elevated areas of ourselves, you know? Paul is an incredible, incredible producer, mentor and friend to me. Daniel is an incredible singer and songwriter. The same goes for Majid. When we’re all together in the room, it’s amazing vibes, man. I feel like you hear that in that record “My Imagination.” We wanted to make something upbeat and happy and give the world all of that energy that all four of us shared in the same room, you know? We’ve been making music together for five years, so this is the start with more tracks with DVSN, definitely.
With OVO, there seems to be a strong family bond between you all. How would you describe your relationship with OVO at this present time?
Majid: We have a bond and I think a lot of that comes down to the strength of the people who founded the label and thought everything through. From the artistic side to the personal side, we’re all people who share the same ideals and the same respect for ourselves and our respect for others. That translates because we’re such fans of one another.
We love everyone’s work on our label. We literally listen and play all their records all of the time. We love listening to tracks back-to-back from different artists on different projects and seeing how they all fit together in someway. I think that’s also part of that bond, as well. We’ve all started at one point and we’ve all seen our careers sort of just move in these different trajectories and we’ve been able to reconvene at different points in our careers like, “Oh, I see you now. I see you here. Remember that, remember this.”