12AM tells Inked about putting your "10,000 hours in" to get what you want

Ottawa-raised, Toronto based 12AM had gained over 900k streams through his first single "Couple Pills" in 2016. The young R&B artist recently celebrated the release of his EP AFTERPARTY, and tells INKED about music getting him through tough times, tattoos, and future 12AM beats.

Photography by Louis Miguel

Photography by Louis Miguel

From making the “AFTERPARTY” EP in your basement to your newest releases, “The Woods” and “Hangover,” how has your musical approach evolved?

“AFTERPARTY” was the first time I ever really released anything. I mixed it, wrote it, recorded it, and mastered it all in my basement, so it really has that lo-fi dark sound to it. Now with all the new music about to be released, including “Can’t Love,” you can hear such growth. Vocally, songwriting/production-wise, the mix and master — I’ve developed such an incredible team and it’s really helped me take this new stuff to a new level.

“12AM” comes from using a midnight plate reverb on logic. What moment did you decide this would be the final alias?
It was nearly instantaneous. The music fits that vibe and so it stuck. I’ve always loved that dark sound, so nothing made more sense than “12AM”. Although nothing great happens after 12 a.m., there is no association to 24 hrs, 4 a.m., or anybody with a time-related alias. It’s all because of my vocal effect.

Growing up, did you want to be anything other than a musician?
I really wanted to be in the NBA but never had the hops or the actual skill for that to be even considered, but that lifestyle in terms of the culture is pretty similar. I always looked at Allen Iverson and LeBron as my idols, even in music. Just pure greatness.

Photography by Louis Miguel

Photography by Louis Miguel

When and how did you decide to focus on music as a career?
Music was always a passion of mine. Writing, top lining, I would voice note. However, my mom ended up very ill, and it became my responsibility to take care of her. With her love and support, I continued to make music, using my scenario to help develop my message. My mother was always my biggest fan, so after her passing, my focus shifted from a normal day-to-day job, to a life of passion. I have been able to channel the emotions I’ve experienced, and will continue to go through into my music, and will continue to feel the void of not having her around.

Who are your musical influences?

The city of Toronto is a huge influence on me. I fell in love with that cold R&B sound that came up. Guys like The Weeknd, PartyNextDoor, Tory Lanez, and Majid all had that sound. On the pop side though, guys like Bieber and Ed Sheeran are the goats right now. Back in the day, I’d be listening to a lot of 50 Cent, Eminem, Tupac, Nelly, MJ, and Justin Timberlake.

Photography by Louis Miguel

Photography by Louis Miguel

To best describe your musical style, who would you say are your “musical parents” that you are a cross between?

Because of where I’m from, and the music that generally comes from Toronto, my sound can be compared to people like The Weeknd or Justin Bieber, but I’m just working off their sound to develop my own. Just makes sense with how the music sounds. It’s dark but has a pop element to it and I’m versatile. Bieber and Weeknd can both sing and rap and mess around and make a number 1 pretty quick. Now I’ve just got to go get those number 1’s like they’ve got, and we’re good.

What are you doing when you're not making music?

If I’m not recording or working on music, I’m playing “NBA 2k.” This game is a religion for me. I have yet to meet someone who can beat me, so if you think you got it, add me: ‘ilove12am’. I run park mostly, but if you are a glass cleaner, or a pure stretch, add me. For the record, I was #14 worldwide in 2k18… no biggie.

Tell me about your favorite tattoos.

Well when I moved to LA I had two tattoos... now I’ve got both arms covered. The first one I ever got was a diamond when I was 16 and I actually covered it up. I went tattoo crazy and just starting getting tatted like 3-4 times a week. My favorite is probably a tie between my mom tat and the “Time waits for no one” tattoo.

Any tattoo ideas you’re glad you didn’t go through with? Any current tattoo regrets?

Luckily, no. Any tattoo I get, I love. My tattoo artist always kills it and if I ever get a wack tattoo in the future, I know Brian’s gonna cover that shit up easy… except this tattoo says 12:12 AM not 12AM.

Photography by Louis Miguel

Photography by Louis Miguel

What would people be most surprised to know about you?

I think most people would be surprised at how introverted I am. I come off as super outgoing, loud, and always down to party, but I’m my most comfortable self in my bedroom studio. I’m social for a purpose, but other than that, I’m solo.

How do you want to leave the music industry better than you’ve found it?

I just want to show people that you can pick up something and do it yourself. When I started, it was just me, with no knowledge behind how the game worked, no nothing. Just making music I liked and it started working. I want to be able to look back and inspire people to just go for whatever they want in life. Put your 10,000 hours in.

What should 12AM fans be expecting next for you?

This year I will be dropping an EP. I’ve worked with some really cool new artists, strong established producers, and I’m ready for this new wave of 12AM. Following that EP, I’m hoping to lock down some festival shows and do a small run on my own with some strong supports. 2018 was about finding myself while settling down in a new place. Couldn’t be happier with what I’ve laid out for 2019. Last year was a rebuild for me emotionally, and now I’m ready to just put everything out.