Born to a Baptist pastor father and a gospel singing mother, Tolliver is a Chicago, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based electro R&B artist, who played in a number of Stax Records-inspired acts, including Black Diet, an act that received best new band nods from a number of publications and filmed a nationally syndicated PBS special at the end of 2014. Since then, the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based pop artist has been supporting himself by editing Mormon gay porn while his solo work — notably his solo debut EP Rave Deep received attention for focusing on late night partying, getting high and anonymous sex; however, his forthcoming EP Rites reportedly focuses on the sacred and the profane, capturing who had a deeply religious childhood and now is living in a sin-filled, ungodly present, and is tormented by his guilt.
Now, as you might recall earlier this year, I wrote about “I Gotchu,” an atmospheric and moody track that draw from gospel, neo-soul and jazz and centered around an aching expressing of guilt, shame and vulnerability that felt all too human and familiar. The EP’s latest single “Emmanuel” is centered around an atmospheric production featuring fluttering, arpeggiated synths and Tolliver’s aching falsetto soaring over the production — and in some way, the song expresses and evokes a longing for someone and something just out of reach and perhaps in some way forbidden.
Much like the visuals for “I Gotchu.” the Kellen Malloy-directed video for the song employs the contrasts between light and dark, as it features Tolliver sitting alone in an empty studio — except for the cameraperson — as he puts on a bright jacket, preens in front of a mirror and distractedly cuts an onion, and spends the rest of the video in front of a flashlight. And while possessing a feverish and surreal logic, the video evokes a man trapped in a vacillating cycle of loathing and guilt.