The concept of an oxymoron is puzzling in itself. The fact that two opposites can work alongside each other harmoniously is something that can be quite hard to pull off, especially when it comes to art: where it is common for ideals and perspectives to clash. But when the notion is applied to a producer-singer duo with a bond outside of music that supersedes their differences, it can lead to a moment of brilliance. Enter Vague Detail: consisting of the sultry and deep-toned R&B singer Kaleem Taylor, and the enigmatic versatile composer and producer The Code.
The Floor: I love a good oxymoron. What made you come together and title yourselves together, as well as the EP Vague Detail?
The Code: I’d say that’s what it is, to an extent. Myself as ‘The Code,’ I’m not there as much to see - that’s my description from my perspective. Whereas Kaleem is the detailed side. His music is very detailed, the way he writes his music is very precise and I guess I’m the opposite to that visually as well. So it kind of just felt like the right name. I mean Kaleem just said it and it made sense.
Kaleem Taylor: I guess you can say we met in the middle. Even when it comes to our timelines - we’ve been separately working for a while but we essentially started the journey together. We’ve had a chemistry between each other for years, even outside of music. So it wasn’t really a thing of ‘let’s try and find this space or make this work’. It was literally a space of ‘let’s be free’ and we did whatever we do. There’s no rules and no other standard to base what we’re doing on. So it wasn’t really about finding a balance. It needed to be something that felt new, felt honest and felt fun.
Their unique blend of mystery, seductive vocals and enchanting lyrics gave birth to a 5-track EP that leaves listeners ultimately wanting more. The duo aptly navigate through the unknown with their talents as the guide and explore concepts like heartbreak, loss and love from multiple perspectives. The greatest feat in the depth of their EP is how much the artists leave to interpretation, and how much those theories can differ and vary.
Given how much is packed into 5 tracks, do either of you have favourite tracks, or one in particular that really resonates with you?
Kaleem: We haven’t picked a favourite between us, even when we’ve spoken about it. If anything at times, it’s like whatever we listen to we’re like - yeah this is crazy. It’s like we are attached to that song whilst we are making it like, this is that vibe. Especially when we are in that space. I feel like it’s a good thing not to have a favourite in a way. We’ve been able to see that in the response we’ve had because it’s been different. People have had different favourites. So I think that’s a sign that we did the right thing. When we were making it we were always trying to switch it up in a way. I guess depending on how you’re feeling at the time you might have a different favourite song.
The Code: For me, it’s all no rules and no ceilings, no restrictions. You just do whatever comes natural and we’re lucky it turned out the way it did from that perspective. We just came to the studio and we started this song, started that song and it just turned out the way it did. We’re grateful for the fact it came together at the end of it, you know?
Although Kaleem and The Code had trouble selecting favourites from an artist’s outlook, my struggle to pick came from an equal appreciation for every track. Broken swiftly set the tone in just under two minutes, in a way that I can only depict with another oxymoron: pleasantly eerie. Nobody Else layers itself on top of the vibe already created in the first track, whilst showing another side to their sound which comes across more uptempo but equally as emotive. Anuka’s presence on How Does It Feel is subtle but impactful, introducing a new element through the backing vocals before sonically stripping back their sound on Anchor - where the lyrics are raw and almost confessional. Rounding up the EP in the same way it was opened, Gone holds similar qualities to Broken as it acts as an accumulation of the feelings and melodies throughout the project and compresses them into a final rendition. In short, listeners are just as spoiled for choice as they are.
It’s funny that you say that it just came together and everything just fell into place because but the body of work seems deliberately cohesive. Was there an element of making everything fit together or, like you said, it just came together?
The Code: The theme kind of fell into place as well. Once we finished the third of the fourth song, we actually listened and looked back at the lyrics and it told a story. And we were like wow it actually just happened that way. All the stars kind of aligned if you know what I mean. So I say everything consistently fell into place with us just putting ourselves out there and into the music and being creative and not worrying about the process too much. Just going for it.
There is an overall mellow nature to the project, accompanied by either an eclectic beat pattern or an absence of percussion altogether. Their performances throughout were complementary when it came to both production and vocals, allowing for an audio experience where critique is few and far between. The general expectation from fans- often the source of criticism- that usually comes from creating music as esteemed artists, was trumped by the surprise collaboration and drop.
From the seamless addition of Anuka’s feature, to the strong ideas and motifs surrounding the EP, Vague Detail can almost be summarised by a mix of serendipity and knack for creating music. What they have created is clearly a taster for what’s to come but as half of the act is a ‘riddle wrapped in an enigma hidden in a mystery’, I can only guess that what the pairing will follow up with will match or exceed the strong foundations they have already established.