Fousheé, the voice behind the infamous "Deep End" vocal sample that has come to define a TikTok generation, breaks down her success thus far, including studio sessions with Lil Wayne and her brand new project, "time machine."
Rise & Grind is a new editorial series, meant to introduce and dissect new, buzzing, or underground artists.
Ever since Fousheé was identified as the artist behind the earworm hook on Sleepy Hallow's "Deep End Freestyle," she's become not only, a name to simply know, but also a name to watch. The New Jersey-bred singer and songwriter seems destined for some sort of musical stardom, and for whatever reason, it happened upon her in a convoluted manner. Or perhaps more apt, in a manner that could only occur in our app-filled era.
Fousheé was living the "struggling artist" routine, and in the process, she would routinely upload various soundbites, samples and the like to the platform Splice. A 2019 upload of these types of sounds-- totaling 250 in this one particular pack -- included what we now know to be the hook on "Deep End." "It was just one of 250 songs I did in a song pack where it was just little clips. It wasn’t intentional at all. I didn’t think it was going to be used in the way that it was," she told us during our interview.
In a random string of events, a friend of Fousheé, who was also a producer, happened to be working with Sleepy Hallow and downloaded her pack from Splice. Perhaps recognizing Fousheé as a friend, he opted to use her samples in particular. Nonetheless, Sleepy Hallow for his part, did not know who Fousheé was according to the artist herself, nor was he aware of the actual origins of his now-sampled record.
This, of course, would help drive the mystery of Hallow's own record, "Deep End Freestyle." Fousheé's vocal sample, "I been trying not to go off the deep end / I don't think you wanna giveâ meâ a reason" became the most identifiable part of the song, and incidentally, spurred the TikTok trend alongside the audio. And as the song blew up, fans began to wonder: who did the nostalgic, enigmatic vocals behind the hook actually belong to?
Fousheé eventually received her credit-- both on paper and monetarily-- and in her wayward path to fame, Fousheé signed a major label deal along the way. With a bit of financial freedom, and plenty of creative freedom, the singer has been able to carve out her own fanbase and showcase her unique style and sound to the hip-hop-loving world. That is probably one of the most exciting things about Fousheé as an artist-- her eccentric melding of sounds, creating something that feels indie and alt-rock but also r'n'b and hip-hop at the same damn time.
With her debut project under RCA Records out now, time machine, we caught up with Fousheé ahead of the project's release to find out more about her journey.
Stay tuned for a new installment of Rise & Grind every Monday.
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I kind of bounced around [New] Jersey. My mom and dad separated before I was born. It was basically me and my mom bouncing around Jersey. We kind of struggled, we lived in the hood for a large chunk of my childhood. My mom immigrated from Jamaica. She worked her way up to get my sister and I into a better neighborhood. We spent a lot of time in Sommerville, which was pretty mixed. Bridgewater was a great area and great school system, but I was the only black girl in all of my classes. One of few in the whole school, and it was a huge school. It was like a college campus set up with thousands of kids, so it was very much a culture shock.
I’m a Leo.
First off, it’s the hair and it’s always lit. Leos always have big hair. My Leo traits probably show more when I’m performing. Outside of the stage, I’m more shy and introverted. I do have the ability to be more in your face and extroverted if I need to, so I usually turn it on and off. I don’t think I’m a typical Leo.
Top 5 DOA:
Kendrick. Jay-Z, cause I’m from the East Coast. This is so hard! Andre 3000, don’t sleep on Andre 3000. [Lil] Wayne, because c'mon.
I made top ten in all radio, which was the first time in 32 years a black woman has done so since Tracy Chapman.
Studio Essentials & Habits:
Oh my god, I am not a creature of habit at all. I try to mix it up every day and do different things. For writing, I put a lot of pressure on myself for this project. It was really hard for me. It wasn’t the songwriting that was hard, I just had a lot of anxiety while writing. What’s really worked for me is taking a break from the song and coming back to it, and waiting to go back to the natural flow of how I feel creatively. I like to jump around to different songs. I’ll do a little bit of one song and if I’m getting tired of that song, I’ll go to the next one. Which can be good or bad because then I have a bunch of unfinished songs.
"Deep End Freestyle" & Her Full Version:
It was just one of 250 songs I did in a song pack where it was just little clips. It wasn’t intentional at all. I didn’t think it was going to be used in the way that it was [on Sleepy Hallow's "Deep End Freestyle"]. I didn’t think it was going to go as far as it did. I’m very shocked. Even when I made that one sample of the 250, I didn’t like it. I like to challenge myself and be the best writer I can be. When I wrote that, it was just so stream of thought.
I didn’t hear of [Sleepy Hallow] prior. I just thought it was someone else who made a song from the pack. I was being tagged in a lot of crazy shit, some good some bad depending on your perspective (laughs). I was just being tagged in a lot of different songs when I had seen it. I didn’t realize until the song went viral and was on Youtube. That’s when I had known the magnitude it had reached. Actually, the producer knew me from New Jersey. He got my pack. I didn’t know Sleepy Hollow, but the producer remembered me from New Jersey and was like “Oh, I’m gonna use her pack since that’s the homie.”
He knew me, but didn’t have much say in [the credit]. The sample is royalty free. They can purchase the sample from the site and use it at their will without crediting any person. It’s kind of set up to protect, but it leaves the artist in a vulnerable position. Let’s say I didn’t like the song, that way I can kind of be discreet about it and it’s like alright cool, use it how you want. In the situation where the song did what it did, no one expected it. I don’t know, it happens all of the time. But I think the sample was pretty much the hook and it did so well. It was actually harmful to me to not credit me and not benefit me financially. People were saying that they had made the song, using the sample pack and making their own versions claiming that it was the original version. It was really weird. This guy was doing numbers like crazy and to not get anything from that is ridiculous. You can’t believe that I don’t deserve something from that. I don’t care what the contract says.
I was like “oh wow, they really like [Sleepy's] version,” so maybe they were expecting something like that. But I had to stay true to myself too [on my version]. Also, it was right around the time everything had happened with George Floyd. So I felt a responsibility to talk about that too. I was like “how can I do all of these things in one?” I wrote like seven different versions and it took me a while to make the final one. There was one that was more alt, there was one all about George, there was one that was a diss record.
I have these two songs that are my earliest memories of songs. The first one I wrote was called “You’re in my Way.” I was trying to go to the bathroom and someone was blocking my way, it was nothing serious. I wrote it to a stock beat that had come with my piano. It was very Elton John and Celine Dion. I had to be like five or six. I wrote this other song called “Why’d You Do it to Me.” It was a banger. I was doing my thing.
I think it was a shit show. It was when I was in my school choir in New Jersey. We sang this song that was actually really good called “Everybody’s Got to Have a Hero.” Oh man, I was kind of a diva. I remember they were like “this where your part starts and afterward, you have to hand the mic to someone else.” I remember they weren’t handing it to me so I grabbed the mic. That was my first performance. I was very shy, I don’t know how I executed that so well. Then I performed for my after school program, that was a very big moment for me. I remember one of the teachers, her name was Ms. Angie, was like “wow, you’re actually really good.”
My attention span is really short. I love watching short films and scrolling the internet. I love to eat. Eating? Oh my god, it’s my favorite pastime. I actually love to cook, even though my house is not well equipped for that right now. I don’t have a big kitchen in downtown L.A. I love to cook, eat, watch short films, and get inspired. There’s a bookstore downtown that I like that’s two floors of magazines, books, vinyls. I love exploring things.
To make an even better album. I just want to keep going. I just want to be Foushee 2.0. I eventually wanna get into acting, much later on.
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HNHH: With your new project, and the sounds that you’re merging together, it sounds really different. We see the rap, R&B, and folk influences together, but it seems like you’re also exploring more indie, folk, and alternative rock influences that almost sounds like the early 2000’s.
Fousheé: My mom used to play a lot of Elton John. I love that type of songwriting, Carole King too. I like the Woodstock sound. When I spent time in New York, I listened to a lot of rock and learned a lot about rock.
You specifically referenced Carole King in your song "Placebo." How did that interpolation come about?
It was just one of those songs that I wish I had written. It’s one of those songs where I think it’s such a perfect song, so beautiful. When I went back and listened to the song, I thought it would be really cool to reinterpret it for today’s audience.
Do you have to get the approval from her for the sample? Do you know if she’s heard it?
I think we’re still waiting on clearance for the sample. So we’ll see hopefully, please Carole!
Fingers crossed, I really like the song too. What’s the deeper plot or meaning behind Time Machine?
I try as much as I can not to talk about love, but it’s such a beautiful distraction. I love writing about love, but there’s other themes there. The Time Machine theme comes into play because I’m going back to old memories, time travelling to the past. Then, the future because I’m thinking about what my future is going to look like with my dreams, my aspirations. Also, the time difference between New York and L.A. is a time machine for me. That’s time travel. Right now I’m living in the past, New York is the future. When I go back and forth, I’m really like “wow, i’m in the future right now.” I’ve spent a lot of time making that commute, but also in my mind travelling through my past thoughts, memories, and events.
I’m still gathering the tracklist, I just want it to be the best combination of songs. So if it’s not on the album, it’ll be as a bonus on the deluxe album.
For that song in particular, I think I had read in another interview that he had reached out to you. Is that correct?
Not to work at first, he was showing love on Instagram. I was like “yo I wanna work with you!” And he was like “Ok!” I was like “when?” Then he was like “whenever,” I was like “Saturday?”
Did you guys put it together in person?
Not that song, but I went out to Miami to meet and work with him. We had recorded the one that he put out with me on it and a couple more of his. My intention was to get him on "Gold Fronts." I thought I had dropped the ball because he was ready and asked me to play him the song, but I asked for his songs first. We just had recorded his and next thing I know I ended up flying back home, but he had recorded his verse separately and sent it to me. He was so cool.
I was just about to ask, what’s his vibe like in the studio?
He’s a fucking genius! He’s a genius. He has a skate room that’s like a skate park, he also has a bowling alley. He’ll go into his skate room, skate to the beat, come back and knock out a song. While I was writing to his song, he knocked out like three songs. He’s so fast.
You’ve already collaborated with Lil Wayne more than once before you put out your new album, that’s so crazy. I wanted to ask, what’s your personal favorite off of Time Machine?
Ooh, either "Lemons" or "My Slime."