Interview: Boston’s Aquagie Soars on His Stunning, Stadium-Sized Apocalyptic Debut ‘Final Act’

Final Act - Aquagie
Final Act - Aquagie

Mitch's Take

10 Music Quality
10 Production
10 Lyricism
10 Memorability
10 Content Originality
10 Sonic Diversity
10 Arranging
10
Inspired by inner anxieties, songwriting’s legends, and the end of the world as we know it, Aquagie’s debut album is an enthralling, majestic masterpiece: The mesmerizing ‘Final Act’ serves as a stunning introduction to an excitingly fresh artist pulling music out of the fires within.
for fans of The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Frank Ocean
Stream: “B2FX” – Aquagie




I just know I want to build more worlds for people to live in, even if it’s just briefly. That’s my goal with my art.

Inspired by inner anxieties, songwriting’s legends, and the end of the world as we know it, Aquagie’s debut album is an enthralling, majestic masterpiece.

Bending R&B, pop, hip-hop and more into a simmering melting pot of compelling crescendos and smoldering grooves, the mesmerizing Final Act serves as a stunning introduction to an excitingly fresh artist pulling music out of the fires within. It doesn’t take long, listening to this record, to realize we’re listening to a star in the making.

Final Act - Aquagie
Final Act – Aquagie
Your Final act has come
Best memorize
All of your lines
Before you reach the sun
Your Epilogue draws near
The Curtain falls to tears
From dusk till dawn, Artemis yawns
The moon runs off in fear
I hear all of her screams
The semblance haunts my dreams
Immortal memories
Just take the time, cherish the time
Don’t say goodbye, just please…
wake up
– “Final Act: Curtain Call,” Aquagie

Released April 2, 2021 via local label Cherimoya Street, Final Act arrives two long years after Aquagie’s debut single “I’ll Take You Home” first introduced his multifaceted artistry. The Haitian-American singer/songwriter born Emmanuel Andre, Boston-based Aquagie is one of New England’s hidden talents: A best-kept secret ready to spill the beans (get it, Boston?) to the world. Early songs like “HIGHKEY! Lowkey” and “SPIN.” found him developing on moody R&B vibes – and make no mistake: Final Act is full of such sultry moments of sweetness (“DoomsDay Jive” and “100%” come to mind) – but with such high-flying anthems like the pop-driven “B2FX” and moments of utter reckoning like “Apocalypse Now!,” 2021’s Aquagie simple can’t be put in a box. His artistry is a smorgasbord of inspiration – he cites everyone from The Beatles and Leonard Cohen, to Frank Ocean, Joni Mitchell, Ezra Koenig, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar as influences, and he follows through on an album that breathes with buoyant, fiery raps, mesmerizingly sweet singing, a supercharged in-the-pocket rhythm section, and more.

“I think a journey is the perfect way to describe it honestly,” Aquagie says. “I made a concerted effort on this album to make sure every beat was unique and differed from the next, while keeping the writing tight and on point as to still make them feel related to one another. I think because of that, it gave the feeling of world building and the feeling of going on a journey, from track to track.”

I feel in tune with the night
Nocturnal ave is my home
Is this the Hill where i die
These Hills have eyes
and both are blind
you feel in tune with the light
you Claim the Son as your Own
True Blue is where u reside
The Day is yours
But where is mine?
– “100%,” Aquagie
Aquagie
Aquagie

Full of soulful reckonings, stirring serenades, and soaring anthems, Final Act is as beautifully cohesive as it is eclectically expansive.

Rarely does an artist debut with such a strong first step, yet that’s exactly what Aquagie has done here: Crafting an entrancing 36-minute journey that gets us up on our feet and deep in our thoughts at the same time. Highlights abound on this album that never sleeps – from the dynamic, dance-inducing pulse of “DoomsDay Jive” and the sweet, serene tenderness of “St. Magnolia’s Comet (Intermission),” to the fiery funk and impassioned release of “B2FX” and the outstanding energy radiating off “100%,” there’s nary a dull moment to be found in Final Act.

Atwood Magazine recently featured the alblum’s theatrical second track “DoomStep” as one of our Editor’s Picks, praising the song for its feel-good vibes and unrelenting passion: “Aquagie’s flow is impeccable, rising and falling with finesse as he invites his audiences to bask in the groove:”

Yeah, ’cause you’re a one-two, quick moves, doomsday-stepper
Cracked your epicenter, mountain formed your Holy Mecca
Reach your garden by December
Check your time piece
Your ark went south-east
Ain’t no need for sweaters
Set your arms free
Since your legs ‘gon do whatever
Sun loves to watch you move
Then makes love to the crescent moon
While lighting strikes to catch your groove
They ain’t catching you
So stop it,
Drop, bop
‘Till you break a fuse
Shake and rave till your muscles ache
And Juke and Jive till the day we fly
Why?
‘Cause we never die, we just multiply
Like the embers of Mount Doom
So as the heavens erupt tonight
Well then so will I, while the angels surround you
And if they dare try to steal your light, watch the stars align
As they vow to protect you
Cause when the wind seeks a gemini
Move your hips and thighs
Bare your soul, let it blow through, whoo
– “DoomStep,” Aquagie


As radiant as it is catchy, “DoomStep” is a fantastic display of Aquagie’s multimodal talents – and a superb segue into a fantastic debut album filled to the brim with endless delights.

A well-deserving ten out of ten, Final Act holds our attention captive while keeping our spirits high from beginning to end. Aquagie’s attempt to capture the uncertainties of the past year will surely outlast the pandemic into which it was released, serving as a reminder of what the end of the world felt like in 2020, and also a testament to the hope that drives us forward – even when life is at its bleakest. A lively set of thoughtful, provocative, seductive songs, Final Act is not an end, but a thrilling start for an artist ready to spread his wings and soar.

My goal was to give people an album to come back to when they think back on this period of time in the world, and give them the space to feel however they want to about that time in all of our lives. Whether it’s joyful or somber, makes you want to cry or dance, either way you can come here to this album and feel something nostalgic.

— —

Stream: ‘Final Act’ – Aquagie

A CONVERSATION WITH AQUAGIE

Final Act - Aquagie

Atwood Magazine: Aquagie, what is your musical background and how did you start making music?

Aquagie: Well .. I didn’t have a huge one. See my dad was a pastor so he tried to force me and my older brother into music at an early age as to play for his church which took a lot of the fun out of it for us, so it didn’t last for long. But for a couple years starting at age 7, I did play the drums and trumpet a little. Singing, on the other hand, was more of a hidden talent that only my immediate family really knew about, and I didn’t give it much attention until I decided I wanted to pursue a career in music after I graduated high school, back in 2016.

How do you feel you've grown over the past two years since your debut “I'll Take You Home”?

Aquagie: A lot honestly, I’ve probably written upwards of 300 songs since that time, so even if I wasn’t releasing at a high volume since, I’ve been sharpening my penmanship by studying the greatest songwriters and poets this world has to offer, and trying to push the boundaries of my own creativity through writing and storytelling.

Who were some of your influences especially as you wrote and recorded this album? How did they inform the music you chose to make and the messages you chose to put into your music?

Aquagie: There were a lot, Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Prince, and various other legendary songwriters and poets.

How did the events of the past year inform the songs you wrote?

Aquagie: Well like I said earlier I started writing the album in March of last year during pandemic lockdown, and I guess with that extra time alone to ponder on life and my goals and all my shortcomings up to that point, I guess this was my take on the all of those thoughts and the end of the world at large, and My Fear of the unknown and the sort of freedom that comes with that idea… Which allowed me to write freely from the heart and not worry about anything else, ’cause in the end I had no control over any of it, only my creativity.

Your debut album feels like a long time in the making, as you mentioned you started writing the album In March of last year. Can you share a little about the story behind this album, and your vision going into this record?

Aquagie: Honestly I didn’t have much of one, I made a concerted effort on this project not to think as much as I would usually about my writing process and try to write more from the heart and see what happens, and I think that granted me immense freedom in my writing process. but “Final Act: Curtain Call” was the first song I wrote for the project and I think it definitely helped set the tone for what the theme was obviously and what was going on in the world at large around the globe.

Why the title “Final Act” – especially for a first album?

Aquagie: Honestly I’m not really sure, it was the first line I wrote from the first song on the album, but I’m sure my anxieties stemming from the unknown and the unpredictability of each passing day, after the world pretty much shutdown, definitely had a lot to do with it.

How do you feel Final Act introduces you and captures your artistry?

Aquagie: Well I think this introduces me as a unique and versatile songwriter and storyteller with a much broader palate than most when it comes to production choice, tied together with an innate ability to touch on many different universal themes within 11 songs. And I think it captures my artistry well, showcasing my versatility as a lyricist and knack for storytelling.

You open with the stirring “Final Act: Curtain Call” and then the catchy “DoomStep” – which I love. Can you share a little more about these two songs?

Aquagie: Well “Final Act: Curtain Call” was the first track I wrote for the album, and “DoomStep” was the second to last, but obviously by the time the latter was written the themes were a lot more realized and helped tie the album together in a perfect way, so it was only right they go together.

“Doomstep” was the second to last track I’d written and recorded for the project along with “100%,” and I remember really wanting a couple more upbeat anthem tracks to close out the album. I had the tracks “B2FX” and “Doomsday Jive” done already, which were anthemic in their own right, and I wanted a couple more tracks to really flesh out the album to give it more of a balance between upbeat and slower vibes. I remembered an interview with Kanye West after the release of his Graduation album, that before releasing it, he had gone on tour with U2 – and after returning, he wanted to make more songs to accommodate stadiums. And so I thought if I ever get the chance to perform this project live, I want some anthems so people could either dance their asses off or just vibe – a best of both worlds.

DoomStep - Aquagie
DoomStep – Aquagie

The tracklisting feels very deliberate here. Can you talk about the journey you take song wise, from “Curtain Call” to “Grande Finale”?

Aquagie: Well I think a journey is perfect way to describe it honestly, I made a concerted effort on this album to make sure every beat was unique and differed from the next, while keeping the writing tight and on point as to still make them feel related to one another. I think because of that it gave the feeling of world building and the feeling of going on a journey, from track to track.

How did you go about creating “End of the F*cking World”?

Aquagie: It was pretty simple really, I heard the beat and I got to work on it immediately. But I do remember I’d been listening to and reading a lot of The Beatles’ discography at the time, and I remember thinking I wanted to write this song like how Paul McCartney writes his love songs, so he was a huge influence on this song. As for the title, I had written a couple different songs prior with the same title, inspired by the television show of the same name, that never saw the light of day – so I’m glad this one actually was completed, and it fit perfectly within the theme of the album.

Why close with “There Will Be Blood: Grande Finale,” and what is this song about?

Aquagie: Well along with “Final Act: Curtain Call”, “There Will Be Blood: Grande Finale” was written very early on and they were written around the same time (and were also produced by the same person, Solo Otto), But as the theme and concept tightened towards the end of recording the album, the latter seemed like the odd man out. But I was very proud of the writing and didn’t want to scrap it, so I created “The Show Must Go On…” so as to separate it from the rest of the album and give it its own stage, and I thought it was the perfect way to end the album. It’s about a deteriorating marriage and how it affects a child (especially a son and his father), and his ability to love correctly, which is something I had firsthand experience with growing up.

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As a lyrically forward artist, do you have any favorite lyrics in these songs?

Aquagie: Hard to pinpoint select lyrics because almost all resonate with me so much, but I have to say I’m most proud of “100%”, “There Will Be Blood: Grande Finale” , and “St Magnolia’s Comet” mostly for the writing performances. They were unique and important because at the moment that I was writing them, each of them felt like an accumulation of all the studying and research I’d done on the aforementioned plethora of different songwriters and poets, and it all finally coming to fruition in my own work – “100%” being the last of them.

I feel in tune with the night
Hello darkness my Old friend
Do you remember those times
We would mourn for seconds spent
When You’d dip your feet in the skys
Where the Waters are warm but the clouds are red
It would Seem My wounds were fatal
Cuz I was betrayed like Cain did abel
If Love was a sin
Then would my Truth be your Fable
Can a single gust of wind
Suddenly turn your tables
In my favor
Maybe
If Occam’s Razor Slices
In so many Words
Your Simplest verdict
In layman’s terms
Should Find me a bush that never burns
But still speaks for god
& then Find me a Tide that never turns
& we’ll Embrace the odds
– “100%,” Aquagie

What do you hope listeners take away from Final Act? What have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Aquagie: Well I guess when I was writing it, my goal was to give people an album to come back to when they think back on this period of time in the world, and give them the space to feel however they want to about that time in all of our lives. Whether it’s joyful or somber, makes you want to cry or dance, either way you can come here to this album and feel something nostalgic. I’m not really sure honestly, but I just know I want to build more worlds for people to live in, even if it’s just briefly. That’s my goal with my art.

Could you describe this album in three words?

Aquagie: MY FIRST CLASSIC!

Who else are you listening to these days, that you would recommend to our readers?

Aquagie: Honestly I’ve been doing a lot more reading of various classic albums and poems than actually listening to music lately, but I’d definitely recommend Baby Keem – love what he’s been doing, and I just love his youthful energy and feel.

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:: stream/purchase Final Act here ::
Stream: ‘Final Act’ – Aquagie



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Final Act - Aquagie

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