It’s a story as old as time: a young musician comes to Boston to attend Berklee School of Music, stays for four years, and moves on to a larger, more established music scene. Most of these students come and go without leaving a lasting mark in Boston’s niche and underrated scene. Kyle Thornton (now Floyd Fuji) is following many Berklee graduates in their pursuit of musical careers in Los Angeles. However, he is leaving the Boston music scene better than he found it after catching the attention of the often-tough crowd in this city.

Previously the frontman of Boston’s Kyle Thornton & The Company, Thornton changed his stage name to Floyd Fuji to stay true to his original work and pursue an unfiltered sound. As part of the collective, Thornton was worried that his songs were being diluted by producers, and that the group was being characterized as a jam band. With his solo project, he’s allowed to “be really introspective and produce by myself and be in my head.” Unlike when there was a higher order and a chain of command—as there was with the band—he now relies solely on himself. “There’s no filter involved,” he said. “It’s just directly from me—what I think and how I want it to feel and sound.”

If he were to describe Floyd Fuji, his new R&B solo project, without using genre labels, it would be “bright, vibrant colors like oranges, and reds, but it’s really smooth in texture. If it was a texture, it would definitely be a corduroy.” He strives to make music with a sense of joy and relaxation, in the “least smooth jazz way possible.” His soul-infused R&B leaves you leaning back and humming along to the choruses, knowing they’ll be stuck in your head for the days to come.

Kyle Thornton was born and raised in Richmond, VA. His childhood was spent surrounded by music, which directly affected his subsequent career path and life goals. “It’s always playing around my house,” Thornton said. “It’s the center of life. Everyone listens to music.”

When he was a kid, his uncle played bass at their church. Thornton, fascinated by the instrument, would sit next to him at jam sessions that took place during service breaks. His uncle would place the bass in Thornton’s lap and leave him to alone to figure it out and find his own rhythm. On his eleventh birthday, Thornton’s mom gifted him his first guitar. Eager to learn the instrument inside and out, he left his own birthday party to sit in the basement and watch the instructional DVD.

In high school, he was writing his own music and playing in multiple bands. He moved to Boston to attend Berklee, from which he is graduating this year. At Berklee, he started a Boston-famous soul-hop collective called Kyle Thornton & The Company.

Kyle Thornton started Kyle Thornton & The Company by posting a status on Facebook looking to form a band to play his original music. They played various venues in Boston, from The Red Room at Berklee to the House of Blues Foundation Room. The collective’s mission, written on their Bandcamp page, was “to bring you a fresh new sound sampling influences from several genres while still remaining grounded in the passionate and honest style that is the blues.” They wanted to stay true to a blues sound because as Thornton puts it, “blues is American music.” Most genres that are popular today stem from the blues; they borrow blues scales, chords, and cadences. “Blues men were playing strictly off emotion, and it was just a feeling,” Thornton said. “The whole point of me making music is to recreate that feeling in different mediums.”

Although he still remains friends with the members of the collective, he decided to venture out on his own with their blessing. Thornton whipped up a new name and started releasing self-recorded and self-produced music as Floyd Fuji. The name is a combination of Floyd Mooney, the main character of the Showtime comedy series White Famous, and the popular Japanese photography company Fujifilm.

There are two original songs out under the Floyd Fuji project: “Drama” and “House Party.” The former is a reaction to backlash Thornton received for starting fresh after already having a dedicated fan base, while the latter is an invitation into the world of Floyd Fuji.

He will be playing these two songs, as well as some Kyle Thornton & The Company songs and new material at our Brighton Music Hall show this Friday with Aubrey Haddard and Latrell James. This will be his last show in Boston before moving to Los Angeles, so he wants to “bring a story that has been the narrative of my time in Boston.”

The future of Floyd Fuji is uncertain, but Thornton is confident that it will be around for a long time. While it started as way for Thornton to find his voice and present it more clearly, he foresees a flourishing future that is constantly in flux for Floyd Fuji. “My favorite artist was Prince,” Thornton said. “Prince went through so many changes with his bands and he was constantly reinventing himself. I just want to constantly be recreating and telling new stories. Floyd Fuji is going to be here for a long time. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do anything else. I want to be fully transparent with whatever I make, but I want to make the best of everything.”

Catch Floyd Fuji at our Listen Local concert at Brighton Music Hall this Friday, August 24, 2018. For more details visit the event page.

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