With swagger, soul, and sonic savoir-faire, Duncan is far beyond versatile.
On his debut single for A&M/Octone, “Light Up the Sky”, he slides from an energetic verse into a shimmering, unforgettable refrain. Fireworks go off, hands go up in the air, and bodies move, once his inimitable voice takes hold. “Light Up the Sky” fueled the trailer for the 2011 hit film, New Year’s Eve, and was a centerpiece of the soundtrack. Most importantly, the track introduces the world to Duncan and everything that’s in store on his forthcoming full-length debut album.
Growing up in Denver, CO, Duncan found music at a very early age. In middle school, he became enamored by the likes of Michael Jackson and Usher, but Eminem’s raw approach also spoke to him—despite having to hide the MC’s records from his mom.
He realized that there could be synergy between those two extremes. While in his teens, he joined an underground rap group and began accruing musical equipment bought by his part-time job at Sears. Soon, the budding performer had a full studio at home, and he could record anything on his own, which he did. Traditional hip hop felt limiting though, so he turned to what came natural.
“I want to make edgy pop,” declares Duncan with a smile. “I think it’s important to incorporate every genre that inspires you. My songs have the pop thing, the R&B thing, and the hip hop thing.”
Relocating to Miami, he was able to siphon those influences into a sound of his own. Soon, he caught the attention of A&M/Octone in 2011, and the label signed him. Within a week of signing, Duncan was presented with the opportunity to jet to L.A. in order to cut “Light Up the Sky”. In two short days, he nailed it, and a hyper infectious anthem was born.
About “Light Up the Sky,” Duncan reveals, “It’s a feel-good jam that’ll put you in a great mood. It could describe anybody’s moment. You can party to it, but it doesn’t have to be a party song. It shows a little bit of my soul too.”
That soul extends past what you hear on tape. Duncan is downright dapper and dashing. Boasting a style reminiscent of The Rat Pack and chic spectacles, he’s something of a 21st century gentleman.
“I love how classy The Rat Pack were. If I can rock suits and look badass, I totally will. A lot of people don’t think my glasses are real, but they are. I’m blind as shit without them,” he laughs.
Every show is truly an experience for his audience. Duncan already shared the stage with everyone from Asher Roth, Mike Posner, and Method Man to IYAZ, Flo Rida, and Gnarls Barkley. He adds, “Once I get up on stage, I’m in the zone. I don’t think about anything else. It’s really what I live for. Did you ever see Old School? It’s like when Will Ferrell blacks out on stage and doesn’t have to think about what he’s doing.”
Ultimately, Duncan is going to light up pop. “At the end of the day, I want everyone to feel my songs,” he concludes. “I want listeners to really relate to my music. I’m not worried about being trendy. I want to inspire and motivate people.”
He’s going to shine for a very long time to come.