Coming of age means being able to look at yourself and identify what you don’t necessarily love about your character. Coming of age means accepting new responsibilities. Coming of age is scary and inevitable, and serves as the inspiration for singer Love Mansuy’s debut EP, Of Age.
Rooted in his recent fatherhood, Of Age is a personal reckoning that pulls no punches. On “Mom’s Due,” Love includes a voicemail so eviscerating and raw, the listen becomes almost uncomfortable. The grand swells of the production do little to ease our disconcertment. Of Age basks in this duality: How fatherhood is meant to be so exciting, and yet the weight is so crushing.
Love, 26, saw no need to run from his birth name when crafting his artist persona. Being named for the most spectacular human emotion felt fitting to the artist. The Montreal-born, LA-based singer grew into his name, derived from his mother’s deep love for him and his aversion to stage gimmicks.
“I decided to stick with that name because I have fought all my life to be proud of it and to step into it,” Love tells me over the phone. “I figured there was no reason to come up with a stage name or a gimmick to keep up with. It’d be a better idea to have the world say my name.”
Consistently as thoughtful as its creator, Of Age is also stunning, explosive, and at times cataclysmic. It is all the things fatherhood has in store for Love, even the things he has yet to experience. Of Age is a hard look in the mirror, and a necessary appraisal of self. And it rides. In an era where people are vying for playlist placements and leaving the notion of the completed project to the wayside, Love crafts a holistic and moving experience with Of Age. That is how he lives for the moment. Art as survival; art as catharsis; what could be better?
Our full conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: I know it’s your given name, but why name your artist self after the most spectacular human emotion?
Love Mansuy: That’s a good question. That was my mother’s idea. I get a few stories about my name from my family all the time. A family of women raised me. My mom passed when I was four, so I never got to ask her directly. My grandmother just told me she had a lot of love for me. Once [she] and my dad started having some issues, she knew all along she wanted to call me Love [although he] didn’t. I decided to stick with that name because I have fought all my life to be proud of it and to step into it. I figured there was no reason to come up with a stage name or a gimmick to keep up with. It’d be a better idea to have the world say my name.
Has love ever gotten you in trouble?
Absolutely! I have a very, very big heart—just like my mother. I like to give a lot; I like to help a lot. I take on other people’s problems. I always have to try to solve something or make something better. That gets me caught up in strange situations, but it all starts from a pure place of my trying to lend someone a hand. The way I look at it, I’m orbiting on one axis, and the [rest of the] world is on another. Sometimes, we meet down the middle. I think I’m a superhero, and that’s the way love gets me in trouble.
Backing up, talk to me about what got you into music.
Irvington, New Jersey, was never the greatest place on earth. My grandma wanted to keep me out of trouble, so she had me classically trained and had me play piano in the choir. I was always writing and freestyling melodies. Whenever I’d get in trouble, I’d go on the piano, and I’d freestyle about the fact that I was in trouble. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was trying to sell all my songs in California, and a mentor of mine was like, “You should keep your music.” I started to practice on my vocal and take it seriously, and here I am now. I didn’t think this was gonna be the case, honestly.
Have you had the realization that music is it?
Yes, now more than ever. I’m just singing all day! Whenever something affects me or bothers me, I’ll already be mumbling to myself a melody about whatever’s bothering me. I’m always riffing and singing. I want to translate everything into music. Now, I think it’s written in stone.
Your debut EP, Of Age, has a grand and overcoming intro. It sounds like fatherhood overtook you in the best way.
I just got to know my dad about eight months ago. All my life, I wanted a family—so badly. That’s part of why love got me in trouble. I was always trying to gather people together. I [did] that for years, and it wasn’t working out. Then, [my partner] got pregnant, and this was the true test—this is what the album is about—to see if I wanted a family. I got that test in Los Angeles these last four years. At that point, I knew it was do-or-die for me, here. I always wanted something to call my own, and I think I fought for that with my kid.
Of Age is raw and also swelling. How did you handle both those sensations?
Giving all of myself in real life—I never had much time to invest in music. I was trying to figure out how to be a dad, working at 24Hour Fitness, working Uber. It didn’t allow me to be creative. All that pain, the arguments, the sleeping in the car for seven months before the baby got delivered. Getting my car repo’d and then meeting Teddy Riley. I never had the opportunity to process what was going on. All I focused on was the art of uncertainty. All I knew was that this was going to work.
How did you learn to trust yourself?
It’s fundamental. I’ve always been a big risk-taker. My mom was the same way. She [was] brave. It’s just the stories I heard about the people who were creating and designing a life they wanted for themselves. That let me know if I didn’t put everything on the line, and I wasn’t a little scared… I wasn’t doing something right.
Pivoting, the “Mom’s Due” skit is personal and cutting. Talk to me about the inclusion of that eviscerating moment.
That’s a good one. “Mom’s Due” isn’t a skit at all. That voicemail was a real message sent to me. My partner was upfront with me about the fact that I was a great dad, and I’m there for my family. But outside of family, there’s still another human being [I] wanna figure all this stuff out with. I’m always focused on the bigger picture, and that [sometimes causes] me to be insensitive to people in the present moment. All that anxiety [about the bigger picture] puts you in a position where you can’t process what’s going on. While I’m out here saving the world, the people I’m saving the world for are dissatisfied with me.
When I put her on that record and gave her all the publishing, that was me paying respect to her feelings being valid. I knew that if I wanted to break a cycle of people in my family breaking up, I had to give her a spotlight on the record to say, “You’re right,” and I had to check myself one time.
You’re self-effacing on this project. How did you come to a place where you could say, “I don’t like this about myself?”
I’ve always been an aware person. On the road to your destiny, there isn’t much looking back. You’re bringing everyone along with you. I knew I didn’t want to go back to where I came from. I knew that involved having to examine my decisions and the people I’ve hurt along the way. There are just certain things I can’t sleep with at night. I’m someone who’d always like to make it right. I’m gonna have to talk to my son and tell him how to move forward. You don’t have to move forward with so much pain.
It sounds like everyone counts on Love, but who does Love count on?
I can count on myself, my intuition, and the higher power. Besides that, I got a few friends I genuinely depend on. Beyond that point, there is nobody else to count on.