For the past four years, Tahmique Cameron (Mique), Gabe Fox-Peck, and Christian Sinclair have wowed audiences from Durham to Los Angeles as Young Bull. Their distinctive, soulful fusion of jazz and hip-hop has garnered them 76,000 monthly listens on Spotify, a Rolling Stone mention, and video placements with the likes of MTV and BET Jams. In the Triangle, they’ve performed at every major regional festival, from Art of Cool to Hopscotch. 

Each member brings something unique to the table, and they also have been releasing individual projects that showcase their range. At the top of 2020, Fox-Peck earned a Grammy and Oscar nomination for his co-production on “Stand Up,” a song featured in the 2019 film Harriet. In late October, Cameron, whose stage is Mique, followed up this success with a release called How You Want It. The five-track EP includes production from J. Manifest and Smwhereat4am and gives Mique an opportunity to establish himself as a modern-day R&B crooner. He doesn’t disappoint. 

Though the music is contemporary and adopts many hip-hop aesthetics, the old Southern influences of Mique’s upbringing, which partially took place in the country, seep in—a stylistic fusion he refers to as “New School Liquor House Music.” Mique’s deep-toned vocals, charismatic lyrics, and good vibes inducing hip-hop beat make the project uniquely successful. 

As part of the ongoing “Her Take” column, the INDY spoke with Mique about his musical influences, his approach to this solo release, and how quarantine has affected his creative process.  

INDY WEEK: How would you describe this EP?

MIQUE:  I’ve been calling it New School Liquor House. [With Young Bull,] I’ve talked about my upbringing before. I grew up in the country—I’m from Durham, born and raised. I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house in Person County, which is only like 20 to 30 minutes up the road, but a whole different vibe. Out there, they listen to a lot of Liquor House music. You can expect to hear it at all the family cookouts and family reunions. For this project, I was influenced by a lot of that and mixed it with what I’ve been doing—you know, my own interest in R&B. 

What was your creative approach to this project? Was it different than any approach to making music with Young Bull?

It was different, but at the same time, it wasn’t. Before Young Bull, I wasn’t really making music. I sung in church and did some talent shows in school, but I really wasn’t making music, so I took a lot of what I learned from that experience and applied it to being able to make my own project. 

On How You Want It, did you approach songwriting solo or collectively? 

You know, I know I’m the frontman, or lead singer, but everything is collaborative with Young Bull. Me, Gabe, and Christian co-write pretty much everything. With this project, I wrote everything. 

How did that feel? Did it feel intimidating? Freeing?

A little bit of both, I’d say. I’m confident in myself and I like what I do. And I really don’t care too much about trying to fit into what other people are thinking and whatnot. I’m also not easily swayed by other opinions; I’m more concerned about how I personally feel myself. But it’s tricky, because as an artist, we make music for people to consume, and for them to form an opinion. 

Making this project was also freeing though. With Young Bull, Gabe produces everything. He plays a number of instruments on all of our tracks. With this project, he didn’t produce any of the songs or help with writing. I sent him a few songs before they came out and asked for his opinion. With this project, though—for myself—I wanted to feel like I did something on my own. 

A lot of the songs are centered around narratives about women. Some of it is more romantic, really similar to ’90s R&B, but some of it is more sex-centered. I would compare it to contemporary R&B that’s mixed with trap and hip-hop sensibilities—it’s just a little bit more straightforward. 

I always say I’m a situational writer. My songs are inspired by situations I’ve experienced or seen. I write all different kinds of ways; I don’t go in the studio necessarily with an idea all the time, but sometimes I do. It really just depends on the song. 

I definitely go for a certain sound and get inspired by many different things. For example, “On Fire,” when I was writing it, I was listening to The Dream heavy—his old music. And I was just like, Man, I want something that feels like an anthem. 

How has quarantine affected your creative process? 

I have people, homies, and family members losing their jobs because of COVID, or their pay has been decreased or whatever because the job is now on a budget, or [their] hours getting cut. Witnessing [the chaos] reminds me I need something to call my own, where I can negotiate the terms. It definitely has put a battery in my back to go harder with music. 

Who is Mique as an artist? What do you want your fan base to know about who you are?

Just a smooth, suave, debonair, GQ, Casanova. New School Liquor House music-maker, you know. Somebody to vibe to and vibe with. Cool vibes all the time. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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