Powfu Talks “Death Bed” Going Viral & Love For Lo-Fi Hip-Hop
Powfu is here to put low-fi Hip-Hop back on the map. You may recognize the Canadian artist from his presence on TikTok, but now he’s spearheading a new lane in the rap game: the lo-fi movement. His sound transcends genres, from lo-fi to alternative to bedroom pop.
Growing up, his father was in a punk rock band and taught him how to play instruments at the young age of 2. His uncle introduced him to the likes of Kanye West and Jay-Z, which sparked a love and passion for the genre. Powfu also has a soft spot for romantic films, going on to write and release songs for 3 years before striking gold.
Powfu, real name Isaiah Faber went viral in 2019 for his single “death bed (coffee for your head), '' whose music video currently has over 64 million views in less than 2 months. The record itself is an ode to real love and romance, with that old school Hip-Hop feel we all fell in love with since its inception. Additionally, “death bed” recently received an explosive remix from Blink 182.
Now, Powfu releases his new highly-anticipated EP titled poems of the past. AllHipHop caught up with the 21-year-old via Zoom to discuss his decision signing to Columbia Records, the making of “death bed,” his previous jobs, his goals, and more!
AllHipHop: How's Quarantine life over in Vancouver?
Powfu: I'm about an hour outside of Vancouver. It's actually really chill right now. Everything’s basically open now. I was itching to get out, but it was okay. I was able to play basketball and skate.
AllHipHop: Being from Vancouver, what was the household like growing up?
Powfu: I grew up with 3 younger siblings, so it was quite a bit of work. I had to take care of them. I lived with my grandma and my parents for most of my life, so I was really close with my family. We all were musicians growing up so we all helped each other out, which was really nice. It turned into a career for me.
AllHipHop: Who were your biggest influences?
Powfu: I had a bunch of influences. In my younger years, I listened to a lot of punk rock music. That had a huge inspiration. In my teenage years, I started listening to more hip-hop like Kanye and G-Eazy. I started listening to punk rock again recently: Yellowcard, Blink 182, Simple Plan, Sum 41.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize that you could do music for a living?
Powfu: It slowly built up. At first, I wasn't sure how hard or easy it would be. It actually happened a lot quicker than I thought. I started uploading on SoundCloud 3 years ago. A year ago is when I started making money off of it, on Spotify and stuff. The numbers kept getting higher and higher.
AllHipHop: How active were you on TikTok?
Powfu: I didn't really use TikTok at all to be honest. [chuckles] I released “death bed,” it was doing really good on YouTube at first, then TikTok I guess picked it up. I don't even know how it got on TikTok to be honest. I looked it up one day, it had 500 videos. I thought “whoa, that's quite a bit.” It kept going, people kept making videos with it. I was really happy to see that.
AllHipHop: Bring us back to when you created “death bed.” Did you expect it to blow up the way it did?
Powfu: I always have high hopes for every song that I release, but I had no idea it’d blow up this big. I thought it was possible, but the chances of it happening were pretty slim. I was really excited, I want to keep working and making the music. When I released “death bed,” I already had a fanbase. A small audience. It felt really good so I want to keep making music and growing that. Now it's even bigger, so I have to make even more music.
AllHipHop: What was the vibe? What were you going through?
Powfu: I was watching a lot of romantic movies around that time, so I was feeling deep and emotional. I heard this sample that Beabadoobee was singing on the beat, it was talking about coffee for your head and falling asleep. I didn't want to talk about sleeping so I made it a deeper meaning about death.
AllHipHop: What was your reaction to it going Gold in 7 countries?
Powfu: I didn't even know what Gold meant [laughs]. But I was excited because it sounded cool.
AllHipHop: Is there a special lady in your life who inspired this record?
Powfu: I didn't have a girlfriend at that time. There wasn't really a girl I was thinking of, it was all the movies. I was pretending I had a perfect girlfriend. [chuckles]
AllHipHop: How was shooting the music video?
Powfu: That was really fun. It was right before quarantine got out of hand. We’re able to meet up with people and film in the forest, in the little apartment area. It was really cool. It was my first video, it was really interesting.
AllHipHop: Were you nervous?
Powfu: I was at first, but then I got used to it.
AllHipHop: What did it mean to have Blink 182 remix “death bed”?
Powfu: They’re the band I wanted to work with the most. When I started getting big and signed to Columbia, I was telling them how I wanted to work with Blink. They told me that Blink was signed to them as well, so I’m like “oh dang.” They hit them up and asked them if they wanted to work with me, and they did.
AllHipHop: What’s the significance in your new EP titled poems of the past?
Powfu: A lot of my songs are talking about memories from my past. That stuff intrigues me a lot. I named it poems of the past because my songs are poems from the past. [laughs] I write all my music, that's my favorite thing to do.
AllHipHop: What inspires you the most?
Powfu: Everything. Even hearing other music and songs will inspire me. Also reading books and watching movies, hearing stories from friends.
AllHipHop: What’s one thing you want fans to get from this project?
Powfu: I just hope they like it. There's quite a few different-sounding songs on it. I'm hoping I'll catch some people off guard, they'll be like “I didn't know you can sound like this!”
AllHipHop: Can you talk about your journey to Columbia Records?
Powfu: I was scared to sign at first because labels scared me, I’ve heard a lot of bad stories with them. I was chillin’ back on it but then they told me they can help release "Deathbed," which I wasn't able to because it was Beabadoobee's song with the sample and the beat. I was too small to contact anybody. Columbia helped me out and they gave me a good offer. I was actually really excited to work with them, so I signed.
AllHipHop: What'd you do with your first advance?
Powfu: I bought my family a house in Chilliwack, it's like a farm town.
AllHipHop: How proud are they of you?
Powfu: They're really proud. They’re helping me out as well, it's all a big family project. We're all helping each other. My dad’s my manager so he deals with the business side. My mom’s helping him out with that. My sisters are my feedback. I'll show them a song, they'll tell me if they like it and what they don't like about it.
AllHipHop: Being that you're only 21, did you go college?
Powfu: I didn't really like high school. I left halfway through grade 12 and went to college early, graduated there. I started working right after I graduated. I had a bunch of different jobs while making music on the side.
AllHipHop: Where were you working?
Powfu: I worked at a bunch of places. When I graduated, I was working construction in Vancouver. I had to drive to Vancouver every morning at 5am which sucked, but it was good. It taught me how to work hard. I quit that and started working at a processing plant. I was packaging bread with a bunch of people who spoke a different language. When they’d get mad at me, I didn't know why. [laughs] I worked at a car dealership.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to level up now and do music full-time?
Powfu: It's really nice. Working, especially the processing plant with the bread, I hated that job. One of the worst times in my life, I'm happy I don't have to do those anymore.
AllHipHop: Favorite person to follow on Instagram?
Powfu: Probably my girlfriend, she posts some epic pictures. She's really cute so that’s nice.
AllHipHop: Goals for yourself at this point in your career?
Powfu: I want to continue to grow and make music, hopefully change people's lives and help people. I'm really excited to travel and meet fans in person.
AllHipHop: What’s the first thing you want to do after quarantine?
Powfu: I want to tour right away. Probably tour the States first to get a feel for it, then possibly go to bigger continents like Asia and Europe.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Powfu: The EP is out now! Really excited for that. Continue to make music and work hard.