Julian Carrington spent his childhood banging around on pots and pans in the kitchen, pretending that the cookware was his own personal drum kit. At church, he hung around the drummers and daydreamed about owning a kit of his own. He eventually got his chance to bang on the drums for Sunday service en route to becoming that 15-year-old kid out late on school nights making his own money at gigs. The gig would eventually change when he discovered the 88 keys of the piano.
“I soon learned that the keyboards was a better way to express myself, so I stayed up late sneaking in music videos, listening to mix CDs, and teaching myself how to play,” Carrington, 28, told CL. “It became my goal to learn as much as I could, even if it meant being awake all night practicing the same song over and over.”
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The practice of toiling over tutorials, tabs and chord charts is something Carrington continues to do today, and the persistence has paid off for the Philadelphia native who now calls Tampa home. You can catch Carrington almost any night of the week playing with a multitude of bands, including some fronted by singer-songwriter Shevonne Philidor (The Force), emcee Mike Mass (New Mutiny) and pop singer Joshua Cruz, who brought Carrington along when he played for a packed Amalie Arena during this year’s All-Star Game activities. Carrington even played with out-of-towners like highly touted underground NorCal rapper Caleborate, who tapped Carrington and the all-star Art & Soul house band to help put on one of the best sets of live hip-hop we’ve seen all year.
Despite a soulful sound that recalls modern R&B stars like Miguel, Carrington still gets compared to reggae artists or Lil’ Wayne.
“Many make the assumption that I am a rapper or a reggae artist,” Carrington said, adding that he looks up to a host of underground artists, plus bigger names like Calvin Harris, Ty Dolla Sign, Julia Michaels and Charlie Puth. “But I am much more diverse than I appear.”
He can see forever on his horizon, but Carrington mostly keeps his head down in the hopes of creating art that isn’t ephemeral or temporary. “I want all of life’s accomplishments and I want to leave a legacy. I want to be remembered. If my music lasts forever, then so will I.”