We move forward by maintaining our gaze towards the future.
In 2019, Stanaj started looking ahead. Aligning his expansive ambition and traffic-stopping talent for the first time, the New York-born and Los Angeles-based Albanian-American singer, songwriter, and producer made a decision that not only altered the course of his artistry, but also carried the potential to change his life. Identifying a creative true north, the blockbuster vocalist embraced his uncompromising and unfiltered vision first and foremost.
He did so through leveraging the wisdom and confidence earned from a three-year rollercoaster fueled by hundreds of millions of streams, dozens of sold out shows, and widespread adoration.
“I figured out who I am and owned it,” he admits. “It happened last year. From now on, I’m definitely going to be more confident in every aspect. I’ve grown as an artist and as a person. I decided, ‘I want to create songs I’ll be proud to sing thirty years from now’. To do so, I wrote down everything in my life and the meaningful stories around me. I got personal. I stopped overthinking, made music I love, and allowed the rest to fall into place.”
An insane journey brought him here. His first smash came in the form of “Romantic” (NOTD Remix), which racked up 117 million Spotify streams and counting to date. Stanaj’s first two EPs—The Preview and From a Distance—crashed the Top 10 of the iTunes Top Pop Albums Chart. He received the sought-after social media endorsement of Kim Kardashian West, NBA star Brandon Jennings, Drake, and Chris Brown. He canvassed the globe on tour alongside JoJo and Jessie J and shared the stage with other superstars a la Dua Lipa.
Not to mention, he made his late-night television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and the night’s guest Justin Timberlake gave a coveted co-sign. 2018 saw him drop the slick and seductive “Dirty Mind” [feat. Ty Dolla $ign] and lend his voice to Gryffin’s “You Remind Me,” which he performed on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! In the summertime, he hit the studio with the likes of Tommy Brown [Ariana Grande] and d.a. doman [Kodak Black, Chris Brown, Tyga] and ultimately honed his signature style.
“I went back to my earliest influences,” Stanaj goes on. “Nineties R&B will always be my favorite era. Obviously, it’s a part of what I’m doing. At the same time, I like having fun, going out, and turning up. I’m incorporating those kinds of modern sounds too. You’ll also get more of a narrative. I would’ve been afraid to tell these kinds of stories in the past. It’s the kind of music I was always meant to do though.”
It certainly sounds that way in 2019. Produced by d.a. doman, his first single of the year, “Sweat,” drips seductive swagger as his falsetto commands, “Girl, get your body on me,” over a nocturnal bass line and unshakable beat.
“‘Sweat’ is a true story,” he grins. “You’re coming home from the club, and you’re with this person. You’re telling her, ‘I’m crazy about you. You make me sweat when I think about you’. It’s super sexy, but genuine.”
In the end, Stanaj has taken the next step towards an enduring legacy with his latest music.
“When people hear me, I want them to be inspired,” he leaves off. “I’d love for them to feel like it’s throwback and new at the same time. I took my time. I put attention into every nuance. I’m going to be proud of what I did forever.”