Foreword by Jocelle Koh
Playlist Description by Tóke
One of the most intriguing artists we’ve uncovered this year, Indonesian-German Soul-pop/Reggae artist Tóke has continued to spread his unique brand of empowerment in his music with all-new EP Ethereal. Produced in collaboration with producer FLKS to expand his repertoire towards the R&B, Neo-Soul and Boom Bap styles, the optimistic singer-songwriter takes the opportunity to encourage listeners to reflect on the year that has been as he touches on topics such as temporality, change, gratitude and hope on this 3-piece gem.
Other than sharing the stories behind his latest works, we asked the artist to share a playlist of songs that have inspired this project, and in doing so received a diverse, heartwarming curation of music from all over the world. As an artist who has spent a lot of time soul-searching, this has given Tóke the strength and curiosity to search for inspiration in the most unlikely of places.
Sharing music from Morocco, Indonesia, Germany, Jamaica and more interspersed between his own works, this playlist is a Tóke-style pick-me-up – for those of us dragging our feet as we enter the new year. Ethereal indeed.
Track 01: Tóke – Ethereal
This tune really was a stream of consciousness on a mellow autumn evening last year and I’m proud I was so unapologetically honest with it. The only constant thing in life is change. Are we gonna fight it or flow with it? This is the title track of my new EP!
Track 02: Buju Banton – Not An Easy Road
My most-streamed song this year. A song of hope and strength, it has a lightness and jumpy-ness to it that soothes my mind.
Track 03: Babylone – Zina
My Syrian friend Majd put me on to this song by Moroccan artist Babylone, which is a big hit in the Arabic-speaking world. A beautiful, heartfelt acoustic ballad about trying to gain someone’s love. The message is not new, but the melodies and metaphors he uses are exciting to my ears.
Track 04: Max Romeo – Jordan River
Soothing, humbling, vocally, and harmonically beautiful studio one classic. The three-piece harmony sounds like one of the many vocal groups in the 60s in Jamaica like the Heptones or Melodians. I love it.
Track 05: William DeVaughn – Be Thankful for What You’ve Got
The smoothest way for me to start the day, reminding me of what’s important. Gratitude is a must!
Track 06: Tóke – Blue Lagoon
“Grateful for this time out, just look at my life now!” I’m really intrigued and drawn to the idea of learning to see blessings while they’re around – because of their temporary nature. Happiness is not a constant state – it requires a form of effort to realise the reasons that can make you happy.
Track 07: Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – Leave The Door Open
For obvious reasons. A modern-day soul-classic that we will remember in 30 years like our parents remember “Thriller“ by MJ.
Track 08: Little Simz feat. Obongjayar – Point and Kill
One of the sickest discoveries this year for me was Little Simz’s new album Sometimes I might be Introvert. This tune featuring the special voice of Obongjayar is groove, flow, vibe and delivery in perfection (if you ask me).
Track 09: Sebastian Sturm – Rockstone
Also a fellow German-Indonesian, Sebastian Sturm has established himself as a revered artist in the European Reggae scene. His beautiful voice and songwriting inspired me to dive into Reggae years ago. This song is my favorite tune of his latest album Echoes.
Track 10: Tóke – Candle Light
A song of hope in difficult times. We all carry inner flames and oftentimes they’re in danger of being blown out by the heavy winds around us. It’s up to us to find tools to shelter that little flame and keep it flickering. This song is musically inspired by artists like Kota the Friend and Mac Miller.