Vincint doesn't mind if you cry to his music. In fact, he encourages it.
Speaking to NewNowNext via Zoom, the out singer-songwriter is uncharacteristically bashful when I ask how he's feeling about There Will Be Tears, his debut studio album, out today (June 11). The Philadelphia-born, Los Angeles-based artist first entered the spotlight in 2018 as a contestant on the inaugural season of The Four, a singing competition series from Fox. In the years since, he's steadily carved out a niche for himself as a Black queer man in pop music, releasing an EP, a track for Season 5 of Netflix's Queer Eye reboot, and a smattering of amped-up singles.
But There Will Be Tears is Vincint's baby, and it shows. "The night that it drops, I'm going to be comatose in a corner with a bottle of wine, just crying," he says with a laugh. "I'm so excited for people to have it, and obviously to have my music out. But I'm also fucking terrified that people are going to be like, 'Okay, great. Well, we can see what you're thinking and what's going on in your life.' It's like, 'Hi, here's my diary. Talk about it.'"
His fear isn't unfounded. The album's 11 tracks unfold tales of love and loss inspired by actual events from Vincint's personal life. He's described the album as "my therapy," and he means that quite literally: Years ago, Vincint's therapist instructed him to write down everything he wants to talk about and everything he is afraid to talk about, and then to talk about all of it. He bought 100 index cards and jotted it all down until his bedroom floor was littered with his innermost thoughts.
"I wrote down all the things that I wanted to confront about myself — relationships, friendships, just personal things that I had been going through," he remembers. "And I had uncomfortable phone calls. I made really, really big steps in fixing the things in my life that caused me stress." The actual songwriting process didn't begin until much later, but working through those personal challenges gave Vincint the peace of mind to make them into music. "In doing that," he explains, "it all turned into what you're listening to now."
Indeed, There Will Be Tears is the rare dance-pop album with a big, beating heart. From the soulful, starry-eyed love song "Loving You 88" to the Song of Summer-worthy bop "Higher," the tracklist is a testament to Vincint's emotional and literal range. It's also stacked with collaborations, many of which feature some of Vincint's closest friends. "Higher" features Broadway star Alex Newell and New York City ballroom icon Princess Precious; "Kill My Heart," an electric dance track with a dark twist, includes vocals from rapper Qveen Herby and fellow pop artist Parson James.
"As soon as I reached out to friends, I was blown away at the immediate response of, 'Yeah. I've been waiting for you to ask me,'" Vincint remembers. "'Thank you so much.'" For independent artists, he explains, it's easy to feel like you're in it alone. Collaborating with musicians he knows and loves showed him just how many of his peers are rooting for him and genuinely excited to work together.
The pièce de résistance? "Getaway," a dreamy cut featuring queer indie-rock icons Tegan and Sara Quin. "It's actually wild," Vincint recalls. "I tweeted at them, and I was like, 'Hey, I have this song idea. I don't know if you'd like to be on it.' I was with my friends, and not thinking that anyone would ever respond." But Tegan did respond — and after Vincint DMed her and Sara a demo of the song, they were on board. "I fully fucking shot my shot on Twitter," he says, "and I was like, 'Hey, it worked.'"
Although some of the tracks are newer, others have been ready for quite some time. "Hard 2 Forget," a dance floor-ready post-breakup reflection, was actually released as a single in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But COVID-19 was still a very new and deadly threat, and Vincint made the executive decision to put off releasing the full album until listeners could enjoy it in earnest. "I wanted it to be an intentional moment of, 'This is for when we're free again,'" he says. "'I know that sounds dramatic, but when we can be together again, I would love for this to be the soundtrack to that.'"
The album's title came from a similar emotional place. After listening through the finished record for the first time with a friend, Vincint remembers being struck by how relieved he felt to be crying "happy tears." For the duration of 11 songs, he wasn't thinking about the pandemic, or America's ongoing racial reckoning, or even his own heartache; he was transported somewhere else entirely in the way that only good music can accomplish.
There Will Be Tears only just dropped, but Vincint is already making headway toward his goal of providing a soundtrack for our collective #ShotGirlSummer. I ask him about his surprise live performance of "Higher" at a Ty Sunderland dance party in Brooklyn earlier this month, and he grins ear-to-ear. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing — Vincint happened to be in New York that weekend, and he and Sunderland happen to have the same manager — but the performance turned out to be the moment of validation he didn't realize he was looking for.
"I got on stage, and everyone knew the words," he says. "And I was just a mess. There's a part of the video where I literally turn to the camera and say, 'They know the words.' It's still so surreal."
There Will Be Tears is out now.