The warm energy of TRP.P – pronounced ‘trippy’ – radiates across the screen. The Toronto-based R&B and hip-hop duo join our call from Calgary, where they are currently opening for Juno award-winning rapper Shad on his TAO Tour. Producer and vocalist Truss appears in a black durag while joined by his romantic partner and musical accomplice, Phoenix Pagliacci, who is rocking a hoodie with the phrase ‘Love Scarborough’ across the chest.
“This is my first time touring and my first time in a lot of these areas,” Truss says, gushing with excitement about his first time being out on the road. “Who are we to even be on (Shad’s) radar? It’s wild to me that we’re here opening for him,” Pagliacci adds. But evidently, she did a little more than just catch Shad’s eye, as Pagliacci was invited to drop a couple verses of her own on his latest album, TAO, as well.
The dynamic duo has come a long way since meeting in 2015, releasing two projects, racking up accolades from the media and booking hallmark performances at events including Toronto Pride, but they still hold fond memories of their first encounter. Pagliacci, who was involved with all-female rap quartet The Sorority at the time, was performing at a release party. Truss was enamoured by her stage presence and made it a point to connect. Pagliacci recalls being instantly impressed by his talent. “Truss has always had that gift. Whatever the vibe or energy is, he always manages to do that through music,” she reminisces.
TRP.P has an infectious energy that feels natural, and their genuine love and support for each other comes across in the bubbly energy of their bright and uplifting blends of 90s-era hip-hop and soul music. Pagliacci consistently makes an effort to build up Truss during the interview, urging him to answer first as a pseudo-spokesperson for the group. That camaraderie is reflected in the title and themes of their sophomore full-length album, Mirror Soul. “I came across the phrase because someone was talking about twin flames, how you see yourself in another person. Phoenix is my mirror soul,” Truss says.
Despite the lovebirds’ unbreakable bond, romance is not the sole focus of the album, with additional themes ranging from self-reflection to body positivity. The track “Doin It For Me” finds Pagliacci singing about the tumultuous relationship she had with her body during the pandemic, reaching out to the many listeners who understandably had similar experiences of starting to feel unrecognizable in the mirror. “I fell out of love with myself multiple times, especially during the pandemic,” she says. “I was fortunate enough to have someone who reminded me that whoever I was, I was still worthy of love.”
The track’s accompanying video is something the duo are very proud of. In it, Truss & Pagliacci are joined by individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Dancing, vibing, and bringing a sense of empowerment to life while celebrating diversity and the many different forms love can take. Both members of TRP.P belong to the LGBTQ+ community themselves. “We wanted to create a safe space for our Qommunity to come and have fun on set,” says Pagliacci about the sanctuary that was the “Doin It For Me” shoot.
On their latest tracks, Truss’ voice is more prevalent than it’s been in the past. He explains that he made a conscious effort to challenge himself lyrically, and it is reflected in the music–especially on his attention-grabbing second verse on the track “Way I Like.” While Pagliacci has always been celebrated for her smooth singing voice, Truss does some crooning of his own on possibly the raunchiest verse on the album. “I just wanna have fun on this, I wanted to just have a swagger on this one,” he says about his approach to the verse. “I don’t sing that much anymore, so I’m just easing myself into that again.”
This October will mark the five-year anniversary of TRP.P’s debut project. Their stretch as a musical duo is impressive, but even more notable and often inescapably intertwined with their work is their romantic partnership. It goes without saying that TRP.P is the definition of ‘Couple Goals.’
The duo recently participated in a shoot with Toronto-based artist Borelson, who made a short film to accompany the music video for his song “Deepest Vibes” off his latest album Fearless. In the video, he asks a few couples about the meaning of love. Truss & Pagliacci discuss their relationship and the importance of finding an understanding when romantically linked as public figures. When mixing art with personal life, it comes with pressure and sometimes the lines become blurred, especially when it comes to the fandom that they’ve generated. “The brand is us as a couple, even though we started as two solo artists, and we still are solo artists,” Truss explains. “She does her thing, I do mine.“It is pressure for sure because when they ask ‘How is she?’ On that day, I might be like ‘I don’t care.’”
The two burst out laughing and Pagliacci interjects. “You’ve gotta be media trained even on your off-days. But just having those days is important.” Mirror Soul is the most vulnerable TRP.P has ever been, giving the listener a chance to feel married to their personal lives in a way that feels honest. That tightrope is a tough one to navigate for any artist, but Pagliacci is convinced there’s a secret formula to their success. “For us, it was like, let’s connect with each other. Let’s connect with ourselves. Then let’s connect those connectors to the music. Then we’re going to connect people to the music by sharing it and see what connections came from that.”
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