Elijah Will still remembers the first time he wrote a song. His mom provided him with “one of those bendable mics from the dollar store,” he says, and he teamed up with his best friend and younger brother to form a hip-hop group called The Triple Threat. In that song, “Living in the Maritimes,” he gives a shout-out to fellow Nova Scotian artist Classified. Little did he know, then, that the rapper would later become an instrumental player in his rise to fame.

In 2014, a songwriting session at The Gordie Sampson Songcamp resulted in a co-write for Will that was sent to Classified, who quickly responded by inviting Will to join him in the studio to record vocals on his self-titled album. “We’ve been working together ever since, and I’m grateful every day for it,” says Will. He’s now become the first artist signed to Classified’s newly re-launched record label, Halflife Records. Earlier this year, Will released his debut EP 3am, a collection of R&B-infused pop songs that show off his penchant for penning infectious hooks, like those in the moody title track, or the upbeat funk of “Like a Fool.”

And that’s only the beginning. Will is currently working on more new music, and says he’s planning a big tour in the fall of 2018. Most importantly, he hopes to continue learning from Classified, from whom he’s already taken some valuable lessons. “He taught me to be hungry for it,” Will explains, citing Classified’s work ethic. “He’s always been there to motivate me and show me where I need to be, if I was ever to fall off. Working on this EP, and being around him, has really inspired me to be better.”