JESUS CMPLXX had a dream job. He was an marketing representative at Sony Music for 10 years, working with everyone from Destiny’s Child to Tony Bennett, and making a six-figure income. It’s a rare job in music that many only dream of, but it ultimately wasn’t his dream. “I think my heart always knew I wanted to be an artist,” the now-producer says, reflecting on his decade-long former career. “But I was fearful of not making any money doing it.”

Passion overcame JESUS CMPLXX’s monetary concerns though and he eventually left Sony and struck up a musical partnership with Sway Clarke. Together they formed the band Freedom or Death, which found some success, including a major-label deal in the U.S. But the project would evolve over the years, first to focus on Clarke’s solo efforts, and in recent years, on JESUS CMPLXX. (Clarke is still a frequent collaborator, but JESUS CMPLXX is a new and separate solo outing.)

“It’s the reaction of going back and taking control of what I wanted to do from day one: make music for myself,” says CMPLXX, describing his experiences working for and with labels. “If I’m not making music, I’m not a happy person.”

JESUS CMPLXX is coming from a place of true freedom, where the artist can play with genres, mixing R&B, electronic, and dance elements into a wide-ranging sound that challenges listeners to break down sonic barriers, and explore something new. Part of that experimentation includes working with other artists such as JHYVE, Aleesia Stamkos, and Clarke, who all appear on the next EP. As he lists his new collaborators, CMPLXX adds, “I’m smiling as I share this… So I’m in a good place.

“As artists, we all need validation,” he continues. “But no longer do I need it from the industry. I had that and it imploded. The great thing about music now is, it’s very clear if you reach people or not. If I do, great. If I don’t, I’ll just keep going.”