Genre-defying bassist and singer Stephen Bruner, better known in the music world as his creative alias Thundercat, is busy these days preparing for the arrival of his latest studio effort, It Is What It Is. The album is due out this Friday (4/3) via Brainfeeder, a label founded by fellow Los Angles musician and collaborator, Flying Lotus, and will feature the previously-released singles “Fair Chance”, “Dragonball Durag”, and “Black Qualls”.

The forthcoming studio project will follow 2017’s Drunk, and is set to include a vibrant mix of guest musicians including Childish Gambino, Louis Cole, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, Ty Dolla $ign, Zack Fox, and more.

Related: Zack Fox Leads Thundercat, Eric Andre, 6lack, More Through Uplifting Rendition Of “Slob On My Knob” [Watch]

Collaborations and musical friendships were the focused topics of discussion with Thundercat in a new profile on the jazz-inspired bassist published by The New York Times earlier this week, where Bruner invited readers into his close relationship with late rap artist, Mac Miller, who died in September 2018 from an accidental drug overdose.

“That was my ace, my best friend,” Thundercat admits in the profile. “It’s like, he’s not really here anymore. He’s not going to pull up and park wrong in front of my spot, get a ticket and show up and knock at the door. He’d just park on the wrong side of the street, and get out of the car and some girl would faint.”

Thundercat was on hand alongside artists like John Mayer, Anderson .Paak, Chance The Rapper and more at the Mac Miller: A Celebration Of Life all-star tribute concert in Los Angeles back on Halloween night in 2018.

“I had to sit with it,” he continued in reference to the late rapper. “I had to let the pain in. I had to cry, a lot … I think the existential dread set in when Mac disappeared. Things became a bit realer to me. I was faced with a choice — to either follow suit or figure it out. And I guess this is me trying to figure it out.”

Thundercat also made a point to show some love for Erykah Badu, who had her own bit of influence on a younger Bruner in his early days as a musician.

“Erykah was the one that genuinely cultivated me as an artist,” the bassist added. “She taught me what it means to be Thundercat, and what that entailed for me as an artist. More than playing bass in her band — she would hold my hand through stuff. She would make me stand out in front and sing with her.”

Thundercat had been in the early stages of his 2020 winter/spring headlining tour when the run was postponed along with the rest of the concert industry.

Head to his website for updates to his 2020 concert schedule and album release info. Read the entire profile in The New York Times here.