INTERVIEW : JERMAINE RILEY

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British-bred singer/song writer (and former 1/3 of UK R&B group FDM), Jermaine Riley has been looking up to many a hero of R&B/pop culture for quite some time now. Michael Jackson being the first, as Jermaine spent hours in front of the TV as a child, emulating the icon. “I wouldn’t go anywhere without my white socks and black plimsoles, it didn’t matter what else I was wearing.” he says. “I wanted to be him.” With MJ at the top, this list soon grew, along with his anticipation to see his very own name on it. 

An adept dancer and entertainer (not to mention a professional graphic designer, creating all his album artwork and promotional designs), Jermaine’s song writing and signature tone have garnered the acclaim of fans, artists and producers far and wide. Most recently, such noteworthy talent skipped managers and publishers but landed him on platinum UK rapper Chipmunk’s new albumTransition, as the voice behind the emotive autobiographical track “Then And Now”. Giving him the boost he needed amidst turbulent times. “I wrote that when I was broke!” he exclaims. “The irony of it becoming my first major song placement is crazy to me.”

Now, amidst penning songs for many different artists and producers, both upcoming and established, Riley has unleashed a trilogy of conceptual bodies of work to date; Goodbye Krypton: The Mixtape (2008), Nine Ten Eleven: The Refixes (2011) and the critically acclaimed Hello Earth (2012), which he insists the world refer to not as a mixtape, but a ‘free album’.

Sprinkled with a star-studded cast of producers (Harmony, Dready, Parker & James) and several notable features from upcoming talent, Hello Earth has achieved over a staggering 150,000 downloads online, with an influx of devoted fans showing sincere support since Jermaine’s FDM days. Consequently capturing the attention of Japanese independent label P-Vine Records and placing the project on shelves in over 600 record stores across Japan. The self-penned offering definitely set a positive tone for his latest set of ear-pleasing “refixes”, entitled Ten Eleven Twelve, which sees him set his Superman moniker aside for the first time to focus on the real ‘Jermaine Riley’.

 

TWD : Hey Jermaine how you doing today?

JR : I’m doing great. Stealing some down time for myself, which is rare.

TWD : First thing first, well done with your new mixtape .I’m a mad fan of your music, everything about it .How has the response to your mixtape been?

JR : The response has been amazing! I’m so grateful that the music is connecting with people the way I wanted it to. My supporters have been acknowledging it as an album despite it being a mixtape so it’s been a blessing.

TWD : You write your own music and really lovely ones, what gives you the drive and motivation to write your songs?

JR :  I admire singer/song writers because you get a true sense of the artist behind the song. That’s how I want to be. I think the honesty and vulnerability in Ten Eleven Twelve is the reason it’s resonating with people. Artists like Lianne La Havas, Ed Sheeran, Adele and Emeli Sande really inspire me.

TWD : You and your music were currently recognized by MTV Brand New unsigned 2013, how does that make you feel?

JR :  It feels great! MTV have recognized my work 2 years in a row for the competition now so it’s good to feel like all my hard work isn’t in vain.

TWD :  I’ve always been a fan of FDM and your music. Do people still ask if FDM would ever come back together to do a track or 2 and would they.

JR : We get asked all the time. If the passion, timing and business is right, I don’t see why not. I haven’t ruled it out. But I think people need to allow us to spread our wings a bit more though. It’s only been a year and half. I know we still have a lot more to offer as individuals.

TWD :  Your brother Shaun sings as well right? I’ve listened to some of his music and he’s very talented, Is it a family trait? 

JR :   Nah, only Shaun and I sing in the family. I’m very proud of him and can’t wait to sink my teeth into his next project. His tone has really matured. We just need to write the right songs for him. It has to be right and I’m really meticulous about how he’s perceived musically. So we’re not going to rush the creative process just to throw him out there.

TWD :  Apart from singing you seem to be a very creative person, you do some graphic design if I’m correct, do you share the same passion and love for singing with graphic design?

JR :  Yes indeed. The OCD levels are immense, you have no idea. I’ve always been into art and I’m very particular when it comes to artwork and design. I think it can really affect the way a project comes across.

TWD :  Your video for your track “Key To The City” (one of my favorite!!!!!!) Got picked up by BET, “Hello Earth” done amazingly great! You inked a deal with Japanese Label “P-Vine Records”… sounds to me 2012 has been amazing year so far, how do you feel about the response from the fans, radio stations, TV stations and your supporters?

JR :  All I can do is be grateful and keep working hard. I’ve achieved quite a bit pre-solo career and I still had to start over again so I never get starry eyed, I just thank God and keep chasing the dream. I just really appreciate the support. I’m enjoying the journey and I’m faithful that I’m going to get to where I want to be in the very near future.

 

TWD :  Ok if I don’t ask this the ladies will make sure they come to get me, so let me drop it like its warm .You a good looking fella, a voice to melt for, the question is there a Lois Lane at the moment?

JR :  Haha! Thank you. No, there isn’t a Lois Lane. No girlfriend. Just focused on music a lot right now.

TWD :  Tell us something we don’t know about Jermaine Riley?

JR :  I have an unrelenting sweet tooth. There’s no limit to my sweetie consumption.

TWD :  What is the toughest part about being in the music industry that people don’t get to see and have no idea about?

JR : Hmmm… probably the way a record label works and how much being signed doesn’t mean you’ve made it. There’s a whole world of work and business that goes into it after you sign that dotted line, and a lot of the time your team is the most important thing, no matter how talented you are.

TWD :  2013 just round the corner, what projects you working on and plans for 2013?

JR :  I have a new album to finish recording, a collaborative project I’m working on and I’ll be helping my brother Shaun create his EP. I know other things will fall into the melting pot of creativity, but those are the ones I’m definitely going to be focusing on.

TWD :  Being a vocalist, taking strict care of your prized instrument is highly necessary. What is your vocal range/type?

JR : Honestly, I’m not too knowledgeable in regards to what my range is. I think I’m a tenor. Nevertheless, I know I could be taking better care of my voice. I just try my best to sing the ideas I have in my head and use my voice the best way I can. I’m growing vocally with each project but I’ve got a long way to go in terms of what I want to be able to do.

TWD :  With a monumental 150,000 downloads accumulated with ‘Hello Earth’ and your meteoric rise as a prominent force as an entertainer to be reckoned with. Where does your drive derive from to remain so grounded and focused?

JR :  Nothing worth having comes without hard work. This is an industry where you get out what you put in. I’ve always been very focused on music and art, it’s just a passion God’s given me. I’m grounded by experience. FDM were so close to achieving our dream so I just take those experiences and apply them to where I’m at now.

TWD :  You collaborated with Grand Hustle rapper Chip on his 2011 album ‘Transition’ on a track entitled ‘Here and Now’, in which you co-wrote with the British rhymer. Which artist do you envision penning for next?

JR :  It’d be nice to work with Wretch 32 and/or Wiley. I’m a fan of both.

TWD :   The British invasion has been highly documented. The level of authentic talent in the UK is unquestionably the grandest it’s ever been, and that indicates a lot given what history provides. Did you ever feel a certain Napoleon complex mindset from a certain standpoint during your formative years due to the sheer monopolization in terms of US musicians highlighted in the media?

JR : I’m just happy to be relevant, and I know FDM as a whole felt the same. When you come from humble beginnings you’re just grateful for opportunities to be something important and fill a void.

Download & listen to Jermaine Riley’s Latest Mixtape :  http://www.jermaineriley.com/music/ten-eleven-twelve/

Keep close to Jermaine Riley’s movements & updates 

www.jermaineriley.com
www.twitter.com/Jermaine_Riley
www.facebook.com/JermaineRileyMusic
www.youtube.com/SUPERspectiveTV
www.jermaineriley.bandcamp.com
www.mysuperspective.com

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