You have always said that “It’s Your World” is an amazing song that could stand on its own, but that as you played the beats over and over you really knew that you needed a rapper on the song. What can you tell me about that decision of having a rap part on the song, having talked about the influence of singer/rapper collaborations from back in the day? Who are some of your favorite collaborations?
I mean, if you think about Fabolous, who would always be, like, rapping on R&B songs, or, like, Jadakiss, who would get on R&B records, or Biggie Smalls who would be rapping on R&B stuff with Mary J Blige or Faith Evans. It always just felt so good to have both. I guess you could say the roughness with the sensitivity all in one, giving me all of those different emotions. Where with the rappers, it’s like “YEAH!”, with the singers, it’s like “yeah”. They are both kind of just giving you their point of view.
You’ve also said that a big inspiration behind the idea for the video came from Janet Jackson’s “Got Til It’s Gone” video and having the desire to show the beauty in people just as they are. What was the video making process like for “It’s Your World” and how would you describe that inspiration? I really loved your video and the snapshots of the people around the city and the contrast between color and black and white!
I used to watch the “Got Til It’s Gone” video when I was a kid and it was really simple. There wasn’t a lot of flash and special effects, but it was like the way all the people looked so shiny and were just standing there and looked so beautiful and it was simple. I really admire just the simplistic things. I feel like there’s more depth to it. It’s not like you have to be like “Look what I’m doing over here”. I feel like sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes that is a person overcompensating for not having an actual talent so they are doing other things to get your attention. And I really enjoy simple things, because there is more to it. So, when I saw that video, it just always stuck in my head. When I thought about “It’s Your World”, you know summertime and hot, shiny looking people, I was like “That’s cool. We can put that in our video and use that concept.”
What can you tell me about your message of being the best you can be and inspiring that in others, even if it may not align with your expectations, and taking the weight off of each other and ourselves and just existing as we are?
Over the last 10 years, I started getting a lot of revelations, as far as all kinds of relationships…romantic, platonic…and just realizing that you cannot make a person be what they just cannot be. And at the same time, that doesn’t mean that they are bad people. You know, everybody has to grow in their own time. So, I’m kind of more so on the rhythm now that if I feel like we’re not growing together, I can respectfully remove myself while we continue to grow as people. And maybe in the future, it can come back and link back up when we’ve grown. But it’s not like, “Oh. Emily doesn’t get what I’m saying so fuck her. She’s a bad person and I’m never going to talk to her anymore”, because that’s how we used to carry it. But it’s like maybe Emily’s dealing with something. Maybe she doesn’t understand this yet. Maybe whatever, whatever. But, just having more empathy and understanding as opposed to just being so quick to throw people away. I think, especially in this day and age, that’s the thing to do…throw them away, cancel them, delete them…you’re not worthy of life anymore. But it’s like, that’s not real. And that’s not a real concept. So I just want to push the message of empathy, forgiveness, understanding, and just respect. Just because you’re doing something, it doesn’t mean that I have to. I respect where you are and I’ll catch you over here. It’s just about respect and understanding for each other. And not being lazy. Push yourselves to be the best you can be. You know when you’re doing your best and you know when you’re half-assing it. I’m a huge fan of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan and all of these great people that just push(ed) themselves to be the best. You know, not better than anyone else, just the best that they can be. And I really live by that.
What inspired you to do your God Jewel pop up event in April, and how was the reception to the event?
It was amazing! So, what inspired that was just raising awareness and money for tour and being prepared to hit the road, which has actually helped a lot. I always want to make sure that I am able to pay the artists decently, who are on tour with me or that are on the bill with me. I don’t ever want to be like “Aw, man. We don’t have this much but my bad!”. I hate that! I don’t like being that kind of person. So, I just want to make sure, if anyone is ever working with me, they can never say they never got paid from me or get whatever they were supposed to get after working with me. So that’s what it was for. It was a great turnout. A lot of people came out and bought some shirts and I was DJing and stuff, so it was really fun! I was just raising awareness for the tour and getting as much support as I can.
Your God Jewel Tour is coming up soon, starting in Baltimore on July 1st. What are you most looking forward to with the tour and what can people expect from the shows?
I’m calling this tour a revival. I really want to spread love and just a really, really high vibrational spirit and let people feel refreshed and renewed and rejuvenated to kind of just take on this world. And making them feel empowered. I don’t want it to be just another show. I really want this to be a spiritual experience where people can really tap into themselves and find something that they’ve never found, or just something that they lost. I really want that to happen. That’s what I’m getting prepared for.
Will you be taking anyone on tour with you or will it be local support at each show?
It’s going to be mainly local support at each town, but I’m taking my sister Bobbi Rush, who’s another amazing artist, to Baltimore and New York. But then for all of the other shows, I’ll just be going with people in that town.
You recently performed at the Baltimore by Baltimore Fest with Blaqstarr and then featured Al Rogers Jr in your “It’s Your World” video, so do you have any other collaborations coming up?
There will probably be more collaborations with myself and Blaqstarr and a few other people. But right now, I’m just focusing on myself. I know one thing I did a lot of earlier, was a lot of collaborating…playing drums for people, making beats for people, DJing for people. And it was like, “Ok. I need to fall back and give myself some time to just focus on myself”, because I’m playing for like 3 or 4 people and people are like “Yo! I be forgetting you sing!”. And it’s like “Damn! I be forgetting I sing too!” (laughs)! So, I had to make a point to remove myself, because when I’m not really feeling fulfilled playing other people’s music, I get really complacent. Or it gets boring to me and I need a new challenge. So, after you’re playing a lot of the same music that’s not really challenging, and it’s, like, the same couple of beats, you get bored. So, I just wanted to tap into some new, fresh, and exciting sounds. I have a lot of new sounds coming and I’m working on another album. It’s always the Funk, but it’s super noisy and really loud and really expressive, and that’s what it is for me. That’s just where I am, spreading that feeling.
In February and April of this year you released 2 instrumental albums, Broadcasting Live From WEFUNK, Vol 1 & 2. What inspired you to release those albums? Had you been wanting to make instrumental albums, as well?
Yeah. So as a musician, the instrumental part is always there. I’m always working on beats. It’s my thing that I do to keep myself sharp and aware. I make a lot of beats and I wasn’t really giving any away or selling any. So, I was just like “Man. Let’s use this as something. Let’s use this for something and use as a project.” So, I would just take a couple of beats and put them together and compile them and I just want to exercise everything that I have as a songwriter, musician, producer. I want to be everything. I want my tray to be empty after it’s over for me, because I really used everything that I had. And I know that producing and making beats is another huge piece of what it is that I do. I just wanted to throw some stuff out there so people can know me or get familiar with me also as a producer. It’s easy for people to be like “Oh, you’re the drummer”, and it’s like, yeah I am, but I do other things too.
Do you see yourself, at some point in the future, producing for other artists?
Yes! That’s really something that I want to do. The songwriting and everything, is just like a trampoline, if you will, to take me to that level where I can work with other artists. And where they can hear my music and be like “Wow! This music’s interesting. Let’s call him over here.” I know it’s only a matter of time before that’s going to happen. I like to use my music as that catapult, like “Yeah. Check this out. I know you’ve never heard anything like this. Let’s work.” And it’s like that. Those types of things happen all of the time. I keep myself surrounded by interviews and other people who’ve kind of been in my situation of maybe being homeless or not having any money or people think that you’re whack. But then all of a sudden Kanye West is calling you out of nowhere, like “Come to Hawaii.” These things happen all the time! So, I know it’s not unrealistic for me to believe that it could happen. Until that happens, I’m just constantly working over here to keep my tools sharp.
Aside from working on a new album and your upcoming tour, what’s next for you? What are your goals for the rest of the year?
To keep kicking ass! That’s it. To keep rocking and jamming. I’m going to be dropping another album in October. I started working on that, I wanna say, last week and getting everything together. Getting all of the instrumentals and songs together. I actually recorded two songs yesterday and one today…maybe like an hour before we spoke. And then I’m going to go on tour again in November, with myself and a friend of mine, River. Me and River, we’re going to go on tour in November. She’s actually going to do the God Jewel Tour with me in July at my New York stop. So yeah. We’re going to hook up and do a nice little thing for November. I know she’s dropping an album and I’m dropping an album. And I’m possibly getting some type of label situation, to help propel what I’m doing as far as marketing and promotion. I know that can always be helpful, just having someone else marketing and promoting what you do. But until then, I’m marketing and promoting my own shit and am just going to keep going until that happens. Right now, I’m 100% independent and I love it. I’m not really searching or begging for anything, but if the opportunity presents itself, I’m telling you now!