JRDN chats about his new EP, touring, and Beyonce [Interview]
Halifax, NS - It was certainly a blessing in disguise that I was propped up at home alone with my phone in my hand and computer in my lap early last week. Because anyone around me would have seen how flushed my cheeks were. “How’s it going? It’s JRDN!” came from the other end of the line.
Between smiling (and low-key blushing), I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the entire phone call with the Halifax, Nova Scotia R&B sensation. Here was a man who had seemingly dropped (more like, gracefully descended) from the sky in 2010 with a song titled “U Can Have It All” (and I bet the chorus just instantly played in your head). While we were trying to figure out whether or not to pronounce his name using vowels (spoiler alert: you do), JRDN was working on his self-titled JRDN EP that was released on Feb. 11. The seven-track-project is available for download on iTunes.
The Juno-nominated R&B singer has given us countless songs to sing along to. Now JRDN is giving fans the opportunity to sing with him while he joins Hedley for their Wild Live Tour along with fellow Canadians, Danny Fernandes and Alyssa Reid. During JRDN’s mini-press tour, I got the chance to speak with him about his new release, upcoming tour, crazy performance experiences, video shoots…and a little bit about Beyoncé. Congratulations on your new project, JRDN!
Written by Tia Gordon for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: First of all, I just wanted to congratulate you on your nomination for Juno R&B/Soul Recording of The Year. You’re up against a lot of amazing talent like Kim Davis and The Weekend. What was your reaction to the nomination?
JRDN: Thank you. I was excited. Surprised, a bit. I didn’t think we would get [the submission] in on time. But it was definitely an exciting time. There’s definitely some tough competition. But I’m happy. I’m really happy, actually.
HipHopCanada: That’s great. In a video you posted on your YouTube channel, you said that you were happy to be at the Junos last year, but this year, you wanted to win. What would that win mean to you?
JRDN: It would mean a lot. I mean, when you’re nominated for something, most of the time it’s good to just be nominated, but the win would be everything. It would mean a lot to my family, a lot to my city: Halifax. You know, to bring some hardware home. It shows people that, hey, maybe I am cut out for this stuff and that my hard work is definitely paying off.
HipHopCanada: For sure. Now, you shot the video for “Can’t Choose” (the song that’s nominated), in Belize and parts in Toronto during Caribana. How hard was it for you and Kardinal [Offishall] to focus with all of those girls around you?
JRDN: [Laughing] You know, we had a couple of drinks, so it was nice to warm up with a little bit of juice. As Kardi would say, “red top.” It was cool. There were definitely some beautiful women and it made for a great visual.
HipHopCanada: The trailer for “Love Aint Enough” also came out a few weeks ago. That song is incredible and extremely heartfelt. So do you think that you were able to translate that emotion on screen?
JRDN: You know what? It’s funny because we shot with the director, Ken [Galloway], and for some of the stuff, he wanted me to be emotionless. [Laughs] We did do a lot of it where I was giving the aggressive vibe to it, but he didn’t choose those shots for the video and it actually makes for a great contrast with the lyrics and the content. I’ve definitely gone through that experience. And, you know, sometimes love just aint enough.
HipHopCanada: What’s your favourite part about doing video shoots?
JRDN: Favourite part about doing video shoots…hmm. That’s a good question. I guess the best part would be listening to the track over and over because if you’ve been to our set, you’ve probably listened to the song 1,000 times that day. And the best part about it, for me, is not getting sick of it. That’s how you know it’s a great song. I always ask people: “Are you sick of the song yet?” When they say “No,” you know you’ve got a great song. That’s a really cool part for me: just listening to it over and over and performing it over and over. Really marrying the song after it’s already been released.
HipHopCanada: You’re releasing your self titled EP [on Feb. 11], which is equally as exciting as a Juno nomination, so another congratulations to you!
JRDN: Thank you, thank you!
HipHopCanada: Out of the tracks released from the EP thusfar, you’ve shown the fans a couple of different sides to you. You’ve gone from playful with “Can’t Choose” to very personal and honest with “Love Aint Enough” and “Live My Dream.”Then it kind of gets sexier with the teaser for “King” that you released. Being that the EP is self titled, do you think that this project is showing you under all lights? Almost like saying “Hey, this is the real me?”
JRDN: Yeah! The reason I wanted the self-title is because I want people to just take in the music and not be influenced by a title and having a different mindset while they take it in. But yeah, I mean, I’m still growing as an artist, a songwriter, and I’m still on a path to where I want to be and the destination I know I can get to. I think this project was going to allow the listener to see the direction I’m going in and get a better feel for who I am as an artist.
HipHopCanada: You recently said that you decided to go with an EP instead of an album. Did you record strictly for an EP or was there a process where you had to decide which tracks made the cut?
JRDN: There was definitely a process. We were going to do a full-length album and we decided, last-minute, to change it up and shorten it up. We did a lot of records for the album and it was tough. You know, picking and choosing. But I definitely feel we picked some great ones.
HipHopCanada: So what was it about the seven songs that you did pick that made you say, “These need to be on the project”?
JRDN: I think they all represent me. Production-wise, and the feel of them all. I felt like they all kind of…complimented each other. They’re all talking about different topics, but they all seem to mesh and gel together in a nice little continuous way. It’s the continuity there and the feel for me was a big thing. The last thing we did was pick the order and I think we got it right.
HipHopCanada: What went in to the JRDN EP that didn’t go into No Dress Code and IAmJRDN that the fans can be excited about?
JRDN: The growth. With the No Dress Code project, me and Class [Classified], not to say we rushed it, but we just did 13 records in a year’s span where we were doing two-to-three tours in that same year. So we didn’t really have a lot of time to put that project together. For the IAmJRDN project, there was a couple of dance joints on there and, you know, I don’t really have a love for that type of music. I was just kind of putting them in there because of the feeling. It was kind of a, “Maybe that’s what the market wanted”, and wanting to be accepted and whatnot. This time around, I’m maturing and growing as an artist and knowing what I want. That’s going to be the biggest difference in the music.
HipHopCanada: Who did you work with on this project that made it special? Are there any features?
JRDN: Yeah! Kardinal [Offishall] was the only feature on the project. We had another feature, but we didn’t end up using the verse. That’ll maybe come out a little later. That was with Juelz Santana. Production-wise, Kuya Productions, Chuck Harmony, who is a very talented producer from the US, JazzFeezy, he’s an Ontario guy, Jordan Lewis, Danny Boy, William Hill from Miami, and J-Doe. It was great, a lot of talented producers and songwriters I got to work with and learned a lot while in this process.
HipHopCanada: Can you describe the JRDN EP in one word?
JRDN: Oh my…see, this is why we stayed away from the title. [Laughs] Uh, the JRDN EP in one word…describe it in one word…uhm, man. That’s a tough one.
HipHopCanada: I can give you two!
JRDN: How about we describe it in four letters?
HipHopCanada: Okay, you’re tricky.
HipHopCanada: Now you’re less than a week away from touring with Hedley for their Wild Live Tour with Danny Fernandes and Alyssa Reid. How did that come to be?
JRDN: I was working with management and Feldman [Agency], who is my booking agent, and they were putting the tour together about four [or] five months ago or something. And I got the call! They invited me on board and I was super excited about it. You probably wouldn’t expect an R&B guy to be on that type of bill. But I’m gonna show them what this R&B thing is about.
HipHopCanada: Gotta represent!
HipHopCanada: You’re on for 25 dates across Canada. Which cities are you most excited to perform in?
JRDN: Halifax, Nova Scotia! I’m going home! I’ve always dreamed of playing on that big stage in the Metro Centre and I’m finally gonna get to do it. It’s one of my dreams coming true, right there.
HipHopCanada: Are you marking that off of a checklist or anything?
JRDN: Uh-huh! For sure.
HipHopCanada: What’s the wildest thing that’s ever happened to you while you were on stage?
JRDN: The wildest thing? I was in Invermere, and there was this girl (this was when I was on the road with Classified back in No Dress Code days). No dress code [laughs]…I was performing and she literally pulled her whole shirt down, bra and everything, and was just shaking, shaking you-know-what. I was at a loss for words. I stopped singing; I didn’t know what to do. It was pretty crazy. That was definitely the wildest thing. No panties on the stage, yet, though. I’m still waiting for somebody to throw they ‘draws on stage. [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: [Laughs] Hey, you never know. That could happen to you in the next couple of weeks.
JRDN: Yeah, we’re gonna look out for that. [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: I wanna play a quick game with you if you’re down…
JRDN: Cool, yeah!
HipHopCanada: Instead of “Would You Rather,” we’re going to play “What Would You Choose,” since you seem to struggle with being able to do so as we’ve seen.
JRDN: Choose, yeah. Choices are a problem, yes.
HipHopCanada: I just pulled some lines from some of your recent releases. You’ll have two options, you can only pick one and you have to tell me why you chose that. Okay?
JRDN: Yeah, okay!
HipHopCanada: The first one; fame or wealth. What would you choose? [Live My Dream]
JRDN: Jeez. Giving me these ones, eh? Definitely wealth. I’d choose wealth over fame because you want to be able to leave something for your family, your loved ones. And you know, be able to survive and get by. I come from the hood, so we never really had a lot. But my mom [and] my pops, they managed to give us everything that they had. So to be able to have something set up for my family, and secure their future would be amazing.
HipHopCanada: That is amazing. The next one; living anywhere in Canada for the rest of your life or living in Belize? [Can’t Choose]
JRDN: [Laughs] It would definitely be…uh. I love Belize, but I mean, for the rest of my life?
HipHopCanada: You’re still allowed to travel.
JRDN: I’d have to say Halifax. That’s home. Home is home. You can’t get it nowhere else. Every time I go home, I always get that warm feeling. Just walking the streets that kind of raised me and being around family. Most of my family lives there: my parents are there [and] my brother. So definitely Halifax.
HipHopCanada: A romantic dinner for two or a dinner date with one girl and all of her friends? [Can’t Choose]
JRDN: [Laughs] Psh, definitely a romantic dinner for two.
JRDN: Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, even though I can’t seem to choose [laughs], I still like to romance a bit even though I’m not a huge romantic.
HipHopCanada: In light of Black History Month; an hour-long conversation with Michael Jackson or an hour-long conversation with Martin Luther King Jr? [Live My Dream]
JRDN: Hmm. I’d have to say Martin. Just, you know, the power in his words is just, amazing. Not take away from Michael and his words and his music because he definitely shared a similar message that Martin did, but at a time where the people needed it the most, his words were very powerful. To have an hour conversation with him, I’m sure I’d learn a lot.
HipHopCanada: Last, but not least; doing a track with Jay-Z or that one time hook-up with Beyoncé before Jay kills you. [Live My Dream]
JRDN: [Laughs] Oooo! You’re trying to get me in trouble! I mean, yeah, it’d have to be a track with Jay-Z. Then maybe I’d at least be able to shake her hand…and I could live with that. I’m not trying to get in that much trouble here.
HipHopCanada: Not ‘tryna steal wifey?
JRDN: It was a lyric, it was a lyric! [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: Is there anything you want to say to your fans before you open up this new chapter in your career?
JRDN: Thank you for all of the support and the love, for sticking by me and being patient because it took me a while to release some new music. I’m back on the scene, so thanks for the love and support!
Tickets for Hedley’s Wild Live Tour (featuring JRDN) are available here.
Written by Tia Gordon for HipHopCanada
Tweets by @HipHopCanada
Tags: Alyssa Reid, Beyonce, Chuck Harmony, Classified, Danny Boy, Danny Fernandes, Hedley, J-Doe, Jay Z, Jazzfeezy, Jordan Lewis, JRDN, Juelz Santana, Kardinal Offishall, Kuya Productions, William Hill