Interview: Brandi D “We Tried Blaque and We Decided To Take A Backseat On That For Right Now, But I’m Still in Love With Music”
With only one album officially released since 1999, it may surprise some to find out that the group Blaque still has a massive following. Though the group has split for the time being, Brandi D. (aka Brandi from Blaque) sat down with us to discuss her experience with the group and also answers questions that many die hard fans have been wondering for years such as the shelved “Torch” album. Furthermore, Brandi D. brings us up to speed on her current solo project that she has coming. Along with that, the one time protege of Lisa “Left Eye” talks about her new single “Love It” which will come out October 4th.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Blaque released their first album in 1999 and it had two huge hits, “Bring it all to Me” and “808”. What do you remember about creating the first album “Blaque”?
Brandi D: Creating the first album was a great experience. Creatively I thought it was great because we were able to have a lot of creative control. Columbia really believed in us from the beginning. With Lisa walking us hand and hand, they kind of trusted her vision and the music we wanted to create, they kind of just allowed us to just go for it. That would be the best part of it to me. They allowed us to be all that we wanted to be and I think we did a good job debuting with that first album.
YKIGS: A personal favorite of mine is “Rainbow Drive” and I know all three members had a hand in writing that song. Give me some background on that song.
BD: “Rainbow Drive” is very personal because not only was it the three of us, but it was also my Dad and also Hope, who is a family member of mine and also part management to my solo career now. The five of us were riding down a street in Atlanta called “Rainbow Drive. My dad would always come up with these jingles whether it’s a street name or a drink. He’s always making up a song. We’re all in the car and we’re driving down the street “Rainbow Drive” and he starts singing “Let’s get to Rainbow Drive” and the song came from there.
YKIGS: Of course we know after the release of the debut album, the group started working on “Blaque Out” which unfortunately didn’t get a proper release. Why do you think the album never got a chance to come out?
BD: It’s a tragic story to me because “Blaque Out” was a great album. We had done our first album, toured all over the world, but “Blaque Out” to me was our “CrazySexyCool”. We were older, kind of came out of the kiddy phase, we were grown woman and a little more sexier. It was a coming out party for Blaque. I hate that it didn’t get released because I know that album would have taken us to the next level. Not only just the songs, but the energy behind it because we were such a unified group at that point in our careers. We put that album together just the three of us. We stayed up nights listening to songs, talking about concepts, flying here and there and meeting with different producers. We really put our own sweat, blood and tears into that album and I just hate that it didn’t come out and make the big bang that we were anticipating it to do. A lot of internal group stuff happened like Lisa passing, and Natina having a child so of course that was our first priority. Things happened within the groups that made the project secondary, but the album itself was a great album and I just hate that the world didn’t really get to experience what we were planning to give them.
YKIGS: Even with that, the song “Questions” is everywhere. It seems a lot of people love that song. Are you kind of surprised by the love for that song because the album was released a couple years back, it was a secondary release, but “Questions” didn’t end up on that version. Are you kind of surprised?
BD: I’m surprised that out of all of the songs, “Questions” was a song that people gravitated to. I loved it from the beginning, it was another song that the three of us had a hand in writing. You just never know what the public is going to love. You have your favorites like “Oh this is the one!” I was a little surprised they picked “Questions” out of other songs that I would have thought would be “They’re going to love this one!” It’s still a good song and it’s a timeless record. I think 20 years from now, you’ll still hear it. It’ll still be relevant. It’s about love, so it’s something that’s talked about all the time and talked about until the end of the time. I think it’s a great record, but I was a little surprised because everyone has their favorites. I wouldn’t say “Questions” was not one of my favorites, but you just never know what the public is going to gravitate to. If they love it then I’m glad!
YKIGS: Blaque went on to record “Torch”. After coming from an album that didn’t get a release, what was the approach with “Torch”?
BD: Well “Torch” was another album. That was when we moved over from Columbia to Elektra. “Torch” was an album that I don’t feel we had enough creative control in. It was kind of like what Elektra saw Blaque to be. Not saying it was a bad thing, I just know that we felt we didn’t have that much control over picking the songs and putting the project together as we would like, but it was still a decent album. It had great songs like “I’m Good” and “Ugly”. We did a lot of songs with Missy. It was a good album, but in my opinion, I don’t think it was our best.
YKIGS: That album didn’t get a chance to come out. You guys had two straight albums that didn’t get a proper release, so was there a loss of hope after that?
BD: I wouldn’t say a loss of a hope because things happened. That album had a lot to do with the change in Elektra from Sylvia leaving and going to Universal Motown. Natina decided she didn’t want to do secular music anymore at the time, she wanted to go into the Gospel realm. It was a little transition personally and professionally, that kind of set back that project. We did a good record out off of it which was “I’m Good” for the “Honey” soundtrack, so it wasn’t a complete loss, but the album itself wasn’t able to have a proper release. It is what it is! *Laughs*
YKIGS: A lot of the Blaque fans want to know, are they ever going to get to hear that “Torch” album in its entirety?
BD: I would hope so. I know our fans are so loyal and I’m so thankful for them. I would love to be able to give them something from Blaque whether it’s an album, a tour, a single or something. I know they’re just waiting and hoping. That’s definitely one of my goals to be able to give something to the fans. I can’t put a time on it because I’m only 1/3 of the group, so I don’t know when we’ll be able to do it. I would love to be able to give them something. It’s a hope and prayer of mine just like it is of the fans that we’ll be able to give the fans something.
YKIGS: After that Blaque went on a little hiatus, but I remember in 2008, there was a trailer for a reality show and I also read that you guys were proceeding to record a new album. Can you touch on some of these things and if they were true?
BD: The reality show was true. We shot a pilot and it’s up on YouTube. It got great reviews. We were in the process of recording “Private Show” and we got half way into the recording process, but we were three different women with three different goals. We were trying to hold it together for the fans sake and because of the dream of what we set out to do from the first album, but at the same time we were grown women with different lives. I was in the process of getting married, Natina was raising her son and moving on with her life, Shamari opened a spa and is married to Ronnie Devoe. It was trying to pull our personal lives together as well as pulling our professional lives together and I think the three of us were just on three different pages. It made us say “Okay, let’s step back and not do this album right now,” because I don’t think the three of us were committed to the project like we needed to be because we had three different things going on. We wanted to do it for the fans and the dream of what Blaque could and should be and holding onto that, but I don’t think we were able to pull it off because of the commitment level.
YKIGS: What has the transition been like from being in a group to be a solo artist?
BD: It’s a transition completely because I’m used to having my girls next to me! *Laughs* So now I’m here all alone and making decisions on my own. I’m in the studio by myself. It’s definitely different, but I’m up for the challenge. I’m excited for the challenge. I’m nervous, this is a whole new world for me to kind of step out and say “Okay I’m doing this by myself.” I’m excited though, and I’m excited for the fans to hear what I’ve been working on. I think they’re going to see a different side of me with my music and really kind of get to know me, Brandi D, as an individual and not just part of a group. So I’m excited about that part.
YKIGS: When did you decide this would be the right time?
BD: I would say around January or February of this year. I decided after talking with my management team and family like “Okay, we tried Blaque and we decided to take a backseat on that for right now, but I’m still love in music so let’s do a solo album.” I have a great support system that is behind me 100% with whatever I want to do and they were with it so we hit the ground running.
YKIGS: You’re set to release your single “Love It”. Talk to me about how that song came about.
BD: “Love It” is going to come out on October 4th, the day before my birthday. It’s a Tuesday. My birthday is the 5th. It’s great timing. It’s kind of like a birthday gift to myself. “Love It” is a ballad, it’s a sexy song. A lot of people say “It reminds me of a Janet record!” and of course I love her and who wouldn’t want to be compared to someone like Janet?! I think it’s a huge compliment! It’s a sexy song that I think people would love, I really do.
YKIGS: You’re also working on your new album. What kind of sound can we expect on there and who are some of the people you’re working with?
BD: I have a team of writers and producers that are local in Atlanta that I’ve been working with. Also The Platinum Brothers who did “Love It” and some other records I’ve done, and also Sly Pyper who is one of Dr. Dre’s writers. He’s written for Sean Kingston, Keyshia Cole and so many others. The album sound is Pop and R&B. The uptempos would be more pop and the ballads and mids to me are the real R&B, the old school R&B with the feel of the old Jimmy and Terry. The real deal R&B. I think it’s riding that fine line where it’s not defined as an R&B album or a Pop album. To me, I want it to be in the middle so everyone can enjoy it. You get a little Pop fix and a little R&B groove. It’s kind of a crossover record.
YKIGS: I’ve noticed in the music industry now, there’s not too many female groups. Why do you think that is?
BD: *Laughs* It’s hard to get a lot of women together and keep them on one accord. But if you can do it, it’s magic. I think that a lot of girl groups start off on one page and they end up on another and that causes a lot of tension and friction and they end up breaking up. Or one person goes and does their solo album or whatever. I think that it’s a new wave and I think that girl groups are going to start coming back around. I think it’s a time and a place for everything and I think in 2012 we’re going to start seeing some girl groups pop up here and there. I think that it’s just hard to keep women on one accord because we all have our own thing. It’s wonderful being a woman because you grow and you elevate. Especially when you start out, like when we started out I was only 14 years old so I was kinda growing up in this industry and I’m kinda learning myself and turning into this young woman. The goal that you have when you’re 14 might not be the goals you have when you’re 18 or 20 or 21. You have to also realize that the others in the group are thinking the same thing, they may not want to end up in the same position that you thought. So it’s kinda hard to keep that together. But we’ll see what happens in 2012.
YKIGS: Anything you’d like to add?
BD: I’m just really excited for October 4th. I hope everyone can appreciate it. It’s just a sneak peak as to what’s to come. I just want people to know that. It’s just a sneak people as to what’s to come for the album.