Interview: Profyle Talk Reunion, Venturing Outside of R&B, Details of New Music
We’re experiencing a renaissance of sorts in r&b currently where many of the most popular groups from years past and reuniting for the sake of the fans to record and tour. Despite the fact that Profyle had broken up nearly a decade ago, there was evidence that fans were still checking for them after they released their new single and caused a buzz. They’ve made great music in the past with hits such as “Liar”, so despite that fact that they were under exposed by Motown, their legacy remains intact to this day. YouKnowIGotSoul caught up with them to get the scoop on how the reunion came together, their plans for the future, new music, the group’s history, and more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know you guys are back with a new evolution of Profyle, but before we get to that, take us through what each of you have been up to since the group’s last release in 2004.
Profyle (Face): What we’ve been doing lately, we decided we would go and venture off and see what other options we had as far as performing. We continued to grow as producers, songwriters, singers, instrumentalists, we just continued to hone our craft together. When the opportunity came along for us to do a show with Joe & Case, and we saw a lot of other groups were getting back together, it seemed like an excellent opportunity for us to come back together. The people in our city were so excited and we got so much love from everybody. So we wanted to continue doing what we love to do. We wanted to continue doing it with one another because while we were on our own, we had a chance to build on our weaknesses and our strengths. Now what we’ve done, we’ve evolved into a better machine. We’ve evolved into musicians. Each individual member of our group plays an instrument, and that’s something we like to display during our shows; we do our acoustic set. Navajo is a keyboardist, LJai is a keyboardist and a guitarist, Hershey is one of the best engineers you can find and a natural bass player. I’m like the rhythm guitar player, and we bring all of that together and we just go out there and we see what’s available and can turn people on to something different.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve got the new single out, and I know it’s been awhile since people have heard new music from you, so what is going to be the sound of this evolved group going forward?
Profyle (LJai): It will pretty much be just music. We decided not to put ourselves into one category. We want to venture out. It’s a wonderful thing to have a record on the Billboard charts for r&b, a record for pop, a record for rock. Our music comes off of a lot of vibes and it just might come the way it comes. That being said, there might be a certain kind of record based on how we’re feeling one day and then the next day brings a totally different record. We just want to give people good music and what we feel.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The industry has changed so much over the years since your last album. Where do you see yourselves fitting in?
Profyle (Hershey): I would say we’re not necessarily looking to fit in, we’re looking to stand on our own and become more of a household name. Not necessarily fitting in but getting in there and becoming very unique and creating our own market. We think one of the things that’s unique about us is our group isn’t quite like some of the other great groups that came out like your 112 and your Jagged Edge. Our group was on the verge of becoming a house hold name but the game had changed before that happened so people didn’t really get used to us to say “Ok, this is what they are.” We’re not in any boxes or anything. We know how to do different styles and that’s what we’ll get a chance to show people. They didn’t really get a chance to know us publicly like they did some of the other groups. Our group is multi talented. We could perform for you in any kind of way you want to see it; we can perform an acoustic set, we can perform acapella, we can perform just doing the regular quartet style with the dance moves and all of that, we can perform doing hip hop. In this day and age, there are no rules, nobody is pigeon holing anyone to soul music or r&b music or just pop music. People are going over into different facets. That’s what we’re doing right now. I think it’s the perfect time for us to tap into certain markets that never got a chance to know us.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Something interesting you mentioned was that you guys were on the verge of becoming household names. You guys had two albums on Motown but neither got the recognition. What was it that held you guys back?
Profyle (Face): We think that Motown Records is a great label, it’s going down in history as one of the greatest black labels in the history of our time. At that time, the labels were going through different changes and shifts going on. There were a bunch of boy bands out and different r&b groups out at the time and a lot of different things were happening. Jobs were switching over, companies were shutting down. We want to say it was more timing than it was anything else, that’s what it seemed like for us. We had a great team of people who wanted to work the record and wanted to do different things. There were certain markets that we wanted to go into but they hadn’t hired anybody to be in that particular market yet. It’s just one of those things that happened, its life. It isn’t any one thing we can credit it to. It was meant for us to go through what we went through, we learned a lot. That is the reason why we’re able to bring so much more to the table because we learned different levels of professionalism and marketing and promotion and management. It’s going to play as a strength to us in a time like right now.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Always love to hear the history behind the history and how groups came up. How were you guys originally discovered by Kedar Massenburg and signed?
Profyle (Face): When we originally got together we were hanging out and Hershey ran into LJai on the basketball court. He had run into him another time singing in a different group and we were like “This group sounds great, the lead singer just blew our minds.” We had opportunity to meet up with him on a basketball court in passing and we mentioned that we were ready to go to rehearsal. He followed us home to rehearsal and he’s been down with us since then. Then we had a lot of good things happen, we caught the attention of a local promoter here. He believed in our talent and our group and thought all we needed was an opportunity to be seen. So he took it upon himself to take us to concerts and to meet with Erykah Badu. When we met with her in Texas, her people turned us onto some people in New York City. We drove to New York City a few times and met up with a few people including Kedar Massenburg. We went to his office and he wanted to hear us sing so we did. So he said he would work some things out. We went back home to Louisiana and within a week we were signed to Kedar Entertainment along with Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Big Bubb, and Chico DeBarge. He was in the middle of that but in the middle of him creating that label, they shut the label down. That label got shut down and he ended up taking over Motown Records which meant that he didn’t have the handful of artists he had at Kedar Entertainment anymore. Now he was responsible for Brian McKnight, Raphael Saadiq, Erykah Badu, 702, Dwayne Wiggins, and the list goes on and on, Boyz II Men, all of these artists are now under the umbrella of Motown Records. We had to manage our way around all of those other great artists that were on Motown Records at the time. So we got out there and did our first album entitled “Whispers in the Dark” which Joe executive produced and after we had done that record, a lot of people enjoyed the record. Our record still came out even though there weren’t people in place to work the record. By the time our second album came out, we were getting ready to record the second album so we sat down in Kedar’s office and they played this song called “Liar”. They sent to us the studio that day and we recorded that song and before we knew it, that song become an instant hit. It debuted at #1. By the end of the second album, that’s when the whole shift in hip hop and r&b had taken place. We didn’t hear from many of the other r&b goups that were out at the time, until a time like now when many of the groups are starting to come back.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You mentioned that Joe executive produced the first album, many didn’t even realize that. What was his role in the creation of the first album?
Profyle (LJai): A lot of the hooks, melodies and song structure that you heard, that came out of the mind of Joe. He did more than half of the album and then we ventured out and got a few other songs from different companies like Noontime. Joe was the one that really put his hands on Profyle about recording and what makes a record feel good and different things like that. The biggest part of our background definitely came from Joe as far as the learning how to record.
Profyle (Face): I’d like to add that Joe was also being managed by the CEO of our label, Kedar Massenburg. So it was perfect. We were big Joe fans and Joe came to the table and it was a great situation. That’s kind of more insight into how that whole thing came about.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s bring it back to the present. You guys have got the new single out, what are you guys looking to do next?
Profyle (LJai): We’re still in the recording process, we haven’t totally completed everything. The song that we put out is kind of like a feeler. We put it out there and it’s starting to take off and that’s just a beautiful thing to know we can still put music out there and people will still feel it. We decided to continue to go forward and venture off into so many different genres of music. We’re still going.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Are you guys looking to do this project independently or sign with a major label?
Profyle (Navajo): Right now it’s looking like we’re going to try the independent route just to see what’s going on. Right now through social media, through radio, through a lot the fans just wanting Profyle to come back, it’s been tremendous and a blessing. A lot of other people don’t have that same thing going. For us to even be relevant now in this time and age is a blessing.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Back when you guys released your last album in 2004, social media was a whole different game. Have you guys been able to stay up with the trends?
Profyle (LJai): Social media is something I’ve been into since it really got started so I’ve kept my ears to the ground and made sure I knew what’s going on in with Twitter, iTunes, and all of these different sites that allow us to reach our fans not only in the U.S. but overseas also. Our presence is being felt so that’s what’s so good about social media; you don’t have to leave your room to let people know what you’re doing. We’re just making sure we get the right visuals up, the right music, and we’re feeding our fans.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you’d like to add?
Profyle (Face): Just thank you to you and everybody who supports what we do, it makes it a great experience for us to come back and just have people interested in what we brought to the table and help us bring the greatness out of it. We just want to say thank you to the fans and everybody else who’s out there and paying attention to us. If they want to book us, they can reach out to us and we’ll come. ProfyleBooking@gmail.com