YouKnowIGotSoul Interview With Glenn Lewis
I found him for you!!! YouKnowIGotSoul caught up with Glenn Lewis and had a lot to catch up with him on. We talked about everything from his upcoming albums, two both of his shelved albums, to having a connection to Michael Jackson, to if he feels there’s a place for music like his on the radio today. Enjoy!
YKIGS: Hey what’s up Glenn, how are you doing?
Glenn Lewis: I’m good bro, what’s good?
YKIGS: Not too much, I’m excited to talk to you, I’ve been trying to track you down for awhile now for my site, so it’s exciting to get a chance to talk to you.
GL: Oh man, yea I know it’s kind of been a minute.
YKIGS: A lot of the readers on my site are big fans of you as well, and they all wanted to hear from you, so I’m excited about doing this interview.
GL: Yea man, I’m glad you can have me, you know I’m kind of getting my feet right again.
YKIGS: Let’s get right into it now, I been a big supporter of your music for years now, and like I’ve said I’m excited to hear you’re back and recording again. Tell me about the new album you’re working on, how’s that coming along?
GL: Right now I’m just in the zone, I’m in a good place in my life and just wanna have fun. I wanted that to translate live, so I was really conscious in the process of recording these songs so I could put personal experiences in it to make it personal like that so it makes it relevant and personal with the crowd. I’m just always thinking that live is the byproduct of the whole live experience and making it as much fun as possible. A lot of that went into the process of just making the new album.
YKIGS: Speaking of those snippets, I listened to them, and the two that really stood out to me were the songs “Blameless” and “Wish You Were Here.” Can you give me a little background on each of those songs?
GL: Yea sure. “Blameless” is just kinda like your typical scenario in a relationship of just having differences and seeing things from a different perspective, different point of view, and trying to arrive at that place in time to either agree to disagree or whatever compromises sometimes you gotta make in relationships. But it’s me basically just saying, it’s a situation where a person is pointing out everything that I’m doing wrong, and I’m saying that sometimes in situations it takes two. So I’m saying you can’t always be blameless basically. And it’s sort of like me making my argument. “Wish You Were Here,” it’s basically a song regarding just…you could have like everything right within your fingertips and just everything could be perfect, but if you really don’t have somebody to share it with, it could be empty. So basically the message in the song is along those lines, it’s just being in the position where you got everything, but you wish that particular person that has heart you wish they were there. Maybe it’s somebody that you are with, or maybe you are no longer together anymore, but just that connection is always there, that bond.
YKIGS: Now for the fans who haven’t had a chance to hear these songs yet, can you just describe the sound you are going for on the album, is it comparable to the type of music you’ve put out before? Just what are you going for on the album in terms of sound?
GL: Really I just wanted to make music that…I wanted to first make music I wanted to hear. Because just listening to everything that out there, I wanted to feel out what’s missing. At the end of the day, in the whole creative process and the way that you get something that people are going to feel, that’s honestly genuinely you, and sometimes you gotta be a little selfish in the creative process. So really I just wanted to make music that I would want to hear and that whole thinking was kind of shaped out of all the great music that I’ve grown up listening to, albums that I still go back and listen to, and actually to be honest with you, even music that’s out right now that’s inspiring, so I just incorporated all those things in the whole process of making the album. I just wanted to make something that felt good to me but music that would translate.
YKIGS: Can you talk about some music that’s out now that inspires you?
GL: Let’s see, it might sound kind of strange, I draw inspiration from a lot of differences sources. Even though John Mayer had that little incident however long ago, I still love John Mayer, I respect him musically and lyrically. I think he’s a brilliant song writer and I think he’s a great artist. Also, I like a lot of certain hip hop artists and stuff like that as far as lyrical wordplay like Lupe Fiasco, and I’m big on lyrics and musicality; and just creative people. Sometimes even just fun stuff like the Black Eyed Peas. Just drawing inspiration from different things and just being into different types of music. But I also liked albums from back in the day that I still listen to today like “Welcome to Detroit,” the J. Dilla album, and I still listen to D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar,” so I draw inspiration from a lot of different sources.
YKIGS: Going back to the new album real quick, can you tell me who you are working with in terms of production, writing, and features. I heard you are working with Dre and Vidal again, so if you could expand on that?
GL: I had the opportunity after the first album kind of going separate ways, just having creative differences and us going separate ways. Having the opportunity work with a variety of different producers on my own and being in different situations. After a few years had passed, Vidal and Dre and myself connected like in ’09 and we talked about getting back together and doing it again. I was really excited about that because we hadn’t worked in such a long time, basically from ’05 to ’09. I eventually came out to Philadelphia and we connected with the cats, and we just got it in. We just picked up where we left off. Obviously there was a lot of growth, and a lot of those things came to the table, it was fun though. In a lot of ways it was like old times, but it was great being able to connect with them. In a lot of ways there are certain people you work with in your lifetime, you just have a certain type of chemistry that it’s just something about it that just works. Not necessarily other situations don’t, but you just have…not a magic, but they just know me so well that it’s always a situation where I feel like they always bring out the best in me as far as producers. It was just like a no brainer for us to come back together and do this album.
YKIGS: Prior to this album, I had heard you were working on a project with the Underdogs that was going to be called “Remember Me.” I’ve actually heard a bunch of songs that I think were from those sessions. Can you just tell me what happened with this project and why it wasn’t able to work out?
GL: I actually had signed to the Underdogs in 2007 and we did an album and it was just one of those things where we tried taking the project to different places, and for one reason or another…it was basically a timing thing. Eventually we parted ways, but it was on a good note, I’m still cool with them cats and they’re still monsters. But for whatever reason, it was just a timing thing and the project never came out.
YKIGS: There’s actually a song I recently heard by you, I’m not sure if it’s from these sessions, “Remember Me” sessions, it’s called “Relax” and man from the minute I’ve heard the song I was blown away by it and I can’t stop listening to it. Can you just tell me about this song “Relax” because I fell in love with it the first time I heard it, it’s crazy!
GL: Actually, “Relax” is actually a recording I did in a whole separate situation with a friend of mine DJ Terry Hunter, he’s out of Chicago. He’s a real prominent house and bass DJ out in Chicago. I met him through DJ Jazzy Jeff, Jeff and I knew each other from being in Philly and coming through the whole Touch of Jazz situation and then hooking up with Dre and Vidal. Me and Terry connected and we had cut a bunch of records and I think he had gotten that particular record licensed to difference compilation and things like that. I had just put the record out myself, I just kinda leaked it to let people hear what I was doing. I got some very promising feedback from that and it was a lot of fun working with him. Actually, Terry had produced the song from Raheem DeVaughn, “Songs About You.”
YKIGS: Another song I’d like to mention by you is “Storm.” Over the years I’ve connected with a lot of your fans and that always seems to be a fan favorite. Just tell me a little about that song.
GL: I was living out in Los Angeles, I was going back and forth between ’06 and ’08. One of the cats I met out there, I met a lot of song writers and a lot of different artists and producers and everything. One of the cats I met out there was a very talented songwriter, James Fauntleroy. We worked on a lot of different songs together and he was basically one of the many people I was collaborating with on the “Remember Me” project. “Storm” was one of the records we actually cut for the “Remember Me” album.
YKIGS: Another one I’ve had a chance to hear, and this was on your MySpace page a few years back, was the song “House on a Beach” and I really like that one too. Was that form the same sessions?
GL: Yes as a matter of fact. Most of the stuff on that MySpace page that was all stuff that was supposed to be on “Remember Me.”
YKIGS: Ok cool, I like that one too, and there was some good stuff on there.
GL: Thanks man!
YKIGS: Now if I could also ask you about your “Back for More” album, unfortunately it never got released here in the U.S. I’ve had a chance to hear the whole thing and I’m a fan of that album. Can you give me your thoughts briefly on that album?
GL: Well the “Back for More” album was supposed to be my sophomore album. Around that time there was a lot of shifts and a lot of changes happening over at Sony. It was kind of a thing where I wanted to go in a particular direction, they wanted me to go in a particular direction, and just trying to get on the same page was a little difficult because there was a lot going on around that time. It just got to a point where it seemed like the better choice to make was to leave and go in another direction with maybe somebody else. But the “Back for More” album that was done, I did with Vidal and Dre, and we ended up doing I think like 12 or 13 cuts for that album. “Back for More” was supposed to be the leadoff single, and that was a lot of fun shooting the video, got a chance to go back home and shoot the video. Had a lot of friends come out, Vince Carter came out, Kardinal Offishall, a lot of cats that came to check me on set just to say what’s up, and some of them making cameos, so it was really cool to be back home and it was a great experience. I always thought that it was a really great album and we did a lot of really great work, it was just timing.
YKIGS: I have personal favorites from the album, but if you could have chose a second single from that album, what would it have been?
GL: Oh wow. I really felt strongly about “Selfishly.” I thought that “No Ordinary Day” was a good record, there was a few of them, “Missing My Woman,” “Shame on You” was cool. What was the one joint, the guitar joint, “This Time”…there was a few of them man. “This Time” was a good one, “Selfishly” was a good one.
YKIGS: Something that’s bothered me is that over the years I’ve heard a couple artists remake or have their own version of a couple of the songs on the album such as “ABC,” “Missing My Woman” and “The Most,” I’ve heard those done by other artists. And in my opinion, it’s never been close to your version. How did it make you feel hearing that?
GL: It’s kinda cool because we did those songs especially for my album and people…I credit each version of each song because I also know that in recreating a song or recreating a vibe, you gotta get in your own zone and you gotta own it and make it yours. So I liked the versions that were done and it was just kinda cool, it’s interesting to listen to the way that I interpreted these songs and how somebody else will interpret it. When I first heard them I was like “Oh that’s kinda crazy.” I thought it was cool.
YKIGS: No hard feelings at all?
GL: No, it was one of those things that when I left here, this is stuff that we all worked on but Vidal and Dre put in such great work into those songs, and they were great songs, we want those songs to come out and we want them to be heard. And for whatever reason it didn’t work out with the Sony situation and I had left at the time so I had went in like a different direction, so it’s like you still want those songs to be heard, and they are great songs, so it’s cool. That’s how it goes sometimes. You’d be surprised how many times songs are actually cut by one artist that you’ll never hear a lot, but then for whatever reason, maybe the artist didn’t take the song, or for one reason or another, maybe something happened and they didn’t end up doing it, or it didn’t end up on their project, and then another artist would take it and you would never know.
YKIGS: The reason why it got to me is because I’m a fan of your music, and I had a friend years ago come to me to me saying “Oh I heard this new Chris Brown song it’s called ‘ABC’” and I was like “Nah man that’s a Glenn Lewis song!” So people don’t even know sometimes, people don’t even understand!
GL: I appreciate that and if I didn’t mention earlier, I appreciate the love on that. I can tell you’re really doing your homework!
YKIGS: Yea no problem! My choice would have been, I liked “Missing My Woman” a lot as a single.
GL: That’s what’s up man!
YKIGS: Let me talk about two other songs I really like from you, both of the songs you did with Amel Larrieux, “What’s Come Over Me” and “Where is the Love?” Tell me what it was like working with her?
GL: It was long overdue as far as I was concerned, because I always wanted to work with her! *Laughs*I just remember seeing like when Groove Theory first came out and seeing the couple videos they did, and I was like “Man she’s so dope!” The one thing I identified in her like right away is that I could hear Stevie in her, I could tell she listened to Stevie Wonder. I automatically, I don’t care how many times you hear me talk about Stevie, because as far as I’m concerned he’s a genius! That was one of the first things I identified, and I’m like “Man I would love to work with her!” And that was before I had the deal with Sony or whatever, and I end up with Sony, and she’s still over there, and it’s so crazy because it was actually pitched to me! It was like “Yea you know we got this Barbershop soundtrack thing that’s coming up and we want you to do a record with Amel.” It was a no brainer, they didn’t have to ask me. So we got together, and it was really cool to be able to work with her, she’s stupid down to earth, one of the most beautiful souls you could ever meet. Really sharp and intelligent, she’s just really good peoples, just really cool. Just having the opportunity to get to know her a little bit, she’s an awesome human being.
YKIGS: You both did amazing job on both of those songs and I still listen to both of them to this day and I still love them, nice job on those.
GL: Oh thanks man!
YKIGS: Another song I wanted to ask you about, I did a little research what the fans are talking about in terms of Glenn Lewis songs on Twitter, and the three songs that I found people were talking the most about of yours were “Storm,” “Don’t You Forget It,” and the third is the song you did “Fall Again.” Talk to me about that one.
GL: That was a song that was pitched to me and apparently Jennifer Lopez had this movie coming up, and we were both on Sony, and I had heard that she had liked my work and everything and I was like “wow!” It’s amazing because I have huge respect for Jennifer and all of the work she had done. I had the opportunity to be a part of the soundtrack and in particular one of the executives that was handling my project had said “Hey man, I’ve got this song that I’d really love for you to do for the soundtrack.” And I was like “cool let me check it out.” So he played it for me, and I totally related to the lyrics and I just thought it was a classic joint. I ended up recording it for the album and it was crazy like after doing it and after coming out the movie and everything, so many people were like “where can I get that at, where can I buy that at?” And I was like “I guess there’s a soundtrack out, get it on the soundtrack.” And they were like “Man I need to get my hands on that joint, that joint is serious, I love that joint!” Everybody loved that record. So that was definitely, it was one of those records that pretty much wherever I go, somebody will say “hey man, I like your work” or if they recognized my work or if they know some of the stuff that I’ve done, definitely exactly the three that you just mentioned are always the three that people are like “those are my songs!” I always hear about “Fall Again” “oh that’s the wedding song” everybody I run into, like friends of mine, say “oh man you’re going to sing that at my wedding.” Well I’ve got a lot of weddings to sing at. *Laughs*
YKIGS: This next question might not be very fair, but I know Michael Jackson recorded his own version of the song as a demo, how would you compare your version of the song to his?
GL: Actually I wouldn’t make a comparison; I would more so say that I’m glad in some capacity I had an opportunity to share any kind of space creatively with Michael Jackson, especially in light of the fact that the huge light that he was is now extinguished and basically moved on. In light of that it’s kind of crazy because I always thought one day I would meet him especially having the opportunity to meet another idol for me, meeting Janet, meeting the sister, I figured one day I would end up meeting Michael, but that day would never come. There really is no comparison, it’s just I got a chance on some level to do something with Michael so that’s actually more special than it is anything else.
YKIGS: That’s very fair.
YKIGS:I wanted to ask you now about your career, since your debut album “World Outside My Window” in the early 00’s, there were a couple of albums you had put together like “Back For More” and “Remember Me” which had never released. Was there ever a time when you considered turning away from music and pursuing something else?
GL: Yea, I definitely had moments where…well not so much stopping, but more so a break. As a matter of fact I did, there was a point where I was like ok I’m just going to chill for a little while and let things come to me. There were tight spots and frustrating spots here and there, and that kinda contributed to it too, but then it kinda came a point where it was like I think I need to fall back for a minute and just take a break, and then whatever it is that…whatever the next move, it will be clear kinda thing. Sometimes you gotta regroup. There was a period of time where I kinda did that, so I took a short break.
YKIGS: If I could get you to comment on the current state of r&b, and what’s on the radio right now, it seems like the radio is dominated right now by catchy artists who are lacking a little bit in talent. Do you feel there is a place on the radio for talented artists like yourself who are still making the real music?
GL: Yea, I mean there’s all kind of artists out there that are diverse and have different styles and a different approach to things. You can go through the different genres and even within the same genre of music whether it’s one artist like Lady Gaga on one side of the spectrum, or you got Beyonce, or Usher, or Ne-Yo, or Jaheim, Tank, Musiq Soulchild, Anthony Hamilton. There’s room for everybody, you got Cee-Lo, I think there’s room for everybody. I think it’s funny, I always here conversations, it’s funny for as long as I can remember, it just feels like it’s been so long, you just hear people saying all the time “aww man I really don’t like what’s on the radio.” I know sometimes they can kinda play things to death but that’s how it is sometimes when people like a song and companies really want to push a particular song because they think it’s a number one hit. All music has its place, all artists I feel have their place, because I know that there’s still work that goes into that. There’s a level of creativity to be able to tie in different marketing schemes and stuff like that and there’s a creative side to that too, so I can appreciate that. Different artists, how they present whatever it is they are doing, that’s there thing. For me, I just believe in…I approach my creative process in a different way, just based on my musical influences.
YKIGS: Yea I mean just coming from a fans perspective for a minute, I appreciate your music, you know I can’t really get into a lot of stuff I hear on the radio, and I appreciate the type of music you make and I’m always going to be a fan of that. I hope you just keep going, and keep doing it, and keep making that music because there’s a lot more fans out there like me, and that’s what we wanna hear, so I hope you can keep it going!
GL: Oh man I appreciate that Slam!
YKIGS: That’s pretty much all I had prepared here, do you have a release date tentatively for the new album?
GL: Yea, I believe tentatively the album will be out like February 2011.
YKIGS: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
GL: Just for the fans, keep an ear out, it’s definitely coming, and I’m definitely going to bring the difference. Just giving them something…the aim is making a classic and I hope they enjoy it and I just want them to know I love them too for sticking it out with me here and it being so long, it’s good being here. Just wanting them to know I love them.