We recently caught up with the legendary Ralph Tresvant for an interview on Instagram Live. During our conversation, we discussed his new single “All Mine” with Johnny Gill, his new label deal and upcoming album, the 30th anniversary of his debut album, his unreleased album “Living in a Dream”, the pressure of success at such a young age, and more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Today is an exciting day. Your long awaited single “All Mine” with Johnny Gill is out now. You had to wait a bit to get this one out due to the pandemic, but how does it feel to be in this moment.
Ralph Tresvant: It feels good man. Back at home. I feel home right now. This is what I do for all of my life since I was a little boy. I was running around the city of Boston getting it done. This feels good to be out here and able to do what I do and on the level I’m still able to do it on. It’s a big thing for me. I’ve been grinning from ear to ear all day.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your chemistry with Johnny Gill. You were on his single “Perfect” last year as well.
Ralph Tresvant: We reversed roles. He was the lead singer and I was the supporting artist on his song “Perfect”. It did really well for us. We just wanted to keep the magic going. This is the flip side where I’m doing lead and he’s supporting me. It’s magic working with Johnny. We’ve always done some stuff, since the “Heartbreak” album when he came into the group. Our voices were introduced to each other and to the public. We’ve been loving the combination and working with it ever since. When it’s done right and we have the right records and we do it the right way, people like that combination. It’s a good way to kick off my project.
YouKnowIGotSoul: When we heard the announcement that this single was on the way, we couldn’t help but think this might lead to a duet album between you guys. Is there a chance that would ever happen?
Ralph Tresvant: You never know. New Edition has a lot of different combinations. We’ve done Bell Biv DeVoe, we’ve done Johnny Gill, we’ve done Bobby Brown, Ralph, Heads of State, we tried to do Ricky and Ralph once, since we started out together. But me and Johnny are still the best of friends since the “Heartbreak” album. I believe if the cards are right you never know. It’s one of those things that if the right records come, the timing is right, why not?
YouKnowIGotSoul: On the new single “All Mine”, we couldn’t help but notice the song has some elements of the new generation of R&B along with your classic sound. What inspired that sound for you?
Ralph Tresvant: The writers and producers. They have a great little combination. They have an old school vibe to the music, and they kind of take the lyrics and merge this old school with new school thing. It makes it current. So it helps me to be relevant and have a chance at having a refreshed feel to it with something that could still work today and not feel like I’m trying to be young and over the top. I thought the song had a nice blend of now and then that made sense. My voice is what it is. Artists from my generation kind of influenced the vocals in today’s generation of R&B anyway. They mix that new in there, with some of the filters and stuff they do. That kind of helps it feel like you are still up on it, you’re not totally old school and you don’t know what’s poppin right now.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Tell us about the new album and label situation.
Ralph Tresvant: The new label deal is conjunction with J Skillz Entertainment, and my label, Noss’Tap records. The label is SRG, who has a whole slew of some of our favorite artists. From Brian McKnight to Raheem DeVaughn, After 7, Shawn Stockman, they are just killing it. The man over that there owns the company is Claude, we call him CV. He’s doing big things to make sure some of this old school music still has a place in the game and can be heard by the fans who want to hear it. I’m proud to be a part of it. Me and Johnny felt like it was a good match for what we’re trying to do. So far so good. I think we’re going to have a long history with these guys.
YouKnowIGotSoul: At what point did you decide to do another solo album? It had been many years since your last one.
Ralph Tresvant: My kids started moving out and everyone was grown, and having their own life! I’m sitting around thinking it’s getting lonely, let me start doing some shows and surfacing back on the scene. Just letting people I’m active as an individual again. Part of that is doing records and putting that voice back on the airwaves so they can see I can still do what I do and do it well. At the end of the day, I still dance and move. I can still do this. I had to get that back out there. The motivation was kids are gone, watching the other members being able to go out and tour an do stuff with their individual projects. You can catch a BBD show or Johnny Gill or Bobby Brown show. I thought I needed to get in the same boat, be active and move around and have my own lane, so I can continue to do what I do. Whether they are doing the New Edition thing ever again or not. I want to make sure my lane was open. Of course, we’re always going to go back and do something with New Edition, but I needed to open up my lane and make sure it’s active.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What can you tell us about the new album.
Ralph Tresvant: The sound is traditional Ralph Tresvant. We’ll probably do some guest appearances, there are some people I want to work with that are new, and some that are old. There are some really prominent people that we all love, some are old school from my era, and some are new. I’ll wait until all of that is solidified. I’ve been in the studio with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the produced my classic album for the most part. They definitely put my biggest single out “Sensitivity”. I’m actually talking to LA Reid and Babyface camp as well, get some of that classic stuff on there and then mix it with some of the new stuff. I’ve been working with my man Jason Anderson, putting stuff together I write and produce as well. It’s another talent I want to show people and hopefully they can see I’m capable. I know what I want to sound like. A lot of how I sound when I get with these guys is how I wanted to sound, they maximize it. I learned that over the years. Just love songs. I want to have people dance a bit, but it will be a grown and sexy dance. Nothing over the top! Make sure it’s reminiscent of the music I grew up listening to. Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, that kind of combo meets RT, and some of what we grew up with on the hip hop side. That’s what it’s going to be like, that’s the album I’ve been wanting to make for a long time, and I got the right team to make sure it’s heard.
YouKnowIGotSoul: This year is 30 years since your debut album came out in 1990. Take us back to creating that album.
Ralph Tresvant: The main thing I remember doing was trying very hard. I was in there at all hours of the night. I was driving around the country, I didn’t like to fly at the time. I was driving from L.A. to Minneapolis, to Atlanta, to work with Face and them, then back to Minneapolis. I was just driving everywhere, and I was driving myself in my own car with my uncle. I also remember feeling a lot of pressure. Everybody else was already out, all of the other members with their solo project, and they were having smashes, killing the game. Bobby at the top of the chart, Johnny at the top of the chart, BBD at the top of the chart. I didn’t want to be the only one to come out and flop. I’m the lead singer, I’m supposed to be the one who came out the gate first! I was the last one. Everybody’s albums and career was burning hot. I felt the pressure of not wanting to fail. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis pulled it through for me. Everybody I worked with put together a classic album for me. I couldn’t fail working with those guys. They knew was hot and what the people wanted. I was able to get in as a vocalist to do my part. That’s what I remember the most. Feeling relieved when “Sensitivity” debuted at #1 and broke records. I’m out here now, it’s really real!
YouKnowIGotSoul: The real New Edition fans still want to know about what was supposed to be your debut album “Living in a Dream”. Will we ever hear that?
Ralph Tresvant: Man what you know about that “Living in a Dream”! That’s my greatest album that never was to me. I always felt like if that album would have come out during the time I was working on it, it would have changed the whole direction of my life. How peopled viewed me as a songwriter, producer and artist early on. I was 18/19 years old when I was writing that. It never happened. The songs that were on that album, were kinda like what I’m talking about now, songs that reflected my life and how I felt about myself as a singer and an artist. I never got a chance to let the world hear that. I went instead and did the “Heartbreak” album. I wish I had a chance to put that out. To this day I don’t know where the masters are, I don’t have the cassette of it. It’s something I played daily. The people that were around me at the time that heard that album, were like “Whoa!”, they were blown away. Even the record company at the time. Never got a chance to share it with the world. I wish I could find it to just put that out as a novelty project.
YouKnowIGotSoul: It’s crazy hearing you talking about being 18 years old at the time. Most people at that age are still finishing high school! What was the pressure like at such a young age?
Ralph Tresvant: At that point I was feeling really confident. The fan base had spoken, the record company had pushed the budget for us to do things, it was massive. I always felt like we just needed the right records. We had people around us selecting the right songs or at least putting the right songs in front of us to choose which we wanted to sing or what fit. Overall, I just felt very confident that we were at the peak of breaking through. Every time we did a project I felt like we were on the verge of breaking through that barrier, where we saw all of the greats. All of our careers we never felt that was happening, every time we went into the studio, we said maybe this it the project, where we’d break through the barrier and be among the greats. You never really feel like that, even right now, I know now you’re hearing things like we’re legendary. I reached that section where we didn’t even realize it. You sit in that seat and you don’t even realize it until people reflect it back to you. That’s what it’s been like. Probably the last 10 years or less, I feel that reflect of being called a legend in the game and standing the test of time. We always wanted to be talked about in the same conversation as the greats.