I’ll admit, with the way r&b has evolved over the years into a more commercial sound, it takes a lot for me to get interested in listening to new artists coming up in this generation. However, every once in a while I stumble upon a raw talent like Tyler Jacob who gives me hope that r&b and real singing will be alive and well years into the future. I had already heard his promotional single “Don’t Cry,” but having the opportunity to see him live allowed me to witness the raw passion and emotion that is behind his talented voice. In this interview, we discuss the difficulties unsigned artists like himself face trying to get noticed, his original career path before deciding to pursue music seriously, how he differentiates himself from other artists trying to make it in the industry, who he’d like to collaborate with the in the future, and upcoming projects he has coming out.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I want to first talk to you about when you first realized you wanted to do singing as a career? When was the first moment you realized that?
Tyler Jacob: Actually it was about three months ago when I dropped “Cry No More.” The reason why I chose to do it as a career is because I got so excited, I dropped “Cry No More,” I got so many good reviews and so many fans right off the bat. It made me happy and made me realize this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
YKIGS: So you mentioned releasing “Cry No More” and the feedback you got from it. So prior to that, you weren’t really serious about doing music as a career?
TJ: Yea singing was always something that was relevant to my life, I always loved singing and it was my passion, but I never saw myself being successful in singing and actually having that as a career.
YKIGS: Your bio states that you don’t come from a family of singers. Where do you feel you developed your talent in singing?
TJ: Even though I wasn’t surrounded by singers, my mother always played music, she was a lover of music, so even though she can’t sing herself, she always played all types of music, whether it was r&b, Spanish music; she played everything. So I feel like because she played so much I always tried to mimic the artists that she was playing.
YKIGS: Your bio also states some of your influences as Carl Thomas, Brandy, Maxwell and Luther Vandross. What made your gravitate towards r&b and soul music?
TJ: It’s all that I was surrounded by. Growing up in the era that I grew up in, when I think of my mom and my brothers and cousins and friends, everybody listened to r&b music and I had the Usher’s and the Aaliyah’s and Babyface’s. Everybody at that time was r&b, so I felt that because I was surrounded by r&b, it made me gravitate towards it.
YKIGS: I was also reading in your bio about the story of how you had a choir teacher who heard your singing and had you transferred to the Creative Arts High School. When the teacher suggested that transfer to you, was that just an easy decision for you to make? Did you want to leave the high school you were at and go and do singing seriously? Tell me about that.
TJ: It really wasn’t a decision, she told the principal that I didn’t belong there and it happened so fast. She told the principal I didn’t belong there, I went to the other school to audition and then I made it. It all happened so fast I didn’t get a chance to even make a decision, it just happened. But once I got into the school, it definitely was a big difference from one school to the next.
YKIGS: I also read you can sing in both English and Spanish. What’s the difference to you singing in each different language?
TJ: I wouldn’t say it’s a difference, I feel like it’s probably harder for me to sing in Spanish because of the language. I could sing in Spanish but it’s not my first language so sometimes I have to concentrate a little harder to get the words out or to think of the right words to sing. But I don’t really think in terms of performing it’s a difference.
YKIGS: Do you see yourself releasing music in Spanish at any point in the future?
TJ: Definitely. I feel like that’s definitely a tool that I want to use to gain more fans. I want to be global.
YKIGS: As someone who writes music, where do you draw your inspiration from?
TJ: You know from life experiences. When I write, I sit down and write about what really happens to me in my life. I’m not writing about other people’s experiences, it’s genuinely coming from my heart and my real life experiences. Whether that’s a time when I’m sad, happy, whether I’m crying, it all gets written down on paper. I feel like writing to me is my escape from the world, it’s definitely my therapy.
YKIGS: You wrote “Cry No More,” the new single you have out. How has it been received by music fans?
TJ: It’s actually been received better than I expected it to be received. So many people have hit me up on a daily basis telling me that they’re playing it on their iPod, they’re viewing it on Youtube. It’s so overwhelming to have actual fans actually even come out to my shows, they even came out to my show, they were singing the song, it feels really, really good to have people actually come out and actually have fans.
YKIGS: When you released the song originally, what were your intentions?
TJ: When I released the song, I just wanted people to hear that Tyler Jacob could sing and what Tyler Jacob could write, and that Tyler Jacob could actually put a song together. I honestly didn’t expect it to make the buzz that it did. It came out and then the next day so many people had it, it was definitely an unexpected result that I got from releasing “Cry No More.” My initial intent was just to have people know that I could sing.
YKIGS: I was reading you’re also working on an EP that’s going to follow soon. Tell me about that.
TJ: My EP is coming, I’m going to release that when I feel it’s perfect, I don’t want to put a timeframe on when I’m going to release it but right now I’m definitely working on it. It’s already a lot of stuff that’s already done for it, but when I feel like it’s prefect is when I’m going to release the EP. It’s a lot of music, I have a mixtape coming out, and I also have promotional singles that are going to be dropping as well.
YKIGS: I’ve seen you doing a bunch of covers of popular songs that are out now and putting those on Youtube. Is that kinda just to build a buzz?
TJ: It’s to build a buzz, but it’s also because those are songs that I like. I’m not the type of Youtube person that’s going to post the next hottest single. I’m the type of person that’s going to go on Youtube and actually sing something that I want to sing, something that I’ll actually listen to, and if people like it then they like it. Thankfully people have been going to my Youtube page and subscribing.
YKIGS: I want to talk you a little about some artists that you personally like and could see yourself collaborating with in the future. If you had the choice, who would you like to work with in the future?
TJ: My number one person I’d love to work with is Brandy and only because I gravitate to her tone, I think she has a beautiful tone, and not only her tone but the things that she does in music. If you don’t have a musical ear you don’t understand the things that she’s doing. She just does so much that inspires me that I would love to work with her and actually be in the studio and actually learn from her because I feel like if I was to go into the studio with her, it would be like going back to school because there’s so much to learn from her, vocally, the way that she leads off a track, even the way she vocally arranges. So that would probably be the first person I would want to collaborate with. I also want to collaborate with underground artists. Even if you go back to people like Babyface, I want to collaborate with Babyface, and Rihanna, and Drake. There’s so many people I’d want to collaborate with.
YKIGS: As someone who’s looking to get signed, what do you see as the biggest challenges in the industry right now for you in terms of trying to get known?
TJ: Some of the biggest challenges I have faced and feel like I will continue to face are getting people to notice me as an individual and not another Chris Brown or Trey Songz. Especially pursuing R&B/Pop in New York City, there are 20 other guys trying to break into the music business. Some other challenges are trying to pursue music and survive. I have to work a full time job, record, create, perform and all of the behind the scenes work that has to happen. At the end of the day, success is determined by those that don’t give up and have drive.
YKIGS: I want to ask you about something you mentioned earlier about how until you released “Cry No More” you hadn’t really considered music as a career. Were you pursuing a different type of career and have you now put that on hold? Tell me about that.
TJ: *Laughs* What’s funny is that growing up I guess because my mother just always put in my head “I want you to be a doctor,” that’s what I was kind of going for, I wanted to be a doctor. I’ve always been singing but I wasn’t getting the feedback that I’m getting now back in the day from my family because it’s not something that they wanted me to pursue. So I would sing for them and they would be like “Oh you know you can’t sing” or “This is not a career for you!” So they kind of pushed in my head that I’m going to be a doctor. So then when I got older, when I got to that first high school, I didn’t even think of singing because I didn’t think I could sing because so many people told me I couldn’t. So when I sang for the teacher and she told me “You have a voice, you can’t be here, you can’t put that to waste,” so when I got transferred to the school, that’s the story. I got to that school and that school kind of molded me into who I am today because I had to experience the struggles between having to be serious with my academics in order for me to sing, because if I didn’t pass my classes, I couldn’t sing. Then singing started to become something I yearned for, something I wanted to do all the time and it’s was a challenge to do because you had to do your academics before you could do your singing. So I feel like going to that Creative Performing Arts High School, that’s what made me want to perform music as a career initially, but getting that feedback from everybody I guess boosted my confidence and it just was like I could see myself doing this and people actually like it, and it’s something that makes me happy and it’s something that makes me…I can’t see myself doing anything else now.
YKIGS: So are all of your family and everyone who was not supporting you before fully behind you now?
TJ: Definitely. It’s crazy to see the transition. *Laughs* I dropped “Cry No More” and they were all on the radio listening to it when I first dropped it on Kempire Radio and now they can’t even see me doing anything else. They’re on the same page, they are finally starting to read the same book on the same page.
YKIGS: How do you differentiate yourself from the thousands of other artists like yourself trying to grind and trying to make it in music for a career?
TJ: I would just say the fact that I’m real and I’m a young man who is giving you all of my experiences and is somebody who is writing from the heart and is somebody who is singing from the heart and is giving you a story. I feel like everybody else is out doing gimmicks and having a bunch of background dancers, I’m not knocking that, that’s their thing. But I feel like what makes me different is the fact that I’m not worried about that, I’m worried about giving you a raw show and giving you what’s genuinely inside of me, my heart.
YKIGS: If you were meet someone who hadn’t had a chance to hear your music yet, and they asked “Can you describe your sound to me?” How would you describe your sound of music?
TJ: I think if I were to describe it one word I would say raw. I would say raw because it’s….real. *Laughs* There’s no other word to best describe it, it’s real, I’m so real. There’s not too many people who are going to sing about “Cry No More,” a lot of guys out there won’t sing about crying. For that even to be my first promotional single I feel like that says a lot, that I’m coming out and giving you the real me, I’m giving you a man who is crying and doesn’t want to cry no more. So I feel like my single speaks for itself, I’m real.
YKIGS: That’s actually something I noticed when I saw you perform live at B.B. Kings. You did the Trey Songz “We Can’t Be Friends” and then you did the “Cry No More,” both of those songs are full of emotion, I could tell you were just coming from the heart in performing both of those songs. In my opinion it was one of the best performances of the night and the crowd went crazy. Tell me how it felt to get that great reception when you performed.
TJ: You know I’m a shy person so I’m on stage and I perform and I hear the crowd at the end, it is NOTHING like hearing that crowd scream when you give your name and say check me out at such and such, then all you hear is screams and you can’t even speak because they’re screaming over you, and somebody actually screamed “I love you Tyler!” The feeling I get, it makes me emotional, I get so emotional, like I went backstage and I’m so excited. I was on such an adrenaline high that I couldn’t even speak, I was telling my manager “Oh my God I can’t believe people loved it!” I still get good reviews about it today as people post the videos up, on my Youtube we posted it about five days ago and it’s already almost at 300 views and I think that’s great. It’s something that’s not a hit, I’m not somebody who’s famous yet and I’m getting so many hits, it’s definitely an overwhelming feeling.
YKIGS: One thing I noticed about your performance, I couldn’t tell you were shy up there. You looked very focused, very determined up there, you looked very poised and almost polished. How many shows have you done since you started performing?
TJ: B.B. Kings was actually my first performance, that was my first gig, my first showcase. I performed at little places like Village Underground but I never performed anything that was mine, so B.B. Kings was my first performance where I was showcasing my actual music and showcasing me on an actual stage in front of a big audience. That was my first time so it was all new to me.
YKIGS: That’s all of the questions I had, is there anything else you’d like to add?
TJ: First I want to thank YouKnowIGotSoul.com for continuously showing me love and support. Also I have a show December 5th at Club Iguana if anybody wants to come out and definitely show me love, all of the information is on my website which is TylerJacobMusic.com. Also my Youtube is Youtube.com/TylerJacobTV. Yea that’s about it, thank you again!