Origin: New Orleans
Back in 2014 we featured Pell as an Artist To Watch. This week, The A&R Report had the pleasure of catching up with New Orlean’s representative. A few months ago he released he project “Limbo” which is available for purchase via iTunes or available to stream below. February 2nd marks the start of the multi-talented artist’s Only In Your Dreams Tour in which he’s headlining. The A&R Report along with Rap Season are hosting the April 4th stop in Toronto at The Mod Club. Tickets are currently available via Ticketmaster. Check out the interview below and be sure to check out Pell on tour.
A&R Report: For those who aren’t familiar with who Pell is could you please tell us a little about yourself?
Pell: My birth name is Jarred Pellerin. I was born in New Orleans. I was born to Frankie Pellerin and Jerome Pellerin. Shout out to my parents. Also I have one brother, Micah who is a stellar athlete and stellar scholar. I was forced to move from New Orleans To Jackson, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I basically started developing a taste for music right as I was leaving New Orleans because my dad had bought me a midi beat machine that I didn’t really know how to use at the time but I was really just making loops and making ideas. Eventually it led to how I identified myself to people that were pursuing music in high school, in middle school as well as high school really. I eventually graduated from high school in Mississippi then went to college where I met a few people along the way that helped me produce and help me record myself. Then I dropped out of college my junior year to start a tour that I was on that was called the Fresh Produce tour. This was in 2013. On that tour basically I did really well and flew out to Cali and few times. Was flying in between New York and California. I moved back to New Orleans after that. Was living in between my dad and my moms sharing time, almost like I was a kid again. Eventually I finally made my way out here last year and started taking off with things. I released a project in 2014 called “Floating While Dreaming” which is my debut project for sale. Then the follow up was called “Limbo” which I released last year with Federal Prism, which was amazing. Now I’m here. I’m about to go on tour February 2nd.
A&R Report: Now what was the inspiration behind your project “Limbo?”
Pell: The inspiration behind the project was more centered around me wanting to experiment and wanting to find my sound but also find what I loved about my sound that I hadn’t utilized before. Everything that I had done in the previous years, I wanted to backlash against that and basically create a new sound for myself. So I could try things and never say that I didn’t try them in terms of a sonic tip. But in terms of subject matter that really inspired it.
A&R Report: From your first release up until “Limbo”, how would you say that your sound has progressed and how you’ve progressed as an artist?
Pell:From my first release to now I think my sound has progressed because I tried a lot more vocally as far as singing and what not. And its something that paid off. Its something that I’m really proud of because I always knew that I wanted to sing. I used to listen to John Legend. I used to listen to Jill Scott. I even like Mos Def’s singing voice. I like a lot of people who are able to sing comfortably in their own voice. I wanted to apply that on the rap tip to what I do. To be somebody that’s multidimensional. I don’t limit myself to just producer or songwriter on my own records. Why stop there. I should sing as well. That’s what I’ve been doing. The progression was showing that I was transitioning from doing a lot more rapping to a lot more singing and a lot more experimentation with my voice as well as with the arrangements for the production. I feel like I came into this wanting to be really creative and if I’m not utilizing the ideas I have in my head, I’m not making music at an optimum level.
A&R Report: A lot of people have noticed that you have an eclectic sound. Outside of the artist that you mentioned before, who are some artists that have inspire you and some different genres that you look to for inspiration?
Pell: I’ll put it this way. I have three different influences. They were from my mom, my dad, and my brother. They all had different musical tastes. When it comes to my dad, it was more Jazz influence. You got Miles Davis, Donald Bryd. He would even play Al Jerraeu. Artist along these lines formed my New Orleans, jazzy influence. Further more my brother [This is actually a funny story] I think I was probably a sophomore in high school I had dropped football, which my brother played and my dad played. Everyone in my family played sports. It was kind of a big deal to uphold the family tradition. I started liking music a lot. I had got mad at a kid that had started before me at like wide receiver or something. Basically my brother was coming home from college one week because my mom had called him. She was concerned about me quitting and wanted to make sure that I was ok. He came and talked to me and was like “If you’re gonna do this rap thing you gotta do it big and I gotta put you up on the basics.” So he influenced me. He bought me the Fugees Score album, Kanye West “Late Registration” and “College Drop Out”, Lupe Fiasco “The Cool”, Mase “Harlem World”, and I think two Jay Z albums but I didn’t really listen to those at the time. He put me on a lot of Lauryn Hill, Talib Kweli, Black Star, and Mos Def. He basically gave me my rap influence. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to rap. I was just making beats and I was just writing lyrics. I didn’t have a set sound as far as whether I wanted to rap or sing or if I wanted to just be instrumental. That kind of curated what I thought I really like. Then my mom came in a little later. We always heard Motown at the house when I was little and it continued, as I got older. She played The Spinner, Michael, The Delfonics, stuff like that that really stuck with me and resonated a strong soul vibe with me. Actually my mom loves Aretha Franklin. That’s another thing she put me on. I think its because I think she looks like Aretha Franklin and people think she looks like Aretha Franklin. I remember when I was younger people would ask, “Hey are you Aretha Franklin?” I think I started looking up to music a little bit just because of that. She also used to be an opera singer. She definitely instilled an idea of vocally where I can take things.
A&R Report: This might be a tough one but if you had to choose one producer and one artist to collab with on a dream album, who would it be?
Pell: As far as artists, it would be Frank Ocean. As far as producer, it would be Pharrell. Pharrell and N.E.R.D were pinnacle to my adolescence when it came to me finding my own music. Outside of all the people that influenced me before in terms of my friends and my family, I think that I found N.E.R.D as something that resonated with me because it had this counter culture-esque vibe to it where it was like where a little bit more rebels. Not many people understand us. It’s colorful. There were songs about love that resonated with young people in love. Certain things I was going through in my life. I felt like Pharrell, Chad Hugo and all them touched on it perfectly. I think Pharrell would be dope to collaborate with. He’s probably the main person I’ve wanted to collab with since I started doing this. Like the Snoop Dogg songs, the songs he did with Jay and the songs he’s done with everyone. He’s the G.O.A.T
A&R Report: What’s your favorite song that you have created thus far?
Pell: My favorite song is called “Fresh Produce.” It’s from the project “Floating While Dreaming.” It really resonates with me because the first tour I ever went on was the Fresh Produce Tour. I tried to do a headliner on my own with not really that much music out. But I just dropped out of school and I was trying to make money on the side while I was working at a dollar store. It was really inspirational for me to just go out on the road and experience things first hand and see people love my music first hand that hadn’t really heard me before I actually came to their city. There were some shows were there were literally 6 or 7 people at first and at the end of the night there were like 50 people. It felt like it was the start of something special to me because I actually realized how much I started to care when I got to see people react to my music live for the first time. I encapsulated that in a song call “Fresh Produce”. It was a test of my vocal skills as far as singing as well as rapping and its probably one of my favorites. Shout out to Ludwig Goransson who produced it. He’s amazing.
A&R Report: What’s your creative process like? Do you have your production in place first and then write around that? Or do you write first and build that way?
Pell: Honestly it depends. Everyday I try to write something so I’m constantly writing. If I’m in a session with a producer and were working on something together, I like to hear what he has in mind for the music first and what he’s building on and just react. You wanna keep that moment of inspiration sacred. It can really sway the entire feel of the song. Sometimes it’s less about the lyrics. It’s less about what I do and what I have written before I come to a session and more about the actual feel. That’s were my process is right now. I get into a session and start working on ideas. Somebody will play some chords. I’m really a fan of heavy melodies. So start playing chords, I’ll start singing and rap on top of it. But I think that ever song should have a melody and that’s something that I’m trying to incorporate with my new music. Making sure that ever single song has a melody because sometimes it’s not about trying to be the best rapper on every song. It’s about trying to make the best song.
A&R Report: I agree. I think melodies resonate with people even if it’s subconsciously. That’s what sticks with people.
Pell: A majority of it is all about the music. That meaning the notes, the things that people are gonna be singing. The lyrics are important because you have to convey a message but at the same time you’re not gonna give a song the time of day if the musicality is not there.
A&R Report: Going back to your move from New Orleans to Mississippi. Unfortunately you had to move on unfortunate terms. How would you say that that experience shaped you as a person and how did it influence your music?
Pell: I feel like it shaped me as a person to know how I identified myself. When you’re a new kid you’re finding your identity. Through your teenage years as well as your young adulthood you’re trying to find out who you are. I feel like it sped that process up for me. I was forced to reintroduce myself to a lot of people at an early age. I guess some of my military brat type of friends feel the same way as far as moving place to place and constantly soaking up the influences from everywhere to help gather the information about who they are as a person and that really what I did. I wasn’t thinking about this consciously but I think that’s what happened tome when I was forced to move. When I moved I realized that I had this passion for music and I shared it with whomever I encountered. I kind of identified myself as a musician by doing this until the point that it became the biggest passion in my life.
A&R Report: What’s the creative scene like in Mississippi? How would you describe it?
Pell: It’s buzzing right now. There are definitely a lot of people doing some interesting things. I think that it goes under the radar a lot because in the south people aren’t as willing to collab with each other as much as you would imagine with the whole southern hospitality. Sometimes there are a lot of different little circles. The music gets lost in these circles but there’s a lot of creativity going on.
A&R Report: What would you say has been the highlight moment in your career thus far?
Pell: If I had to pinpoint an exact moment where I felt like none other it was last year when I was able to perform at lollapalooza in Chicago. I performed in front of 4000 people. Which had never happened to me before. It really just drove me crazy, almost in tears because I got to bring my family. My dad, my mom, my aunt and two of my cousins were there and my brother was there. It was a whole rush of feeling that went through me before stage and then closing the set to see that many people hanging in trees even. It was just the whole festival atmosphere. That for me was a crazy and surreal feeling. It all started with me doing things out of my room. Kicking raps with friends, producing for friends, and writing with friends. Just to see where it took me up until that point is just crazy.
A&R Report: Well deserved. You’ve been putting in work and you’ve been creating some amazing content so much respect to you for that one.
Pell: Haha thank you.
A&R Report: What can fans expect from you on the upcoming Only In Your Dreams Tour?
Pell: Fans can definitely expect way more production from me. I know usually in my past tours that I’ve been apart of its been either just me or me and my friend playing keys. Now we’ve up’d it completely. Now my friend Bill is gonna be playing the keys, guitar, and drum pads. You can expect a full show. We’ve developed chemistry and now that we have that chemistry I want to take it to different lengths. I always approach a show as if I wanted to go see myself, what would I want to see? I would want the entertainer to be somebody that can tell you where he’s from, why he’s here, and where he’s headed. I feel like that’s what I want to bring to the table this time around. That’s why I’m happy I’m on my own headlining tour because I want to bring a story to people. A lot of times it is about the music but you gotta leave them with something that really matters.
A&R Report: What’s your favorite part of touring?
Pell: To be honest, being up on the stage and being able to be in a different city every night or everything other night depending on the schedule. It’s a good feeling to be able to tour the country. It’s an opportunity that not very many get to have in life so I cherish that.
A&R Report: What has been your favorite tour stop?
Pell: Ironically and I’m not just saying this to gas ya’ll up, but Toronto. It was amazing. I got to perform with Kehlani out there. The people are so nice and the women are beautiful. Its just really good vibes. Everyone is there to have a good time.
A&R Report: Other than touring, what’s in store for Pell in 2016?
Pell: A lot more creative projects. I don’t wanna give away too much but I’ve been working on a lot of ventures even outside of music to further push my creativity so I have a different appreciation for every time I pick up the mic and every time I write something. I’ve been lending myself to different mediums to express myself so hopefully I’ll be able to bring some of those creative projects to the forefront in the rest of this year. It’s going to be crazy.
A&R Report: What are some long-term goals for you?
Pell: Long-term goals are to have a lot of success in what I do. Being able to do as many creative things as possible with the gift of music that I’ve had and just having a great time with my friends and people that I’ve worked with. Those are the main goals. To be able to sustain a career being creative and fulfilling all of those creative needs and having people recognize you for it. That’s pretty much all you can ask for and of course I want to rule the world but that’s for another time. That’s another interview. That’s three years and you’ve done all this. I want to be as big as Pharrell, Kanye, Jay and everybody. I feel like that’s my competition now as I get into young adulthood. The goal is to raise that glass ceiling that they set for us as artist, as businessmen and as entertainers. I feel like the goal is to impress upon that and leave my stamp on the world. That’s one thing I’ve wanted to do since day one but even more so now than ever because this momentum is happening. I feel alive right now.
A&R Report: I respect it. You’re definitely well on your way up to the top so keep at it!
Pell: Thank you. I’m up next. I’m up next to bat.
A&R Report: You gotta claim it.
Pell: Lets just say up now. Up next always feels like it could be this year. It could be five years from now. It feels like you’re leaving an excuse. I’m just playing I’m going off on a tangent.
A&R Report: No I definitely agree. You gotta claim it. Instead of claiming that you got next, you got now. I respect that.
Now before I let you go; for the fans and people that are new to Pell: where can they find you online, where can they find your music, where can they find tour information?
Pell: You can find everything at Pellyeah.com. As far as tour information you can go to pellyeah.com/tour to get the tickets and information on the dates. Outside of that you can check me out on instagram and twitter. I’ve now recently become more social so I’m on those 24/7. Feel free to follow me on any of my social. It’s @PellYeah on all of those.
A&R Report: Thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy schedule to speak with us here at the A&R Report. We appreciate it and we look forward to seeing you progress in your career. We’re fans so keep at it and much respect.