Slidin’ Thru: Jermaine Elliott

July 10, 2019

Read the full interview on YoungCalifornia.com!

Jermaine Elliott is here to bring new energy into the R&B game, reeling in the old school influences and combining them with the new. In this day in age, Trap&B has taken over, but it’s his honesty and authenticity that audiences appreciate most. The Long Island, New York native can sing, songwrite, and produce — proving you really can do whatever you set your mind. Read more…

Having consistently released records since 2015, it was his 2018 single “411” that impacted radio airwaves, giving him his first taste of mainstream recognition. Since then, he’s collaborated with the likes of H.E.R, Tory Lanez, and DaniLeigh, shutting down stages from coast to coast. Most recently, he unleashed his project Songs 2 Drive 2 (S2D2), which he describes as “a small gift of appreciation to his fans.”

Why should people fuck w/ you?
I have a dope sound. A new sound. Just new content. My music’s different than the average R&B artist or what’s going in today’s music. I have a different story to tell, a whole different vibe.

How would you describe your sound, Trap&B?
It has trap elements in it. It has a lot of soul in different aspects of it. It’s innovative, euphoric, and refreshing.

You’re from Long Island, New York. How does that play into your life and career?
It brings out a different side of me. A lot of my family is from Queens and Brooklyn. Being out there shows me a different side of life. The living is different from the boroughs.

Who are some artists you grew up listening to?
Michael Jackson, Usher, Omarion, Jamie Brown, a lot of older artists.

How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist? 
It’s very important. In your field, you have to be around the people who are doing what you love to do.

What’s your favorite part about the West Coast?
I like the food, the food is dope. I like that they promote healthier foods here more than New York.

At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
When I was in high school, probably 11th grade. I’m like “yo I really got to do this shit for real.” It was a change in my life, I was gonna get out of high school soon. Either you go to college… I went to college, but I’m like “you gotta do something with your life.” Music is the only thing I love to do the most, so that was the way for me to go.

Was there a point in your career musically you accomplished or something that told you that?
When I seen how people responded to my records I was putting out. At first, I wasn’t going to put out any records. I was just going to make music in my room. But once I decided to put out music and people started responding, I felt like I had a job to do.

Were you scared or nervous?
No. I mean, there are frightening times when you have to perform and do different things. Being more vulnerable and accepting to the world, that’s the hardest part.

What was the inspiration behind keeping your real name?
Because it’s organic. It’s me. It’s original. My first name when I first I came out was J. Eliaye. People said they liked it, but it’s hard when you’re on platforms and they’re trying to find you. Spelling’s kind of hard. Jermaine Elliott was more user-friendly.

You just unleashed S2D2 (Songs 2 Drive 2), talk about the significance in the title. 
There’s a couple different ways to spin it. Sometimes girls will hit me up like “yo I just need something new to drive to, you got any new tracks?” It’s a better vibe. Also, I take a lot of opinions from my supporters. I listen to what they have to say because it’s very beneficial for me. When I was releasing my first album Send for Me, I made a post asking what the name of the next tape should be. One of my close friends said “Songs 2 Drive 2.” I’m like “ah, that’s catchy.”

How has the fan reception been?
It’s been really good actually. People are really receptive to this tape, it’s been really good for me.

You say this is a teaser for the album, what can we expect?
A bunch of different vibes, different beats. More uplifting stuff.

What is it you want fans to get from your story?
The reality of life. Decisions. Nothing is perfect, and that’s what I’m learning now. We all go through situations. I’m learning how to be more transparent. When people see my life, they need to know that it’s okay to go through things. That’s what I express in my music. The things that people are scared to talk about, I talk about them.

Bring us back to the shoot for “Perfect Strangers.”
That was definitely a dope time. We shot that in Toronto. One of my managers is from out there, we have a lot of influence in Toronto. That’s where I first went to start the music, alot of dope actors there. The videographer was dope. It came out really good. I wanted to give a feeling of there might be a point in your life when you’re with somebody and ya’ll go through things. You act like you don’t know that person after a while, but you still sometimes think about that person. That’s what I was trying to channel at that point in time.

Does that person know it’s about them? 
Probably. Most likely. [laughs]

What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
To be a better me. That’s the only competition, is myself. As long as I’m becoming better, that’s all I want to do in life. Just be better.

How important is social media for your career?
Social media’s definitely really important. Without a social media presence… me and my team were just talking. They’re like “your Instagram is dry!” I’m like “yo, I’m trying.” [laughs] Social media’s a big part of today’s world especially. You could have good music but if you don’t show your personality, sometimes it’s hard for people to engage in what you’re doing. I’m currently working on getting more out there. ‘Cause I have a dope personality and I want the world to see it.

Favorite person to follow on IG?
Lately, I’ve been looking at Timbaland’s page a lot because he’s been doing a lot of beat stuff. Pharrell too. I’ve been watching what they’re doing with Tyler, The Creator’s album. That’s why when I first heard IGOR, I already knew the sound. I was like “okay, Pharrell, Kanye, etc.”

Do you produce all your own stuff?
Yeah I do. I produce, I sing, I record myself. But I also work with a dope team from New York: Cashmere Brown, 88-Keys, Murphy Kid, Jus, DJ Scoop Drop Tunes which is my other brother. We’ve all been working hard.

Talk about the independent grind.
Aw man. The independent grind is crazy, but it’s worth it. Being able to have that freedom to release things when you want… just having freedom.

What about some of the struggles that come with being independent
Sometimes, it might be finance. When you’re funding everything yourself, it’s not like you have a big label backing you. Especially with touring and different things you’re doing, that’s a big struggle. Financing yourself and getting things to the way you want them to be.

What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Wake up, go work out, try to eat something healthy. I’m in the studio a lot. I’m a studio rat. I’m always studying, watching YouTube, searching for samples. Sample hunting. On my down time, I try to be as active as I can.

What do you like to do for fun?
Movies, bowling, adventurous shit.

3 things you need in the studio?
Gummy bears, liquor sometimes, and good mics. I get in there and go honestly, don’t need too much.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’d probably be a pediatrician. I love kids. That was my dream before music, what I wanted to do growing up. It wasn’t what I studied in school but it was a dream that I had. That’s what I’d be pursuing if I wasn’t doing music. I finished high school, then went to two different colleges. I went to Nassau Community College and Recording Engineers Institute. Finished the program, it was to be an audio technician.

What do parents think?
They love it. They love what I’m doing, they support 100%.

Best memory on the road?
It’s kind of embarrassing but I was about to perform, it was some chords on the floor. I almost slipped before I came on stage. It was mad funny. One of my boys always reenacts it every time I see him, that’s why it’s one of my best memories. Mad funny, we always talk about that shit.

What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
One of my shows in Calgary, there were 3 girls that paid for a VIP ticket. They told me how much they’ve been listening to my music. Sometimes, you don’t really know who’s listening to the music. They came back there, had a good vibe. They’re asking me good questions about how I started music, etc. They’ve been still following me till this day, real loyal fans.

Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Probably Usher, his new album A with Zaytoven. That’s my most played album right now.

Dream collab?
Rihanna, Drake, DaBaby is fire too.

What advice do you have for an aspiring Jermaine Elliott?
Always be yourself. Never try to change for somebody. In life, you’re always working on yourself. You gotta keep going and never stop. Know that nothing’s perfect, you have to work on yourself and your imperfections to be better.

Anything else you want to let us know? 
New album on the way, so watch how you speak on my name! [laughs]

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