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PORCELAN | LANDING A DUET WITH STEVIE WONDER & DEBUT ALBUM ‘MOOD RING’

January 20, 2021

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Porcelan is here to prove she has the skills and talents to be one of the greats. Hailing from the Westwood area of South Memphis, the singer-songwriter comes from a musical household, with her parents both singers and musicians. The R&B artist fondly remembers family reunions filled with music, in turn inspiring her to follow in their footsteps.

For those who know Porcelan personally, they describe her as a ray of light—but she reminds the masses that she’s also super edgy and super fun. She states, “I’m sultry, edgy, but still with a very sweet fun and gentle vibe. Soft spoken at times, but still with an attitude. [laughs] I’m not all nice, but I’m one of those compassionate people who really is passionate about what they do.”

Exploding onto the scene with her debut single “The Real Thing Don’t Change,” Porcelan’s music has healing power. Amidst this crazy year of 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, she has stayed consistently working. Following the release of her debut album titled MOOD RING, featuring a standout duet with the legendary Stevie Wonder on “Toxic,” she released her Christmas album titled JOYFUL HEARTS.

Flaunt caught up with Porcelan via FaceTime, who was posted back home in Memphis. Read below as we discuss her sound, upbringing in Memphis, the independent grind, the meaning behind MOOD RING, her Christmas album, and a candle line in the works.

Photographed by Tommy Cash

How is it over there in Memphis?

It’s cold but it’s not super cold. This is the first winter we’ve had that really hasn’t been cold much. It’s off and on.

How would you describe your sound?

My sound’s very relaxing. I have a smooth tone, melodic, very clean. From a feeling perspective, very relatable. Honest, coming from a true place lyrically. I try to make sure I put that conviction in the music because if people can’t really feel you, it doesn’t really matter how pretty the notes are if they can’t connect to the words. Definitely very powerful, yet gentle, but still with a smooth melodic tone.

Being from South Memphis, what was the household like growing up?

Honestly very Southern, very down home. Memphis overall is that way, that’s the culture. Family down the street, family around the corner, family next door. [laughs] Everybody knows everybody, it’s a loving neighborhood. There are rough areas, it was a little rough. My family protected me so I didn’t really have to experience any of that. When I grew up, it was really dope. Really cool neighborhood, everybody’s cool with everybody. I grew up with my grandmother so as you can imagine, I’m in the house by 6pm. [laughs] Street lights on, I’m in the house.

When did music come into play?

Music’s always been a part of my family because my parents had a band when I was younger, before I was born. A lot of the musical influence I have really came from my family because I’m from a long line of musicians, even from a gospel perspective. It’s gospel, there’s R&B, there’s soul, that’s what I grew up around. When I was in 8th grade, I started writing poetry. It’s one thing to think you can sing, it’s another thing to really go at being an artist and developing your craft. I started with the writing piece, I found I could sing in 5th grade. I auditioned to sing at my 5th grade graduation, it was a big deal. [laughs] Your peers could be really hardcore.

It started transitioning for me. Wait I can sing now, can I write? I started writing poetry. Before I knew it, wait I’m good at writing poetry, let me try a full song! When I recorded seriously, I was 16. My first real song I was confident in and said “hey, I’m ready to go to the studio.” I called my aunt. This was my defining moment, how do you sound in the studio? I recorded it, I played it for so many people. It’s about my first love at the time. I let him hear it, I let my family hear it. It turned out really really good. That gave me a lot of confidence to really spread my sound abroad and really try artistry. Okay, I can do this.

What’s the inspiration behind your name?

My mom named me. My mom’s stage name was Porcelan Doll, they did a lot of touring in Europe. She was a smooth ponytailed Sadé. Freckles, very clean look. They called her Porcelan Doll. They had me like “oh we’re gonna call her Porcelan!”

How have you evolved since your debut single, “The Real Thing Don’t Change”?

Then, I was more of what people wanted me to be. I was trying to fit into a certain mold. That comes along with the business when you’re young trying to figure out who you are and you’re trying to develop something. You take advice from other people. At the time people felt I could do the lane, I’m good at the lane. My family’s from a soul perspective. When you’re in Memphis, you’re soul. You’re blues. I already knew that’s a part of me but I didn’t know if I really wanted to stick in that lane.

Now I’m really transitioning into who I want to be, which is very very different from what I was then. From interviews to the way I speak, to the way I write my music, I’m more comfortable in my own skin because then, I was trying to do the right things to appease the right people. I didn’t want to say anything wrong, didn’t want to come off too much of this way or that way. I got out of that space. It definitely took a while because you don’t want to disappoint people. You don’t want people to look at you a certain way. Early on when I started my career: “am I doing this right? These people know more than me.” But I realized nobody knows more about you than you, you have to stand behind that. When I started standing behind that, “wait, you starting to get out there with it.” But this is me, this is what I like. I want to be bald right now so let me be bald. I want red hair, I want pink hair. I went through phases, I tried everything. I did so many things, it made me feel good. It was a confidence builder for me. It’s been a major transition. Going from that to executive producing my album, writing 70% of it, picking the beats, the writers, the engineers, that was a process. I’ve evolved a lot.

Talk about the reality of the independent grind. 

Grinding independently is all about staying consistent. No matter if it’s a crowd of 5 people or a million people, I want to be seen. I want to reach out to someone. I want people to be able to relate to me. My friends think I’m a workaholic. [laughs] I don’t think I’m a workaholic, but it’s grind grind grind. When I started out, I was so fresh and hungry. I wanted to make sure I was performing everywhere. I did so many events in my city, I went out of town, I went overseas. I went to China, did some contracts over there. For years, I kept going at it. People think this is a short process. [laughs] People say “you came out of nowhere!” No, I’ve been doing music for 12 years.

You have moments of feeling like it’s not going to happen when you see other people’s lives. Everybody compares themselves: “man what am I doing wrong? I should be… dang.” I’ve learned overtime to follow my own path and celebrate my small successes. Who knows what they’re going through on the inside, you never know. You can’t really measure your success off that. Being an independent artist, I had to learn that because I see somebody and I feel like they’re here, [raises hand] doesn’t mean that they’re happy in that position. I feel good about what I do, I work hard. I’m always consistent. You have to be your biggest supporter. People may not truly understand your vision, they won’t get it. I can’t wait on people to make something happen, you have to go after it yourself. It’s a nonstop thing, work to where you want to get. Get rest, meditate, take care of your body because it’s a journey for sure.

Mood Ring out now! How are you feeling?

I feel good. I feel accomplished. I’m really close with Stevie, really great he helped me out and became a part of the project. Not even from a musical perspective, but he helps me personally. I may call him like “man, I’m so tired!” He says “no, stay positive. Everything’s going to be fine.” No, it’s not going to be fine! We have to go through the motions. Mood Ring, a lot of songs were created during the pandemic. With all the chaos going on and still going on, I had the opportunity to really figure out what I wanted to sound like, how I wanted things to come across.

I did that, I really spoke from my heart. I didn’t think musically, is this melodic enough. Am I showing my vocal abilities? All that technical stuff of being an artist, I was living in the craft. I made songs, came up with concepts in my bed because I didn’t have to rush. I had time to think, really put some vibes together. It’s exciting to call Stevie: “I’m the boss of my project!” [laughs] He’s like “I know that’s right.”

How did you get tapped in with Stevie?

We did a show in 2017, I met him doing my soundcheck. I met him because he’s doing his sound check shortly after. I held his hand and said, “I’m so excited to be performing on stage with you. I grew up listening to you, I know all your songs. You really helped me through a lot of times in my life. You’re inspirational, you’re one of the reasons why I do music. Those records back in the day, you believed that. You could feel them. I’m happy to be here.”

I left the stage to get ready, I get a call and the person says “Stevie wants to do a song with you.” What? Tonight? We didn’t even do any rehearsal! He said “do you know Chaka Khan ‘Tell Me Something Good’?” I know the first verse and the chorus. They said “well you’re doing the second verse, you have an hour to learn it.” I instantly stopped getting ready, stopped doing everything I was doing and focused on that. Went down the hall, got my makeup done focusing on that. “Shhh, nobody talk! Nobody say anything because I’ma forget a line!” He only met me for 2 minutes and I was the main person speaking. When I got to the stage: what do I do?! They said “girl just follow Stevie, you’ll be fine.” We did the song and realized when his part came, he didn’t know none of his words either. He was literally mumbling melody, everybody’s in the audience laughing. A dope jam session. This is great, this is dope. Someone with that much impact on people to where it can turn into a family reunion situation, everybody’s laughing and it’s no longer a show, it was so comfortable.

Talk about why you called the album, Mood Ring.

Different days, I feel different things. Over the course of me finding out what I like and getting to know myself, I went through that phase with different hairstyles. My friend said “you have a different hairstyle everyday, it must be nice.” [laughs] I like to explore what I feel. If I want to get up and have my long braids or a low cut, I want it to be curly or an afro, I live in those moments and I dress the vibes.

I don’t believe a female in the industry has to be one-dimensional, you can give people variety and still be the same person. Variety and versatility is a part of my life. Musically, I never want to be boxed-in. People have a style and that’s cool, but there’s people who don’t have to stick to one type of sound. Okay, people can recognize me and know me for the same vibe but I can also switch up the sound. I can do pop, I can do a rap song, I can do a R&B song, I can do a dope ballad that’s more world music. I definitely wanted to experiment. I put a couple of pieces in there that are different.”No Bum” is different, then you have “Hate Train” that’s a little Travis Scott and Post Malone vibe. Mood Ring is all different parts of me.

Who or what inspired “Switch Up”?

“Switch Up” is one of the first songs I did for the album, before I even knew it was Mood Ring. When I write music, certain things will trigger me to come up with a thought. It may not be all the way be what the situation is at the time, I may dramatize it a bit. But they’ll know I’m talking about them because it’ll be something  they said inside the song. I was on a call upset, they said “you must want some attention.” What!? I’m angry because why does it have to be I want attention because I’m bringing you something that matters to me?

Hamilton Hardin produced it, the same producer who did The Real Thing Don’t Change” and “Lois Lane” too. We’re in the studio, he said “I want you to hear this track.” I heard the track, man this feels like R&B, relationship vibe. I get my feelling from the track. If I can’t feel the beat and it doesn’t inspire a story, I can’t connect with it. “Ehh, I don’t like this.” I connected with the track, this sounds like somebody’s switching up on you. You speak from your heart. It feels like I’m reminiscing, the beat feels like a thought. [hums melody] In cartoons or comic books when you see a bubble coming out of your head with the …, that’s what I was feeling. This is a daydream, that’s when “Switch Up” came. Ohh, now I’m reminiscing about my boyfriend and how he used to be, how he switched up on me. I thought we’re good, but we ain’t good. [laughs]

Talk about having your own candle line.

It’s something I’m into naturally, I have candles all over my house. Something about scents makes my life, it makes it so much better. I come in the house and it smells like Christmas or cookies. I’m so happy to be home. You know what, why don’t I go ahead and do my own. My album came out the beginning of November, why not drop something? Mood Ring can be so many things, it’s going to be really awesome. The ideas I have and putting it together, it’s quarantine! What we doing? Making stuff!

One thing you want fans to get from your christmas album, Joyful Hearts?

Joyful Hearts was my first Christmas album a year ago, I did it so fast I didn’t really have time to think about it. I didn’t really have time to promote it, we dropped it and put it out there. It did really well, but people didn’t get to know me. Some didn’t know it was out there because I had to throw it out there so quick. really want them to feel that Christmas songs can be cool and vibey. They can have a hip-hop spin on them and still be the positive, joyful, cheerful vibes that we got from our childhoods. I want them to feel how genuine and pure it is.

A lot of those songs I got from personal experiences of my own childhood. We sat around and talked about stories of what we missed about Christmas. People stopped celebrating Christmas for the reason we started. As kids, we loved it. It was about gifts, but it was about unity. It was about the family, the love. Overall over the last couple years, it’s about what somebody’s going to buy you. I’m finna get some gifts, it’s more about materialistic things than spending time and connecting with your loved ones. I want them to get that for sure.

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