If you’re not familiar with Pell’s music, prepare to fall in love. Hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, real name Jared Thomas Pellerin prides himself in being a jack of all trades, from recording artist and musician to producer and engineer to clothing designer. The overall creative states, “Whatever you need, I probably got it.”
If there’s one thing Pell can do, it’s bring all the vibrations. A true rapper by heart, it’s his unique blend of all genres from rap to R&B to funk that draws listeners in, accentuated by his sharp lyricism inspired by real-life experiences we all experience on the daily. Whether it’s the pressures of society or the highs and lows of relationships, Pell reminds audiences that we are all human and we all can heal through music.
Following the release of 2014’s critically-acclaimed mixtape Floating While Dreaming, 5 years later returning with his introspective debut album Gravity, fans have been waiting patiently for his next body of work: Floating While Dreaming II, which just released on all streaming platforms. The 11-track album sees Pell elevating in both his personal life and music career, spearheaded by lead singles “Flight” featuring Dave B and “So Cold” featuring PJ Morton.
And still, the 28-year-old finds time to create with his NOLA-centric musical collective GLBL WRMG, releasing their first collaborative project titled glbl wrmg vol. 1 earlier this year.
Flaunt caught up with Pell in downtown Los Angeles, who was in high spirits just days before his album release. Read below as we discuss his move back to New Orleans, roots in the city, the turning point in his music career, how “Flight” with Dave B. came to be, new project Floating While Dreaming II, shooting the cover art, tapping PJ Morton and Tony Williams on “So Cold,” self-care routines, his fashion sense, selling out his trucker hats, why he doesn’t set goals, and more!
You recently moved back to New Orleans, how long were you in LA for?
5 years, I did my time. [laughs] I’m now a native New Orleanian again. It’s weird because I thought I’d have this urge when I moved back to New Orleans, that “oh, I gotta move back to LA.” But the way that I’m moving right now and the amount of stuff I’m able to do in New Orleans has a really strong foundation in the relationships I’ve built my whole life.
What was a young Pell like growing up in New Orleans?
Young Pell, I played a lot of sports. My family was very involved in sports. My brother played football, basketball, ran track. I played football, a little bit of basketball, I played soccer. My main thing growing up as a kid is I played baseball. I was really good at baseball.
I can see you playing baseball.
Really? Okay. You know what’s funny? That’s the one sport you can’t tell. Someone doesn’t look like a baseball player because there’s so many shapes, heights, sizes in everybody that plays, but thank you.
Did you want to play baseball professionally?
Nah, never. It was something I first wanted to do because I could play with my brother. I was good enough based on my age bracket. Me and my brother are 3 years apart, he’s older. I could play with him and was pretty good, it was fun.
What was the turning point when you realized you could do music for a living?
When I started going on tour and started touring with my manager at the time and one of my friends who does a lot of production stuff. We were traveling around the Southeast to the Northeast: all the way from Starkville, Mississippi to D.C. and all the way back down. We realized at the end of this, I got hit up by Lyor Cohen, who was starting 300 at the time. Crazy. They’re talking to me about this idea and he’s leaving his label. I realized I could actually get paid for this shit, that was it. At that point of my life, I was on the fence on whether I should be in school or not. After I got that call and they flew me out to LA, I wound up not taking the deal.
Why is that?
Because I thought I could accomplish more by myself. Not even just that because that’s a bold assessment, I don’t think I thought of it as linear as that. “Oh no, I’m doing it just right.” No, I had to sleep in my car during that tour. I don’t think it was that as much as I didn’t understand the possibilities and the power of what else was out there for me. I wanted to see if he paid attention, and I didn’t know or have any personal relationships with this person, who else has been paying attention? Who else do I not know about that believes in my music? I bet on myself in that way and I think it worked out.
How was it sleeping in your car?
It was great, it was a Walmart parking lot. It only happened twice, a Walmart parking lot both times.
Do you remember the first few bucks you made off music?
First few bucks I made out of music is fucked up, but I guess the statue of limitation. [laughs] I’m fucking with you. I was in high school making mixed CDs with my beats and stuff my friends were rapping on, selling $10 CDs. Sometimes I’d have other people’s music on there too, so I’d burn CDs, mix CDs, and make bread. Technically from music but from my own music, probably not until senior year of high school. Somebody asked me to do a performance for them.
Fast forward to today, you dropped “Flight” featuring Dave B. The song is such a vibe, what were you on creating this one?
Right before the pandemic, I was about to fly to Australia at the end of that year to tour with Young Franco. I was excited about the type of music I had made with him which was “Juice,” this record we did. It has a beach house vibe, also has a lot of movement in it. I thought about how my music’s usually a lot chiller, happier, and positive vibes, which this has a lot of that as well.
But I wanted to do something dance-y, something that’d make me move and could get people going because I saw myself trying to internationally tour. Trying to go crazy. Lyrically, that’s why I talked about that exactly: where my music’s taken me in the past and where it’s taking me in the future. I’m talking about Paris, Amsterdam, New Orleans because that’s my home, but going all over the globe, that’s where my mind was. “Take a trip,” obviously there’s a metaphor. Weed trip, just enjoy the flight.
Why is it important to enjoy the flight?
Wow, because you know everything could change tomorrow. We’re at a time right now speaking of New Orleans, they just had a hurricane. Oftentimes I took for granted while I lived in New Orleans the first time, how many people I worked with and how many people were my homies that we all were in good situations at the time. Because of living in New Orleans and being from New Orleans, we had to uproot our lives several times and that’s something that’s always in the back of my head. I’m enjoying it now because tomorrow you don’t know your house could be gone, tornado hit it. Or your house could get flooded, your things you cared about once are no longer there. It’s not dated as the Katrina reference, this type of stuff happens every year. It gets worse and worse.
Do you bring that New Orleans bounce too?
Yes, definitely. I bring the New Orleans bounce through my music in a different way. There’s a song on the record called “Tew Much” that I love. It almost feels like it could be going to a second line, but yet it feels very rap and very current in terms of the flows I’m doing. I always try to play and juxtapose off of what maybe you thought New Orleans music was supposed to sound like. Take a little bit of that bounce and put it in my music, but flip it on its head. That’s what I do.
How’d Dave B. end up on the track? He’s fire.
Oh he’s fire, I just reached out. I know we wanted to work on something a while ago and we had talked about it, but this was the perfect timing. I had laid a second verse on “Flight” already and I loved it, that shit is amazing but I was a little bit nervous. Because I wanted it to be the single, I wanted a different type of energy to approach it so that it can be bigger than just me. That’s what I liked about the South and Pacific Northwest connection with Dave B.
Floating While Dreaming II (FWD II) out now, what’re you most excited for?
If you ever felt anything in your life, to be touched by this record. If you’ve been a fan of mine, this will definitely be your favorite record. It’s the most expensive and hardest I’ve worked on a body of work that directly resembles what I’m going through in real life. It’s not rapper talk, rapper shit, it’s very authentic to who I am as a person.
How have you evolved or elevated since the first Floating While Dreaming?
In my opinion, I’ve elevated my songwriting overall. I used to be lazy when I wrote, even though people never could tell. On my lyrical side, I’d always do one verse that’s very very good, the coldest shit I ever spit. Then the second verse would always be okay, I took a smoke break. I’m chillin’, I’m not thinking about it as much. It’s ADD. Now, I feel more focused. I only write when I feel inspired. I only write if the words mean something to me, as if I’m actually living it. Not that I didn’t do it before, but I’m doing it with more intent now.
How did “So Cold” featuring PJ Morton come about?
“So Cold” featuring PJ Morton produced by Biako and Akeel Henry, two amazing amazing producers, I met them at Revival Studio, the old Earth Wind & Fire studio. I had a back to back that day, I was in 2 different sessions, and I was late. I said “my bad, I’m not professional.” I like to be punctual because it throws people off. People think “oh rapper, he’ll be 2 hours later.” Nah fuck that, I’m on time.
That’s a good reputation to have!
Hey, I’m trying to keep it up. I got to the session, I said “yeah, I hope y’all started on something.” They said “yeah we already started.” As soon as they played the instrumental for “So Cold,” I immediately said “let’s get a mic, I’ma freestyle some shit.” I freestyled the melody, the words came out after. That night, I knew that I wanted to get Tony and PJ involved. I wanted to get an R&B vocalist on there, and luckily both of them responded quickly. [snaps] Tony laid down his stuff, The WRLDFMS Tony Williams. All the Kanye, all the Late Registration, Sunday Service, that whole shit, that’s Tony. That meant a lot to me and I was able to work with him.
He was flying into LA, we worked, then afterwards I was able to go to the Sunday Service. It was at that movie studio in Hollywood, it looked like a barn on the inside. The week after, PJ laid on this way and played his keys on his verse. Crazy the way it came together. In terms of the actual meaning behind “So Cold,” it’s that push and pull everybody goes through in a serious relationship. I was in a serious relationship for a while and I was reflecting back at that time. There’s those moments where you’re going back and forth, one person feels they’re left outside: “So Cold” on the outside looking in. It takes time but once you can identify it, that’s the first step. Move forward from there.
What inspired the cover art? You’re half underwater… It’s dope.
The cover art is random to be honest. I was trying to do a shoot underwater because I was playing with the whole idea of floating, that’s why I’m wearing this shirt too. I thought it wasn’t going to work. Me and my friend Paige took those photos, shout out to Paige who shot the cover. It’s cool, but it’s not what I thought it was going to be. We looked at a lot of the photos, this is before she edited that specific one. She sent me that one, I looked at it like “oh my god, that happened that day?” Immediately, that became the cover. It became a metaphor for different ways you float through life. The ones where I’m always levitating in air are different because I always have a pose, but the way that I look on this one was at peace. That’s why I like it, it looks very calm.
What do you do for self-care?
Sleep… actually I don’t. The biggest lie, I try. I try so hard. Sometimes I play video games, I love Call of Duty. Producing beats with no agenda or not trying to do anything, just sitting back, I love doing that while watching movies with the sound off. That way it’s therapeutic, I’m getting new inspiration. I’m chillin’ and seeing where my mind is creatively. Lastly, reading. I read more magazines and editorials. Right now, I’m in a New Yorker phase. I subscribed to the New Yorker, I like to be informed in a way where I can’t look at the screen. Of course the newspaper, I’m not copping a newspaper. I like how it looks, I like the graphics in there, I like the words. Lastly, I’d say Casamigo. That’s it.
How would you describe your fashion sense?
Overall, it’s a very very comfortable everyday work clothes type of idea, but with that added level of flare. Like the turtleneck, I love trucker hats now. Something that’s rooted in Southern fashion. People already wear trucker hats and shirts outside of this one usually. The ones I have are thicker shirts, that’s a more prevalent thing in the South. Just make it look nice, make it look fancy.
How’d it feel to have your hats sell out?
That felt great! Because I didn’t expect it, it’s unexpectedly expected. People been fucking with them before we sold them, people would ask me “can I cop that?” Actually selling them out in 30 minutes, come on. We only made 60, but it’s still crazy it went that fast. That’s 2 hats a minute for a New Orleans market.
Do you have any goals currently?
I do not currently. I tapped myself out on goals for the rest of the year. My current goal is to make sure this album does the best it can. I want to focus on this. Everything else I have going on in my life, I want to build up around this project. I do this thing every year were I set a shit ton of goals. At this point, I accomplished so much of what I wanted to do: started a label, started a collective, released a project under that collective, was on a feature film Tom & Jerry. My music was in there, but also my likeness and presence was in there, because my music video is in there.
I was in Bad Trip, the Eric Andre movie. It was amazing, a funny ass movie. My commercial with Young Franco and Denzel Curry played on the Apple commercial during the GrammyMusic Awards. I was technically nominated for an Emmy award, that commercial is Emmy-nominated. Technically I’m not, but I’ma say it. [laughs] I rep that shit. I’ve done so much shit that I don’t want to set goals, I want to be able to take time to be able to achieve. When you set too many goals for yourself, sometimes you close doors that you don’t need to look in, that may be opportunities you want or are really lucrative.