Raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC, E Reece was that kid in grade school who ditched recess to practice his break dance moves. In love with Hip-Hop from a very young age, he found himself moving to New York City in 2000 to follow a calling of a different kind, that of modeling and acting. In 2001, after he felt he’d hit a ceiling career-wise in NYC, he moved again, this time out to LA. The move ended up changing a lot more than just where he laid his head at night as E Reece notes “when I got out to LA a light bulb went off and I decided to pursue music as my number one because it’s my true passion.” In 2007 E Reece released the critically acclaimed LP A New Breed and in January of 2009 he’ll be releasing a live album the he recorded with his band, Core Elements, titled L.I.S.n 2 This Live.In.Studio. This week RapReviews caught up with E Reece to find out more about his music, what it’s like running every aspect of his own career, and how CraigsList changed his life.
Adam Bernard: Start me off by talking to me about creating L.I.S.n 2 This Live.In.Studio. These were all songs you’d already recorded, so what brought about the urge to do them all with a band?
E Reece: Well, it has always been my goal to get in the studio with my band and put out an album since I first started looking for players and playing out in ’05. Being a musician myself, I grew up playing jazz saxophone, I knew that was the lane I wanted to be in and create for myself. Whenever possible I do shows with my band, that is if I have enough money out of my own pockets to pay them, or we’re getting paid to play, and we’d been playing most of these songs for a while. I knew that once I captured this sound in the studio that it would hit and take things to another level and garner respect from the artist community and critics alike. It was really a no brainer.
AB: Do you consider these songs remixes, or something wholly new?
ER: It’s funny that you ask that because I think about that a lot. The previously recorded tracks are like blueprints for us to go by. I give the crew freedom as musicians to come up with what they want to come up with, but I decide if I like it or not and we go from there. So in essence they’re both remixes as well as being new creations with different textures and sounds than the originals. This is the reason that I’m comfortable with releasing them again. A lot of them have already been released on previous projects I’ve done, but since the band adds so much it’s like they’re new babies being born into the world.
“I actually started looking for players back in ’05 on CraigsList!”
AB: Where’d you find your band? How did you all come together?
ER: I actually started looking for players back in ’05 on CraigsList! I held auditions and found some pretty dope cats that way. The band has gone through many incarnations and the turnover was high for a while there which really brought about a lot of frustration for me. One of the first cats I found was my guitarist Joel. He’s sick and I got him right out of school, The Musicians Institute in Hollywood. I go out a lot and would meet musicians at shows, as well. Musicians know other musicians so they kind of refer each other to gigs. Joel plays with my drummer Bennie and my keyboardist Ron in other groups, so he brought them in and I was like, yup this is what I need right here! I found my bassist Brian because I worked with his ex-girlfriend and she brought him to one of my shows after he had just moved to LA. He liked what we were doing and after my other bassist bounced I asked him if he’d be down and he was. He’s played with a lot of cats and is extra pro so that worked out. I got introduced to my DJ from a mutual friend and met my saxophonist Jamon through a mutual friend, as well. A producer I worked with was moving to NYC and had a party and Jamon was there. The DJ there played one of my tracks and he was feeling it so we got down like that.
AB: The album doesn’t come out in the US until late January of ’09, but it’s already been released overseas. Does the overseas market ever give you an indicator of how the US market will react or are they totally different animals?
ER: This is the first time I’ve had a label release my work overseas, so I really wouldn’t know. I do know that the audiences are very different after having traveled to Europe. They show a lot more love for the real type of music that I make. If it does well over there it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do well here, but the US will usually wizen up and follow suit and begin to show love as well. Its like when the jazz musicians of the 50’s and 60’s, and shit even today, would go overseas for the love that they deserve right here at home, then they would come back and home would start showing them love. It’s like we gotta cross-seas to get any attention and then when we come back the dick riding starts. I know a lot of cats from back in the days that make their living overseas because they get that love over there and can take care of their families that way. Time will tell if I’m as fortunate.
AB: You manage and finance your own career. I know A LOT of people that are trying to do that. Give everyone an idea of what your daily life is like and how much work it takes to be your own artist / financier.
ER: Damn man it takes a hell of a lot of work!!!! I not only have to be the creative force behind my music as far as writing and creating songs, I have to market and promote it, book my own shows, research what opportunities are out there, send out packages, etc. Not only that, I have to make enough money so that I’m able to do all of it and that’s what can be frustrating. I have to eat and pay bills first of all, then hope to have enough after that to actually record, mix and master my material and get it out to heads. So generally I wake up and get on the computer and hit up my pages and make sure they’re updated, hit the blogs to see what’s going on out there, hit my email up and get back to people and reach out to others. Everyday is different, though. I may spend all afternoon cold calling colleges, universities and clubs to book shows. I may work on new songs and write. I may have a couple meetings or whatever. In addition to that I got to hit the gym at least three times a week, which helps to keep my mind and body strong. Or I may do nothing at all but sleep, eat and shit and go to the movies or hit up Blockbuster. But no, daily I’m doing something to move my career forward. You can’t wait for anyone to do it for you, you have to take the bull by the horns yourself got dangit!
“I would love to link up with a booking agent or manager, but it’s all in The Creator’s hands.”
AB: Would you be open to working with others or did you have a bad experience in the past?
ER: I would love to link up with a booking agent or manager, but it’s all in The Creator’s hands. It’s a double edge sword really because someone else isn’t really going to know all the ins and outs of me like I do, but if I had some help I could actually create more. If there were people out there that could help me that I could trust and that could help plug me into the next level and help take my career where I want it to go, I’m with it, but at the end of the day, no one really knows me, or what I do, like I do. I’ve had situations where I thought I was going to have some other players on my team, but most people are looking to help themselves and don’t do what they say they’re going to do. I’m big on walking your talk and my bar is raised mad high, so if someone proves that they can’t do what they say, I step and keep it moving. I haven’t had any bad experiences in the past per say, but most people don’t follow through and my threshold for that is very low, so I do for self. I know the right components will reveal themselves at the right time and my team has actually expanded quite nicely in the past year or so.
AB: Finally, if you could inspire just one change in Hip-Hop, what would it be and why?
ER: More balance for true artists and real musicians on the underground scene who don’t get the notoriety or chances to show the world what we have to offer. There should be exposure for us, as well. That pop Hip-Hop gets a shot, so should we! TV, video, and radio program directors L.I.S.n 2 this and listen well!