Interview: Adrian Marcel talks Raphael Saadiq, 90's R&B, 7 Days Of Weak..
Raphael Saadiq's new protege, Adrian Marcel is quickly rising on R&B scene. RS took him under his wing after hearing his music and the two have been collaborating ever since. He his young, handsome, and a great singer and many are comparing him to the likes of El Debarge and Lyfe Jennings, taking it as a compliment and trying to stay humble. The young singer from Oakland signed with Republic Records, has toured with Kelly Rowland and The Dream on the "Lights Out" tour, and has received great feedback for his debut single and video of "My Life." He works closely with his mentor but has also worked with the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Ma$e to name a few. His debut project "7 Days of Weak" boasts 15 tracks, all with Oakland influences and style.
Tell us about yourself. Ethnicity? Musical background?
You know I come straight out of East Oakland. Ethnicity?! I'm as American as apple man [laughs]. singer/songwriter, a fan of music, you know? I always grew up and had a thing for music. I went to a charter high school, Oakland School For the Arts and studied vocal music and theater, a little bit of dance, a little bit of everything. I went to school for a bunch of different music programs, you know UC Berkeley out there in the Bay. I always had a thing for music, it was something that kinda called me, I guess. Nobody in my family was a music head or nothing like that so you know, it was just something that I felt.
You said you never sang in a church, did you ever want to? And how do you think it help or hurt you?
You know I went to church with my Grandma and everything. Honestly that's where some of the love came for me. I used to always love when the musical selections came and one of the male vocalists got up and they would sing. And I would be like "Man, I want to sing like that." I never really wanted to do the choir thing - not that anything's wrong with it, it just wasn't where I was. I was always trying to sing for the girls and stuff then, always trying to be the R&B dude, even at a young age.
How did you meet Raphael Saadiq?
My management had been doing some work with him and he heard about the music and gave it a listen. Next thing you know I was out there in LA in his studio just choppin' it up and kickin' it and the chemistry was there - he's a music genius so I learned a lot from him immediately. He just became a mentor and turned from a mentor to a big brother. We just started building music and "7 Days of Weak" came out of that.
What's your favorite RS or Tony! Toni! Tone! song?
My favorite Ray song, well I have two of them. Of course "Still Ray." I love that song, that's my all-time joint. Anytime I'm kicking it with the lovely lady I have to put that on. I'd have to say "Rifle Love." I love that song - I mean Ray just has great records! It's so hard to really choose them but those are the two that kind of touch me the most.
What is the most memorable thing RS has said or done for you?
I think one of the most memorable moments would have to be us going back to the Bay for the first time. We did a show and the whole Bay area came out and supported - it was a sold out show. To be on the same stage as him for the first time, especially since it's been a while since he performed. As far as the best advice he has given me, you know it's just to be humble and stay true to yourself.
Who's idea to cover Nite and Day? Who are some of your favorite 90's R&B artists?
That was actually my manager Yancey. We were kind of up listening to a bunch of records and were talking about how everybody was calling me El Debarge and we started thinking that maybe we should do some old stuff. The two people that kept coming up was El Debarge and Al B. Sure! and it was like who do you want to be [laughs]. And he was like we gotta do "Night and Day" and we did it and it was a fun recording. I didn't think anything of it, just kind of playing around but it was put out and it was received so well man.
Hmm... 90's R&B. I would have to say... my all time favorite artist is R. Kelly. I listen to a lot of Faith, Ginuwine, Tyrese, Usher, Digital Underground, E-40, Too Short, you know all the best.
What advice did Kelly Rowland or The Dream give you as an opening act on the "Lights Out" Tour?
I came into the tour at a rough spot. Just watching them and the way they move and handle themselves gave me a little more confidence in myself. Both of them are not afraid to go out there and be themselves and the audience love that - I feel like I took so much from them. I have to give credit to being around real artists like them.
What is the meaning of "7 Days Of Weak"?
Cause I'm WEAK 7 days of the Week man! I'm weak from love, I'm missing this girl, I love this girl, I hate this girl - it's all kind of different emotions that equal one thing. Adrian Marcel is emotional and I've said it once before that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I'm not afraid to show the vulnerabilities of myself in my music. I feel it was the best title we can truly come up with cause that's what these songs are about. About my pain, my love, my heartbreak, my healing process and everyone feels these emotions at some point in their week and I feel like everybody can relate in some way.
Track "Killa" sample of Luniz "I Got 5 On It" - how did that idea come about and is it your goal to rep Oakland artists like that?
We were working the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and they kind of just through it at us real quick. And we fell in love of course cause it was so familiar and we were like "Why not?" We ended up writing it and recording it, and we had it for a while but I knew that my first project had to have this record on there. I grew up to that record, one of my all time favorite records of my youth. If you didn't know that song, you weren't really from Oakland!
Tell us about your debut album on Republic Records? Will it be different than your EP?
I feel like the album is going to be a more in-depth story to me. I want people to grow with me. I feel like "7 Days of Weak" was a perfect introduction to sample who I am and what I've been through and how I feel. I want people to walk away from the first album feeling like they took a big chunk of me. I want it to be real, genuine, and for people to relate to everything. We're not going to think too hard about things and change things up too much. I just want to go even more in-depth so people feel like they went on a journey with me instead of people feeling like they just jumped right in - no, we got to know each other. And that's what this is, getting to know my fans and them getting to know me.
Who do rep for more Oakland or Atlanta? Who shows you more love?
Both cities man! I feel both of them are home in a lot of ways. Oakland is where I started. It gave me my confidence and my awareness and at the same time to get results, I feel like you have to go somewhere different. Atlanta was really the reincarnation of everything. It was like "reinvent yourself, find your music and sound and bring it back home." At the end of the day, I'll always be indebted to Oakland man. They both do so much for me though, I'm at home when I'm in Atlanta and I'm at home when I'm in Oakland.