In 2017 Jared Lanell introduced himself to the world as a heartthrob singer/rapper/producer whose music lies somewhere between intimate and extraordinary, like being let into the head of someone larger than life. He’s part of Chicago based crew ColdWind (Noelz V, KodiLam, NombreKari et al.) who have made some serious moves this year and are looking to 2019 with anticipation. Since his debut album Loverboy Lanell came out in February Lanell has been running up the streams and dropping loose singles here and there along the way. He’s gearing up for his sophomore attempt which is expected some time in early 2019. He will also be a part of Ruby Hornet’s show on 11/7 at The Empty Bottle, so ahead of that he came by the office and we talked about his musical background, his process and how he manages to keep it real. Read the whole interview below.
rubyhornet: I want to start off by asking you about this. You don’t classify yourself as a rapper, you classify yourself as an artist. What’s the distinction to you?
Jared Lanell: The only reason I say that is because when someone just says rapper, it’s like leaving out everything else that I do. I started out as a producer, I was just doing that. And then my freshman year of college I met ColdWind and they got me to start writing music. My first song I ever wrote was a singing song, but for some reason the first song I ever released was actually a rap song. Actually I know the reason, it’s because of Kodi and Noelz they were my biggest influences in the room. That’s how I learned to rap in the first place, and write music in a sense. But I like to consider myself an artist because I can do a lot of different things, you know?
rubyhornet: Do you play any instruments?
JL: I do. I am a percussionist. The first instrument I ever played was an African drum. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Djembe, it’s a hand drum. I got my first Djembe when I was 5 from Guinea West Africa – my teacher Lillian Freeberg from this program called Hooked On Drums. The best djembe player in the world made it actually. His name is Famoudou Konate, and she took masterclasses with him and then came back to America to teach African-American kids like myself. That was the first intstrument I learned to play, I still have that djembe, it’s just about as old as me.
rubyhornet: Do you think that your experience playing drums influences your songwriting?
Jared Lanell: Yeah, it definitely plays a role in how I make music, especially with production. Percussion is definitely the main focus. I produce most of my songs. On my second album that I’m getting ready to release, I have Noelz Vedere executive producing it, but I produced 80% of it and he made a couple of the tracks.
rubyhornet: When you make music, do you think about the experience that the person listening is going to have or do you make it more for yourself?
Jared Lanell: Starting off I did not really think of how people would perceive the music when I release it. The first song I ever wrote is the first song on my debut project called “Voicemail”. I wrote it about a text message I received from one of my friends. We were having a conversation and she asked me if I had ever been heartbroken, and that inspired me to write my first song. I like to write about my own experiences and I wrote that song for myself pretty much. Whenever I express myself through music it’s like letting off a big load. But with the second album I’m definitely thinking about how the listeners are going to perceive the music, and how it will help them with whatever they’re going through.
rubyhornet: I want to ask you about your crew, ColdWind. Right now, you’ve got one project out so you’ve kind of given people a sense of who you are, but now you’re really starting to step in to your own. Do you feel like there’s a need to break out and shine outside of ColdWind, or is it more like you go up and the team goes up, and they go up so you go up?
Jared Lanell: I think any success that I have, ColdWind has. Any success that Kodi has, I have. Any success that Noelz has, I have. I’m doing it for the team for sure. It’s been 3 years strong, on our way to 4, I can’t wait to see the future with ColdWind, it’s gonna be amazing.
rubyhornet: What do you think made “Ohare to LAX” stand out?
Jared Lanell: That’s my favorite song. That song is about a girl that I still want to marry. It’s a very genuine song, and we don’t really get too many genuine songs, especially not from the mainstream. Probably the visuals that went along with it makes it stand out as well. I did a first person of me literally going to LA. The song’s called “Ohare to LAX” so I went to O’hare airport and flew to LAX, she picked me up 4 hours later like I said in the song. Then we went on a bunch of real life dates, we actually went to the movies to see Spider-Man, we actually went to Universal Studios, we had a fun time. Yeah, “Ohare to LAX” is one of my favorite songs and it’s gonna stay that way.
rubyhornet: I know that you pull from your own experiences like you were saying, but is that a direction you want to go even farther?
Jared Lanell: Oh yeah, I’m going to keep doing that forever. I mean, even the second album that I’m making for myself and the people that support me, I’m always going to have that genuine aspect to it. I’m always going to tell my story because it’s the only story I know.
rubyhornet: What should we expect from that album, past the fact that it’s going to be true to your story?
Jared Lanell: You can expect a lot of experimentation on my part. I try to take it a step further on each track. I also try to make it sound cohesive all the way throughout. That’s always the mission whenever I make anything, any type of piece I try to make it as cohesive as possible. Each track should seem like they’re related to each other, as if they’re kin. You can expect some bangers from Noelz and myself. Oh! The very last track is going to surprise you, because you’re going to get through the whole entire project thinking it’s smooth, but then at the end I’m going to smack the fuck out of you.
You can see Jared Lanell play alongside BoatHouse, Ajani Jones and Lorde Fredd33 on November 7th at The Empty Bottle. Get your tickets here.