Hi Jean, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I am doing well, thank you so much for having me here to share my personal experience as a singer.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Testify”?
My latest single Testify is a composition of hip hop/R&b, the song was written specifically to encourage people who encountered a crisis and survived to tell the tale; Whether that lost is economic, social, or relational, the underlying message of the song encompassed all of those social constructs. Also, since I like the idea of a live feel to my music the melody for this particular song was created from scratch, so all of the instrumentals were actually played and recorded instead of using computerized beats to create the track. So when people listen to “Testify”, the sound will make them feel as if they are listening to a live band.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I get a bit emotional every time someone asked me this question. Because there were a number of events that inspired me to write this particular song. For instance , around that time my second wife decided that she made a mistake in terms of getting married and asked me to leave her house after I closed my business in Fort Lauderdale Florida to moved to Texas to be with her. So here I was in Texas in an empty apartment by myself crying my eyes out wondering why would God allow me to go through another heartbreak again. After that I found myself going through economic hardship and end up living in a half-way house in Port St Lucie Florida, because I could not afford to rent an apartment.
So after going through a divorce and being homeless. I moved back to Philadelphia and lived with family because I was unemployed. During that time I was extremely depress and wanted to end my life. Oh yeah! I don’t want to forget to mentioned that my car was reposed. So here I was broke, no car, and educated. So I did what I was taught growing up as a child, and that was to pray. First, I prayed and asked God for forgiveness because instead of being a good Christian I fell into a life style of drinking, partying, and sexual promiscuity, and became addicted to those things.
This is because when I encountered those situations I was angry at God and couldn’t understand why I was reaping a harvest that I did not plant. I was a good church boy so why the rejections, persecutions, and pain. I felt like God and religion was just not for me. Therefore, when I wrote “ Testify” it was suppose to be a song that would help me to overcome the pain. Here I was going through the worst time in my life and I had no one to talk too. And the only best friend I had passed away with bone marrow cancer four years ago. So writing music was the only outlet I had to keep me emotionally together.
After a few months of suffering I was finally employed and was able to regain economic independence. So while working at this lock down facility I was encouraged by the kids I worked with to record “Testify” professionally. I hesitated because I did not want to go back to the music industry, after losing thousands of dollars managing artists in 2005. So instead of recording the song I chose to perform for the youth that I worked with, and most of them would gather around and listen to me sing. There was a resident who lived there that played the guitar and I sang, and this is how the melody and lyrics to “ Testify” was birth.
How was the film experience?
The filming experience was definitely an exposure I will never forget. I mean sometime people watched music videos and have no clue the type of work that goes into producing one professional music video. It was a challenging experience due to lack of support, the music director had to narrow the script down to one actor (me). This is because everyone I called to play a part in the music video either did not respond or asked me for a whole lot of money. As a result, I had to sing, act, and rap all at once. I am use to singing and performing, but the tough part was having to play the actor in a dramatize music video. So we kept stopping and having to re-start because I kept laughing at my own self acting. The entire process made me appreciate and respect independent artists who take the time to produce professional music videos. I use to think it was as simple as shooting a few shots and bam!!!! you have a music video. But one shot can take 2 hours to shoot….and there are other shots that the team had to take a dozen time over and over again. So by the time it was all said and done I was knocked out and ready to take a week vacation in the Bahamas. It was a fun experience but it was work, and now I can appreciate music videos and the effort that is put into creating a real one.
How was the recording and writing process?
The recording process occurred in two stages. First, I had to meet with the music producer to sing the melody to him. This is because I preferred to bring my own melody and than for the producer to create the track from scratch rather than purchasing a pre-made beat and writing lyrics to it. I want to feel the rhythm and this process makes it easier for me to write the lyrics . After the producer worked on the track for three days. He emailed me the first sample for me to write the lyrics. It was easy to write the lyrics because the entire song was about my life struggles. So the first line to the song started off like “ I ain’t never felt no pain, that ain’t make me cry like rain”. This lyric came out of the reality of going through some dark moments that literally brought me to my knees in tears.
What role does your childhood hometown, Haiti and NYC have influence your sound?
My family was raised in a little town in Haiti called Gonaive, and Haitians from that side of the country are known as warriors. And since music is a big part of the Haitian culture, my Haitian background has a lot to do with the manner in which I write and produce my music. First, I grew up in Haiti listening to music that was composed by actual bands. So most Haitian songs has a live feel to the music rather than stuff created in the lab. So I prefer to perform with a live band rather than a dj because its part of my upbringing. In Haiti I grew up listening to bands like TABOU COMBO and COUPE CLOUE, which were all bands that played all of their music live. So its in my blood to write music that is organic.
I left Haiti when I was ten years old, and moved to Brooklyn New York with my mother. I can recall running from school to make it home just in time to watch the popular show by Ralph McDaniel’s called “ Video Music Box”. This was the show that introduce me to rap/hip hop music. And watching artist like Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D and the Boys, Tribe Call Quest, and etc was a moment to live for. Watching Video Music Box was my first date with rap music, and I fell in love with hip hop and African American style of music ever since that time. And this is why the sound of my music has a mixture of Caribbean flavor with a hip hop mix.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
Yes! I actually finished working on my second single which is also available at all the digital stores like itunes, google play, spotify and more. The new single is called “ Longing for More of You ( Featuring Saint Man). This song is about overcoming the feeling of depression. It is basically a continuation of “ Testify” but rather than economic hardship, this particular song caters to the inner struggles of being dissatisfied.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
Yep!, actually working on completing our first album, which is entitled “ They don’t Understand”. This project will have at least 14 songs and lots of other artist featuring to help with the vision of creating music that is designed to encourage people. The time frame set for the release of this new project will take six months, so definitely be on a look out during the month of September 15, 2016 for the new album to drop.
Any plans to hit the road?
We actually have a few shows set up for the month of July, however, working on releasing a new album and managing other groups signed to Noel Music Group is a bit overwhelming. So this is part of the reason why we do less performances now than before.
What else is happening next in The Rev’s world?
Well I am getting more calls now than ever from other independent artists who needs guidance in terms of management. So the Rev is definitely expanding his love for good music as a producer and manager. Additionally, I just released a revised version of my first book entitled “ Overcoming the Mindset of Poverty” Subtitle Unlocking the Inner Potential of the New Business Owner by Jean G Noel which is now available at Amazon.com , so the Rev is also getting is feet wet with publishing books. Finally, managing Noel Music Group new rap group E.C.K. and working on producing their upcoming single release. So there is a lot going on right now, with music production, management, and book publishing. So the Rev is definitely staying busy and productive.