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  December 17, 2001 (2:05 p.m.EST ~)  
     
  Part 1  
  "I'm a melody man!" (Montell Jordan)  
     
    B    
  Teo: Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to interview you today.    
  Montell: Thank you, Teo, as well.    
  Teo: Shall we start now?    
  Montell: Sure. I'm ready.    
  Teo: OK. First of all, I'd like to know about your musical background. I read it somewhere that your grandfather gave you a saxophone when you were a child, and that's how you got into music...    
  Montell: Yeah, I was a very small child. My grandfather gave me an alto saxophone. I used to play the piano in my church. And that's where my...uh..where my musical background basically comes from..uh...Gospel roots.    
  Teo: How old were you when you started singing?    
  Montell: I was 9 when I started playing musical instruments, but I only started...I started singing when I was about 18.    
  Teo: 18?    
  Montell: 18 years old. I wasn't singing a lot when I was a child.    
  Teo: Who influenced you musically when you were growing up?    
  Montell: Uh...Stevie Wonder, a lot of Gospel artists like The Winans. I like The Doobie Brothers...    
  Teo: Really? The Doobie Brothers!?    
  Montell: I liked...I liked Michael Jackson. I liked a lot of groups, Teo. I liked groups like The Temptations, and The Spinners, and uh...you know, groups that are...the old-school stuff that my grandparents used to listen to. I really like them because of their harmonies. There were big, big songs with big harmonies back then.    
  Teo: So, you basically listen to all kinds of music?    
  Montell: Yes.    
  Teo: What about your favorite present-day artists?    
  Montell: Favorite present-day artists? Uh...I still like Prince. I like Alicia Keys, Jay-Z. I like, uh..., I like R. Kelly.    
  Teo: So, those are the artists you like to listen to when you are chilling at home?    
  Montell: Yeah, and my stuff.    
  Teo: Your stuff?    
  Montell: I like to listen to my music, too.    
  Teo: My next question is...what made you decide to pursue a career in music? Your major was not music at college, right?    
  Montell: No, sir! I majored in Communication (*1), Teo, but, uh..., music was always my dream, though.    
  Teo: I heard that...after finishing college, you worked in the advertising field for a while, and then you made a career change.    
  Montell: Yes...    
  Teo: When you decided to get into the music business, what did you envision for yourself? Was it anything close to the way your life has turned out?    
  Montell: Well, no..., I mean, when I was doing advertising, basically I was helping other companies make a whole lot of money by selling their products over television (*2), ...but, basically music was always my real passion. That was my real dream. So, even if I worked doing advertising, I wanted to make music. I wanted to do something that I thought could maybe change...change a person's mood, or change someone's emotions, or change the world.    
  Teo: How did you get a record deal?    
  Montell: I got a record deal...uh...I was singing...uh...I made a demo tape, and a DJ named Paul Stewart out of Los Angeles, CA, took my demo tape to Russell Simmons, President of Def Jam. They flew me to New York City, because Russell and Def Jam knew so much about Rap music and they thought that I was a rap singer. They flew me to New York, and I sang for Russell in the back seat of a Range Rover.    
  Teo: Really? Did you rap for him?    
  Montell: I did a song on my very first album...on "This Is How We Do It" album, I did a song called "Coming Home"...    
  Teo: Yes. I know that song.    
  Montell: A documentary of like street life in L.A. And I sang it the way I sing it, but to him it was like a rapper would rap. Only that I was singing the same thing that a rapper would rap. It was...uh...Russell Simmons was in the car, Paul Stewart was in the car, Andre Harrell was in the car.    
  Teo: OK...    
  Montell: At that time, Andre was the president of Uptown Records.    
  Teo: Yes. That's very interesting! So, you got a record deal right away?    
  Montell: Uh...he basically signed me there on the spot. He told me to go back...when I was done singing in the car, he told me to go to L.A. get a lawyer.    
  Teo: Wow! That's amazing! You started out as a recording artist in 1995, right?    
  Montell: Yes, sir.    
  Teo: That means you've been in this business for 6.5 years, or 7 years?    
  Montell: 6.5 years.    
  Teo: I think that putting out 5 albums in 6.5 years is an incredible achievement.    
  Montell: It doesn't happen very much today, does it, Teo?    
  Teo: No. What do you think is the secret of your success and longevity in the music business?    
  Montell: God.    
  Teo: God?    
  Montell: God! (laughter)    
  Teo: OK...    
  Montell: I've been very blessed, being able to make 5 albums. And I can't explain in any other way other than maybe I'm real in my music, maybe I'm honest in my music, and me just being blessed, being able to stay around longer than, you know...longer than most.    
  Teo: Plus, your hard work!    
  Montell: Yeah, I mean..., I do work hard, I mean, there are a lot of people who work hard. They are still unaccepted, though, you know. So, the only way I can explain it is that for some reason I think God has a big purpose for me in making music, you know.    
  Teo: OK. Actually, uh..., you know...I like your music, because your music has so many different elements, different styles, R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz, Gospel, and your songs cover a wide range of subject matter from love to spiritual devotion.    
  Montell: Thank you.    
  Teo: How would you describe your music in a few words?    
  Montell: My music...well...I'll be honest with you, Teo. My music on this album (*3) has changed, I think, from the four albums I've done prior. I think that my music is more honest than it was in the past. In the past, I used to write a lot of songs, about things that I saw as opposed to writing about things that I felt. This is the first time when I'm actually writing about things that I feel. You know, I used to write songs to please DJs, and make people feel good, and make people wanna party. I didn't go that route with this album. This album, I wanted to make songs that discuss how I feel.    
  Teo: So, "honest" is the word to describe your music. I have so many more questions I'd like to ask you. What musical instruments do you play now?    
  Montell: I play the alto-sax, alto saxophone, Teo, piano, organ, and uh...percussions, drums, clarinet..., just a few...    
  Teo: Wow! Did you write most of the songs that you've recorded so far?    
  Montell: Yes, sir. Every song on this album (*3) was written or co-written by me, produced or co-produced by myself.    
  Teo: When you write songs, do you write on the piano? How do you go about the process of writing songs?    
  Montell: A melody comes first! For me, even without a piano, without any music or without any help, before the words come, I always get melodies first. A melody comes first for me, I'm a melody man!    
  Teo: What inspires to write? Do you write from your own personal experiences?    
  Montell: Yes. Now I do.    
  Teo: Now you do!?    
  Montell: Yeah. And in the past, I wrote from my personal experience, but it was the personal experience that I saw as opposed to the personal experience that I was experiencing. Do you understand the difference?"    
  Teo: Yes, I do. I understand.    
  Montell: Basically, it's like...if you...just say, Teo, that you're my friend, we hang out together, and you break up with your girlfriend, and you go through hell, breaking up with your girlfriend and you tell me all about it. And I'm going through this with you. I'm helping you deal with this. I might write a song Breaking Up With My Girl, but I'm taking it from your experience. I experienced it with you, but yet still I'm telling the story according to what I see. This album (*3) is not you breaking up with your girlfriend. This is what happened when I break up with my girlfriend, how I tell the story. That's the difference.    
  Teo: I can't wait to hear your new album!    
  Montell: Thank you. I think you'll be pleased. If you've listened to the first 4 albums, you're gonna hear something very different this time.    
  Teo: Really! Actually, I've already heard your 1st single off your new album "You Must Have Been." I like it. I'm really feeling it.    
  Montell: Thank you. Thank you. I'm feeling it, too, Teo.    
  Teo: That's really a nice song. Uh...I know that you've been on so many stages. Do you prefer performing live to writing songs or recording in the studio?    
  Montell: No! I like being in the studio. It's like keeping a secret. You know the best thing about having a secret is you can't wait to tell somebody your secret, but you know it before anybody else does. When I'm in the studio, I get a chance to write songs, hear songs before the rest of the world does. I must have listened to "You Must Have Been" for seven months before anybody else could even hear. I'm stingy.    
  Teo: Yeah?    
  Montell: I like that.    
    ( Click here to go to Part 2 )    
    Copyright 2001 Teo. All Rights Reserved.    
         
    Part 2 | Part 3    
         
   
(*1) Montell studied at Pepperdine University in California.
(*2) Infomercial
(*3) Montell is talking about his new (5th) album "Montell Jordan", which is scheduled to be released on February 5, 2002.

 

Added: December 31, 2001 / Last Update: January 3, 2002


R&B Krazy!