Truth Records’ hot new singing sensation, DeAndre, just released his debut single, “Her Crazy,” on June 4, 2013. This single is sizzling with a little reggae undertone that captures you from the very start of the song to the very last note. It was produced by the multi-Grammy-nominee Cutfather (The Saturdays, Christina Aguilera, Jamelia).
You may remember DeAndre from American Idol in 2012 where his exceptional vocals landed him a Top 10 finalist spot. I had to opportunity to sit down with DeAndre to talk a little about the new song, the video and him.
I asked DeAndre to tell me about the song, its meaning, who wrote it and if he had any input on it. “This song is a new vibe for me. It’s a song about being in a relationship; when you can’t stop thinking about her and it drives you crazy – that’s basically what it’s about. This song was given to me so I didn’t have any input in writing the song but I could relate to it.”
He filmed his video for Her Crazy in Malibu and Venice Beach, CA in April of this year under the direction of acclaimed film director, James Cox (Wonderland). “It was my first music video and it was different. I came out of my comfort zone when it came to a few things but it was a lot of fun and long hours. We shot it from 5 am to 12:30 am the next morning but I would love to do another one.”
Though there were long work hours, I asked what he enjoyed most about filming. “I had the opportunity to have my friends in the video that drove from six hours away for me and my best friend flew in. So, I enjoyed having the experience with people I love.”
With any debut single release, there is usually an accompanying release party to celebrate the accomplishment. Tampa Bay loves DeAndre and has embraced him since Idol and after is stellar performance at the Tampa Bay Black Heritage festival in January of this year. I asked him to share his thoughts of having his very first release party of his rising career right here in Tampa Bay. “It’s cool! I feel great. I’m shocked that Tampa is doing this for me – much love to Tampa!” Black Women Business Owners Executives and Entrepreneurs (BWBOEE) and the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival teamed up to co-host the single release party for DeAndre on June 19, 2013 at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, FL.
DeAndre is young, handsome and extremely talented. I’m sure there are others that will agree with me on that. However, when asked what image and/or reputation would he like to set for himself he said “Not in any particular way; I just want fans to see Dre. I’m fun, cool, a nice person and not a goodie-two-shoes. Each time I see a fan or when I am on Ustream I try to really bring my personality out so people can see who Dre is; I didn’t get to really do that on the show [American Idol].” After this response, I asked him to describe himself in three words or less. He said “Random, outgoing and annoying.” I think many would beg to differ with him on the latter of those three words!
Even being random, outgoing and annoying, according to Dre, there are some folks who just have to deal with you no matter what so I asked him what the word “family” means to him. “Oh my goodness, it means the world to me! I wouldn’t be here without my family because my family is my biggest supporter and not just blood related family. I believe family is so much more than just blood. Family is the people that surround you with love; the people who support you like my hula family, my friends are my family, my DreDreamer family – they mean everything to me and are a part of my life. If it weren’t for my parents and all the people I consider family, I wouldn’t be who I am today, I wouldn’t have the things I have or be where I am today. Family is my life next to God.”
Everyone is their own worst critic. I asked Dre if he could change one thing about himself, what would it be and why? Dre responded with “I would like to be a little more assertive because I can be a bit of a push-over. I’ll say yes to things because I like things to roll and be cool; I like to keep people happy.”
Dre has lots of happy fans all over the world for sure. When asked how he would describe his relationship with his fans he said “It gets stronger and stronger every day. I really try to show them who I am. Most folks don’t really know me. I’m trying to make an effort to show them how I am. I have love and respect for my fans because as I said, I would be nothing without them. And, like I said, my fans are my family and I want them to know who I am so every other day or so I try to get on Ustream to reach out to them. If you’re supporting someone, you want to know who they are and I want to know my fans too. When I meet a fan or DreDreamer at a concert, I will sit and talk to them for what seems like days; I’ll be the last one out! Even if I meet someone who is not a DreDreamer, after speaking with them, I hope they’re a DreDreamer at the end of the day.”
DeAndre’s style is unique because of his diverse background and the people who inspire him musically. He had this to say when he was recently being described as a young Miguel; “It’s cool. I like Miguel. I would love to sing his type of music. But, I think when my first album comes out; it’s going to change their minds because the R&B vibe that I love to do is not really in there. Hopefully the next album will be more R&B. I take this as a compliment.” But when asked who he thought he would compare himself to he said “I would say Maxwell or like Justin Timberlake on his new album.”
Being compared to others is sometimes a compliment just as Dre says but music styles don’t always transfer to personality traits. So, I asked Dre to tell me a few things he wished people knew or understood about him. “Actually there are a couple of things. I’m still human, I have emotions and I struggle just like you and things aren’t always cool. I’m still on the hustle; it’s not all glamorous. I’m working just like others. When you’re done [with American Idol] there is a reality to this industry. You can come off the number one TV show and be waiting in line with everybody else.”
He has said he wants his musical style to be a mix of R&B and Reggae so I wondered if we can expect some of that on the album. He replied “Honestly it is up to the label but hopefully I will get a little Dre in there because it’s going to be a little more contemporary; but, the second album for sure.”
Nowadays, many artists branch out into other areas such as philanthropy, clothing lines, fragrances, sport drinks, etc. Along with music Dre sees himself “Acting and doing hair commercials!”
You can find artists promoting their various products, etc. via many social media forums. I asked Dre what made him decide to start doing regular Ustreams for his fans. “Well as hard as I try, I’m really bad at Tweeting; I’m much better at talking with people. I could sit down and talk with you for days. It’s much easier for me to connect to my fans on Ustream. I love the random questions. One time I recall talking about 90’s R&B and spent three hours on Ustream.”
DeAndre is comfortable when he using Ustream to communicate but sometimes being comfortable may take a song or two when he performs. I asked him what he feels like when he is singing or what goes through his mind. “When I’m going up to sing my first song, I wonder if the fans are going to boo me or not because I’m so nervous. By the second song I’m having fun. I’m not a big slow song singer so I’m trying to have fun and keep people dancing and being in a good mood.”
Many artists would love to tour with specific artist if they could. DeAndre said “I would love to go on tour with Justin Timberlake. Like said, I fell in love with his new album!” And not only would they love to tour with certain artists, but also collaborate on future music. “I’m working with Eric Benet’s people so hopefully that would be one person but my dream would be Patti LaBelle because that’s my girl; I based my vibrato off of her when I was a kid.”
Since American Idol, DeAndre has been busy working as he stated but he’s also taken some time to write some songs. To date, he has written 18 songs as he said about “Personal experiences with family and things I hear from my friends.” Some people take the words of a song and use them for advice in their own lives. I asked Dre what the best advice he ever received to which he replied “Shut up, and do you!” And, of course, I had to ask what the worst advice he ever received was as well. “I don’t really surround myself with negative people so I don’t really have any bad advice.” Dre surrounding himself with positive people will always be beneficial in life.
As Dre described himself as random, I guess I’d say I’m a little random myself with the interview questions. I threw a few more random topics at Dre to close out the interview. We all have favorite places we like to spend time. So where does Dre like? “I love Hawaii. But, honestly, I just got my apartment and I love to be in my house. I also love having my sister over just chillin’ with her.” I asked Dre if I were to look in his refrigerator right now, in his apartment, what would I find? “You would find a whole bunch of juices and I’ve got two big jugs of death. I call it “death” – it’s my Kool-Aid. I can’t have my refrigerator without my Kool-Aid. I have my grape death and my fruit punch death. Almost half a bag of sugar is in the drink; it’s like syrup. I have to have it like that; that’s the way I drink it.”
Dre is a young adult now with his own place making new memories that I’m sure will last a lifetime. However, I wanted to know what his favorite childhood memory was. “It is being in the car with my Mom and Dad listening to music. Always Be My Baby by Mariah Carey was me and my Mom’s song and me and my Dad’s song was Regulators by Warren G.”
He will never forget the titles of those two songs because he associates them with his parents and happy times. However, I asked Dre if his life was a song, what would the title be? He said “Beautiful Insanity.” Now, here is a topic (what does this mean?) you can further explore the next time Dre is on Ustream!
And lastly, I asked Dre what TV show’s world he would want to live in. And without hesitation he replied “SpongeBob. I love SpongeBob!”
I’d like to send a special thank you to those DreDreamers who submitted questions for this interview.
Thank you, DeAndre, for the opportunity to interview you. You have a wonderful spirit, you are humble, you are incredibly gifted and you are loved by your “family.”
DeAndre’s single is available now on iTunes. Purchase your copy today! www.iTunes.com