Some time in your clubbing life, you’ve partied the night away to the dance track, “We Live for the Music.” But, if I ask you for the names responsible for the hit, you’d think, “Oh, it’s by Robbie Rivera.” I’d only be able to give you partial credit. The secondary artist given a feature credit on that track is Jerique Allan.
Despite the honor of being able throw around the names, Fedde Le Grande, Robbie River and Tiesto, Jerique Allan has always taken second seat to the larger names that outweigh his own presence, and it’s a frustrating thought for an artist who knows himself to be a capable musician and a serious writer in his own right. Understandably, DJ ____ ft. Jerique Allan can only satisfy so much.
For the better part of the past year, Jerqiue has been silently carefully crafting his solo debut, inspired by the great Michael Jackson, Seal and Jamiroquai, in an avenue that to an extent deviates from the techno and dance genre that has come to embrace him. He is re-establishing a foot hold in the new genre of pop, that encompasses the creative freedom that allows him to sing what he feels, “rather than sing what other people have written for you,” Jerique told me. “Because at some point you can put your feelings into the music… I want to show my broader side of the music spectrum, and not only sing a few lines for a track… I’m switching again because I feel like I’m doing everything that I’m capable of doing.”
Musebox talked to Jerique Allan about working with major DJs, the process of moving onto a solo career, being courted by Sony and BMI, his plans for taking the music world by storm starting in Europe, and his ulterior motivation for shifting into the genre of pop.
Musebox: Can you tell me about your music career?
Jerique Allan: I’ve worked with numerous musicians throughout my career. I’ve done some collaborations mostly. In the last three years I’ve worked with dance DJs like Robbie Rivera and Fedde Le Grande. It came about that I was a writer at first, because I was also singing and publishing, people came to me and found me and started asking me to collaborate. It worked out fine so I continued with that, resulting in numerous collaborations with like I said, with Robbie Rivera, with Tiesto – we did a remix. So that’s basically that’s the dance part of me. At first I did some R&B music. I’ve written a track for a John Lennon contest and I was the only dance writer in the contest and I was runner up in the Pop R&B section so that was also something that I had done – mostly dance and pop music .
But, three years ago I switched to dance music, worked with numerous people and all of a sudden I realized that it was good to be featured some times, but I didn’t have to be featured all the time. I’m a musician myself, I’m a singer. People have asked me, “what about your own stuff?” Are you going to pursue your own stuff? I basically thought, let me work on my own material and last year my producer decided to put out my own album, and we’re currently in the finishing process of it. Within three to four months, my music will be available as a solo artist.
M: Who are you working with to release that album?
JA: Right now we don’t have a particular party up. I’m going to start with a single, “Bad Boy,” within four weeks, but that’s with a Belgium, independent label. We’re in negotiations with some labels in Spain and the UK. We have for instance, BMI from the UK and Sony from Spain. But we’re still in the process of checking out what deal is better and what deal we’re getting from them. So it’s not going to be a fact as to what label we’re going to work with at this point. We’re still in negotiations and checking out negotiations. I think close to the fall I’ll be finished with the album.
M: Will your music’s release be limited to just the European Union? What about the United States?
JA: At first we’re going to start in Europe because we’re going to start in our own area. We’re also going to try to get the music over there. The music is going to be world-wide. We’re checking out to see how it’s going to be by starting in Europe. If it works well, then we’re going to conquer the world.
M: How much of an effort is it to pitch your material to music labels. What’s the process like?
JA: It’s the process that I dislike the most. I’m not the one mostly doing it because I’m the artist. It’s the business side of the music and these days it’s mostly pretty difficult because of the pirating and the internet and the sales are dropping. The companies aren’t that eager to sign artists anymore unless you’ve got great content and will go somewhere. It’s basically pretty hard pushing your stuff. It’s not really something I’m really looking forward to but it has to be done. But if you have good material you can still get your music across. It all depends on the people you work with and what kind of material you have and if they’re looking for that material at that particular moment.
M: If you tossed around the word Tiesto and the other people that you’ve worked with, I’m sure you get an upper hand with grabbing their attention.
JA: Yea, it’s not like I didn’t have opportunities to release. I did have opportunities to release. It’s just that there are labels and there are other labels specific to dance music and my music is going to be pop. 30% of the album is going to be dance and the rest of it is going to be pop music. At a certain point you have to work with other type of labels. Like with dance music, I can drop any track at any moment, but having said that, it’s not like with pop music it will be distributed the way that I want to by dance labels. I need to get to the big audience. Not just to the clubs anymore. So it’s a little bit of a difference. But, of course I’ve gained attention from the industry. I just wanted to go to another level. To get to another level, you have to basically speak to other people about this so it’s a little bit of a process. But you’re absolutely right. Having the names that I’ve worked with makes it a little bit easier than a guy who basically has no contacts at all.
M: Today in the industry, pirating is so easy, and when you release something, someone is going to put it online and make it available to the public. Do you have any intentions for releasing your music for free since this in itself is a marketing tool?
JA: Of course. If some artist put out some songs for free, like you said, it’s a way of marketing. But at some point of course, I’ve got a lot of tracks that I will share to help people know who you are. It’s a tool, which you can’t deny. You have to use it.
M: How did you get into the dance scene and what’s the motivation behind pursuing a solo career?
JA: The way I got involved in dance was through the Dutch DJ, Fedde Le Grande. He made the track, “Put your hands Up for Detriot.” He and I had the same publisher and he was looking for a song writer for his upcoming single. We got in touch and I wrote a track and at that point, I had done some dance writing, but nothing serious. Basically I like the scene I like the music, and I liked the style that he did. So I got in touch with the dance aspect of the music industry and did so for quite some time.
The reason I’m switching again, is because I’ve seen things in this industry that is not good for an artist like me. It’s good to feature people and to gain attention and have some content out, but for me I’m a singer. I’m not just a feature artist. I want to show my broader side of the music spectrum, and not only sing a few lines for a track. So therefore I’m switching again because I feel like I’m doing everything that I’m capable of doing. So I’m trying to show a broader perspective of my music and trying to get it out there.
M: What kind of creativity goes into the catchy songs that you’ve worked on? What’s the creative process like?
JA: It depends. Sometimes I’ll get a beat from a producer and they will ask me to write a top line or sometimes I have my own ideas already and I write it. It’s different in some points. It’s a matter of if you have motivation and sometimes I write about topics as well about situations in the world. It all depends. If you have some good inspiration, you can come up with good lines and sometimes you can.
M: How important is writing in general for you?
JA: I started out as a singer first and have written a couple of tracks and seen by the publisher. I’ve been involved with writing for artists and tracks. Writing is important to me because I can get my creativity out there. It’s also good for a singer to be able to sing what you feel rather than sing what other people have written for you, because at some point you can put your feelings into the music. If you wrote it yourself, you have more feeling to it, so for me, writing is very important and I don’t think I will ever stop it. Even if it’s not only for music, it’s a way for people to put their emotions and feelings on paper.
M: With the whole Dubstep trend these days, how do you view the music industry today? For example, mainstream artist, Britney Spears added the Dubstep and electro element to her single.
JA: Yea, music evolves and it’s a process. People have seen and heard the Guetta single with Kate Rowland for instance and with the whole movement of the Black Eyed Peas. Yea, everything is about dance right now. What can I say about it? It’s a trend. You can’t stop that. So basically what people do is to follow that trend. What I’m trying to do is to also have some aspects of the trend within my music still but trying to create something that’s not really the same.
How do I feel about it? It’s not lasting music. It’s music that’s meant to expire within a certain amount of time. It’s fast music; it’s not really my music as well. I like to write for other styles as well. Obviously I’ve written for some dance tracks, which don’t really have much meaningful lyrics, but I also write tracks that have profound meaning, about serious stuff. Those tracks I like more. The tracks that you described, the Dubstep tracks? They’re cool, but not really my thing. It’s for the fast generation, who like fast music, but after two weeks you’re not going to know the song anymore because it’s that fast and written for a short amount of time. It’s not long last music.
M: You talk about how you want to have a lasting impact with your music. So what musician’s lasting impact on society, in the history of music, would you want to emulate?
JA: To tell you the truth, I don’t want my music to sound, in that sense, like anybody. Obviously it’s not going to not sound like anyone because everything has been done before, so it’s basically impossible. But at the same time, I want to do something with my style that is not like everybody else. So how would I describe my music? I have different styles on the upcoming album. People might say that some tracks might sound like Michael Jackson, and I’ve heard that before, I’m not going to deny that. He’s also one of my heroes in music. He’s the one that inspired me and he’s the one that got me started singing on his tracks first. That’s basically one of my heroes. So some tracks may get people to think, “hey it sounds a little bit like Michael Jackson,” but there are some tracks that won’t even come close to what he’s done and his style of music. So it’s a little bit of everything.
Music that I right now think are great? I like Jamiroquai. He’s got that disco vibe in his music. They compare him back in the days to a Stevie Wonder vibe, and Steve Wonder is an icon in music of course. Like I said before, Michael Jackson inspires me and so does Seal. It’s a difficult question because I like different types of music. I don’t really hold onto one style of music.
M: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
JA: I would say, that this is a tough business, and it can really bring you down if you’re not tough enough; if you’re not strong enough. You can get frustrated at some point when things don’t go the way you want. All I can say is that you have to believe what you do, and not give up. If you don’t have the quality in you to be persistent in the things you believe in that can work for you, you cannot make other people believe that the music is truly that good to be sold. So it starts with you. You have to believe and you have to show that by being persistent. Obviously you need some talent of course. Even if you have that, you have to be steadfast. Because at some point, many people will say this, they have encountered a time when something wasn’t going well for them, whether it’s because people didn’t believe in them or whether they were discouraged. But what I can say is that you have to go on and you’ll prevail.