Are you ever tempted to put up a middle finger to those fans that said you were just being weird to separate yourself from your sister Beyonce?
I could really care less what Suzie B. fan, who fits a certain profile and only shops at a certain place and only goes to the spots that blogs tell her to go to, thinks. Those people have never driven me. I wouldn’t take back any of the things I did because I gained the people who I needed to have on my side. The people who don’t understand that don’t have the integrity that I want anyway. I felt really good that my songs were at the Best Of The Year-End lists in places like Pitchfork and Spin. I get my love. It may not be what everyone else’s perception is, but I definitely get respect and I feel really good about that.
You surprised a lot of people when your 2008 album Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams was lauded as one of the years most critically acclaimed works. What was your reaction to all of the positive press?
I felt really good about it. I felt like I established myself as an artist with the people that I needed to and I weeded out the people that I never intended to have as part of my fanbase. Being able to tour and actually see and touch the people who are trying to really hear and feel your music is how you actually see what your fanbase is made of. These folks were not just people who wanted a radio song or wanted a particular record just for the catchiness of it. I had the people who were true music lovers; those kinds of fans will grow with me. If I want to do something more adventurous they wont abandon me.
What was the experience like of running the entire show since this project was recorded independently?
It was great. I was really proud of myself because I produced on a lot of the songs as well. I played some drums, keys, synths and all kinds of percussion. That was the first time that I actually really set in the producers chair. I am so serious…I really don’t want to be a drama queen [laughs]. But I feel that there are at least six or seven songs we recorded that really shocked me. And there are four in particular in which we really sound like we are in the ‘80s. But we didn’t try to recreate the sound. We literally applied the techniques of that era. We used all the antique instruments and equipment that we needed to achieve those sounds. But the great thing is we are all young; mostly everyone on the record is under 26. We were all inspired by that new wave experimental music. It’s a whole other level from the Hadley St. Dreams. I knew this go-around what I actually had to do. This time I didn’t have a record label or an A&R.
Were you worried about not having that industry support system?
Absolutely not. If anything I would not have been able to achieve what I did on this record if I was signed to a label. I’m talking about a major or an indie label. I would not have been able to orchestrate things the way that I did. I literally put together the budget. I literally kept control of every dollar spent, of every flight booked. I spent my own money!
So you were more frugal when it came to spending money on this project?
Absolutely. It’s totally different when the money is coming from your savings account and you are watching your savings account just slowly dwindle. It’s an investment just like buying a house or investing in a business. I have to constantly remind myself that this is the most important investment I can make because I would go crazy just watching the money just slowly wash out [laughs]. It makes me sick to my stomach at times. It makes me miss being on a label, but only for two seconds. Right now I’m aiming for an October release.
Wow, you sound like your recording experience was pretty intense?
Well, this new album is my baby. I would love for us to do a part two for this interview because there were so many elements and things that happened during the recording process. I’m talking physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Are we talking about mental breakdowns?
There was definitely a little bit of a breakdown involved. I literally gave up my sanity for a while to do this record. To the point to where I started doing it in Santa Barbara and I had to relocate to L.A. because I was losing it. We literally were waking up in the morning and just making music all day and all night. We left the house maybe three times! It just started to wear on me in so many different ways. I started having these crazy panic attacks. I can say that I totally sacrificed so much mentally, emotionally and financially to get this record the way I wanted it to be. It’s more than an album to me. It’s a transitional time in my life. This is a dance record, but the lyrics can get pretty dark at times. It brought me closer to my family, my dude and my son. My mom, sister and brother all kept Juelz for a week. Everybody canceled work when I was going through it.
Were you happy with the way Interscope promoted your last album?
What I’ll say is I had more control than most artists. But having a lot of control and having all the control is worlds apart. [Interscope] did not spend money on the right things to promote me. They didn’t have the knowledge to understand what I was trying to achieve. This sounds a little unreasonable coming from me. But I don’t think they understood this beautiful marketplace that exist and how to reach out to those people. But I don’t play the blame game. They really pushed the project.
Solange, the last album was hottness! I'm sure this next one won't disappoint. I do agree with her on the point about her saying "F" the fans that think she's doing this new music, look and style so that she wont be compared to Beyonce. I mean, people grow up, and the evolve into something entirely different than what they were before. So cudos to her for saying that.