From producer to rapper to singer, Chicago artist Jared Lanell has spent years crafting his sound and finding his niche as a musician. This formative period culminated in his debut project, “Loverboy Lanell”, which dropped earlier this year. Over 8 songs, the young vocalist and current Columbia College student draws inspiration from past relationships and puts his love ballads over self-produced dark and experimental beats.
Lanell took a moment to catch up with us about the concept behind “Loverboy Lanell”, what he’s working on next and his membership in the Chicago music collective ColdWindº. Peep the full Q&A below:
How did you first start making music?
When I was five, I played African drums. The djembe was the first instrument that I ever played. My mom put me into a program called Hooked On Drums, and it was down the street from my school. I still play the djembe to this day.
Could you give a little background on the ColdWindº collective and how you came together?
I’m a junior in college right now, but I started rapping my sophomore when I met this group of artists. They weren’t called ColdWindº at the time, but they were just homies. My friend Deja, who I graduated with from Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), she brought me to the ColdWindº studio in September 2016 and ever since then, we’ve just been making music together. I produce for some of the artists in ColdWindº, and we’ve also been doing shows.
How did you transition from rapping to singing as your primary vocal style?
I was influenced by two artists in the group, KodiLam and Noelz Vedere. Noelz owns the studio and Kodi is also a rapper with ColdWindº. Then, I went to LA to visit this girl one summer and when I came back I decided to be a singer–it just happened that way. I started thinking of myself more and that my personality would be more noticeable if I changed up my sound. As a singer, I could sound more like myself.
Before doing your own vocals, you started out as a producer. How did you get into making beats?
Around 7th grade, there was this mentor named Brother Mike from the Digital Youth Network. They would come to different schools and offer workshops to participate in. One of the workshops that I participated in was a beat making class. He gave me a version of Logic that I could use on my laptop, and I’ve been working with that DAW system ever since. Then, all throughout high school, I just kept cultivating my ideas and improving my skills with that particular DAW. By the time I met ColdWindº, they just helped me put my own flavor on my beats. They basically helped me develop my new sound.
How have your experiences as a producer, rapper and singer changed your perspective on music?
I like being versatile and the fact that I’m able to switch back and forth whenever. I don’t give up any stage of music that I’ve ever learned. I still drum, produce and rap from time to time. I just want to keep pushing and improving my craft, so I’m excited to see what it turns out like.
Who would you say influenced you early on?
Number 1 has to be Michael Jackson for his role as a public figure. He’s a big role model and idol to me. His personality is the main reason that his music is so amazing and touches so many people. A lot of my influences are producers like Timbaland and Pharrell most definitely. Also, Chris Brown–I like him for the fact that he’s an all around good entertainer. I wanna start dancing like him so I’ve started reaching out to choreographers to teach me how to dance. In rap, Drake, Lil Wayne and Travis Scott influenced me for sure. It’s a big melting pot.
You just dropped your project “Loverboy Lanell” last month. Could you explain the concept behind the project?
Each song is a message to a different person who I interacted with at some point in my life. The first song “Voicemail” was based off of a message that I got from my friend Ravyn [Lenae] who I went to high school with. The funny thing about that song is that it’s the first thing I’ve ever written, and I wrote it around the same time that I met ColdWindº. The rest of the songs are just messages to different girls who have made me feel a certain type of way.
Where did you get the title from?
Lanell is my middle name. Loverboy is what a lot of my friends would call me, so I just decided to keep that. I thought it was a good way to depict what my personality was like and the concept behind the project.
Do you have any music videos planned to go with the project?
I do have a visual for my song “200 Mph”, and at the end of the video I’m also gonna share a new song. That’s not gonna come out until late spring or early summer, though.
Now that “Loverboy Lanell” is out, what are you focussed on next?
I’m arranging another project for the fans. I want them to see a new side of my music. Right now, I produce all of my songs but I’m going to stop producing for myself and get other producers to collaborate with. I’m working on something new for this summer that’s going to have more of a live sound to it. I’m designing something that you could listen to and feel like you’re at a venue seeing it. The music style is definitely different.
Who are some local artists you’ve been listening to lately?
I listen to Kari (NombreKari). I’m featured on his debut project “Venus Doesn’t Exist” and produced some of the songs for him. I just produced a track for Deja. I’m listening to VICTOR!, he’s really dope. And my homie Ravyn Lenae.
How do you feel about how fast your fan base has grown since you started releasing music?
The first reactions I got was from my closest friends, and I have to thank them for supporting me because those are people that I look to for support in the first place. Then after pushing my music through this Loverbear campaign at different schools, I’ve been meeting different students that listen to my music. All of this is pretty new to me, and a lot of people have been reaching out to me. The response has been pretty lovely.