Giving the good readers of Skope a bit of an insight into what his mindset is all about, NJ MC, Uni VSol had a great start in the music game. His father, producer and musician Kenny Beck (Octavia, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam) only adds to the inspiration he has drawn from acts such as James Brown, Lauryn Hill and the modern day maverick, Jay-Z.
Currently promoting his new EP, “The Wonderful World of Jermaine Liriano”, which is available now through all digital retailers, Uni V Sol touches on the Indie grind, what it takes to be an entertainer in today’s climate and just where he would be if he hadn’t taken the path he had in this exclusive interview with Skope.
Was music something you always wanted to get into from a young age?
Yes, I’ve always played around with music. My mother said I was singing or involved with music since the womb. And she said I came out singing. I remember writing poetry, stories, and songs. Always singing songs, all the time to my mother. Especially Anita Baker. That was her favorite artist, so I would do stuff like that. I was in band for a little bit, did instruments. I was in choir for a little bit. Made states for choir. Always recording at someone’s house. Recording on my own radio. I remember practicing Whitney Houston’s “Greatest of Love of All” all day long, listening to the sound of my voice. Listening to all the faults and cracks, studying my voice. Being obsessed with the way my voice sounded with her voice. I would do things like this with other records as well as if they were duets. So I would say yeah, music is something I always wanted to do at a young age.
You obviously have an appreciation of various genres as I hear your next project is something different to your last. Who are you inspired by?
In music, James Brown is a big inspiration to me for his showmanship as a live performer, and the energy in his recordings. Stevie Wonder is another, because of his vast catalogue of popular songs and his voice is second to none. I hear a lot of singers try and sound like him. Prince’s creative approach to songwriting and they way he stands out against the sea of other musicians. Jay-Z is a big inspiration, just on the way he came in the business and how he continues to handle business, by doing some of the biggest deals as an artist in Hip Hop and breaking down barriers. Lauryn Hill because the soul in her voice. That woman actually brought me to tears when I was younger. Seeing her on stage is powerful. Tupac is another inspiration because of his message early in his career. Songs like “ Words of Wisdom”, “Brenda’s Got as Baby”, and “If My Homie Calls” are big inspirations for me. I would practice wrapping these songs over and over again. Andre 3000 is another inspiration, for the way he handles himself as an artist. He makes himself scarce, therefore creating value. He also pushes the limits when creating his music. They all inspire me for different reasons.
What is the ultimate goal for you when it comes to your music?
I think the ultimate goal is just to be heard. That’s the most basic goal for any musician, I would think. To be heard by a mass audience. Published worldwide. Using the world as a stage. However many people can attend, two hundred thousand, two hundred million, whatever. My ultimate goal is just to rock the world’s largest crowd.
I believe your father was involved in the music business, what sort of advice and guidance has he provided you with?
Well, I know, one of the things before he died, he would really, really push on me a lot to license my music, out of the United States. Start getting into other territories. He was teaching me about sub-publishing and licensing. That was a big thing for him. He would teach me about, once you have a hit record, you remix it for other countries and you put it out there for every country to share the record. Licensing was a big part of our conversations.
To listen to the current single, This My Dream click here:
Nowadays the indie grind is just as profitable as securing a major label deal, are you actively seeking the major label shine and how, if you are, do you think this will help you?
Of course I think the major label shine can help me. It just depends at what cost? I’m not fond of the 360 deals they’re dishing out. I’m looking more towards a partnership. That’s why I keep developing what I have now. I feel like, if I have a lot going on in terms of my own fan base and solid sales, I can dictate how I want to do business. And that’s really the indie route. The indie route is to get out there and build up your fan base one day at a time, one fan at a time. This is really tough as an indie artist. Your dealing with limited resources, such as money and outlets. So a major label can only enhance what I have going on. But like I said previously, at what cost? The major labels have the teams of people, the professionals, but the problem is the future of the music business is uncertain. Why not have a partnership with the majors. This is all new territory and I want to be at the forefront as an artist that has the audacity to try creative new things in a new music industry. Old world rules do not apply here. They have the muscle and the means to get my message across. So would I mind signing to a major? I think at this point, I wouldn’t mind. I could use that boost. If it doesn’t happen, it’s alright. Building slow is not a problem for me. Eventually, we’ll get there. The longer they have me wait, the higher my cost will be by the time I get there.
With so many people trying to make a name for them selves these days, how do you separate yourself from the pack?
On an independent level, I try to make sure that just because I’m dealing with limitations in resources I still put out the best product possible. My limited resource does not reflect the product I put out. I go above and beyond to make sure I’m competing to what’s out there in the market. I don’t look to copy anything in the market because there is no shelf space for that. What I try to do is create my own space. That’s how I separate myself. I put out the most professional product possible. The Most Original. The Most Creative. Try to find those outlets that will align me with major players in the industry. So you will see Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Lil Wayne but you also see Uni V Sol. Or you’ll see something like the Microsoft venture where you see Rhianna, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Brown, Snoop Dogg, but you see Uni V Sol. So I just try to find bigger and better platforms for myself. I try not to go the traditional route to separate myself from the pack. I’m sure there are other people doing it, but they don’t do it like me.
You are releasing a new EP very soon, can you give us a bit of insight into what that EP is all about?
First and foremost the EP is about great music. It’s called “The Wonderful World of Jermaine Liriano” and anyone who knows my background, knows my former name was Jermaine Liriano. I changed it legally several years ago from just the rap name Universol to Uni V. Sol. I did it for a lot of different reasons, but mainly for artistic purposes. I wanted my music to have a universal appeal, so I named myself after my ultimate goal. So not keep harping on the “Universol”, “The Wonderful World of Jermaine Liriano” is going back to my former self, which is all me anyways. But before I changed my name to Uni V Sol, Jermaine Liriano was about the ladies. Heavy, heavy, heavy into the ladies. Everything was about females, females, females. And that’s what this EP is about. It’s heavily geared towards women. I feel like I have a good knack for what women want. Never had a problem with the ladies. Jermaine Liriano was the type of person that was always on some smooth stuff, talking real slick, singing and rapping to the ladies. Doing whatever he wanted. Just having a natural attraction to women. That’s why I call it “The Wonderful World….” There’s quite a bit of experimental music on the EP. I guess the bottom line “The Wonderful World of Jermaine Liriano” is about a regular dude that falls in love everyday. I think that where the guys can relate, where as you see something nice and your like “damn, I’m in love”. Then the next thing you know, something else passes you by and you’re like “damn, I’m in love again”. So that’s what it is “The Wonderful World of Jermaine Liriano”.
Do you have a favorite track on the EP that you can recommend to our readers that you feel best shows your skills as an entertainer?
Well, all six tracks are my favorite for different reasons. Like the opening track for “Midnight Blue”, I went for this thing where I was nervous and reading a piece of paper, like a poem to this female. I like that track because I’ve never tried it. What I tried to do with that one is bringing some acting or cinema to my music. Or even the second track, which is “Gangster of Love”. That’s a favorite because I got a little bit more into the singing and the delivery was slick. The third track is one of my favorites. That was a sample of one of my father’s records. The song is called “Can I Squeeze Ur Bootay?”. That’s one of my favorites because it’s so experimental for me, some off the wall stuff. And then you have “Lovely”, which I like because it is a dance track that is just different for me. Even the 5th track “Cinematic” is one of my favorite tracks. I can’t really say I have a favorite because the EP itself is a favorite of mine because I took a different approach then what’s I’ve done in the past. As an entertainer, I feel it shows I’m not afraid to take chances and I have enough confidence in my skills to take chances. I like them all and think people should try the whole EP. That’s why I did this project in short form, because it was all new stuff.
What do you consider the most important aspect of being a performer in today’s market?
The most important aspect of being a performer, for me, in today’s market is connecting with your audience. I feel like nowadays people are so short on time and everyone is vying for their attention, I don’t think you should make music that is over there heads. This is just my opinion. I think you want to make music that is simplified so they can catch it, but you can still put depth within the lyrics. So you want to connect emotionally. Basic human emotions. I think by doing so, I feel like it will come across well on live stage, since we are talking about performance. I mean there is performance in the studio, obviously, and you have to put that emotion in the recording. There is also that aspect of being on stage where you have to connect. Like for me, I’m not a big artist, so I don’t have a big production budget, so I’m not shooting fireworks, or 3D screens, or lasers. Not of that’s stuff is happening, so I feel like I even have to work harder. Well, maybe not as hard because without all that stuff around my live show is stripped down to the audience and myself. So I think the most important thing of being a performer is the ability to connect with your audience on an emotional level. I think once you can do that, you’ll have a long lasting fan base. So that’s what I work at.
Do you have any other projects in the works you can share with the readers of Skope?
Um yeah. I have other projects. I always have other projects. Should I share it? I don’t know if I should share it, because they are all in the works. I mean I could tell you that six months from now, I’m going to release something. Then the next six months goes by, and nothing happens. That’s the thing with being Indie. You have no idea of when you are going to put music out. It’s kind of like; when I got the money I’ll put it out. I’m sitting on tons of music and I’m constantly creating so there will always be a project to put out. I mean, that’s what I do. I create stuff, and get it all nice and tight, then put it out for everyone to enjoy.
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
To honest with you, I really can’t see myself doing anything else. But I can say that I recently grew an affinity for Mixed Martial Arts. I’ve been doing it for a little bit and it’s pretty exciting. I’ve had the chance to teach kids. So I think I would lean in that direction. I think if I weren’t doing music, I would still find a creative way to express myself. And I think Mixed Martial Arts with all its different art forms would be something I would get into more.
Check out the EP here http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wonderful-world-jermaine-liriano/id561156488
And to ‘like’ Uni V Sol on Facebook click here https://www.facebook.com/UniVSolMC
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