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R&B Artists Willie Wood, Wiley Jay, Smoov the Artist, Phil(Producer X)Carroll Are DeBonnaire Music!

Updated: May 11

Tell me a little bit about your background. Where are you from, and how did you get started in music?

WW: I was born and raised in Washington, DC. I grew up in a house where my father would sing Stylistics, and my mother was a ballerina.

WJ: Raised as a military brat, I have lived in many places in and outside the US. My father was a huge music fan and groomed me to know what good music sounds like.

STA: I'm from MD.

PPXC: I was born and raised in Washington, DC. I started like most musicians in DC. I played the keyboard and guitar in Go-Go bands.

PPXC: I was born and raised in Washington, DC. I started like most musicians in DC. I played the keyboard and guitar in Go-Go bands.

When did your professional career begin, and how did it happen?

WW: I was in my 20's and had a chance to meet with Phil (Producer X) Carroll. Working with a production company, he asked if I was interested in starting a group. We both quit the production company and formed a four-man singing group.

WJ: In my mid-late 20's, I was told by a group friend that I was looking for another member. I auditioned and was accepted into the group. Had our first show together two weeks later.

STA: It started in 1996. I was signed to "QLT Records" label and had a single and video on BET.

PPXC: I began producing music in my 20's. I produced for a few local artists in the DC area. I met Willie Wood while performing in a showcase, and we teamed up to start the group.

What type of music do you enjoy singing the most, and what genre would you like to try that's different from the one you usually sing?

WW: I love love love R&B but would like to try classic rock.

WJ: R&B will forever be the love of my life.

STA: I enjoy singing R&B but would like to try some country.

PPXC: I enjoy singing and playing R&B music. I would love to try Afrobeats or Soca.

In your opinion, what does it take to "make it" in this business?

WW: Perseverance!!! If you are serious, don't quit!

WJ: It takes drive, determination, thick skin, focus, and commitment.

STA: It takes dedication and patience to strive in this industry.

PPXC: "Making it" depends on your goal. If you want to make a living, and that's what making it means to you, you have to take your craft seriously. Your audience will let you know if you're good or not. A dispassionate approach will result in half-dispassionate listenership.

Throughout your career, who have you worked with?

WW: Regina Belle, Glenn Jones.

WJ: Regina Belle

STA: I have worked with Daryl Pearson, Regina Bell, Doug Lazy, Fashion Designer Michael Lombard, and the Late Don Newkirk –RIP.

PPXC: Early in my career, I was fortunate to work with producers Chucky Thompson and Rich Harrison. We learned much from each other—from chord progressions, drum patterns, and technology. I worked with artists Regina Belle, Steve Brookstein (X Factor UK first season winner), Konshens the MC, and upcoming R&B singer MeekA (pronounced Mee-kay).

In your opinion, what's the best and worst part of being an independent artist?

WW: Having creative control over our art. The worst part is not having a machine behind you.

WJ: The best part is making the music you want to do without outside influences. The worst part is that labels have access to resources that independent artists need.

STA: The best would be having your own creativity. The worst is people taking the time to appreciate good music.

PPXC: The best part of being an independent artist is having creative control and control of my time. The worst part is having to wear so many hats. Artist, producer, engineer, promote.

Have you ever released a song that you thought would be a major success but didn't do as well as you expected? Tell me about an experience you had like that.

WW: Our 1st single, "Ms. Soul Lady," is an independent release, but we believed it would spread bigger and faster than it has. We have learned that each DJ is independent, including the ones that work for the same stations.

WJ: Not really. I try to go into this by managing my expectations.

STA: Tell me about an experience you had like that. No, just being able to release a song is a success. Everyone might not like it, but you know you put your heart and soul into it.

PPXC: No honestly. Lol! I have one that is the opposite. We released an album, and the song I loved got more love than some of the songs we all agreed would be our "singles."

Do you have a daytime job, or is music your full-time job?

WW: Yes, I have a daytime job. That helps finance the dream.

WJ: Yes, I do have a full-time job.

STA: Yes

PPXC: I have a day job.

How important is it that your friends and family support your music by purchasing and downloading your single? How crucial is their support for the success of your career?

WW: Unbelievably important. And it works as a grassroots effort to get the word out.

WJ: Again, I manage the expectations. I don't "expect" people to purchase just because they know me. Those who like and buy my music, I very much appreciate it. If you do not, no love loss.

STA: It is essential, but most want it free and need to understand the time and hard work it takes to be an artist. It's only for some.

PPXC: It's imperative. Music is who I am, and they should support my music if they support me.

In your opinion, are likes and dislikes on social media an accurate assessment of the artist's talent, worth, or ability?

WW: Absolutely not. It's a measure of popularity, not necessarily skill.

WJ: It's a peek-in, but I would not define it as an accurate assessment of one's talent, value, or ability.

STA: No, players will "hate" on social media, and some don't. On the contrary, people appreciate good music.

PPXC: No, most players “hate” on social media, and some don’t. I think people should appreciate good music.

What do people who hear your music say about your vocal style, and What sets you apart from other vocalists?

WW: They hear how smooth our sound is. And how classic the R&B sound that we have. Staying true to the roots of soul and R&B sets us apart. We keep hearing that R&B is dead. We are doing our part to keep it relevant.

WJ: Most say they enjoy listening to the smooth sound and that our music has a 90's feel. What sets us apart is just the feel of our music. It's not the typical sound you might hear on the radio right now.

STA: People like my range and ability to produce smooth harmony notes.

PXC: Smooth. We're sticking to true R&B

How would you describe your music to those who have never heard it?

WW: Eclectic, retro R&B. Some hard rock riffs mixed in with some timeless ballads

WJ: It's hard to describe. Better to listen to it and make your judgment.

STA: Sexy.

PPXC: Smooth R&B.

Do you write and produce your music?

WW: Yes, we do

WJ: Yes.

STA: Yes.

PPXC: Absolutely!

What would you like to see a change in the music industry?

WW: I would love to see a more straightforward path forward for Indie artists. That also includes those who have had extensive careers. The public should have the chance to hear artists they may love, not artists with enormous budgets.

WJ: I Would love to see artists be compensated more.

STA: Bring back good music storytelling. We have gotten away from that.

PPXC: True musicianship and less technology.

In your opinion, what's the solution to illegal downloading?

WW: I'm not smart enough to answer this, but I believe that coding in music will play a part.

WJ: Stricter regulations.

STA: Stop Doing it.

PPXC: Trackable digital watermarking.

What is your opinion about vinyl records, and do you think they will ever come back as strong as it was before?

WW: Never to what it once was, but the part of the society that enjoys nostalgia will never let it die.

WJ: Vinyl records will never die. I have a collection in my living room. There is something another the crackling sound that I very much enjoy.

STA: It could be because all things recycle back.

PPXC: The best sound ever. They'll never come back as strong as they once were. Music is too accessible for vinyl to come back strong. Thankfully, there are still a few of us enthusiasts that own and purchase vinyl.

What do you like and dislike about today's music industry?

WW: I wish the new artist would do something different and unique. Instead, we get the same thing done 100 different ways.

WJ: I like that artists have many ways to get their music out without label backing. I'm not too fond of the compensation piece of the music industry.

STA: Creativity and Substance.

PPXC: I don't like that some songs are too short and have little to no dynamics.

How do you prepare yourself mentally for public opinion (either positive or negative) when you're preparing for a new song release?

WW: You must be mentally strong for the good and the bad. You have to know going in that some folks will love you, some will hate you, and everything in between. You must be confident that you are giving the best quality work possible.

WJ: I don't concern myself with or pay too much attention to the opinions of others.

STA: I just go in positive it doesn't bother me what people say.

PPXC: I tell myself that my music isn't for everyone. I do it for the love of the art.

Have you ever felt so discouraged in this business, for whatever reason, that you just wanted to throw in the towel?

WW: Yes, then you remember why you do this and how much fun it is.

WJ: We as a group threw in the towel many years ago. Our love for music never died, allowing us to regroup all these years later.

STA: Everyone deserves a chance for success.

PPXC: Yep. I threw in the towel for a few years. My love of music drew my back in.

How many singles/albums do you have out presently, and what is your favorite album/song to date?

WW: We have 5 to date. And my favorite is a song called "A better me."

WJ: We have 4-5 so far. I may not have an actual favorite song.

STA: I love all of them.

PPXC: I like the one album that was released in November 2021, and the Christmas single was released in December 2022.

Tell me about your latest album/ song and what was your inspiration behind it. Is it out now, and where can people buy it?

WW: Our album "Then/Now" was our statement about retro R&B and how it can be fun, meaningful, and sensual without being offensive. It's available on all major streaming platforms.

WJ: Our Album Then/Now was our statement about retro R&B and how it can be fun, meaningful, and sensual without being offensive. It's available on all major streaming platforms.

STA: Love.

PPXC: Our latest release is an original holiday song and can be purchased on Amazon music and Apple music and streamed on all major platforms.

If you could speak to your fans from your heart and tell them one crucial thing that you want them to know about being an independent artist, what would it be?

WW: Fans of independence should understand that their support is how we finance the next project. Very few become rich from sales, but it always covers the expenses of recording new music. Our fans need to know that we will never use shortcuts, and the songs we write will always come from the heart.

WJ: Simply put, we do this because we love doing it and appreciate any support we receive.

STA: Stay strong.

PPXC: Being an independent artist isn't about fame. It's about doing what you love and sharing it with the world.

What advice would you give to new artists entering the changing industry?

WW: Order off of your menu!!! If you feel unique, then be amazing Fans recognize authenticity.

WJ: The music business is a business. Treat it as such. Educate yourself about the business side of music. Only sign anything with a lawyer look at it first. After all, that, have fun with it!

STA: Stay positive, and don't let anyone or anybody stop you from your dream.

PPXC: Buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride. Learn as much about the business side as you can.

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