The Return of R&B: A Conversation with Rochelle Jordan

Born in the UK and raised in Toronto and having moved many times since, Rochelle Jordan understands

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Born in the UK and raised in Toronto and having moved many times since, Rochelle Jordan understands being in a comfort zone is not necessarily a good for creating art, but that it is usually discomfort that helps draw out the best material. Having discovered her interest in music from a young age, the R&B songstress’ career starting taking off after she started uploading videos to YouTube at the age of 19. When she had released her first project in 2011, critics were harsh and had claimed that R&B is dead, but as the genre awoke from its sleep, ROJO’s talent became recognized along with it. In the following conversation the singer-songwriter discusses the evolution of her songwriting style, the ability to separate real from fake relationships, her thoughts on being compared to Aaliyah as an artist, and working with Childish Gambino on the song “Telegraph Ave.” (and being GRAMMY-nominated for it). Don’t sleep on Rochelle, you’re going to be hearing much more from her.

What was the main difference between recording your previous and new album? How has your state of mind changed?

Well, the plan was to keep the same spirit of my previous projects but to showcase the evolution of my sound and writing. I wrote every song on my PRESSURE LP ­ recorded it at home, so I wanted to write every song on 1021 and record it at home also and somehow that worked haha. Honestly, after every project I put out, I always feel like I’ll never be able to write or sing again. And in this case I was living in a totally new country during the entire making of 1021, Working with new people and not being in my comfort zone, so naturally it was different. But, I dont know.. I believe comfort isn’t always a good thing for Art. Discomfort will bring a certain dynamic out of you that you’d never know you had, and I feel like somehow we embeded that feeling into 1021 in different ways. So I’m happy about that.

Most powerful lyric..

I don’t know, probably on “Day one:” ‘He meant what he said when he told me this game isn’t for the weak minded I, chose to keep going, funny how ni**as switch when you’re on the border line. You have to remember that not everybody is happy when it’s your time, but you’ll see the real ones when you’re up and down those the ones that you keep around.’ Just getting the message across of experiences you’ll more than likely have when chasing your dreams. I think we all will face this in our lifetime.

You stay loyal with your producers and work with a tight­knit team. What is the main benefit in a work relationship like this?

The benefit is having organic growth within your music, and being able to hear it. Also I feel like that’s a top way you can really build a genuine sound. KLSH and I have worked together for years and he just knows where to take me every time and thats exciting! To be able to claim what we’ve created all these years. However, I’ve gotten the chance to experience chemistry with new producers too with this album and year, so that’s been exciting as well.

A lot of people say, your style is reminiscent of Aaliyah. True or false? If true, is it a gift or a curse?

Yeah, it’s flattering that people feel like i’m bringing a similar tone with my sound and style if it’s a genuine statement. I mean, at this point with social media outlets, any female with long hair wearing baggy clothes, or just simply singing an R&B song gets compared to Aaliyah on some trend shit. So to be honest, I do my best to stay out of it unless I’m honoring her because Aaliyah built a legacy that no one will ever compare to. Therefore it can’t really be a gift or a curse, just a comparison. I am honored though, by the people who genuinely feel this way.

You are nominated for a GRAMMY for songwriting on Childish’s project, How does it feel to receive such an accolade?

When I got the news of Childish’s nomination for a GRAMMY, I was flabbergasted! (Laughs) It’s mad dope to be apart of such an amazing album with all these notable artists. I’m happy “Telegraph Ave.” did as well as it did. Gambino definitely killed Because the Internet. The past year has just been a really great year for me musically.

How did you meet Donald?

My creative director Misla was working with Donald at the time. She let him in on what I was doing over here and he took my music in, loved it and asked for me to swing through and write and sing on a track. I did and the rest was history.

R&B seems to be on the come up again. D’Angelo is back, FKA twigs is killing it. What do you predict for R&B in 2015 and what part will Rochelle Jordan play in it?

I’m just happy to see the genre getting the light it deserves. It was hard in 2011, releasing my first project ROJO and having to face critic of the consumer and some taste makers tell us R&B was dead. But it was just sleeping. So, at this point, I predict a continuous evolution of dope/innovative R&B artists getting the light they deserve. As for me, I plan to continue embedding the ROJO sound into the industry, in hopes people will be inspired by it. I’m just keep doing me as usual and getting better at it.

How on-­hands are you when it comes to your very own marketing and branding?

I’m very hands on, so what you see and hear, is what works for who I am as a person and artist in that moment. Honestly, my way of opening up is through my music. I’m kind of a laid-back, introverted person, I accept it. So do my fans, So does my team. But we will see what 2015 brings for all of that.

Why was your highlight in 2014?

Being on Black Dynamite (Adult Swim) as a cartoon character with Chance the Rapper, Erykah Badu, Mel B, the list goes on. That shit was dope as hell. And definitely dropping my first album and seeing my fans react the way they did, holding me down. Shit, there were a lot of highlights. I felt really blessed. I’m super thankful for this past year!

What is your main goal in 2015?

Kill shit.

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