FreeSol is a hip-hop/rock/soulband from Memphis, Tennessee. They’ve been together since 2003, playing the live band scene and winning competitions – like the Mid-South Grammy Showcase, Turner South’s My South Rocks competition, The Rock Boat’s Grand Championship show and the BMI Urban Music Showcase.
Shortly after seeing FreeSol perform at a jazz cafe in their hometown, Justin Timberlake signed them to his label Tennman Records. They’ve since signed a major deal with Interscope Records and are now set to release their debut album, No Rules. Producers involved include Cool & Dre (Lil’ Wayne, The Game), Jim Jonsin (Beyonce, Pitbull), Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem), Dave Tozer (Jay-Z, Kanye West), Rob Knox (T.I., Chris Brown), Justin Timberlake and Timbaland.
Free – Vocals/Lyricist
Premo D’Anger – Keyboards
Kickman Teddy – Drums
Elliott aka E Ives – Guitar/Vocals
Charlie White – DJ
I was interested to know more about the band. I’m looking forward to hearing their new album – from what I’ve heard online, this band rocks.
Exclusive: FreeSol interview on BandWeblogs.com.
Jenny May: How did the band members meet to become FreeSol?
Free: I’ve always been FreeSol. Free was a nickname that stuck with me during my religious days and shortly after I added the Sol (spanish meaning the sun). When I met Teddy, our drummer, in a restaurant in Memphis, TN he immediately introduced me to Premo (the keys & bass). We quickly bonded because we shared the same dream, which was to start a hip hop band. A few months later we met Elliott working in a studio we were thinking about using. After a few other guitar players didn’t work, I called Elliott and the rest is history. Mouse (DJ Charlie White), the youngest and the newest member joined us two years ago after we met and signed with Justin Timberlake.
Did entering into and playing competitions help you as a band? Would you recommend them to other bands?
One of the first gigs we had as a band was a competition called battle of the bands created by a local radio station. We came in 1st place out of thousands of bands which gave us a strong feeling of destiny, at the very beginning. After that we were in 5 other competitions around the country and won all of those too! I always wonder if we hadn’t competed with other bands would we have believed in ourselves through the unexpected but incredibly difficult times ahead. I think all bands or artists should challenge themselves to compete with other bands and artist for two reasons: one, to know where you stand with your peers and Two, to build confidence and a bond between your band members like an athletic team in any sport. When you can step up and perform against the pressure TOGETHER then not only will the friendship get tighter but so will the music and performances.
You’ve been together since 2003. You must have quite a dedicated fanbase in Memphis. How have your longtime fans reacted to your continued success as a band, which includes playing festivals and shows around the country and signing to Justin Timberlake’s label, Tennman Records?
Man, our true fans have been increasingly excited as well as frustrated, along with us in the climb, fall, wait and climb journey we’ve been on these last 8, almost 9 years. We were forced to come off the road for two in a half years, for several reasons, which really hurt us with fans and finances. We finally found a sound in the studio that we and Tennman liked a couple of years ago and then after putting together some tunes began to hit the road again. I would say, its been difficult because when we stopped touring we were building a strong fan base but out of sight out of mind. It’s like we had to start all over. Now, it feels like we are building not only fans at home but around the world. I think, our dedicated fans are stoked to see us finally about to get our shot and our new fans are steadily growing and passionately supporting our new success.
How has Justin Timberlake’s involvement impacted the band?
Justin has been like a guru for us. At first it was difficult to make both the “boss” and ourselves happy. But one night in Miami, we all participated on a song called “Fast Car” and everything clicked. After that night, we all knew what sound FreeSol needed and our purpose became clear. JT has overseen the whole project. Some songs we completed and then he would add a few things that would take it up 10 notches, just like that. Others he contributed from the beginning. He is such a talented performer and song writer that it was easy to listen to him or follow his lead. Basically, it was like an 18 month class on music writing/production from arguably the biggest pop star of our generation.
Since signing to a major label, how have things changed?
Man, I wouldn’t say many things have changed. The one major change is just the excitement level, I guess. You know millions of people dream of being signed to a major label like Interscope or to have someone like Justin Timberlake or Jimmy Iovine know your name and we achieved that. Many signed bands dream of a release that never happens but we are moments away from achieving that. Sometimes it just feels good to know I had a dream and followed it no matter what anyone said or did to stop me.
What was it like working with Timbaland? How many tracks did he produce on your debut album?
At this point, I haven’t actually “worked” with Timbaland. Justin had some songs Timbaland produced that were concepts but incomplete ideas. I immediately fell in love with them, probably cause they were Tim’s and it’s a dream to be in the lab with him, and we finished writing and then recorded three of the ideas. Now, I’m scheduled to actually work with the Master himself in August to revisit those ideas, hopefully in time to make the record release!
It must have been interesting working with a variety of producers on the album – did you record in many different locations? If so, where? How was it adjusting to each producer’s individual style when recording?
Man, we’ve been in studios from NYC, Philly (The Studio), Miami (Hit Factory), Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, Austin, to Los Angeles (Jim Henson studios, Boom Boom room). We’ve met and worked with so many different producers with different styles. Honestly, it can be nerve-wracking at times. Everyone is different and sometimes it takes a while to make it click and sometimes it just doesn’t work. Sometimes you click immediately. For instance, I like to smoke weed when I work, as a matter of fact, it’s a must. So, if the producer doesn’t smoke weed or like to be around it then you know it’s probably going to be a difficult session. Not impossible, cause we’ve had some of those, but difficult.
Who have been some of your influences, music or otherwise?
Individually, I love Prince, 2Pac, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, U2, 30 Seconds To Mars, Big Sean, Rick Ross, Miles Davis, Sade, and so on! As a band, we all dig Outkast, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, and many more diverse bands and artists.
What makes for a great show for you? What do you want your fans to ‘take away with them’ after seeing you play?
A great show is fused with originality, intelligence, style, passion, and talent. I love when people perform and get into it. You can see them living each word or note, helping the audience believe and feel what they are playing. Swag is cool but it takes more than Swag to have a good show. You have to be committed! When people see us play I want them to walk away saying those motherf**kers are talented as hell and love what they do!
Your YouTube Channel has some short video clips – you guys are good on camera. Lovin’ the The K-Mart video. Have you started shooting music videos yet for your new album?
We have actually shot two videos, “Hoodies On, Hats Low”, and “Role Model”. Two songs that will be on the LP, No Rules. Both were directed by Justin Timberlake. I’m pretty excited about both of them. I think JT is going to blow people away with his directorial debut!
Who are five artists/bands that you’re listening to now, that you would recommend to a friend?
I gave you my list of my fav bands earlier but I’m probably playing Kanye, Pusha T, Big Sean, Rick Ross, Adele, and some old TuPac more then anything else in my car and Ipod.
Buy CDs, MP3s, more: FreeSol on Amazon.com
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By: Jenny May