The Well

Hello and welcome to One on One in 10, where we pick the brains of some of the most talented Indie artists in the Tri state area with 10 questions. It’s your girl Mai Mazzi reporting to you live on the scene, bringing you the real with todays’ movers and shakers and allowing you to meet them, one on one.

I know that everybody is just about ready for the winter to be OVER! This year, the snow had us here in Jersey covered, literally! I hope we don’t encounter that Indian summer everyone keeps talking about though. I can definitely deal with that springtime weather, but oh do I dread that 100 degree stroke stuff!

For our March one on one interview, I have the pleasure of chopping it up with a very talented, all male songwriting trio, called The Well Music Group. The Well has been hard at work writing and recording for various producers who seek a fresh and creative quality of music that people can appreciate and enjoy!

 Mazzi: Thank you so much for taking the time out to sit and speak with me.

WMG: Thank you for having us!

Mazzi: Now who are all the members of The Well Music Group?

WMG: Derron Fareed, Andrew Thomas, and Dawud Brown make up The Well.

Mazzi: Ok. Now today I have the pleasure of speaking with just two members. I am a little sad but the show must go on right {laughing}?

Dawud: {laughing} yes, unfortunately we are missing Andrew for this interview. He sends his presence through spirit though!

Mazzi: No worries. So let’s dive right in with our first question. What made you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

Derron: A lot of people (in the music industry) have musical backgrounds in their families; they were raised in the church or their mom, dad, aunts, uncles, are in to music. It (music) was always in me, but I went to school (college) for art and I played basketball. Around 1997, maybe even a little earlier than that, like 1995/1996, I started to take it more seriously. Dawud actually was the one who brought it out of me during our college years. We were a group first; it was three members, then it went to four members, then back to three. We kind of stuck with the three and at that moment, on the campus of William Patterson, I decided that this (music) was something that I really wanted to do.

Dawud: As far as me, my story is kind of similar to Derron. Music has been in my family for years; you know, your mom always making you sing in front of somebody, putting you on the spot. My brothers can sing, my uncles can sing, there are numerous members of my family that can sing. It’s (music) been something that I have been doing since I was young. It’s in the blood at this point, it’s like ordained to a certain degree. I stopped doing music for a while to do family things; we were young when we started this, 19/20 years old, but I came right back to it. The true commitment for the music, on all of our behalf, came around 1998. We did our first recording on campus (William Patterson); we had the opportunity to be under the wing of one of the dopest MCs called Red Head the Kingpin. We signed under his production company and began writing and recording records. We learned a lot from him and his “bootcamp” style of learning made us hone the knowledge that we are now using as a songwriting team.

Mazzi: How would you describe your movement for the public audience if they have never seen or heard you before?

 Derron: Honestly, since there are three of us our sound is collaborative. Dawud and I are primarily the singers and arrangers; Andrew is the writer. Our sound gravitates to more of a classic sound mixed with a “now” sound. That’s what we call that “Well Sound”, which is a fusion of that classic 90’s feel because that’s where our roots are. You know the Jodeci and Jagged Edge era. We are relevant enough for the Tanks and Tyreses and the Ginuwines of the present R&B genre.

Mazzi: If you had to categorize your music, what genre would it best fit?

Derron: We do whatever our client needs us to do! We do pop, R&B, whatever. We are versatile and diverse and no matter what we do you will hear The Well in our creations.

Mazzi: How does your style differ from other artists in the same genre?

Derron: We try to stay true to the craft; I don’t think anyone would have ever thought that there would be a day that real R&B would be damn near extinct. R&B is somewhat of the minority now, in comparison to how it used to be the majority. You have these songs that lack quality; and I am not saying that in a “hating” way. There is a lot of “selling out” and this is why we are losing. Other races are able to do the music without any holds barred; they do the music that they want to do while we do the music that we have to do or that they want us to do. You have artists like Common or Talib Kweli that are talking about something but they don’t really get the love. If Common wasn’t acting you probably wouldn’t hear much about him. Or Lupe Fiasco; all these guys are very talented and think about what they say. The catchiest songs, the most popular songs are just hooks and beats. I can speak for Dawud and myself when I say that we don’t knock the hustle; people want to get paid and we get it. But as for us, maybe we are a little old school; we want to hold up our musical integrity. Our goal is to make timeless music.

Dawud: How many sex songs can you make? What we bring to the table is content, true songwriting. When you listen to a Well record we want you to think. To some degree music has become dumbed down. People want to hear that sex record to get right to it; they no longer are interested in the romance anymore. There is a whole artistry in our music, more so in what we are trying to create; we are staying true to our brand. There are still people out here that are looking for that quality that we encompass with our brand and they enjoy good music. The beauty of the game now is that it is more independent. You are free to pretty much do what you want; even for us we do placement music for people in the industry and we understand that we will have guidelines based on the artist, but they come to us for our touch, our sound that we place on it. We want the listeners to bury their feelings in our records; if you can’t bury your feelings then we haven’t done what we were supposed to do.

Mazzi: Are you familiar with the term “starving artist”?

Dawud: Yes.

 Derron: Yes.

Mazzi: What is your perception of the term?

 Derron: The term as it relates to today differs from what it may have been considered a decade ago; the climate has changed. It goes back to sacrifice; you have to consider what levels of sacrifice that you are on. One on hand you work to feed your family, there are starving families damn starving artists! You try to maintain the bills of your household outside of the music. So then the question becomes, “what do you want to do?”; do you want to go all in, give it 110%, how much are you willing to sacrifice, do you want to quit your job to focus on your music? Or do you want to give it (music) 110% because you have a job? Being a starving artist is a commitment. It’s a mindset. To be a starving artist now in 2014, in one word I would describe you as being courageous {laughing}.

Dawud: I like to think of it as we are working artists; we have families, we have kids, we have responsibilities. At the end of the day all of these things have to be maintained. Music is like another household bill, no different than the mortgage, no different than the car note. All of these things come in that order and you have to be willing to make the sacrifice to get it done. To make a record, to travel, etc., it all costs money and amounts to something. We don’t have the backing of a major label or the distribution so we put everything that we can into it. 20% is recording and 80% is promotion.

Mazzi: What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical career?

Derron: Well in 1999/2000 we had a chance to perform for RCA through Brian McKnights’ manager. RCA was also his (Brian McKnight) label at the time. That was a big break for us; we were able to put together an album and perform a showcase for all of these executives. We were on the cusped of a deal, but it didn’t go through. That was still a big moment; we rehearsed, practiced our moves, and poured water over our heads {laughing}. Chris Brown’ing as we like to say {laughing}. Presently, right off the top of the head, we just won a contest; Brian Michael Cox put together a songwriters contest. They have a website called “The Blaze Track” that allows up and coming artists to promote their music; for starving artist is a very beneficial as it gets your music straight to producers. Brian Michael Cox responded to us and pointed us in the right direction. We are now doing music with and looking forward to doing more and reaching a more official platform within our career. For me as a songwriter right now, this would be our greatest accomplishment, besides being able to write our own music and establishing our own foundation without a middle man.

Dawud: My biggest accomplishment would be between our first project ‘The Relationship Chronicles’ and working with producers in the industry now who are sending us work. To know that people value and appreciate what we have been working so hard on in itself is the greatest accomplishment of all. The landscape has changed for us a little bit; even on the back end we are doing us we are still trying to open up as many doors to different avenues as we can.

Mazzi: What image do you think your music conveys and why did you choose this type of image for your music?

 Derron: Mature. Grown. Natural. We are diverse and it has allowed us to formulate our own sound, The Well sound, which is natural in both the feel and the content. It really wasn’t a choice because it’s what we were brought up in; we took the Shania Twain, Luther Vandross, etc., feels and fused them together to get what we have.

Mazzi: Art and music has an impact on both the young and the old; sometimes the older generation loses respect for the music we listen to today because they cannot comprehend the value of it. What advice can you give to the youth of today looking to enter the industry in regards to being able to stay relevant for every generation and for any audience?

 Derron: Fortunately and unfortunately the young people today are the only thing that’s relevant now. We are the ones who are “behind”. We are trying to catch up to them again. We should be teaching them the history because half of them do not know. You have Chris Brown singing ‘This Christmas’ for a movie soundtrack and some think that he wrote that song! This is blasphemy. They really don’t know. Don’t sell out; you have to stay to course in what you do. I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle because there is always a dollar to be made, which can turn people to making the BS. It’s going to take someone of importance to re direct the “selling out” and teach the new generation the dialogue and be able to differentiate the now from then.

Dawud: Let me give you an example. My son is 20 years old, attends NYU, and is majoring in music. He says to me one day, “I hate this generations’ music,” and I’m like dude this is your generation {laughing}! The difference is that he was raised up listening to Phyllis Hyman, the Whispers, Jagged Edge; I explained to him that this sculpted his cultural appreciation for the music. You have to be taught to appreciate the now from the then.  It’s up to this generation to learn and respect the paths that were paved for them in the music industry in order for them to stay relevant, not only for the audience, but for the genre as well.

Mazzi: What are your immediate music career goals (1 to 3 years)?

Derron: We want to build up The Well Music Group as a conglomerate. Getting our brand out there so that everyone comes to us to write their songs!

Mazzi: Do you have other interests or talents that you would like to share with us? How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from the music?

Dawud: I love to be in good company. It doesn’t have to be about music 24/7. It can be around music and a few drinks. Chilling out with family and friends, taking a trip somewhere.

Derron: I draw, not as much as I used to, and I am very into sports; football and basketball. I coach seventh and eighth graders at the school I work at. I have a daughter and I love to relax and spend time with her. If I can get a trip in every now and again that’s cool too.

Mazzi: Now what do the people have to look forward to from The Well Music Group?

Dawud: We have our current project ‘Relationship Chronicles’ out on iTunes now. We are in the process of putting out our 1st video off of the ‘Relationship Chronicles’ album. The first single from the project, ‘You’re The Reason’ will be the first video due out in late April.  We are also in the works of creating an all female project called ‘Relationship Chronicles Part II – A Woman’s Diary’, which will be out sometime this summer. We are working with some incredible independent female vocalists for this project and it will be geared towards the ladies. We are also working with some incredible producers and execs in the game for upcoming projects with established artists in the music industry.

Derron: And before we forget, we would like to give a huge shout out to the executive producer of the ‘Relationship Chronicles’ project, D-Moet. He is the producer who helped cultivate the projects sound. He’s a producer/engineer that we have been working with for years; he has helped to create that Well sound to be delivered sonically. He’s our go to guy and will be working with us in the upcoming projects that we do. 

And to you, the readers thank you for tuning in. Make sure you stay tuned for more NMNJ One on One in 10!



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