Exclusive: Adrian Marcel Talks New Album ‘GMFU,’ Going Independent, Getting Back to His Oakland Roots & More!


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Let’s get into the tracks a little bit. Is there one that stands out to you the most? You already touched on track 16 but is there another one?

There’s a record that’s either number 7 or 8, but it’s “IMAGINATION” and it’s one of my favorite records on the album. It’s just because it was me letting loose in the booth and being free in the way that I recorded. Again it was one of those songs that we had before I went with the label and I knew that there was certain hunger in that song that I knew naturally the ones wouldn’t get. You can never go back to that time and what was going on, so that song takes me back to the reason of what I’m doing this for. In that time it was a rough time [for me] when we were recording. There was no Adrian Marcel then… there was no big fan base. There wasn’t no Republic, or none of that. It was like we were recording for our life so it had to be dope. When people heard it, they had to love it. So there was a hunger that I feel I’m trying to tap back into. There’s just a new motivation. But it’s definitely in my opinion a standout record on the album. A lot of people will feel that record and not just because of the vocals I tried to put on there, but because of the lyrics, and the subject… the concept, and even the video.

Oooh! Video?! Are we getting any videos soon?

Oh yes! We’ve shot about 8 or 9 videos so far. I’m going for every song having a visual.

So as a singer and a songwriter, can you tell us about the process of creating a song from scratch? How do you start and then decide that you’re finished and don’t want to touch the song anymore?

Ooh that’s tough. I usually don’t get that moment [the finished feeling] until it’s about to come out. Like even with the records we put on GMFU. We spent countless times going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth to just keep re-vamping it and changing it and touching it up. Or saying it needs this… it needs that. That’s one of my biggest problems. I have a problem with just putting too much on it because I want it to be so good, and so dope. So what I had to learn in this process was to scale back some. I had to tell myself, “Yo, save something. Take that off of there.”

But you know usually when I’m starting a song, 9 times out of 10, Jane Hancock [Adrian’s writing partner] is sitting right there. It’s either she’ll call me with an idea like, “Yo, this dude just did something stupid. I got a concept. It reminded me of something you said the other day.” Or I’ll call her and I’ll tell her like, “Yo, hey let me tell you what happened.” And from there it kinda turns into, “Alright, well write it down.” Then we’ll kinda just write down thoughts or a lyric to a song, and from there we keep going. On this album I was producing more, and we’re always working on music so it’s hard to say like exactly how we start, but it usually does come from an event. All my music comes from some sort of story, or some sort of truth. Usually a funny story is what turns into a song.

Some artists get boxed in to a certain style, or sound. You’ve had a club/radio hit with “2 AM,” but your projects have mostly been on the emotional. Do you think you could get labeled as the breakup music guy? Or do you see yourself growing out of that and evolving into something else next?

Well, I think that people are going to categorize you either way. You know there’s so many opinions in the world. I never try to fight being boxed in, but I think that I focus on keeping everything current and keeping everything up-to-date with what I’m going through. So with that, there’s always growth, and I’m always growing. So ‘GMFU’ was for this time, and for this moment. Who knows what my next one will be. Personally, there is no box that can keep me in, because I’m a musician. I do music. All sorts of genres, from middle school on up. I studied all kinds of music from classical, alternative, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, soul…the whole nine. Country and folk. It’s really just where I’m at, at the time. I can just guarantee that whatever it is, it will be true and felt the same way. I think that’s the beauty of my music [which is] that there’s a certain level of pain in there that is not to be sulked in, but appreciated to see what you come out of at this time. But the next one can be totally left, and be more I don’t know, more bright. We just have to continue to grow and follow the evolution and the change because there is no way that I can fit in just one box.

With so many awesome Cali artists out right now shaping R&B from Kehlani, to Anderson .Paak, Frank Ocean, Jhené Aiko, Eric Bellinger and more, is there anyone from your state you haven’t worked with yet that you’d love to collaborate with?

I’d have to say Nipsey [Hussle]. I’m a huge Nipsey fan. I’m a real rapper in my mind. You know when I’m riding in my car. Yeah I’m a real gangsta rapper. Nipsey, I feel stands for the same things that I work to stand for. It’s just a truth and honesty. It’s not the typical money, broads and cars. It’s a “I’ve come from this, and I’ve come out of this. I’m headed for this.” Even the way he talks about the lavish life… It’s not without saying that there was work ethic that came with it. I just always appreciated that. Even in my visuals, I try to make sure that I’m not just promoting the lavish life, but some sort of work that it takes to get there because that’s the real side of things for me. I’ve always appreciated Nipsey’s music. I’m not somebody that’s huge on, “I want to work with this person and that person.” Whoever God will me to work with and fits the style that I do, then it will be dope. I definitely don’t force things, but Nipsey is at the top of my list.

Now that we have an album with ‘GMFU,’ do you think you’ll be touring off of it anytime soon?

Oh absolutely! Right now we are at the start of my promo tour, so I’ll definitely be coming to cities near everyone to tap in and get this ‘GMFU’ movement spread. We’re definitely in the works of a few possible tours, but I don’t want to speak about it too early and jinx it because I have a problem with that too. Fingers crossed because if we do take this first option for tour, then I think it will be a pretty amazing situation and dope. It’ll be the perfect fit for this music, and this album and for myself. Be on the lookout for that, but right now we’re on promo and doing the whole west coast, then to the south, the east coast and the mid-west. I’ll be hitting everywhere I can…every city and every country.

What can the fans expect from Adrian Marcel through the rest of the year, and into next year?

You can expect me to be in your face. I’ve been gone for too long. I’ve been under this rock, in the lab trying to figure it out but now we’ve recorded 8-9 visuals so far. We recorded way more that 16 records. So there’s definitely more music that’s been added to the vault. Yeah just expect this face more up-close and personal. I’m connecting as much as I can with all my fans and supporters. I have a new phone that’s just for them. And it’s real. It’s a real life phone that they can call, the number is 510-316-7607. I’m always finding new ways to touch them. I’ve been personally sending out hard copies of the album out to people. More merchandise. Just a lot more up-close and personal moments. I’m just trying to tap in, in a way that I feel has been lost from artists. In a way we’ve kind of put a wall up between artists and the supporters. This is me, just trying to knock that wall down this year, and making everyone get their feet up off the couch.

Interview by Jamila Wright

Adrian Marcel’s new album GMFU is available on iTunes and all digital music platforms now! You can stream it via Spotify below.

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