posted by Lu
last month

Rochelle Jordan is the kind of artist who disobeys form and tradition, and plays by her own rules when she's creating. Towards the early years of her career, Rochelle made a name for herself in Toronto with a moody brand of r&b brimming with 90s nostalgia. As she grew and developed in her personal life, this was also reflected in her music as a range of influences began to surface.

I'm not following the rules of any world, Rochelle is the world. I really do my best to wash away thoughts of "Will this hit like that?" and just do me, whatever that feels and sounds like. And my day one bby's get that about me, they just get me. I truly am thankful for that. 

Her iconic 2021 album Play With the Changes acquainted listeners with an edgier, mature, and envelop-pushing version of Rochelle Jordan. Since then, she's gone on to collaborate with the likes of KAYTRANADA, Logic1000, Snakeships, and Machinedrum. At this point, Rochelle's storytelling and sound is so distinct, that it says something about you if gravitate towards her work. This has helped cultivate a global cult-following where fans expect the unexpected. Recently, she dropped a long-awaited collaboration with the highly-esteemed producer Sango titled "Show". Throughout this interview, she offers us the story behind the release, her creative process, and so much more.

You've been making music for a very long time, although for those who don't know, how did your life look before you started your journey as 'Rochelle Jordan'?

If we're going back to my early teens before I began making music, I can honestly say I had the best childhood and support system in the world, especially when it comes to my parents. They created a home for me and my brothers that was and still is a household full of laughter, good music, and amazing food no matter the woes life threw at us growing up. On the other side of what most would deem as a pretty great beginning, I grew up battling health issues and mental health issues in those early stages that I personally had to fight through. I also hated school as a kid. It took me everything to get through school because everything was taught one particular way. But as we now know, people have unique learning styles and paces. I spent so many weeks hospitalized at a time due to a blood disorder so I found it so extremely stressful to keep up. So I always leaned on art. From drawing, painting, songwriting, story writing, singing, dancing, designing, and sewing clothes from scratch for my Barbies... you name it. I suppose creativity was my before, turns out it's mine after too. 

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Can you pinpoint a specific moment in your career when both you and those around you realized that you were on the verge of 'blowing up'?

"Blowing up" is an interesting sentiment. I feel like those around me and I have had so many moments from the start to now of realizing that I'm a recognizable figure in music to a degree. I feel like in typical cases it comes all at once, or within a year span of the first moment of catching "virality" or being pushed by some sort of machine. c After that it was being connected to major artists, working with them, and being recognized on the streets of LA from time to time, very strange and humbling. This was all a decade ago mind you. Then I disappeared to work on PWTC. So upon my return with a new album, I quickly realized the music industry was rapidly changing. I quickly acclimated. With that, Grammy considerations, to my music being played in stores and restaurants, to now playing huge festivals and have sold out shows in America and overseas. It depicts what slow-cooked growth looks like, what "blowing up" can look like from one artist to another. Some would say I'm still on the verge, some would say I've already blown up and that I'm just independent and underground. It's hard to say but I know none of this was overnight.   

How would you describe the Rochelle Jordan that released 1021, as compared to the artist you evolved into when you released Play With the Changed?

Rochelle Jordan that released 1021 was free, happier and going through growing pains. The Rochelle that released PWTC was reclaiming her power on many different levels. 

Something I really adore about your evolution is how you incorporate other genres into your sonic repertoire. Although I'm curious to hear your thoughts and strategies towards continuously evolving your sound without polarizing your audience.

Well I think the first thing is that I honestly don't care about what the audience is going to think about anything I make. I need to like it and I leave it there. This is how I've always been and especially now in this loud trifling society of people who think we need to hear their opinion on something they could never do, I do my best to sustain that thought process. "Do I like this vibe, yes or no? Yes? Fire. It's going on the project." This way of creating has always worked for me, helps me remain true, and flows into how I blend worlds into one another. I'm not following the rules of any world, Rochelle is the world. I really do my best to wash away thoughts of "Will this hit like that?" and just do me, whatever that feels and sounds like. And my day one bby's get that about me, they just get me. I truly am thankful for that. 

From watching various interviews, I can tell you're quite in touch with your spiritual side. In which way has your spiritual journey had an impact on your creativity?

It's always hard to put into words, but quite frankly if it wasn't for my special connection with God, I would have quit a long time ago. The way I create comes from the creator, period. I'm just a vessel who recognizes I'm just a vessel chosen to showcase light and love through music. It sounds simple, but when it dawns on me every once in a while or for example at my shows and how my fans express the level of embrace and love they feel in the environment my music has created, it's very nuanced and the energy that surrounds that is spiritually powerful. There's so many other things I can touch on too, but being in the light makes this whole experience that much more divine. 

The approach to your writing process likely varies when you're reflecting on the outside world compared to when you're writing about personal experiences. Can you elaborate on the differences in your creative process between these two perspectives?

I don't feel there is a difference so to speak, but more of a thought that has been seeded and grows at the right time on production that is watering the thought. We carry so many thoughts. Some are deep and complex, some are more surface. My goal is to be open to whatever touches me, trusting that it will when the moment is right and then expressing that all the way through. 

Congrats on the new release with Sango, such a soothing track. How did you guys meet, and what did you learn from working with Sango on "Show"?

Thank you! Sango is such a dope producer and person. We've been affiliated since the early 2010's so to me it was only a matter of time before we'd create together. We began working on the skeleton of "Show" at Spotify's studio in LA over a year ago. I learned again like I've learned before, that embracing the original melody or concept is where the magic is. There's no need trying to force something great, when what's great is already there. 

Sángo · Show (feat. Rochelle Jordan)

How does the family-orientated artwork relate to the themes you delve into on the track?

Honestly, you'd have to ask him because "Show" is on his album. lol

For you, how does being in a flow state look like? And what generally helps you slip into that state?

I've realized that flow has to be practiced. You have to put yourself in a position to be in flow. This loud, fast paced world we're in now is a huge distraction for many of us artists, so I'm really practicing phone distancing. Being in nature is a huge must for me too. Then it's having the discipline to sit down with myself and just listen to what's being said to me from within. I do this sometimes with instrumentals and sometimes without and I'll just write down whatever in hopes that it takes me there.

What is your perspective on the current status of R&B, and what do you envision for its future trajectory?

I don't think I have a super specific perspective on where R&B is at. I listen to a blend from 70's R&B to current R&B artists. As far as I'm concerned, it's forging ahead just like every other genre. I get excited for all the different stances in R&B music and I don't know what the future holds. All I hope for is that we never lose our soul. 

Words you'd put on a billboard?

"You can control the narrative, but you can't control the truth."

Okay so, 1) an artist/band you’d love to have a D.M.C (deep meaningful conversion) with 2) an artist you think would be rad to party with 3) an artist you would love to spend a week within the studio. You’re welcome to select from artists who are dead/retired.

1. Tina Turner

2. Rosalía

3. The Neptunes

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