Interview: KRAVE – “Ghetto Pop” Trio

Posted: February 25, 2010 in interview, music
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Date of Interview: 02/25/2010

KRAVE is an up-and-coming female trio from Atlanta, Georgia.  The group consists of “Jazzy” (Jasmine Kearse), “Shan Q” (Shanquilla Robinson) and Chanel Ross, all of whom were discovered and molded by Devyne Stephens, one of the industry’s well-known talent groomers.  In 2010, KRAVE plans to infuse the world with their unique brand of “ghetto pop” and establish themselves as one of the music industry’s premiere vocal groups.

In the midst of radio promotion for KRAVE’s latest single, “Go Krazy” (featuring Flo Rida and Pitbull), Jazzy, Shan Q and Chanel took some time out of their busy schedules to settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on the group’s founding, focus and first performance.

Clayton Perry: Before joining forces to form KRAVE, all of you ladies were pursuing solo careers. When you look back at your early years, what previous training or experiences do you think helped prepare you for this particular opportunity?

Jazzy: My family is pretty artistic. But I’ve never really had any formal training of any kind. My brother was really into theatre, and he belongs to this organization called YEA, Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, here in Atlanta. So that kind of taught me the ropes, as far as how to train and really study the art of music.

Shan Q: When I was in middle school and high school, I took ballet and jazz. I also attended a performing arts high school, so that kind of helped me out. After I graduated, I started touring across the country with several artists – Ne-Yo, Ciara, Jay-Z and Teairra Mari. So that helped me with becoming a member of KRAVE and just being able to be develop my stage presence and learn about touring and performing.

Chanel: Honestly, the only musical training that I had was some chorus in high school.  That did help though, because learning how to read music was definitely a plus. And outside of school, just being around business-savvy people helped, and working corporate jobs helped me to know the business side and the work ethic involved.

Clayton Perry: Since you were coming from different backgrounds, how long did it take for you to gel as a group?

Jazzy: The gelling process didn’t really take that long, because we were friends before we started the group. We met while we were in high school, even though we went to three separate high schools. But we clicked on a platonic level, first, before any type of business or group relationship came about. So, it kind of flowed naturally. But we decided that we wanted to be a group just after realizing what we like to do. We realized we like to sing; we like to dance, we like to entertain. And it was a mutual talent of ours.  It was kind of a natural transition. You know how girls; they hang out, they sing, they play and dance and dress up. So it just so happened it kind of worked out that way.

Clayton Perry: I am happy to hear that this was a very organic process.  As a trio, I know that it can be difficult to have your own, individual personalities shine through. So I have assigned each of you to a fellow group member and I want you to give me some insight into what you love and respect about them. Chanel, you can take Shan Q. Jazzy, you can take Chanel. And then Shan Q, you can take Jazzy.

Chanel: I like Shan Q because she’s just all over the place. She’s very creative. She just decorated her apartment and it really shows her personality because it’s just different colors. It’s stuck to the walls and spray painted all over, you know what I’m saying? That’s just her personality and I love it. It’s just a fun and outgoing personality. And then she’s caring, too. She’ll give whatever she has… And she’s over here blushing! [laughing] But that’s my girl.

Jazzy: With me personally, Chanel balances me out. She’s the suppressor of my vices and stuff! [laughing] She is really open. I can talk with her about anything. She’s just a cool chick. It’s really nothing more than that, with her. It’s always a cool chick and you’re always gonna get a cool chick. Even if she’s in a bad mood, a good mood, happy, sad. She’s just a pretty much open and caring person and very humble.

Shan Q: I would say Jazzy, she’s like the “grandma-mama” in the group. She’s very caring as well. I’m fine with this baby right now. She’s very caring, as well. She’s an open person. She’ll give you cool, little facts about stuff you didn’t know, like stuff in slavery, and back in the 1950s, and stuff like that. But other than that, she’s a very laid back, cool chick. But she’s also fun and just goofy as hell, just like all of us. So kudos for Jazzy and Chanel.

Clayton Perry: Thank you for your openness, ladies! [laughing] I wonder if you remember your very first performance together. If you do, then tell me the good, the bad and the ugly.

Chanel: Oh, man, you just brought me back.

Jazzy: Yeah. I was excited. It was in Virginia. We actually opened for Ne-Yo and Lloyd, and at that point, I realized that our dreams were coming true. The crowd received us extremely well. We looked fabulous. Hair was done! Outfits were flowing! Our makeup artist was bomb! [laughing] It was just really, really great! And I remember I came off the stage and told our manager, “This is like crack.” It was just so addicting. I was like, “I cannot believe that God has blessed us with an opportunity like this!” It was really surreal. And I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Chanel: And the ugly? We were tired. We were hungry. And we had to drive for like twelve hours in the mountains, somewhere. My ears were popping. So, yes. That’s the ugly. But that day was good because when we actually walked up to the venue, they had like this huge poster of us outside the venue. Like industrial-size, superstar-type poster. And we were like, “What in—is that us? Who did that?” We were like, “Can we get that when y’all are done with it? Please?” [laughing] But that was like one of those moments where it was like, “Hey, we are really doing this.” You know what I’m saying? There’s nothing like riding down the street seeing your face on a billboard. That’s sick.

Clayton Perry: I know that has to be an amazing feeling! [laughing] As far as your vocals are concerned, what specific roles do you play? Is there a particular person that sings the top, the bottom or the middle?

Jazzy: We have different styles to our voices, but just strategically, I normally sing the higher range notes. The soft keys.

Chanel: I have more of a heavier tone, so I normally take the mids and the lows. I like to do a lot of backgrounds, too. They’re just fun for me to do. It’s kind of both ways, you know what I mean?

Shan Q: I’m the rapper in the group, so I do a lot of the rapping. And when it’s time to sing, I’m more so the blender. So I’ll take the bottom note or I’ll just add in the colors.

Clayton Perry: I heard a snippet of your song “Too Bad” on YouTube the other day, and although it was written by Jasper Cameron, what relation does it have to your own personal lives?

Shan Q: Love is war. Love is pain. I mean, it has its ups and downs, but you gotta love it.

Chanel: I’m the type of person that loves super, duper hard; so sometimes I have to fall back a little bit, because you get hurt. Things happen.  But I love it. The feeling is great. But you just gotta be careful and know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

Jazzy: It’s funny because I was just having a conversation with my friends, yesterday. Love is universal. It can go anywhere. It can go to a mother, a father, a daughter, a sister, a brother, a man, a woman. And loving yourself will teach you to love someone else.

Clayton Perry: Very true.

Jazzy: And when you realize what it’s about, it’s about putting that person before you. It’s about not wanting to see them hurt, not wanting to see them cry, not wanting to disappoint them. And when you realize that those are the fundamentals of love, you realize, “Maybe I don’t love this person!” [laughing] “Or maybe I do!” [laughing continues] People really need to learn what love is and define it for themselves, until they can give it to somebody else. But I’m just dropping a little knowledge on you right there. You know what I’m saying? [laughing] I’m going to need that copy-written.

Chanel: That confirmed what Shan Q was saying about her earlier.

Jazzy: I can go in on love, girl. [laughing] I’ve got to write me a book.

Clayton Perry: You are wise for your age! [laughing] Where do all of you fall in terms of age?

Jazzy: I’m 21.

Chanel: I’m 21, as well. But I just turned 21.

Shan Q: I’m the oldest. I’m 21, too, but Jazzy and I are like two days apart. Chanel is the youngest.

Clayton Perry: Oh, that’s good. Everyone’s grown and on the same page! [laughing] So growing up, I am sure you fell in love with TLC, SWV, and – of course – the last incarnation of Destiny’s Child. When you look at their careers, what successful elements do you hope to incorporate into your own?

Chanel: Those groups, as well as other artists, have paved the way for us. Of course, you know, we grew up on them. That was our era. So we just look at them with amazement, because we’ve seen the way that things should be done.  We’re just trying to pave our own way. Because one day we want people to say, “Oh, y’all remind us of KRAVE.” You know what I mean? So, we just really try to focus on being the best KRAVE we can be, as opposed to pulling from other groups.

Shan Q: To add onto that, I think the impact that trios like TLC, SWV and Destiny’s Child had on young women was incredible. We’re all for female empowerment and respecting yourself, having confidence and just being sexy in your own way. Sexy doesn’t mean just taking off your clothes and showing body. It means just having confidence and respecting yourself. So we want to showcase that in our music.

Clayton Perry: It’s really interesting that you said that. So let’s transition to “Scrub Tha Ground” real quick. Going into the music video, I had a certain conception of what I thought the music video was going to be about, since I had Splack Pack’s version in my head. I am so happy that it didn’t turn out to be what I was expecting, with y’all cutting a fool on the dance floor! [laughing] How familiar were you all with the original, as you selected the title for this song?

Chanel: You thought the video was going to be like Freaknik ‘93 or something?!? [laughing]

Clayton Perry: Yeah, I did! [laughing] But I’m glad that it wasn’t, though.

Chanel: Of course, we’re from Atlanta and that song was really big in the South, so yeah, we knew about the song. We knew what type of dancing was being done. But we just kind of wanted to take something old school and switch it up, make it modern and make it feel young. So the young kids that didn’t know what that song was all about, now they know.

Clayton Perry: Got you.

Chanel: But we made sure that it was something that was more appropriate for the young kids. Just like you said. They see the video and they’re like, “Oh, this ain’t really what I thought it was going to be,” but this is still hot, you know what I mean?

Clayton Perry: Definitely.

Chanel: It doesn’t have to be vulgar. Like Shan Q was saying, we don’t really believe in having to take your clothes off and shake your butt all in the camera to be sexy and sell music. That’s not what we’re all about! [laughing]

Clayton Perry: Well, considering the contemporary music landscape, I appreciate the fact that you know that kids will be digesting whatever you give them. In what other ways has Atlanta shaped your style or influence your music?

Jazzy: Everything. The bass in the music. The dances that we do. The food that we eat. Atlanta is a unique city, with a special type of energy.  It still has that Southern hospitality, but it’s still a trendy, up-and-coming city. So it’s a good balance here in Atlanta. A lot of celebrities come here, party. They come here to settle their lives. Because we don’t have the typical paparazzi that L.A. would have. But yet and still we have nice clubs and nice restaurants and boutiques. Atlanta’s just a nice place to be. Twenty minutes out of the city you can go to some country town and get some Vidalia onions or something! [laughing] It gives you a certain pride in your community and it’s kind of rubs off on your music and the way we dress. Atlanta has inspired us a lot.

Clayton Perry: I know that you have a very close business relationship with Devyne Stephens. In some of your early press releases, he described your music as “Ghetto Pop.” How would you describe your sound?

Chanel: That is a really good question, but let me start with Devyne. Devyne is a great guy. He took us under his wing and he gave us the opportunity to do what we love to do. So we just want to give a special shout-out to Devyne Stephens! [laughing] For people who don’t know about Devyne Stephens, he is the guy who found Akon. He owns a complex here in Atlanta and he’s CEO of UpFront Megatainment, which is the label that we’re signed to. But as far as our sound—I would say, “Look. We’re three girls from Atlanta. We like to have fun. We like to make music. And we’re high energy. So get on it, get with it or give lost.” That’s what I would say.

Jazzy: As far as the “Ghetto Pop,” we coined that term just to describe that the music that we’re trying to make and trying to give to the public is universal. It can go to the urban neighborhoods, to the suburban kids, to the people in Europe, Australia and back to  Africa. We’ve got the African drums all up in the music! [laughing] But we just want to bring back the urban music that Atlanta is known for; the legacy of LaFace, with Usher and TLC. And you know we love Monica! So we just want to bring the urban music back and make it universal. We’re going to do a duet with Taylor Swift! You didn’t know? [laughing] Be on the look-out for that! [laughing continues]

Clayton Perry: On the professional side, is there a particular piece of advice that Devyne has given you that was really helpful?

Chanel: Devyne has always drilled into us the importance of staying humble, because arrogance and all that gets you nowhere in this game. It’s best to stay humble and make your moves and get it that way. So, try to stay as humble as possible around these parts.

Shan Q: And Akon – he’s  our big brother. And the one thing he has told us is to always be yourself. Don’t hold back. Do you. If you want to talk about this, talk about it. If you want to sing it this way, sing it this way. And try it out. If it doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board. But never hold back and just always be yourself.

For more information on KRAVE, visit their official website:


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