Location: Anime Expo 2017
Interview Date: 7/3/2017
If you attended Anime Expo’s Neon District, you were able to listen to cuts from ☆Taku Takahashi, banvox, TeddyLoid, Pa’s Lam System, Massive New Krew, and New Jersey’s own, R3LL. Anime Expo was actually an easy trip for R3LL to make as he had previously relocated from Newark, NJ to Los Angeles, CA. It was necessarily a straight shot though, as R3LL had to work his way up, from playing New Jersey teenage house parties (2006-2009), to college parties (2009-2012). It’s actually not that uncommon to play house parties and college parties as you’re growing up. What’s unusual is taking your music to the next level.
Before I go further I should explain a bit about the New Jersey music scene. Yes, there is a lot of cross pollination between New York and New Jersey, but New Jersey has its own musical identity. New Jersey takes a lot more from the Philadelphia and Baltimore scenes than New York does. Newark specifically got hooked on Baltimore’s blend of hip hop and dance, sped it up to 140 beats per minute, and turned it into something entirely unique. Brick City now had its own sound, which eventually became known as Jersey Club. R3LL was one of the original members of the Brick Bandits crew. Eventually, R3LL helped found the Brick Bandits record label. You can find a bit more history on Jersey Club and the Brick Bandits here. He released his first EP, Directions, with Brick Bandits.
R3LL brought his Jersey Club sound around the world. Banvox reached out to him and a friendship was formed. They ended up producing a pretty sweet track. R3LL hooked up with Dim Mak records, and they released R3LL’s EP Visions.
R3LL’s connection to Banvox and Attack the Music (Check out the Frequency Blitz series) led to his invite to play at the Neon District. I should add, he also played Tomorrowland via Dim Mak. Also, the Tomorrowland website is amazing.
So, let’s start with the basics:
Anime Herald: “What are some of your favorite anime?”
R3LL: “Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Naruto. I’ll be playing the Dragon Ball Z theme at the Neon District.”
Anime Herald: “What are your expectations for Anime Expo?”
R3LL: “I’m just looking forward to experiencing all four days.”
Anime Herald: “How would you describe your music.”
R3LL: “I come from a hip hop background. It’s a ‘Dirty Jersey Sound’.
Anime Herald: “How has the experience of moving out to LA been?”
R3LL: “It’s been very beneficial to move out here. I moved out to LA 18 months ago. Since then I’ve been verified on Twitter.”
Anime Herald: “How did you end up hooking up with Banvox?”
R3LL: “He reached out to me on Soundcloud. He liked my music and I like his. We toured in Japan together. We also worked together on my EP from Dim Mak.”
Anime Herald: “What are you working on right now?”
R3LL: “My next EP. It’s scheduled to come out in September. I’m also going to be playing Tomorrowland in Belgium.” (Editor’s note: That was on July 28th.)
Anime Herald: “Where do you want to be ten years from now?”
R3LL: “I’d like to have an established platform. More control over my time frame. I want to be able to reach out to producers. Mostly, I want to have total freedom to work with anyone on any platform.”
Anime Herald: “Are there any albums that particularly impressed you?”
R3LL: “Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’.”
Anime Herald: “Have you seen the recent ‘40 Years of Hip Hop’ mashup?”
R3LL: “I think I saw it on Facebook.” (Note: I played the video on my phone and R3LL proceeded to sing along. It ended up being one of my favorite moments of Anime Expo.)
Special thanks to Anime Expo for setting up the interview, and to R3LL for taking the time to speak with us.