Pell talks Floating While Dreaming II and the power of collaboration

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Jared Pellerin, better known as Pell, hasn’t kept a low profile since the release of Floating While Dreaming of 2014. That mixtape put him on the map, offering listeners a glimpse into Pell’s world of New Orleans-inspired rap that quickly gained traction and found him playing festivals like Hangout and Firefly and touring all over the world. Rather than going back to the well of his debut, he consistently has shifted his sound through collaborations with artists like Big Gigantic and creating the glbl wrmng collective that features members of Tank and the Bangas along with New Orleans’ hottest producers. Today, he’s released the sequel to that album, and I’m thrilled to say that Floating While Dreaming II is just as refreshing as his debut while uncovering new aspects of his sound through a variety of incredible guest collaborators. Whether it’s the upbeat bounce of lead single “Flight” or the smooth collaboration of Pell and PJ Morton on “So Cold”, this album is a blast to listen to as the summer begins to wind down. Pell is equally skilled with his rapping ability as he is with the more soulful, emotive parts of his music, and if you’re a fan of Anderson .Paak or anything adjacent, you need to check this one out. We were fortunate to talk to Pell about Floating While Dreaming II and some of the questions that the album is trying to answer:

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Melodic Magazine: This is a full-circle moment for me to be interviewing you right now — I can remember seeing you at a festival when I was younger.
Pell: Oh, word? Remember where it was?

MM: It was at some festival. I’m from Birmingham, so maybe Voodoo, maybe-
P: Hangout?

MM: Yes! Hangout!
P: Oh man, that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever played. Hangout in general – the vibes are just unmatched there, like, aesthetically.

MM: It’s nice to hear someone loving Alabama instead of saying “ew, Alabama”.
P: Nah, I love Alabama — I played one of the first shows there where I kind of realized “shit, this is going somewhere” opening for Ace Hood in Birmingham.

MM: So, obviously, you’ve kept busy since the first Floating While Dreaming seven years ago; what made you decide to make this album as a sequel to it? Where did that idea begin?
P: Honestly, ever since I dropped the first one, I wanted to make a second one. I kind of got in my head about the name holding too much weight, and now I think I’m finally at a place where all of my music is channeling the energy of the first music, and it’s okay to admit how important that album is. After I made the first album, I felt pressure to change things up on each album — I call it being “expectedly unexpected” — but the more I started doing that the more I realized I wanted to get back to this sound that felt comfortable to me more so than stray away from what I had already done.

MM: I think that idea of continuation is interesting, just because I think the energy on Floating While Dreaming II is much more upbeat than the first one! Am I wrong in approaching it that way?
P: Not at all! I think it’s hard to say that it’s overall more upbeat, in my opinion — like the run from “Dollar Store” to “Little Things” on FWD is super upbeat, and then the first half of this new one kind of acts in the same way. I think, on this record, “Flight” through “RingRingRingis my best three-song run ever because of the way it sets up FWDII to operate in waves — we’re gonna get the energy up, then bring it back down and smooth it out, and get everyone hype again.

MM: This record is super-collaboration-heavy — you’ve got everyone from Dave B. to Big Gigantic on here. Was that intentional?
P: It definitely stemmed from the glbl wrmng project. I think that, where my mind was with the idea of music being communal. I usually create music in isolation — one producer, limited features, etc. — but I loved the idea of, on this record, how reliant it was on sharing information. This record could’ve been just me, but bringing others onto it just made it so much more fun. After making glbl wrmng vol. 1, I realized how many people I was leaving out of the conversation by making it only my voice, but this album has a true community. I think that’s why there are so many features on it, and maybe why I enjoy it more than the original Floating While Dreaming; it feels like an album of the people instead of for the people. 

MM: Are there any memories that come to mind that occurred while making the record through this collaborative approach?
P: Oh man — “Silly Phone”. That one was so collaborative and so fun. Originally, it was just the beat. I invited Braxton Cook and Dominique Fowler to come to the studio with some other friends, and I remember I had Braxton play on the song I’d recorded the day before [“Friction”], and he had laid down that sax solo that’s on the end of that song, and then he started playing a beat that just blew me away. So I just sat with it for a little bit, and then kind of started writing and freestyling on it, putting down vocal lines, and then my homie Malik that ended up on the finished track just came to my studio and started working on it immediately. About two weeks later, I had a friend come over with Dominique to work on it, and I killed the drums, and we realized “oh shit, we have a whole other area of this song to work on.” 

Fast forward a few more weeks, and I’m in the studio with my homie Joseph, and he was like “this would sound dope with a choir”, so we stacked up like 20 vocals and created this angelic choir. We were blown away. And I just kept playing it over and over again thinking “this one’s different”. So I think, collaboratively, that one stands out the most to me just because there were so many hands on it, it took so long to develop, but it eventually turned into one of my favorite tracks on the record.

MM: The press release talks about how this record asks the question “Does success = satisfaction?”, and I think that’s an intensely relatable question that a lot of people ask. I’m watching the new season of American Horror Story, and this dude has intense writer’s block until he takes a pill that makes him the greatest writer ever, but it turns him into a vampire — so there’s a similar tradeoff there. I think the new Billie Eilish record talks about this too; she spends a lot of time writing about how fame actually kind of sucks. It’s clear that you’ve been thinking about this idea, so how has this question and this potential tradeoff of success and satisfaction impacted the way you create?
P: I think it’s interesting how you lump together fame and success! I think those two can sometimes be independent of each other. Take Billie Eilish, man — she’s like, Michael Jackson or Beyonce to some of these kids, you know, and I think that with me, luckily I haven’t experienced that type of overwhelming despair or weird social fame-

MM: Like, that can’t walk outside of your house type of fame.
P: Right! You know, I moved back to New Orleans after I’d achieved some success, but I’m constantly debating on if that success is transferable in every aspect of your life. And I think satisfaction can be found in certain parts in your life — like when I’m making good music, I’m typically satisfied with where I’m at with my career. But that success isn’t necessarily transferable to my relationships with my girl, or my family, or my brother, or my friends. We as artists know about the dark side to chasing this and being a public figure, but you always think that this is going to be overshadowed by the love and support that you receive. It’s funny because those two things are so independent of one another, that success is not always tied to satisfaction.

I think now, I’m in a good space, and at the end of making this record I realized I’m truly good, you know? And I realized that success wasn’t why I was satisfied. It was the time I spent with people that don’t even know my music or the time that I created relationships with anyone outside of music — if you think that success does equate to satisfaction, you’ll be incredibly upset when that doesn’t actually happen. I think that satisfaction can only come from within; how are you going to win if you aren’t right within? 

MM: I agree with you, and I think a lot of folks could stand to hear that.
P: And really, that’s my goal for this new record — I want this music to be healing music. I can make party music or music to get lit to, but we’ve all experienced a whole lot this past year and we need something to get us through whatever this next phase is.

 

Floating While Dreaming II is out today and can be streamed at your platform of choice here.

Keep up with Pell: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook</a

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