Earl St. Clair is a humble, funny, and wise artist under Def Jam Recordings. His raspy and soulful voice makes his music stand out from others because of his unique and realistic tone. After speaking with Earl St. Clair, it became clear that his vision and purpose in the music industry is to be true to himself and make music that will be great for eternity.
Tell us about signing with Dej Jam recordings. How did you feel?
It was amazing. I was signing to one of the meccas of hip-hop music. Growing up as a kid, listening to hip-hop, I knew the story of Def Jam records, how it came about, who was signing who, who sold what, and how many, so being signed by them while doing something that nobody else is doing right now feels like a new line of music at Def Jam, and I’m honored. I love all the people there. There’s no one I can say I don’t like. Everyone does their job. Everyone is nice. It feels amazing.
You were a producer. What made you switch over into the performance and singing aspect of music?
Life, my path, one thing I do not do is fight my path. I thought I was going to be a big producer but that wasn’t planned. A year ago things changed, I took that left and ended up here. I actually like being on this side because I can create the type of music I hear in my head, oppose to wishing I can create it. I’m actually able to be who I fully want to be.
I didn’t know I was going to be singing, though.
Tell us about your debut record, Man on Fire. How did you create the album? What was your inspiration for it?
The day I went into the studio, I found out my ex-girlfriend had a new boyfriend and I was pretty upset, I was on fire. That’s what the saying comes from “Man on fire”. I’m on fire, I’m mad as hell, I want to fight, my blood is boiling, and one of the producers I was working with started playing the base and then “she makes my heart stop, drop, and roll” it came right out, I pretty much let all my feelings go, because I was talking about it.
What separates your sound from other musicians or artists? Describe yourself as an artist.
It’s me. I want people to understand the importance of being yourself and knowing yourself, because it’s only one you. And if you be you, nobody else can be you, and that’s something that’s not out there. Me being myself, I automatically standout and it goes with the music, because everything I take in and process from other music is what comes out when I create my own, those are the colors I paint. Every individual has their own colors they want to paint but a lot of people don’t know how to be themselves. That’s why I stress the importance of that.
What artists do you look up to? Which artists inspire you?
James Brown, OutKast — their music was amazing, Kayne West, Al Green, and so many more.
Where are you from?
I was born in Cleveland and grew up in Alabama.
Where is the best place you’ve toured or traveled?
Amsterdam, because they have an “urban essence” there and it’s legal, and it’s chilled and the people there are chilled.
You did a collaboration with BiBi Bourelly. How did that happen? What was the message of the song and how did y’all come up with it?
Conversations turn into songs. We were playing beats, just sitting and talking about ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends, how they try to act like they’re perfect, but never did anything, and you’re the only person in the relationship that did everything. We heard the right beat at the right moment and started writing the song just off of our conversation. “You’re just a little too perfect baby” you look really good, but you’re bad on the inside.
Who else in the industry would you like to collaborate with?
Kayne West for sure and Andre 3000. I haven’t done a lot of collaborations yet, but I am looking forward to them.
How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
The crazy thing is I don’t know how to measure it honestly, I live in the moment. I don’t look forward enough and sometimes I can look backwards to much, but most of the time I am lost in the moment and its hard. I have to ask people is the record doing good, and I’ll get a response like “what do you mean, yea the record is doing good”.
I don’t know what’s good and what’s not now and days. At one point in time your success was measured by how many records you sold, but now it’s not measured by that, and sometimes it seems like a popularity contest so I don’t know. All I can do is continue to do my job, hope people continue to take to it, and one day I’ll wake up and be performing at the super bowl. And I’ll think, Ok I’m a little successful now.
In your opinion, what does it takes to be iconic, and who do you believe achieved that status? Why?
I think consistency, honesty, and being relatable to a certain extent is what gives you the icon status. Being a trendsetter, doing things other people aren’t doing, and being an original. I would have to say Michael Jackson was defiantly an icon, in the rap world I will have to say Jay-Z is an icon, and in the R&B world I will have to day Beyoncé.
Those are the people who are one of one, they stay consistent, and as far as I know are honest with their music.
You are about to perform at the Apollo Theater in October. Are you excited and how are you preparing for that?
I am more than excited, because that’s like a place where a lot of artist got their break. To perform on stage that James brown has stepped foot on, that Steve Wonder has stepped foot on, and the temptations, is amazing. For Me to perform there at an early stage of my career is a blessing and I’m more then thankful.
I am preparing for it by making sure that I give an experience that you will not get listening to the album. I always want to make sure that there’s a difference because if you’re paying for the same thing you get on tape, what is the point of paying for it. It’s my job as an artist to make sure you get your money’s worth. You don’t have to spend your money on me, you don’t have to spend your time on me, and you don’t have to spend your attention on me, so I’m going to make sure it’s worth every minute, dollar, and cents.
What’s your social media information?
Is there anything else you will like to add?
Be yourself, work hard at being you not somebody else, it’s hard to get lost in other people lives due to the internet, because you idolize people to the point where you can go look at their Instagram and try to dress like them and do the things that they do, but go do you, go be great, its only one of you, go be that ace in a deck.