In April 2017, DMV native and UNH student Jameson Glover who goes by the stage name “Jaes” shot the video for “Breathless” a trap-influenced number speaking out about the oppression that African Americans still face in today’s society. He rounded up several students who are aspiring musicians, photographer, and videographers to help make this song and video a reality.
This week, I got the chance to have an interview with three of the artists involved in the making of this song: Jameson, who is set to graduate in May with a degree in Music Industry, Anna D’Anae, a senior majoring in Business and recent graduate Demetri Smith. All three aspire to go make it to the top of the entertainment industry in various forms and fashions.
Leeky: How was this song born? What is “Breathless”?
Jaes (Jameson): “The idea for the song came to life after viewing the movie “Fruitvale Station” back in 2013 and reading more about the murder of Oscar Grant. I was already enraged behind the profiling and stereotyping of Trayvon Martin that led to his death. At the time of his death, Trayvon was the same age as me which really struck a nerve. It made me view the world differently. Watching that film based on Oscar Grant and reading the details online was the tipping point. Oscar Grant was only 22. From there was Eric Garner to Mike Brown to Tamir Rice to Sandra Bland, and I am only mentioning the ones that made massive media headlines let alone all the other cases that people may not know about. So Breathless became a way to express my frustrations as a young male of color. The goal is to remind people of our struggles. Just because police brutality cases are not being broadcasted to the same degree as the cases listed above does not mean police brutality is over.”
Demetri: “I came up with the idea first but knew Jameson had the juice to pull people together, so I implanted the idea in his mind via inception and waited for him to come ask me to be in it, then I happily accepted the offer. Seriously tho, breathless is a scoreboard of what has occurred to our people over the past 500 years, so the question is why wasn’t the song made sooner?”
Anna D’Anae: “The song was created by Jameson. He was the creative mind and producer of this project.”
L: How did it become a trap song?
J: “To express my anger, I could not make this an R&B nor Pop track, my other specialties in production. Trap beats sound very aggressive. Therefore, I felt as though this track has to be Trap.”
A: “Breathless became a trap song just off of the base of the vibe of the song. Although it is a song with intent when that chorus comes in you just get hyped.”
D: “Didn’t mean to be a trap song but that’s what we have been exposed to for the past few years so when it was created that’s how it came out.”
L: What was the processing of creating it?
J: “I actually started off with writing the bridge of the song back in freshmen year of college. At the time, I really I wanted to be a rapper. For the bridge, the idea was to go back and remind people of specific police brutality casualties and then segue into my personal feelings. From there, I knew where I wanted to take it and wrote the hook and Verse 1. Rapper and recent University of New Haven graduate, Damani Piper wrote his own lyrics for Verse 2.”
A: “I wasn’t a part of the initial creative process. But from my observation when it came down to the actual recording, everyone recorded their parts individually. When it was time for the photo shoot we were pretty much together, and Jameson had everything in his mind for his vision. Same with the video.”
D: “A LOT OF MIXING! On my end at least. but during the sessions, I remember listening to everyone do their parts and becoming a fanboy of there performances.”
L: Explain your involvement in the song.
J: “For this song, I was the producer, the artist, a vocal arranger, one of the two songwriters, one of the three video directors, and the concept creator. I also had to play the role of A&R, which is finding the talent to be on the song. In addition, I sought out a photographer and directors in the Communications Department. Meetings were scheduled between Campus Police, my consultant and I to get clearance to bring prop guns onto campus. Same goes for scheduling meetings with the Head of the Theater Department to use their light system.”
A: “My involvement with the song was minor. I was simply called to be a part of getting a major message across a major platform. So, I was just involved in the actual song and the video. Jameson and myself also worked on how I was going to convey the part he wrote for me. ”
D: “I mixed the entire thing for one and I’m also on the first verse.”
L: Did you know who you wanted to be featured on it? And why those people?
A: “Who was featured on the song had nothing to do with me. I believe it was solely Jameson’s choice.”
D: “I had a feeling on a few that ended up being picked, but the rest was Jameson.”
J: “The only person I did not know who I wanted at the time was the rapper on the bridge, Kenneth Jeffrey. I knew I wanted Gospel powerhouse, Brianna Young. She is a truly gifted and highly skilled singer. She has perfect pitch, can improvise melodies on the spot and harmonizes like a beast. Then we have Damani Piper. Damani is the type of rapper who truly studied his craft. He is very expressive and always challenges himself to go above and beyond his limit as well as what is expected of a rapper. He also has that raspy, raw grunt sound to his voice that fit the song perfectly! I am really fond of his tone if I am being completely honest. Next is Anna Chapman. I had to get Anna on the track because her voice is so beautiful, soft and innocent. But do not be fooled, that girl knows how to sing! Given that the track’s feeling changes for the final hook, I knew I could not be the one leading. She was the right voice. Now comes Demetri Smith. I did not want a rapper for all the verses. I wanted a second male singer. My immediate thought was Demetri who is yet another talented individual. Demetri’s artistry has grown ever since I met him and he has always impressed me. It was a no-brainer. Plus I figured her can engineer the project as well which is what happened. Lastly, I found Kenneth Jeffrey through a mutual friend of ours. She played me his music on Soundcloud, and I loved his aggressive tone in his voice. He is very articulate and has a nice flow. I figured he would be the final addition to this A1 collaboration team! I can strongly say that I reached out to the right artist that could deliver on a song of this caliber.”
L: Tell me about the concept of the accompanying music video.
J: I wanted this video to be simple so the listeners can still be entertained but really listen to the words. I forget how I landed on this Youtube video, but it was of news anchor Tomi Lahren comparing the Black Lives Matter Movement to the KKK. To add on, given that the topic “Fake News” was trending after Trump’s live bashing of CNN, my directors had the idea of staging a News Show with a bigoted host named “Bonnie Morhen.” The rest of the video, I felt as though Black &White would give the video that edge it needed. I wanted to incorporate still framed shots of Black men and women looking angry and frustrated dead into thee care lens. That’s how our people feel so relaying that message was important. Lastly, the ending of the video was created to give a visceral response to the viewers. My goal was to have people feeling some type of emotion after watching it whether it be shock, anger, or sadness.
L: What is it about the Black Lives Matter movement that resonates with the black community?
A: “The Black Lives Matter Movement resonates in the community because we all know what it is like to be oppressed and being caution about inequality upon minorities is very important. The message that ties into BLM is very clear and communities that understand it wants to understand it and they act on it.”
D: “Because black lives matter was made because of black struggle….🙃”
J: “The fact that the Black Lives Matter movement continuously fights for our struggle is what resonates. They are the main platform that allows us to speak up, be informed and rise together as a community, culture, and race. People are so quick to turn away from conflict and controversial issues. The BLMM makes sure people do not forget through peaceful protesting and seminars. They are the foundation of our fight and instill power back into our voices.”
L: Do you feel it’s important as an artist to be political in your music and why?
J: “[As an] African American artist, yes. Not all the time because even I think that gets played out. However, instead of reciting the same topic of sex, drugs, violence, and money, they can use their gift to educate or remind people of more important subjects. Subjects that are usually swept under the rug.”
A: “It is extremely important to be political in your music. And that doesn’t mean “preaching” in every single song. But, music and entertainment is the most influential way to get a message across to people. If artist talk about political things inside of their music, it will resonate amongst listeners. And even if people don’t agree with what is in the music they still would have listened. ”
D: “Yes because only the real will stand the rest of time.”
L: How was it shooting the music video for the song? Why do you think it’s important for young artists or media makers (especially in college to work together)?
A: “It was fun shooting the music video. Being that Jameson already knew what he wanted and he had a schedule it was pretty easy to get done. I think it is very important for young artist to work together. When I shot my video I used everyone around my age and I used connections I made in UNH as far as actually recording the song and doing the music video as well. I think it’s really important to make and sustain these types of relationships because after school these connections can come in handy. ”
D: “The video was very well put together. Everyone was able to add their own sauce. Jameson Is a good director and organizer. Also, I will say that I was very professional because in the last scene I was beefing with one of the other artists.”
Check out “Breathless” right now”
Below are the IG/Twitter accounts to follow the artists of “Breathless”
Anna D’Anae: @_anna_danae
Romello (Kenny): @_itsroemello