Friday, 22 November 2013

#ESPspotlight Interview (PART TWO) : TYRESE The 'Vision Implementer' Talks Influence & Fast Thoughts...

The Musician, Actor, and Writer talks Influence, Inspiration, Fast & Furious 7, Black Nativity and of course, KRISTAL!

Did you catch that stonker of an Interview with Kristal Lyndriette earlier this week - the first recording artist signed to Voltron Recordz - the label owned and chaired by none other than multi-talented mogul Tyrese Gibson? It's one of my new favourites, as is her hypnotic debut single 'Silhouette'.

Grab your FREE DOWNLOAD of 'Silhouette' courtesy of Mr Gibson!
Just in case you didn't, then Reader Friends and Family - I honestly have to take a moment to recap, and explain something with all the brevity and candour that I can muster.

I spend the majority of my waking hours with older releases (1930s-to early 2000s) pouring through the headphones I need to be surgically removed from on occasion; purely because with the exception of a very few rare talentsI do not care for most of what I currently hear. I'm not moved by it, the majority fails to elicit a polite (printable) response. This song is one of my Top 2 of 2013 so far - the other being that killer Young Jeezy remix of #Beautiful by Mariah Carey featuring Miguel - I'm not afraid to admit I'm Obsessed (pun fully intended). Silhouette was initially one of my Top 3, but when I woke the day after hearing it for the first time, something unprecedented happened: for the life of me, I could not remember what the third song was, and I firmly believe that was because Kristal's vocal style and delivery, not to mention the murderous track production, mercilessly took over my mind. If you haven't yet, then for the love of all logic and reasonPLEASE go and have a listen NOW - I promise you this gorgeous songbird will make your day better in so many ways (not least because I'm pretty sure it will lead to a lucky night for some of you, at least)!

Taking off my #TeamVoltronUK Captain's hat for a moment (self-elected, but completely legitimate); originally, I had planned to deliver you one bumper feature, with Tyrese's mini-interview added to Kristal's. But in all honesty, after hearing that Wonder Woman speak, I really didn't want the importance of her Season as Tyrese describes it, to be overshadowed in any way; her story so far really deserves your full focus and attention. Instead, I'm giving you an unprecedented double whammy to enjoy:

Here's what happened when The Big Man was kind enough to exceed our allotted session time talking with us, by staying to answer every question we had, disregarding the strict ONE question limit every Media Rep on the global press call had been promised...

You're filming Fast & Furious 7, you're promoting your new artist Kristal under a label where you are the CEO, and now you're also doing Voltron's Travel Agency. How does one go from each aspect of Entertainment, and achieve being successful at pretty much anything you put your hands on?

Tyrese: "Well...I drank out of the same cup that P. Diddy drank out of, about 10 Thanksgivings ago. 'The Entrepreneur Cup', 'The Cup of Determination'! No, listen - we are in America. It is on us to take management of our America. Who are we to decide, that because we have access and resources to all of this stuff, that we're just not going to do it? Now I might very well hit a wall, but so what? What makes me successful, is that it started out (as) a vision, a dream, or an idea, and I executed - I got it done. And it's real now.

You can pick up your phone, and you can dial (1-)855-4-VOLTRON, there's 25 people on my staff waiting, to help you to get home to your families, during this holiday season. That was the goal. It's a soft launch, we're still building the Voltron Travel website, I said in my mind 'We've got to do it NOW'. So I put everybody under pressure, we've got all this paperwork going, Lawyers back and forth, and all this stuff...Now I don't know - I believe that it will be, but you never know when you start something new, how successful it's going to be. But I will be able to say, I had an idea, and I did it - went all the way.

With Kristal? Same thing; I had conversations with her, that no-one in this world will ever know about. She could've went and got a multi-million dollar cheque, but she went and did that before. I said: 'I don't have that cheque for you. I'm going to give you something, but what I do have, is more belief in me, and you, than anybody you could ever go and sign to. I'm going to go through my entire phone, I'm going to go through my entire database, I'm going to lose sleep, on many nights, doing whatever I can do, to get you there. And so God has been sending me visions and ideas around what to do, who to hire, Stylists, photoshoots...I mean, I've never had a female artist in my life! She's like 'I gotta get my hair done', I'm like 'HUH?' These are all first time conversations! Like, I've got to go to another city and hire a Makeup Artist? I've never done any of this before, but guess what? Before she gets on that red carpet, no-one is ever going to know that it hasn't been done before - we're going to look like the best version of us, that we could possibly look like - period. Did you all see those beautiful photos from the Soul Train Awards? Hold on - where's Kristal at? KRISTAL!!! I'm telling the Soul Train story!"

Hollering for her at the top of his lungs, the exchange is just one in a long list of small familiarities that give real insight into just how close these two friends are. Even if she had not disclosed it during her earlier part of the interview; it was heartwarming to experience such a naturally lovable sibling exchange.

Tyrese continued after some raucous laughter at their end: "...How much hell we went through, to pull that outfit together? See that beautiful armour that was on her shoulders? That came in a FedEx package by itself! And then, we had to build everything else from there. Running around in the mall last minute, and then we showed up on the red carpet; the hair was amazing, makeup was amazing. For me, what was most amazing, what I get excited about, was that no-one knows what we went through to pull it together, so that she looked amazing!

(l-r): Tyrese, Kristal, and Tank on the Soul Train Awards red carpet,
in the now infamous custom-made armour by LaureLuxe of Metal Couture
It's not always about what you go through to get there, it's about the outcome. That's the same story of her life; because people look at her and go "Oh she's beautiful, she's attractive..." But you all have no idea how much sh*t this woman has been through!

We'll talk about this on another call (*holding you to that! - ES); but I had a vision. I always call them emails - God sends me emails full of visions and ideas. And when I get the email, I'm going to be here, and I'll move on it. I've never done this before, but I don't care - I'm not afraid of what I’ve never done before, I'm going to do it. So we're sitting up one night in the studio, and whenever I get ideas, they just pop up out of nowhere, and everybody's always looking at me like 'What’s going on now Reese?!' So the vision – the emailcame in from God, and it said 'You need to shoot a documentary on Kristal; her life story, and what she’s been through since the group (RichGirlbroke up. It needs to feel like a VH1 Behind The Music special. Even though she's not been in the business that long, she's been through a lot of stuff, and so we hired this camera crew. They flew to North CarolinaGastonia. Her family, everybody came in – her high school teachers, junior high school teachers – everybody chimed in and wanted to be a part of this documentary

And then we found out at the last minute, that her brother who's in jail; they called and told us they were going to give us access to the prison, so that we could do an interview with Kristal and her brother, while he's in jail! Now, we’re not the TV show 'Locked Up'; we’re not from any type of network, we're just a regular bunch of guys that said 'Hey! We want to get some cameras in the prison, and do an interview, with her brother who's an inmate, and get some footage with him, talking, getting into family history; the drama, the dysfunction, and stuff that’s happened over the years - and then more importantly, her brother from jail - giving her well wishes as she takes this journey for her solo career.

Now the first prison that he was in, said 'No way'. Then out of the blue, we found out that he was being transferred to another prison. So we contacted them with a letter, and they said: 'Absolutely you all can come in, and interview her brother while he's there!' So we said this can only be a confirmation from God that we were supposed to do this! I tell Kristal all the time – she's got Jesus Juice all over her life! The most random things keep happening, and they're all signs and confirmations that we're supposed to take this journey together

And I also want to say this – I have to just say it, go on the record, and get it out of the way: we are not involvednot even remotely. She is like my sister - that would be like incestshe's my family. As attractive as she is, and as beautiful as she can sing – I have never done anything with anybody who's ever worked for me, or with meI don't cross those lines, it will never happen. I just wanted to put that out there. Because some folks on Twitter, are like: 'He be posting about her so much on Twitter and Instagram, I know they be screwin!' No way, no how. It will never happen, never would I ever cross that line. I am a fully functioning CEO of Voltron Recordz, and that is the full capacity of our relationship – other than her being my friend.’

ES: Next year marks your 20th Anniversary in the Entertainment Industry. That's a longevity that most Artists don't get the chance to enjoy. What would you say is the Number 1 experience that you have learned from, and what lesson did it teach you?

Tyrese: "Honestly, the gist of what I have learned over all of these years, is that you have to have a level of willpower, deep within you, and a level of determination within you. When you are near your bottom financially, when it seems like everybody has turned their back on you and forgotten about you, or you're considered irrelevant - you never allow the opinion that people have of you, to become the opinion of yourself.

'You all don't love me anymore so now, I don't love me.'

'You all think I'm irrelevant so now, I think I'm irrelevant.'

'You all don't care so nowI don't care.'

So when you have Self Love, and your purpose about your life is driven by God, and you know you're supposed to use your gift - because they wouldn't be given to you, if you weren't supposed to use them - you don't allow anybody to instill an energy that they may give you, to dictate how you feel about yourself.

With a 2-year depression, with nobody calling her phone, working in a clothing store, folding clothes, as beautiful and as talented as Kristal is, everybody would look at her exterior, and they would look at her with the curly hair, light skin, beautiful smile, (and say) she's probably going to get pregnant by a Basketball player, or a Rapper, or a Singer, and end up just freeloading for the rest of her life. She didn't do that. She decided 'Y'know what? I don't know what's going on right now. It's a little rough, it's a little crazy, I'm questioning this, and questioning that...' But sometimes God will slow things down in your life, to allow you the opportunity to put things into perspective. So that when you get your turn again, you'll be able to say 'I remember when'. And everything that I did, everything that I said, everything that I may have done when I was on top, or on my way to the top - I sabotaged it, or I messed it up. So when I get my turn again, I'm never going to do that again.

It's her season. It's Kristal's season. I believe in her, and for people that don't believe, they will believe at a certain point. Because everybody that's on this phone, is going to use their Influence, to get everybody excited about Kristal again."

You talk about Energy and Influence, probably every time you speak. How important is energy to you, and how does it influence the decisions that you make as the Chairman of your company?

"Influence plays a huge role. I believe in trying to Influence the Influenced – if that makes any sense at all. I believe in trying to Inspire the Inspired. I'm the guy who will call Bishop T D Jakes, and have a conversation with him about his health. 'How are you feeling Bishop? How are your family? How is your health? How's everything going for you? Is there anything on your mind that you would like to discuss with me? Anything at all?'

I think a lot of times, we find ourselves thinking and assuming, that because a person has money, because they are a person of Influence, that they don't need to be Influenced; or Inspired, or Motivated. I have a responsibility to motivate, and inspire, and use my Influence, in whatever way I can, to make a difference in other people's worlds. If I can give you a quote that me and my team kind of live by, it's a quote that I've kind of created, but I think of the world as 'an empty canvas, waiting on new thoughts to think'; and it's on us to create those thoughts.

James Cameron had Avatar in his mind. And everybody went to see the movie and was like: 'You had all this sh*t going on in your mind, James Cameron? Wait, what?!' So the canvas is empty and James Cameron thought: 'I'm going to put these blue people, with the story, and the pain, in this world that I've created'. And everybody jumped on the bandwagon, 2-3 billion dollars later, after the box office receipts. Now everybody understands the possibilities of how far the imagination can go. That’s why I keep saying on these calls, you all have Influence. From the stroke of your pens when you get off this call and decide to use your Influence, to get people excited about something that they don’t know about. It doesn't exist until you write about it – and that's powerful to me!"

In 2012, you released your phenomenal 'A Dreamer's Dream' Project. Now, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's 'I Have A Dream' speech, you were with his only living sister, and his son. What was that experience like?

Tyrese: "I was with the whole family; I was with his sister, both of his sonsDexter King, and Martin Luther King, III. I was also with Bernice King. I was also with Ambassador Andrew Young. I've been around the King family for going on 5 years now, heavily. I've been studying Dr. King's legacy, and his influence, because my dream and my goal, is to play Dr. King in a movie. I was born at Martin Luther King Hospital in '78, and I feel like it's an assignment that God has put on my life; whether it's an independent movie, or I end up playing Dr. King in a role directed by Stephen Spielberg over at Dreamworks – it's my goal.

It's one thing to talk, it's another thing to walk. I have so much history and research that I've done over all of these years. I have literally stood at probably 15 podiums that Dr King consistently preached at when he was alive. I've literally walked in the footsteps of Dr. King, I've marched in the same places that Dr. King has marched, and I've been in some of the most intimate settings with his kids and siblings, and had conversations - that I will never repeat, they will go to the grave with me - but I know Dr. King in a very, very different capacity. So I hope one day, that it all comes together, because I've definitely paid my dues, and put my time and energy into doing research for this project. So when you saw 'A Dreamer's Dream' - I did it with Jill Scott and Blair Underwood - that was my first time trying to put into the Universe, that I've been really studying this man."

ES: You've played such a huge variety of roles at this point – would you say playing Dr. King is that one role that you dream about and hunger for, more than any other?

Tyrese: "Oh that's most definitely it. The thing is, when you guys see this film, 'Black Nativity' that's coming out November 27th (US, December 6th in the UK) - it's with Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Nas is in it, and this new kid named, Jacob Latimore, who's very talented. When you all see my role in this movie…I'll just leave it at that!"

I need to make it clear at this point, that every lady on the line was so wrapped up in the depth of Tyrese’s words on this call, that when he broke the spell of his hold with deep, throaty laughter, we all laughed with him; not just because we were thrown by the unexpected, abrupt end to his answer but - in the humble opinion of Yours Truly - also because we were experiencing firsthand, what a powerful orator, Gibson truly is. 

Continuing once the laughter subsided: "Arguably, sometimes, folks won't take you seriously in Hollywood, when you only do franchise movies, there is a certain respect that comes with it, but you've got to do these types of roles that are dark, that have layers, that have a different heartbeat. It’s an answered prayer for me actually, because I'm doing the Transformers, and the Fast & the Furious – and I love em; because they've taken me around the world, they have done more for my brand and credibility as an actor…I mean, 30, 40, 50 different languages around the world, these movies are translated into, and that’s done more for my career – ever, but it’s these types of roles, like in Black Nativity, doing film scenes with Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson, that are going to shock people, so that they're like 'WOAH. Ok, so he can act. He can really go there, he can do some things beyond CG, special effectscars exploding, and jumping off of tanks…’ There’s some places that I can go as an actor - this movie afforded me the opportunity to do that; and I can't wait for people to show up and check it out."

No "Arguably" about it - EVERYONE caught their breath during this scene! Fast & Furious 6

With filming already underway, and with a new Director, what can fans expect from Fast & Furious 7?

Tyrese: "With Fast & Furious 7; first of all, we are definitely feeling the pressure. It feels like the movie is becoming aggressively more successful - fortunately, along the way. There's certain nervous energy around going from Justin Lin, who did 3, 4, 5 and 6 as the Director, to now a brand new Director in James Wan, who has a background of doing mainly scary movies – he did The Conjuring, he did Saw, Insidious, and a bunch of scary movies; and now he’s directing Fast & Furious 7. He’s been doing amazingly, even though circumstances can get a little uncomfortable sometimes, just because there’s so much pressure, there’s so many people involved, and a lot of money being spent. He’s been doing a great job. We have Jason Statham now in the franchise; Dwayne Johnson is back, all of us…Ludacris, Vin (Diesel), Paul Walker…the usual suspects. A few people died in 6 as you all know; so we're back with 7, and it’s just getting more aggressive.

I think to be honest, one of the unspoken reasons behind the success – apart from them just loving it and thinking it’s funny, and just being fun action, with so much energy, is everybody around the world, feels like there’s someone in this movie that they can identify with. It’s a multi-ethnic cast. Arguably, in old Hollywood practices, you may have an all-white cast, and just one black person – the token negro! 'We at least gotta put ONE in there – just ONE, to balance out the demographic!’ But there are so many nationalities in this movie, I think Fast & Furious 8 should be called United Nations! And it’s a beautiful thing; because if you're Asian, if you're White, if you're Black, if you're Latin, from Europe - wherever; you deserve to go to one of your favourite movies and see somebody on camera that sounds like you, talks like you, looks like you, represents your energy, or somethingI think it’s important. Right now, we're doing scenes as if we're in Abu Dhabi. We even have Arabs in the movie. We're going to be shooting there for three weeks at the top of January, we're leavingeverybody's going overseas.

I'm just very proud to be a part of this franchise, and I can only hope that I continue to make people laugh, and enjoy themselves when they come to see this movie. Somehow, Roman Pearce is the funny dude in the movie; I don't really know how that one worked out, but whatever!"


"As we wrap this up, I just want to say that there are so many artists out here who are afraid of pain, afraid to tell people that they've actually been through some sh*t. They want to come off as untouchable; 'I'm rich, I'm wealthy, I'm flooded in diamonds, I've got cars and money…’ But we're going to take this journey; we're not afraid to tell people that we've been through some stuff. I mean this woman; she's folding clothes at a clothing store, and then Tyrese calls her. And this is what's crazy: her best friend, who worked in the store with her – who helped her to get a job, a mother with two kids…three weeks ago, she just died in a car accident. So Kristal – I don't know how she continues to smile; I don't know how she stays so encouraged, so Inspired, but this woman is definitely the future of music, in my opinion. We're not competitive, we're not concerned about any other woman – the hairstyle, their dance moves, their voice – we're just trying to be us, and do us, and do everything that we can on our side to help her to get there, but we can't do it without you."

After wishing us all the best for our festive seasons, thanking us again profusely for our time and support, the Superstar 'left the building', so to speak. But not before - silly me, I forgot to mention - the small matter of inviting us all down to the secret Atlanta location of the Fast & Furious 7 set, between now and their Christmas wrap up. Firstly, *insert tears over my missed chance with Paul Walker here: ____________ (hey - my imagination, my boundaries of delusion - or lack thereof, pals). Second, lament over the sheer injustice of my Euro geographical postcode. And thirdly, please refrain from running down to the set (should you learn of it's location), pretending to be a buxom British blogger, popping over from Ye Olde London Town for a visit. Attendance is invitation ONLY, and must be pre-arranged, by Tyrese's wonderful operations management, who are very familiar with all those in attendance on the call - Sorry!

Allowing for a moment's mental digestion as the reality of the previous one hour and thirty-two minutes, finally set in. The fog cleared, and the assessment began. Bearing in mind that hitherto this opportunity, I had intentionally remained unfamiliar with Kristal's rising star. I purposely remained that way, so that I could honestly say that I entered into the encounter without bias, with the intention of letting her Influence me, as to whether or not our only connection would be through the music.

Listening to her throughout, her shyness, humility, humour, eventual warmth, and quiet ability to triumph over adversity won out, and I became a fully paid up, card-carrying member of #TeamKristal. I've been paying attention to her Social Media since then, so I know she's completed more music, and have only one thing to say...PLEASE don't make me wait until next Summer for more music. Kristal, Tyrese - in the words of a sober Bobby Brown: - Don't be CRUEL, 'cause I would never be that cruel to YOU...Oh no...oh...Oh No'.

As for Mr Gibson? Well. What do you even say to the entire experience he repeatedly thanked us for - beyond No, thank YOU! I was somewhat wary entering into the call, as I didn't know what to expect. There were most definitely a few specific points that I took away from it though. In the first instance, I felt quite awkward that he felt the need to clarify his relationship status with his artist. It was as mystifying to me as the time that NCredible Ent. Music Producer Kevin Writer, requested I not ask any questions about Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey's twin children at the start of our interview; my bewildered gut response was "Why would I?!" Completely forgetting that little thing called decorum, and how many media representatives are completely unaware of it's existence

From the perspective of a female with a male best friend - I can attest to being totally oblivious as to why anyone would feel the need to take things to a lascivious level, when a platonic, familial bond is clearly evident. What you take for granted as your connection, others perceive as chemistry, in order to make themselves feel comfortable when presented with a type of relationship that they do not understand - all the while, you're none the wiser of the mistaken impression. I felt quite empathetic toward both, that it should even be necessary to raise the topic at all - until I read some of the comments on the social media accounts of both - then Gibson's reasoning became 'Kristal clear'.

The biggest (and most pleasing) lesson that I took away from the interview however, was that sometimes, 140 characters can do you oh so wrong. I've had more than a few people tell me that they have disconnected from Tyrese on social media, or developed a dislike, because they felt he sometimes came off as 'preachy' and 'sermonising'. Through the opportunity of this call, I got the chance to see the way he handled himself, and the topics posed; the hyperconscious authority he used to ensure his answer to every question, somehow steered back to Kristal. That act alone showed his definitive lack of arrogance, his obvious genuine concern for her wellbeing, and obvious admiration for her tenacity. Combine that with his 'Big Brother' mode, permanently set to: ON, and add the wonderfully humorous, down-to-Earth way in which he interacted with us all - to the unknown point where we completely lost the air of an interview, and instead metamorphosed into listening to a really cool guy share his thoughts, opinions and experiences, in a very comfortable and candid way.  In the end, the call Inspired me to tell you, to give the nice man another try...

(Re)Connect with Tyrese via his Social Media Catalogue below:

And get to know Kristal - I promise she's more than L'Oreal Worth It:

Don't forget to download Kristal's new single #Silhouette straight from the ESP website!

Until the next...
ES ;)