Seven years after her debut project 1021, the singer returns with Play With The Changes and she’s letting us in on some real truths.
It’s been seven years since we had a project from left-field R&B singer Rochelle Jordan – and it’s been worth the wait. Letting loose, the singer invites us into her futuristic world for her sophomore album, Play With The Changes, ushering us in with smoky vocals and sultry ear-ringing whispers. While it would normally be easy to label an album R&B, pop or rock, Jordan dispels any ideas of genres for the album, as she casually breaks the norms with UK garage-flecked productions and hectic heady beats that shadow the likes of The Weeknd’s Trilogy and Azealia Banks pre-Fantasea.
Hypnotising listeners upon entrance with “Love You Good”, Jordan evokes the same two-step energy as that of the Artful Dodger, with a rapidly building production that erupts into a ferocious house party with heart racing drums and dulcet harmonies. Leading us into the main room of the club with a chain of oscillating wispy vocals for “Got Em” and “Next 2 You”, Jordan formidably blends her vocals into an array of intertwining R&B, garage and electronica productions.
With lyrics like, “The way I come through, I don’t even try, we could go back to the 405,” Rochelle playfully asserts herself as a pro for creating adventurous musical arrangements, while referencing her journey from Drake’s hometown Toronto to the musical melting pot of Los Angeles – all while riding a UK-influenced beat. The 12-track project bleeds atmospheric and ethereal productions, from the fierce dark-hued “Already” to the smooth-sailing “Lay”, Jordan does it all with her delicate and layered vocals.
“I just wanted to showcase my musical range and ability to blend genres,” Jordan candidly revealed. “For this project, the questions I had for myself were how do I move into an uptempo and abstract soundscape and still maintain relatability? Can my tone and style of voice be the thread to really pull these different styles together and make this project feel cohesive? A lot of the time, with uptempo beats in particular they can easily drown out the voice of the artist and be the leading factor. I really wanted a balance and to be just as strong as the music.”
Making her reemergence with her new album, the LA-based UK-born singer took the past seven years to tap into her musical prowess, using the time to re-connect with her heritage and roots in the UK, citing the country as “something you will always hear in her music.” Labelling this album as her “proudest work to date”, we caught up with Jordan virtually, digging deep on her musical heritage, why she took time out to re-focus and how all eyes are dead set on the future.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Rochelle! How’s this past year been for you? Has it affected your creativity?
It has in a way. It’s been a hard past year on so many levels so for many people. I think my creativity was bound to take a bit of a hit during this pandemic and with what’s been going on with our social climate. Even right now after everything that’s gone on, every time I attempt to write a song, I don’t have the words at this time. But what I do know is that once this pandemic is over and we get back to what will be a new normal, some good stuff will come to me to express naturally. I feel like I’m just pending right now.
What is your earliest memory of music?
My earliest memory of when I really recognized the power of music was in grade 3 in my music class. The teacher had us split up into 3 groups, in which she had the first group start to sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ little star’. some counts after that, she’d have the second group begin, and then the third. At that moment I had experienced what harmony was and it was as if a switch turned on in my mind. I’ll never forget that moment.
You’re originally from the UK before relocating to Canada, do you pull on any UK music for inspiration?
I do because my roots still linger in the UK. A large amount of my family is there and I was introduced by my older siblings to a lot of different factions of UK music at a young age so you will always hear me reflect that in my music.
And then you moved from Toronto to LA, what was the change like, going from one music scene to the next?
I was so excitable at that point where I made that move as I just wanted to expand my musical pallet, so it was amazing for me to just pick up and leave for LA. It felt natural as I had been traveling back and forth between Toronto to LA every few months for a few years prior to leaving for good so I had my forever connections in the music scene in Toronto and the same in LA at that point. Both really supportive of my music.
Your sophomore album is absolutely incredible, congratulations! Talk me through the production process and your mindset going into it?
Thank you! That really means a lot. Honestly, I just wanted to showcase my musical range and ability to blend genres. For this project, the questions I had for myself were how do I move into an uptempo and abstract soundscape and still maintain relatability? Can my tone and style of voice be the thread to really pull these different styles together and make this project feel cohesive? A lot of the time, with uptempo beats in particular they can easily drown out the voice of the artist and be the leading factor. I really wanted a balance and to be just as strong as the music.
The album really pulls on a lot of funk, drum and bass, and R&B, what draws you to this genre?
I really appreciate you recognizing the different sounds and genre blends on this album. I think it’s the soul of this sound of these styles of music that draws me in.
When I think back to funk, in my mind I see Earth wind & fire and their ability to make it unique and their own. When I think of Drum and Bass I think back to Frankie Knuckles in Chicago bringing a new sound to music which would be the start of what would turn into these many factions of house and drum & bass music. Aretha Franklin being a defining moment in R&B and what creativity in soulful adlibbing would move on to sound like. There are so many other mentionable artists going further back and forward. So when I think about it, it’s really this undeniable soulfulness and creativity I’m attracted to within these genres.
This is your second album, how would you describe your growth?
Each time I release a project, it’s a new intention but the mindset has always been the same. Appreciate what is behind me but have my eyes set on the future of music. Whether that’s what people hear when they listen to my music or not, that mindset has helped me grow and pushed me to never want to stay the same. I got to make sure that I’m ever-evolving and moving forward, you know.. even if that means letting go of things and those who can’t move forward with me.
What song means the most to you on the album and why?
I think ‘Lay’ means the most to me at this moment in time. I wrote that in 2019 not long after Nipsey Hustle passed away as I was reflecting on the pain that his family were and still are going through. But even prior to that unfortunate event, the constant police brutalities/murders that have been happening to black people consistently in America have been haunting me. The anxiety I feel sometimes when my significant other walk’s out the door is a very real sensation and I really wanted to reflect on that because I know so many of my people are feeling this right now too. And honestly, I hate to even reflect on it sometimes because I really don’t want to attract these things but it is real and I felt a responsibility to try to help paint what is a very big picture of the injustice black people are facing here in America.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe it as electronic R&B.
Now your album is out what’s next for you/ what are you most excited for?
What’s next is simply seizing cool opportunities that are coming my way. I am excited about performing in front of people again in the flesh, that’s an irreplaceable sensation that is definitely missed. This music reaching new people is always exciting to me. But most of all, I’m excited and hopeful for some years of peace in our society, for real. I’m praying that we get back to some normalcy soon and for there to be some kind of evolved mindset as humans that will benefit how we navigate the world and issues moving forward because this is not the tea.