Profile: R&B Heavyweight Lonny Bereal on Debut LP ‘The Love Train’ (Video Interview)
Lonny Bereal want to "increase the population" with 'The Love Train'Posted by Melissa Daniels
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of R&B’s most talented constituents, Lonny Bereal. Although he just released his first album, The Love Train, he is no newbie to the music industry. This Grammy Award winning songwriter has made the transition from production to performance and is knocking the socks off of R&B fans everywhere.
Bereal spent numerous years singing background for the likes of Kelly Rowland, Jamie Foxx, Tank, and K-Ci & Jojo; writing music for Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, Pleasure P, Keyshia Cole and more; receiving Grammy nominations consecutively for five years before winning; producing songs that have gone gold and multi-platinum. With accolades through the roof, it’s a wonder why Bereal hasn’t released a studio album sooner.
In 2011, Bereal won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album for his work on Chris Brown‘s F.A.M.E.. Among some of his other more notable hits, he’s written “Please Don’t Go” for Tank, “Under” for Pleasure P, “I Can Transform Ya” for Chris Brown, and he’s also landed a few records on film soundtracks, including “More Than a Game” that was featured on the Lebron James documentary. Aside from his Grammy laurels, Bereal has also earned an Emmy Nomination, and several ASCAP Songwriting Awards.
But songwriting and producing isn’t his only trade. Bereal has since switched gears to follow the spotlight, making the transition from the production to the spotlight.
The Love Train, Bereal’s first studio album, dropped roughly a month ago, and it’s already racking in a 5 star rating on iTunes. The vocals come across rich and pure with the classic R&B soul vibe that takes you back to the old days when Maxwell and Brian McKnight reigned supreme.
When I asked Lonny what the response has been like so far from friends, fans and collaborators alike, positivity seemed to flow in abundance.
“The response so far has been all good. Like, a lot of people say, ‘You stuck to the R&B roots. This is what we needed.’ I always say that this album is a blast from the past, because I took all my inspirations growing up and created my own sound, and really wanted to bring real music back — real musicianship. Just have fun with it,” said Bereal.
Bereal has had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest super stars in R&B and Hip-hop, which is why it’s no surprise that he chose to collaborate with singer Kelly Rowland for his first single, “Favor,” off The Love Train.
“Favor,” is a steamy collaboration between Bereal and Rowland. It’s just a taste of the old school throwback sound, but with a fresh new flavor that R&B has seemed to be missing for quite some time. Of working with Rowland, Bereal said her sultry voice would bring the element of sensuality the song commands.
“We continuously work together. Then, even when we weren’t working together, we’ve always hung out,” said Bereal. “So, for us to get in the studio and for her to actually give back to me this time on Favor was a definite dream come true and an honor. We had fun. It was magical. It was very organic; it just happened real smooth.”
When first getting started, Bereal sang background vocals for Rowland, wrote eight songs and vocal produced nine off her second studio album, and vocal produced another four off her third album. Rowland’s latest album is among one of Bereal’s current projects. He’s written a multitude of tracks that will be featured on her fourth studio album due out sometime in 2012.
Additional collaborators jumped at the chance to work with Bereal on The Love Train. J-Doe, David Banner, and Charlie Bereal are also featured on the album.
Back in 2010, Bereal released his first mixtape Love Games Pt. I. and the evolution between albums is totally apparent in the sound. Love Games Pt. I, was funky, frisky, and a little rough. With The Love Train, Bereal comes across as refined and even more sexy. He really demands attention with this new album.
Love Games Pt. I featured collaborations with Jamie Foxx, Tank, Ted Riley, Petey Pablo and Chris Brown, and believe it or not, Bereal already has plans to release his second mixtape, Love Games Pt. II, in the next few months.
Although he has yet to conquer his dream collaborations with Beyoncè and R. Kelly, Bereal is working hard to get out on the road to really expose his music to the masses. The Love Train tells a story, Bereal said when we sat down with him, a story about the power of love. He pulled a lot of his material from his personal relationship history.
“[I just want] people to feel loved, learn how to love and just make it through anything in your relationship. There’s going to be some ups and downs,” he said, “but The Love Train is about people who understand love and find a way to overcome everything through love.”
On what he hopes to communicate with his album: “I hope that they understand the real musicianship in artists like myself that — we were able to do really do this without auto tune. We’re able to really write a song with no music, just like the classic artists back in the day. But, for the most part I was trying to increase the population — baby-making music!”
Currently, Bereal has got a few spot dates scheduled, and is working hard to hop on a tour in the near future. In the meantime, he’s keeping busy in the studio working on Tank’s new album, This Is How I Feel, that just dropped May 8th, Jamie Foxx’s new project, Kelly Rowland’s forth album, and writing for Trey Songz.
I caught up with Lonny at the International News Headquarters in Kent, Wash. while he was in town checking out the new A.Tiziano fall clothing designs. We had a great time talking about his new album, his hopes for what fans get out of it, and what his transition from producing to performing has been like. Check out the interview below.