Jussie Smollett Interview and Concert for Espolon Tequila

On November 01, 2018 Espolòn Tequila kicked off Day of the Dead with a special celebration at Academy in Hollywood. In the spirit of remembering and honoring those we have lost, Empire’s (FOX) Jussie Smollett paid homage to musical legends who have inspired him throughout his career with an electrifying performance.

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To honor those that have left us, Jussie covered iconic hits from Michael Jackson, BB King, Prince, Whitney Houston (with the help of Ashly Williams and Shyann Roberts), and ended the set with Tupac’s ‘California Love,’ ripping off his jacket to rap the lyrics.  

In an interview backstage, right before the show, the very talented star - he sings, dance, and act - said: “I have celebrated Day of the Dead.  It’s interesting, because I definitely know about the Day of the Dead and I definitely have been celebrating it.  And it is always not every year, but I definitely acknowledge it every single year.  I think it is actually something really beautiful to acknowledge the people who have passed, the people who have come before us.  That’s why this when Espolon came and asked me to be a part of this to be able to honor.  Is this super cool?  Like to be able to honor the people that I loved growing up, the people that we may have lost way too soon.  It’s kind of dull so tonight should be a super chills.”

Always poignant, Jussie encouraged the crowd to exercise their vote during the Midterm Elections on November 6th and performed ‘Need Freedom’ from Season 3 of Empire, a tribute to those we have been lost due to police shootings and inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.

“You will see tonight like there’s a moment in the show where I was just.., we were trying so hard to come up with different things and we would have had like a five hour show because there were so many people.  I was like, WE GOTTA DO ELVIS, WE GOTTA DO JOHN LENNON, WE GOTTA DO THIS, WE GOTTA DO THAT, and it was just like bro, like it’s a 55-minute show, just chill on that.  So, it was really difficult, but you will see tonight, we do little bits of a lot of different songs, so that we could get a lot of different songs done.  We even do California Love by Tupak,” Jussie said about the set that he was about to perform.

During his rendition of Ray Charles’ ‘I Got a Woman,’ the DJ broke into Kanye West’s sample ‘Gold Digger’ to which Jussie exclaimed, “I’m still pissed off at Kanye so f*&k that. But shout out to Ray Charles for giving him the song cuz that sh*t was poppin!”

The crowd broke into the electric slide as Jussie performed Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much.’

Jussie also performed a mixture of songs from his new Album Sum of My Music including ‘Hurt People,’ ‘Ha Ha (I Love You)’ which he wrote for his new beau, and ‘Freedom’.

He also told me about the tour he just wrapped up: “We went on tour, a 40-city tour and we went to four different continents, seven different countries and 40 different cities.  Every single city was sold out.  Every single city.  And I was able to donate every single cent from the proceeds of the tour to charity.  So, we were able to able to donate over $100,000 to eight different charities.  The Black Institute, ACLU, For Your Rights Care, Trayvon Martin Foundation, Flint Kids, the Anthony Burrell Dance Theater.”

Faulkner band Album Release “Pariahs” - Exclusive Interview

Faulkner, an alternative band based in Venice, California released their new Album “Pariahs” on Friday, February 9, 2018. They celebrated by performing at the Peppermint Club in West Hollywood, CA on Thursday, February 8.

Before getting on stage and singing their hits “Molly”, "These Kids Nowadays”, "Black", "Revolutionary” and “Hot Streak”, I sat with the band for an exclusive fun interview. Lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Lucas Asher explained the meaning of their debut album: “It’s called “Pariahs”. It means outsiders—all the rebels, all the misfits, all the unfits.  Everyone who’s searching for that meaning.  That’s who I identify with. We came from the streets, and so it’s largely inspired by our journey from the streets to where we are now. I came from the New York streets. I was homeless in Dumbo for months when we just started." Then joking a little he said: “Yeah, and now look at us. We’re wearing red jackets, pimping, and…”

Lucas Asher, Dimitri Farougias,   Eric Scullin,  and  Christian Hogan. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Lucas Asher, Dimitri Farougias, Eric Scullin, and Christian Hogan. Photo by Selma Fonseca

He continued: “Well, I don’t have any parents, I’m an orphan, so I just ran away to New York like a lot of…I mean, Madonna did that when she was young.  There’s a lot of stories… And that was a little after the towers (Twin Towers) fell. I’ve always been playing music, ever since I was really young, so I was doing Singer/Songwriter stuff back then, and just making your way, you know, and that’s when you, I guess you find your voice.  I think artists need to go through that refining phase, and then I came out to L.A., met up with these guys.  These guys are all like my brothers, and…”

Lucas also told me how members of the band meet (Dimitri Farougias, Eric Scullin, and Christian Hogan): “We were all in line at the DMV trying to pay tickets—you know how it is.”

Lucas Asher
Faulkner

Talking about the album, Lucas said: "We collaborated with the Strokes producer, JP Bowersock, who did one of my favorite albums, “This is It". We brought in Mark Needham, whose mixed like half of the alternative radio right now.  He did “The Killers”, and then we’ve always been big fans of Witches Glen, partially of because of my New York upbringing, and so RZA got involved, and he brought us to Rick Ruben’s studio in Shangri-la where Bob Dylan’s tour bus is in the back and Eminem has a lemon tree and we could go on and on about that.  It took like two years to put it all together.  And it’s got urban influences, alternative influences.  We saw a lot of great legends pass away while we were making the album so that was inspiring because you have to carry the torch.  Like what are we all going to do? Just stop?"

And he said the legend that passed away that inspired them was: “Bowie, because sonically, in our sound, we were so inspired by him.  And this guy, too, Eric (Scullin) helped co-produce it, the album, too, so he’s like our Bryan Jones and the tannest person in the band.”

Lucas told me how he writes his songs: “That’s actually a good question, because I start on acoustic guitar and then I usually collaborate with this guy (Eric), and he’s just a great, great… I think he’s going to be a superstar producer someday. He’s just really gifted and he helps with the arrangement, and we really collaborate on it, and then we bring it to these guys, and by the time everyone gets involved, I don’t recognize my own song anymore, because it moves. It’s a real band, so everyone adds their piece to it, and it takes on a life of its own and starts to live and breathe, and a lot of the music is a little bit aggressive because I wrote some of it when I was living on the streets and when I was coming up.”

He continues: “Now I’m writing music that’s completely different because I’m in a different place. I’m drinking expensive wine and I always wear red, yeah.”

Lucas also told me what he likes to listen to: “For me, I listen to mostly hip hop which people find odd because I’m in an alternative band. We love Dr. Dre.  We love Kanye.  That’s kind of what we’re listening to, and the first two Fifty Cent albums, Nas. That’s kind of what I listen to mostly because it’s aspirational and they came from nothing, too, and we kind of came from nothing.  So, it’s aspirational; it’s inspiring.”
We talked about their future project: “In March, we’re shooting a music video. We shot in Italy, Morocco, and the Imperial Dunes, and that’s going to be dropping in late March for the “Hot Streak” song. After the music video drops, we’re going to be on the road.”

Resuming this is the plan for 2018: “We have a music video coming. The album is called “Pariahs”, it’s 10 songs.  Tour is going to be announced later in March.  It’s 2018, so you never stop recording. We’ll be putting out new music even after the album comes out.  We just worked on a song a couple of weeks ago with a choir who sang with Drake and we had a big gospel choir, so we’re always exploring new sonic territories.”

Their performance was energetic, fun, a must see.

Eric Scullin, Lucas Asher, Selma Fonseca, Dimitri Farougias,   Christian Hogan. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Eric Scullin, Lucas Asher, Selma Fonseca, Dimitri Farougias, Christian Hogan. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Check out their latest video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drFSi7S-Pqg