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Coming to you from San Diego, California, Irie Magazine presents the roots musician, Janelle Phillips. Born and raised in the city of Escondido, she is a blend of culture; a Cali Lady bringing forth conscious music. Janelle began writing lyrics and poetry as a freshman in high school, passing them around to her peers for feedback.
In 2011, at the age of 19, she taught herself guitar and started writing music for her songs. It didn’t take long for her to start doing open mics, and three months later, after learning three chords, she started doing small performances, and continued to do so for the next few years while attending community college.
She would jam in the courtyard finding talent amongst the people passing by and started arranging shows in her area, where she began promotion and graphic design. To her, the best part of those days was giving so many people the courage and strength to perform on stage for the first time.
In 2013, she released her first professionally recorded EP, ‘To Be Heard’, with Ryan J. Parker. One of her strongest songs, ‘Sensational Feeling,’ was used to network with people within the reggae family. She linked up with brother Gary Dread, drummer from ‘The Movement, who featured her on one of his tracks from his solo career. As time passed, he mentioned E.N Young’s name as one of the new talented producers to work with. Janelle began researching the artists coming in and out of Imperial Sounds. It quickly became her dream studio. The road was paved as she recorded four tracks with E.N in December and January, of 2014/2015. The tracks would become the album entitled LIONESS.
Janelle Phillips lyrics are self-empowering; healing; truly profound. Her goals are to uplift the souls that are enlightened by such beautiful music. The music of love, strength, and truth: Reggae Music. Her original inspirations began with The Fray and One Republic, and when she discovered reggae music in 2009, her biggest influences that molded her as a female reggae artist were Trevor Hall, Matisyahu and Bob Marley. She was also influenced by bands like The Dirty Heads, Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, SOJA, and The Movement. She says reggae changed her life in the most powerful way. She found herself embarking on a spiritual evolution and felt that she had yet to blossom.
Her experience and time spent working on her debut album with E.N has filled her with knowledge in regards to music and a conscious way of living. She says E.N’s way of expressing love and passion towards her work strengthened her. She is so excited and blessed to start taking the stage to compel the crowd to move to the highest state of mind, so that they may influence their friends and family with positivity. She has belief in moving the people’s faith in The Almighty, and bringing them courage so that they can encounter the life He has given them each day.
IRIE. What some people may not know about you is that music goes back years with you and your family. Can you tell a little bit about that??
Lioness: From what I remember, I’ve always loved to have the spotlight. As a very young girl, I loved getting my pictures taken, singing, putting on small shows for my family, and acting. I used to sing along to whatever my mom was playing around the house, and as I grew up I developed my own taste. At an early age to elementary, I really loved Fleetwood Mac, and moved on to Spice Girls, Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys (never Nsync lol). At the same time I was being raised as an athlete so I was very concentrated in the competition. I ended up doing sports year round for about 15 years. My musical interest came back around at the end of middle school, with influences like The Fray, One Republic, Taylor Swift, Colbie Calliat and Jack Johnson. I absolutely loved turning on my favorite radio stations: Star 94.1 and later 91X. I would often sing in front of the mirror when no one was watching and make up dance moves. Lol. I was extremely interested in The Fray and One Republic. I was so inspired by the way they expressed themselves about life, and its experiences in such a classy and abstract way. Their vocals really intertwined with my style and that’s when I began finding my sound. It wasn’t until my late high school years where I discovered The Dirty Heads and Slightly Stoopid that my interest for reggae music was ignited.
IRIE. The California roots reggae music scene has recently seen a growth in female artists. Can you tell us what makes you different from the other artists?
Lioness: I believe everyone is different. You can’t compare artists because they all have their own style. I’m one of the youngest amongst these female artists, and as they were being discovered I was trying to find my way up. Now I’m here. I feel like I stand out as an individual because of my mind set. The way in which I approach my career, the style in which I sing, and the way I write my songs, is to deliver a message. Of course, everyone wants to be famous, financially uplifted and well-known, as that is believed to be a part of success, but I feel different. I have goals on my mind on what I want to accomplish and where I want to go, that if I reach those goals, I am successful. I have a voice that is very different. I am not a powerhouse, yet I bring soul in the raspy tones I gently sing. I’ve never taken vocal lessons, so I can’t wait to discover the capability of my range. I suprise myself very often when I sing covers of songs. I never sing it like the original. I explore my side and make it my own. I am bringing you a one and only taste of Janelle Phillips.
IRIE. Knowing that you are a young and new artist could you maybe share with us some of the experiences that were learning opportunities for you that maybe you did not expect?
Lioness: As a new artist, I have been extremely welcomed into the scene, and I am so satisfied with the path I have chosen. I’ve primarily learned that the pace in which you move and the people you get to work with is solely based on, “how bad you want it?” How hungry are you to get to the next level? You can achieve ANYTHING you put your mind to, physically, and emotionally. It’s so exciting and empowering. I feel like if everyone took on this challenge, our world would blossom with success and positivity. With regards to expectation, I didn’t expect to have the artist who inspired me to write music, featured on my first debut album, but with persistence and faith I manifested it. My advice to other artists, is if you really love that feeling of being a musician and believe in what you do, never give up and keep trying because you are what makes it happen. No one else.
IRIE. Tell us something about Janelle Phillips that fans/new listeners may not know about you?
Lioness: I am coming into this reggae scene because this music, I have discovered, is where my heart and soul truly feels happy. I may not have been born on the islands, or raised in the african/polynesian cultures, but I have an immense appreciation for it. I am inspired, intrigued and fascinated by world music and its cultures. I have so much to learn, and I feel like there are so many definitions to Rasta. It’s message is to create a sense of equality, family, and peace, and I feel just that. I don’t ever want anyone to think I’m trying to be something else. I am who I am, and the manner in which I present myself, my music, and my performance is the real me. When I sing and you hear patois, its not because I want to sound Jamaican, it’s because the music from Jamaica makes me feel so much passion, and that’s what I feel. There are no rules in music. You play whatever you feel. So be you, straight up and you can’t go wrong. Feel comfortable in your own skin and people will feel that. Don’t try to fit in to something, because then you have just lost your uniqueness. Make your own choices, stand up for what you believe in and you are on the right path. We can’t choose where we are born into, but we can choose where were going.
IRIE. What has your experience been like working with E.N Young on your album?
Lioness: It is such a pleasure, great experience, and learning process to be working with E.N Young,
and I am blessed to have his help in spreading my message. He is one of the most conscious, caring, and optimistic people you can meet. He has class, style, and finesse in his work ethic, and I feel as a new artist I am beyond fortunate to work with him. He has opened so many doors, for me and I am for ever grateful.
IRIE. Is there any final comments or remarks that you would like to tell our fan and readers?
Lioness: I have so many ideas, goals, and arts I want to bring to the table, that I don’t know how it will be presented, but I’m working very hard and awaiting my fate to take its shape. There are so many artists, and labels that I have interest in that it’s hard to decide what to do next. I have chosen to start on the path less traveled by, and have been blown away by its first steps. For right now I can’t say who I will be working with, but just know you are in for a very unique and slightly surprising new album. I have been working on music since LIONESS was finished recording in early January, and am constantly refreshing my songwriting. I am always thinking of the next song that everyone can relate to. Sometimes it flows slowly, and sometimes I need to write it all down at once because it hit me… all in all, you’re in for a treat, because LIONESS, is just the beginning.
IRIE. Give thanks, Lioness! Much Love and Respect!
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