There aren’t many recording artists who will expose their creative process to fans and critics alike, prior to completing their work. However, that is exactly what urban jazz harmonicist, Frédéric Yonnet does in his current project, REED MY LIPS, a smart blend of contemporary jazz, blues and hip-hop.
In a pioneering effort that leverages technology, art and reality, Yonnet halts all aspects of production – recording, packaging and video – to give fans a snapshot of his work at that very moment in the creative process. The work in progress, subtitled THE ROUGH CUT, is available exclusively to fans purchasing digital download cards at live concerts or online at www.fredyonnet.com. A unique code gives users access to REED MY LIPS: THE ROUGH CUT files and ultimately REED MY LIPS: THE FINAL MIX.
Email alerts announce to purchasers when new materials (e.g., music, art and videos) are available for download. Listeners posting productive comments to the website will have their suggestions considered in the subsequent REED MY LIPS: THE FINAL MIX, which will be available on iTunes and in a physical CD format.
The first track (formerly track A) was co-produced by Frédéric Yonnet and the Brooklyn-based production team of nVMe. We’re thinking about adding some vocals — lyrics, rap or spoken word, along with some additional instrumentation. Musicians (so far): …
The second track was produced in collaboration with the Brooklyn-based production team of nVme. What do you think about this track? You wanna hear background vocals on it? We’ve got a couple of names in mind but what would you call this song? If you already have the …
The third track was produced in collaboration with DC native Sean Miles. This is a real playful track that reminds me of a mischievous child. It bounces, it dodges, it teases. It’s the “kid in me.” Of what does it remind you? We’re looking for a …
Track D is a Frederic Yonnet/Sean Miles Production. This track is probably the mellowest song on the project at this point. I was thinking of adding some faint background vocals. What do you think? Musicians: Sean Miles (keys), Jon Laine (drums), Robbie McDonald (guitar), …
At this point, Track E is my favorite. When we perform it live, it generates crazy energy, attitude and grove. Grammy-winning R&B and jazz music singer Pattie Austin saw us play this live and liked the track so much that she decided to jam on it with us. Co-produced by …
Is This Real Life (formerly working track F) is another Frédéric Yonnet/nVMe Production. There are are two versions on the download card and one includes a vocal track featuring Grammy nominated singer and songwriter Wayna. What are your thoughts about this track? Musicians: …
This track reminds me of a carefree Sunday afternoon. The production team of nVme provided the beats and I wrote the harmonica melody that seems to almost float comfortably on top. Are you feeling this track? What does it say to you? Musicians: Sean Miles (keys), Jon Laine …
Release date to be announced.
Yonnet coined the term “Reality CD” to describe the bold concept of allowing fans to observe key phases of the production. “People are curious about the creative process so I decided to make them a part of it at a point when they could actually make a difference,” said Yonnet. While many of the tracks have been recorded and a packaging concept developed, Yonnet still has to make decisions about other elements such as artwork, guests, background vocals and song titles.
Because fans were constantly asking about the status of the new album and in order to give them an early listen, Yonnet decided to release the draft artwork and music tracks in their evolutionary state, despite the fact it might open a floodgate of comments. “I realize it’s risky to expose drafts outside of musical circles and even more risky to encourage feedback, but I welcome it,” said Yonnet. “I’m confident in my work and view all comments as constructive.”
The objective of Yonnet’s sonically adventurous third album is two-fold. First, it establishes the harmonica as an instrument for the savvy and hip, a revived musical apparatus with a broad palette that can hold its own in any genre of music. Just as the phrase “reed my lips” is a homophone, Yonnet takes the harmonica out of its traditional context – blues, country and folk music – and incorporates it into a more fresh sound. As the modern-day “pied piper” of the harmonica, he intends to lead a new generation of harmonica players into previously unchartered musical territory.
The second breakthrough of REED MY LIPS is more of a technological feat that offers an innovative way for fans to experience the music and become a part of the creative process. Available via digital download card, REED MY LIPS: THE ROUGH CUT encourages listeners to contribute to decisions regarding the CD’s artwork, background vocals, special guests, lyrics, track listing, song titles and album length. In the end, it’s Yonnet who will decide whether to incorporate their comments into THE ROUGH CUT “I want to turn the people who have been looking forward to this album into active listeners,” says Yonnet. “Now, when they listen to the music, particularly the rough cut, they’ll listen more closely knowing that they can make a difference.”
Yonnet collaborates on REED MY LIPS with New York production team nVMe and Washington, DC-based producer Sean Miles to feature the harmonica as the lead voice on beats laced with jazz, hip-hop and R&B. “Yonnet’s sound is stunning,” said nVMe’s Mesta Bish. “Neither he nor the harmonica can be contained in a box.” The album’s bold, aggressive and head-bobbing rhythms signal not only that Yonnet wants to play; with REED MY LIPS, he clearly has something to say.
This daring experiment follows the tradition of great Blues harmonicists like Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter, all of whom incorporated the harmonica sound into the music of their era. “The range of sounds that you get from the harmonica is deep and wide. It can sound like a saxophone, a violin, a guitar, or piano. It can make people smile, laugh and cry. Most importantly, it can inspire people to revisit the way they think about the harmonica and perhaps even play,” says Yonnet.
Who would be a good guest vocalist for this track? Should we modify the horn section? Add strings? What about the packaging? Do we need more tracks? REED MY LIPS:THE ROUGH CUT lets you hear and see the raw materials that will eventually become REED MY LIPS: THE FINAL MIX. Most importantly your comments will be taken into consideration as we pull it all together.
Once you purchase the download card you can become a virtual producer — with an opportunity for an album credit and all.
If you already have the download card, check out the raw tracks and leave a comment in The Rough Cut section of the site. The download card also includes videos, phone conversations from creative and production meetings, design sketches, music video concepts and more… whatever we do, we’re sharing it with you.
Activate your download card here.
If you don’t have a card, visit the Shop and order it today. Once the project is completed, the same card will give you access to the FINAL MIX.
We’re in the studio now considering whether to add background vocals, horns, strings and maybe even some rap or spoken word. If you already have the download card, you can check out the tracks and sit in on the session. The download card also includes videos, phone conversations from creative and production meetings, design sketches, music video concepts and more… whatever we do, we’re sharing it with you.
If you already have the download card, you can check out the track and comment on Yonnet’s video commentary. If you don’t have the tracks, visit www.fredyonnet.com to purchase REED MY LIPS: The Rough Cut. Once the project is completed, the same card will give you access to the FINAL MIX.
As a cardholder, you’re part of an exclusive group of music enthusiasts — or FREeDlosophers — with unprecedented access to draft material, i.e., photography, artwork, packaging, and video treatments, that will ultimately be finalized to produce, Reed My Lips: The Final Mix. Your card is like having two different CDs because The Rough Cut could change significantly by the end of the production process. Either way, you’ll have the music from both phases when you register with your email address and maintain the access code on the back of the download card.