BOULEVARDS TALKS EMOTIONAL FUNK, COLLABORATING WITH NEON INDIAN, STYLE (INTERVIEW)
Jamil Rashad AKA Boulevards has two releases to his credit, including last year’s dance-laden breakout album, Groove!. Riding a wave of momentum, Boulevards has made a quick return with the recently released Hurt Town, a high-energy, funkadelic album that features Neon Indian, Laura Reed, and more. Hurt Town evokes the sexualized R&B sounds of Prince, Rick James, and Earth, Wind & Fire, all injected with renewed youthful vigor. Rashad is the breath of fresh funky air that music needs, and with Hurt Town released on December 8th, he’s looking to close out 2017 with a soulful bang.
After listening to your new album Hurt Town, I have one question for you…Who was she? And how bad did she hurt you?[Laughs] It wasn’t just one girl, it was other relationships in the past as well and just things I’ve been holding onto for a long time. There was a lot of emotional conflict in myself and pain and anger that I was holding onto. I just thought, ‘I gotta get this stuff out man.’ This needs to be an emo and funk record. This needs to be emotional funk! When I would listen to my favorite artists like the SOS Band, Chic, Rick James, or Prince – they were able to mask a lot of emotional tracks behind upbeat funky jams. That’s what I wanted to be able to do with this record.
So making Hurt Town was therapeutic for you?
Yes, I worked really hard on the record. It was an up and down rollercoaster with the entire process. There was a point that I wasn’t going to put it out and some of my family and closest friends kept telling me, ‘You gotta put this body of work out bro! This is some of the best stuff you’ve done’. And now it’s happening!
How did you link up with Alan Palomo of Neon Indian for the album?
A couple years ago I was drunk in a bar in Brooklyn, and Alan was there and drunk too, and I walked up to him and was like, ‘Aren’t you Neon Indian?’ and he said, ‘yeah.’ We talked about doing a collab and he thought it would be dope. I was touring with King Gizzard and Mild High Club in Australia and sent him some tracks and he dug them and then was able to contribute to “Nu Burn Ave.” So it worked out well.
I saw you at SXSW but a mini-hurricane hit before you performed, and you still went on. What happened there?
That was crazy! I think I did four songs and they cut my set to 15 minutes. I just did pedal to the metal funk and the crowd dug it. It was dope, just quick and painless.
Was touring off your first record Groove! the first time you toured the country?
Yes it was the first time. I played New York, went overseas and started playing festivals. I used to be a roadie in some friends’ bands but this was the first time people came to see me play.
A lot of people get burnt out by partying too much on tour and not taking care of themselves. How do you find a balance on the road?
Well, I found a balance. I had a lot of life changing experiences on the road because I’m actually getting into recovery now. I run a lot and take care of my body and plan on going on the road and being clean next time.
Did you have a bottom that changed things?
I saw the person I was becoming and I didn’t like that person. When I was living in New York, my relationships with my family, friends and women just faltered. You get tired of apologizing all of the time. It gets exhausting and depressing. I didn’t like who I was becoming and I wanted to find happiness and peace. I needed to find a balance. I couldn’t do all this stuff, if I wanted to have a successful career. I was on tour with Tuxedo and Mayer Hawthorne – that was my bottom – I was wild n’ out onstage and not performing to the best of my ability. I was tired of it. I want to be able to do music 1000%. I want to be a successful musician, son, brother, friend, and partner. I couldn’t do that partying and drinking and just couldn’t do it anymore, so I had to make some changes. It feels good, it’s been five months, and it’s been the happiest five months of my life.
Musicians tend to glorify partying and it would be nice if a few would tell the truth. You know what I mean?
That’s another part of it. I was obsessed with Rick James, he’s like my favorite artist. I was obsessed with that lifestyle and thought that’s who I wanted to become. I realized that that’s not who I want to become. I saw how I was treating my body. Rick James is a mastermind genius but that’s not how I want to go out. I’m in this for the long haul you know, I want longevity in this. Even if not for the music, I want this for myself.
How big of a role does running play in your sobriety and life?
Running is big man. I’ve been running since I was 12 years old. I ran competitively in college, high school- and middle school. Now that I’m in recovery it keeps me focused and I also meditate. It’s better without a coach yelling at you to go to practice, I can start doing it for myself. I can be one with Mother Nature and just have fun.
Where did your fashion influence come from?
My dad while growing up. Jazz artist and funk artists in NYC in the late 70’s. My dad was a radio DJ so I got to see a lot of funk heads and jazz heads and they’re just cool. I like keeping things classic and timeless.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
Chic, Daft Punk, Pharrell, and Thunder Cat would be tight. Chromeo would be dope as well.