Jermaine Riley – The Homeless Hero (Hello Earth promo video) | SoulCulture Exclusive

A trio comprised of Jermaine, Varren and Kyle, FDM, first known as Fun*dmental were the UK urban boyband with potential. Plagued with potential, it turned out. Three young, good looking guys who could dance, sing and really perform; they were the ones who could really break through, many thought, as news spread of the trio’s signing to Geffen and R&B star Ne-Yo‘s label Compound Records. Unfortunately months – then a couple of years – of tumbleweed followed, it’s roll only slowed by a well-received independent mixtape released by the group last year, titled The Pudding.

Since then no group has quite managed to fill the void – and now Jermaine Riley emerges solo and on a mission to save. To save… The music? The fans? Or perhaps anyone who’s ever needed to fight for a new beginning. You watch and decide – premiered exclusively on today, watch the emergence of a new hero in the making; performed to the sound of “Laugh At You,” produced by Dready, from his forthcoming debut solo album Hello Earth.

Below, Jermaine expands on what happened to his group Fun*dmental, their deal with Ne-Yo and why he’s now flying solo.

SoulCulture: How did your initial deal with Ne-Yo/Compound come about and what did you expect from it?

Jermaine Riley: Well as FDM we had quite a buzz in the UK, which eventually caught the attention of Geffen Records in the US. After signing with them in ’07 we spent a bit of time in the LA recording and performing. At that point we had no idea that Ne-Yo/Compound had noticed what we were doing and had been keeping a watchful eye on our movements.

After speaking to the label heads at Geffen, he offered to take us under his wing and sign us as his first international act and first group. We inked our production deal with Compound in at the beginning of 2009 and Geffen remained our record label.

Obviously, with being acknowledged and mentored by such an amazing singer/song writer, with multiple Grammys to show for it, your expectations are fairly high for what’s to come. But it was never a situation where life became easy. We stayed humble and just expected to continue working hard and be able to eventually show the whole world what we had to offer with the help of the bigger platform provided.

SoulCulture: What happened with the deal and the group?

Jermaine Riley: Honestly, nothing happened. We were just there. What we expected just never materialised. It’s not the first time that’s happened to an artist and more than likely won’t be the last. Whether it be about budgets, direction or miscommunication, that situation just didn’t work out. Like I said in my remix of “Then And Now”, when there’s too much cooks in the kitchen, nothing ever gets done. However, I think I can speak for the rest of the guys when I say we’ve learned a lot and are grateful for the experience.

As for the group, we parted ways amicably and felt it best to change the plan, after 8 years of ups and downs. As a grown man at 25/26 sometimes you have to face the music, so to speak, before your passion dies. Thankfully we still talk, hang out and support each other whole heartedly. They’ll always be my brothers.

SoulCulture: What can we expect from Hello Earth?

Jermaine Riley: What can you expect??? A body of great music! Something for everyone. The challenge when putting together an album/mixtape is giving the people what they want and at the same time catering to your own needs as an artist. I think I found the perfect balance with Hello Earth.

Hopefully die hard FDM fans will be satisfied and new fans of mine will feel like they jumped on board just in time for the party. I want it to be that album you have an “Oh my God, this is my tuuune!” reaction to at the beginning of every song. Hahaha!

You can expect to hear Superman’s story told through R&B music, which has never been done before, not like this anyway. If you don’t already know by now, I’m a HUGE comic book enthusiast and Superman is arguably the most iconic. I released a mixtape back in ’08 entitled “Goodbye Krypton” and that was the first time I made the connection between the superhero and the music.

Ever since then fans have been asking me to put out a follow up. This is it. I’m grateful to have received great production from the likes of Dready, Harmony and Parker & James just to name a few and I’ve got some amazing featured artists on there too, but I don’t wanna give too much away right now.

SoulCulture: If you’re superman, who are you here to save?

Jermaine Riley: Myself… and the fans that never got an album from me/us. I also think it’s important to show people you can keep moving forward after going through bad times, even if it means starting all over again. Take the experience, learn from it and become stronger. It’s good to encourage other artists on the rise and those just starting out. I think I can be some kind of hero in that sense. Maybe, we’ll see.

I’d just like to thank Soul Culture for endorsing the project and supporting my music. This past year has indeed been filled with ups and downs but music is definitely my therapy.

Being able to voice my feelings and vent my emotions on a song like “Then And Now” (Remix) is something I’m grateful for. That was merely a fist in air, so to speak, for all the artists on their grind who have to deal with the ever changing climate of this industry.

Don’t let it defeat you. Just learn from it and keep ploughing through. I know from experience that love, respect and experience are waiting on the other side. You just have to stay positive.

Having parted ways with the other members of FDM, I’ve no choice but to find a kind of inner strength and my supporters, my ‘heroes’, help me to do that. Thankfully, me and the boys are still great friends and support one another. We’re all for progression, growth and forward movement.

It’s all positive and I’m still growing. I’m happy to still be doing it and humbled by the opportunities I’m blessed with. My personal journey begins right now and honestly, I’m really excited!


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