Soul Man Earl St. Clair Talks Music and Good Vibes
Def Jam Recording Artist, Earl Johnson II, also known as Earl St. Clair, is a Black American producer, songwriter, and performing artist with a sound that is sure to reshape your perception of men in music entertainment. This one man band creates music that spans multiple genres, from pop, soul, and R&B, to country, bluegrass, and swing. St. Clair has a creative versatility that will keep you in awe of anything he ever sings. Last week, I got to chat with the Cleveland, OH native about his journey towards artistry, the inspiration behind his lyrics, and the Black Boy Joy that he exudes with every appearance.
Earl St. Clair describes himself as an “honest, cigarette smoking, whiskey drinking Black father” who pours his life into his music. What many may not know of the artist is that he has been invested in the music industry for over 10 years. Earl’s first introduction to music, professionally, was as a music producer. In his career, he has produced for artists Machine Gun Kelly, The Game, and Rick Ross, just to name just a few. All it took to transform his career was a night in the studio and a sip of dark liquor, and Earl the producer became Earl the recording artist.
“The sound just emerged. I sat on the song for 2 years until my mom passed and I had to go back home. Then, my publicist gave my song to this guy named Pete and within 6 months I had a record deal.” This goes to show you that success has no timeline when it is destiny. Earl’s career and growing success is a testament to that.
Earl St. Clair claims to have drawn musical inspiration from a variety of artists and people, and their direct influence is evident in his mannerisms, stage presence, and vocal ability. He lists his greatest inspirations as his dad, Kanye West, Andre 3000 and James Brown. Noting his soulful aura, I inquired more about the James Brown inspiration. Earl replied, “James Brown stood for what he believed in and no one could tell him different. That’s my goal with my work and lifestyle.”
As creatives, we sometimes have to find the silver lining or create one, knowing the hard work and dedication we’ve poured into our crafts but not necessarily being able to decipher the outcome. We take pride in the little moments of joy, when creative, and cherish them until the project or product is complete and ready. When I asked Earl his favorite part of the creative process, he informed me, “it’s the moment between the start of the production of the record and starting the writing: When you can take what’s in your head and match it with the sound. Like, when the sperm reaches the egg. When you’ve got IT.” And IT he definitely has. Earl St. Clair creates music for the people--the real people. He embodies the everyday person in his lyrics, allowing us to have music that not only sounds pleasing, but that resonates long after being played.
“I'm influenced by being broke, bills, everyday things that everyday Americans go through: Real life. I don’t drive a $500,000 car or live in a million dollar house. I want to be the person that puts music out that makes you feel good about where you are in life.” A feel good song is enough to transform any atmosphere from worse to better and with Earl’s music, there is nothing but all the “feels” involved.
What is even more refreshing about this artist is the unapologetic Black Joy that he exhibits naturally. Earl St. Clair chooses to celebrate and share his joy with his creative art.
“Celebrate our victories, musically. You have to celebrate the battles too and the best way I know how to do so is in song. Black joy is us feeling good about ourselves. Black excellence is getting as close to the point where we never expected to see ourselves in life. It is reaching that milestone accomplishment or getting to that goal that you’ve set. When we can show off the best of ourselves vs. the worst, that is when we are expressing our best joy and excellence.”
One of the greatest obstacles of being a Black creative is acceptance. Earl St. Clair is no stranger to odd stares and inquisition. “Being accepted for what I do has always been a challenge. How I do what I do, nobody else is doing it. A lot of aspiring or current artists are afraid of doing more than rap. They think that’s the lotto ticket, rap. The toughest thing was getting people to understand where I’m coming from. Taking that leap of faith, knowing i’m doing the right thing and that Imma be alright. Nothing is better than being rewarded for being yourself. Confidence is half the battle.”
It is great to PAY IT FORWARD. Helping someone that is aspiring to be great as you have, or giving someone the extra push they need to make that dream a reality can do numbers for a person’s confidence and drive. “Don’t be afraid to let go of the things that you have to get the things that you want. You have to be able to take that leap. I’m used to going to buy clothes and being fly but I needed to put that on hold so I can save money because I’m investing in my talent. Sacrifice is the key to this. I sacrificed a lot to get to this point.”
We know that a lot is in store from this amazing, energetic, talented recording artist, so we asked Earl to give us the inside scoop on what’s to come. Presently he is hard at work for his next project “My name is Earl” set to drop in March, which will have variations of all the music genres Earl is into. He prides himself in presenting a sound that is both unexpected and unforgettable. Earl has worked tirelessly creating new music, to the point that he is actually a few releases ahead of schedule. “The album has been done for a while; I’m working on a country album right now. Preparation is key. You have to be prepared for the opportunities that you ask for. I don’t like to be predictable or conventional.” Trust us, bro, you are far from it.
Be sure to check out the latest music from Earl St. Clair:
Follow Earl St. Clair via social media at @earlsaintclair and on his website at earlsaintclair.com.
Hey yawl! Tyler Marie, or Ty as she's come to be called is a (West-Side) Chicagoan ‘til Chicago ends. She attended Whitney M. Young Magnet High School here in the city and went on to attend the first Private HBCU, Wilberforce University (OH) where she obtained her B.A. Sociology in 2012. It’s probably pretty clear now that writing is kind of ‘her thing’ but she's more than okay with that. Other hobbies include eating, playing basketball, modeling and singing. Basically, Tyler spends all of her time trying to be as fly of a Black Girl as she can be. Connect with her via: Twitter & Instagram at @_Mighty5