*All photos courtesy of and provided by Andre Fennell
Shaggy, Damian Marley, Diddy, Chris Brown and Beyonce are just some of the few international superstars that Andre “GC” Fennell has penned hit songs for. Now in 2014, this six-time Grammy nominated songwriter has emerged as a solo artist with his powerful and poignant debut single, “Fight For You”, that’s producing major buzz in the music scene. Fennell’s ability to fuse reggae, hip-hop and R&B creates a smooth, sensual sound all his own. Not only is he launching his solo career, but he is also fronting a new band called “17”; their first single and music video, “Child of the City”, will be directed by Hollywood director, Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Planet Terror, Machete). We got a chance to chat with Andre about his new music, life as a songwriter and much more.
How would you best describe your sound? How is it different from your work with Shaggy?
I work very closely with Shaggy as a writer so I’ve been told we have a similar sound, as we do influence each other’s craft, but we speak from different points of view. My solo project has an epic urban pop feel to it though, and I speak from a vulnerable place, because I’m putting my life into my songs. My upcoming album is my testimony so it will be very different from anyone else’s story.
Tell us more about your debut single “Fight For You”.
I’ve actually lived the lyrics to this song over the past few months. It’s about fighting for a relationship that is worth fighting for. It is a fusion of genres; hip-hop, R&B and reggae. The song has been getting really great reviews for its positive message, while maintaining a smooth and sexy undertone. I’m very proud of this record because I decided to keep it truthful and relatable, without making it overly raunchy, and it has paid off for me so far.
You’ve written songs for many top artists including Beyonce, Chris Brown, Diddy, Shaggy, Damian Marley and many more. How is your song writing process different for yourself versus writing for other performers?
Writing for other international artists can be a bit challenging. I have to channel an artist’s vibe and what I would like to hear from that artist. My ideas and lyrics become their voice, so I have to be clever to make it sound like the song is their vision, and it is said in the way that they would say it. That’s the trick to collaborative writing with a superstar. You can’t really have an ego, you just have to go off of their vibe and what you know about them. Many of the artists I work with trust my vision but some superstars can be picky about what they will or won’t say on a record, which is understandable, but I feel like that is the main difference.
What does your new band “17″ sound like?
The first single, ‘Child of the City,’ from my band “17” (in which I am the lead singer), will be directed by Robert Rodriguez. He has directed successful and groundbreaking film sagas such as ‘Sin City,’ ‘Planet Terror,’ and ‘Machete’ to name a few. The video will be co-directed and produced by Aaron Kaufman, from ‘Fast and Loud,’ and he is the host on one of the Discovery Channel’s reality series.
You’ve collaborated with Shaggy and many other artists in the past. Now as a solo artist, which artists would you like to work with in the future ?
For my solo project I would love to collaborate with great songwriters that I admire, such as John Legend, Mali Music and Gene Noble. And I’m always open to collaborating with great musicians in all genres. I’m very diverse so I’m down to work with whoever I vibe with.
Will you be on tour soon? Where can people see you perform live?
You can catch me on tour with Shaggy in the coming months and other dates and venues for my solo career will be updated on my site andrefennellmusic.com very soon. My band will also start off our tour in Japan in January 2015, but you can send all booking inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is your favorite reggae artist right now and why?
My favorite reggae artists right now are Chronixx, Shaggy, Taurus Riley, Aidonia and Assassin. They are all very lyrical and down to earth artists.
What does reggae music mean to you?
A few words come to mind when I’m asked what does reggae music mean. It reminds me of my origin, or my birthplace, because I am from Jamaica. It is my voice, my culture, my people and my vice.
Why do you think reggae music is so popular around the world?
I believe it is because reggae music at its core feels good. It is empowering music and is undeniably the best form of musical expression on earth, like Bob said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Maybe I am bias, but that’s how I feel. There is nothing like reggae music. Full stop.
Is there anything else you’d your fans to know?
In closing I would like to thank Reggae Around the World for featuring myself and other up and coming artists on this site. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @andrefennell, support my latest single ‘Fight For You,’ available digitally on iTunes and Amazon etc. Support my singles and anything affiliated with Ranch Entertainment (Shaggy’s Label), because the chances are, I’ve co-written or produced it, so please support our projects, and God Bless you all.