Sarah Crisman: On The Urban American Beat
Imagine the Rat Pack was backed by Snoopadelic, shake together old Hollywood charm against the smooth grind of West Coast beats and you’ve got yourself a tall drink of Trevor Wesley. The Southern California native represents LA hard with a dazzle of crooning vocals, cheeky songwriting, focused musicianship and cutting edge production – all while wearing Chuck’s and a fedora...
It doesn’t hurt that this witty 24-year-old has a lasting impact on fans with his modern style and unbridled talent. Suspecting my lady friends would appreciate Mr Wesley, I shared my discovery with my panel of expert girl ears. Giovannie Cruz, who is a music writer, made the observation that Trevor’s timeless crooning and “angel face” will win loyal audience from the coveted “Lady Market”, responsible for the sustained success of Michael Buble, John Mayer and Justin Bieber (notably, the "Cougar Market" won’t suffer the paedophilic confusion associated with certain fan fevers). What sets Trevor apart is a prolific knack for production and his uncanny ability to be all at once classic and entirely fresh.
“It all came to be through karaoke,” Trevor said. “I eventually stumbled to this place called ‘Cozy’s’, this live music hole in the wall where these dope, talented musicians and producers would come and jam after their sessions.” Trevor showed up on stage enough to earn a weekly spot hosting the stage, a steady fan following, and the respect of the band.
Down in Los Angeles, it’s not just who you know, it’s how they sound. Trevor rolls deep with producers Jae Deal, Rodney Jerkins, Tyler ‘TCoon’ Coomes and Jairus Mozee. His circle of friends is a tight knit community of talent emerging from LA, including New Genesis and KING. This society affords him the opportunities to incorporate the freshest sounds in R&B and hip-hop, while still holding his own on stage with Stevie Wonder and Patti Labelle. “I trusted my ears and my intuition with these people and I came across New Genesis and KING,” said Trevor. “I am blessed to be able to have friends like that – we played with Stevie Wonder, and now KING is blowing up.”
Trevor’s original work came into play as his relationships grew. Soon he was hiring musicians to play outside the karaoke arena, where original work is more widely accepted. “I met Brandon Brown at a gospel event at B.B. King’s. New Genesis was on stage and I was blown away. I started seeing them around and we became friends out of respect for each other’s music.”
Trevor’s debut EP, ‘Only Live Once’, dropped this month and has already earned the top spots on my daily playlist. The orchestral dimensions of the hypnotic bass line and palpable yearning in Wesley’s lyrics leave me staring out the window, punch drunk love. iTunes tells me that I have, in fact, listened to ‘U And I (Where Do We Go)’ 35 times. It is the second highest played song on my computer.
The number one spot, incidentally, also belongs to Trevor Wesley (I have been obsessing over ‘Only Live Once’ since January). Mr Wesley’s personal favourite is ‘Dream’, a lonely tune that begins with a man sorting out his feelings on a piano in the corner and ends with the determined air of youth and relentless aspiration.
As a clever producer, Trevor learns from the best: “Jae Deal and I have done several songs. He helped me find the title track to the album, ‘Only Live Once’.” Trevor connected with the industry vet through his manager, Gaelen Whitemore, at #FLASHLIGHT - an event created by Deal, Whitemore and scene mogul, Monica Payne. A staple figure on stage with Janet Jackson and member of Snoopadelic, “Jae heard me playing and asked to add a bass line. Next time he came through we started from scratch.”
“Trevor’s a one-man, modern day Rat Pack,” said Jae Deal. Indeed, ‘Only Live Once’ shows but one facet to the Trevor Wesley/Jae Deal collaboration. The pair concocted some unreleased beats liable to spark a population explosion in Southern California if set loose upon the clubs. Don’t let that angel face fool you, ‘Hood Buble’ knows how to drop a grimy beat.
On top of the buttery voice and rhythmic street cred, Trevor Wesley is one funny guy. His wit flourished growing up on the set of comedy films where his father works as a respected camera operator. “I always wanted to be an actor growing up; it never dawned on me I was born to play the piano. I’ve always been a goofy, goofy person. My grandma would always take songs and twist the lyrics around to make them dirty, then of course my mom picked it up, and now I do it. Life is short, you should laugh.”
Trevor showed off those cheeky acting chops for a promotional mini-series leading up to the ‘Only Live Once’ release, in which Al Pacino summed up the trajectory of Trevor’s career: “Hey, Trevor Wesley, you f***ing with me? You f***ing with the best…”
Stay up to date with Trevor Wesley on Twitter - www.twitter.com/TrevorWesley
Words: Sarah Crisman (@Sarah_Crisman)
Photography: Taye Hansberry
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)