Savvy Interview

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A teen pop group that is an international hit in 92 countries with their own television show? Upon reading this, I instantly thought, “this is not for me.” If anyone has seen the type of music I’m into, this type of music would not be something any person would associate with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate pop music, but I thought the music of Savvy was going to be some teeny bopper Disney Channel type stuff but I decided to give it a listen because I’m all about fair chances. ;) All kidding aside, the first song I listened to, “Dance With Me Now,” and I fell in love. Pop music at its finest. Energetic, catchy, melodic, and some really cool light fixtures.

“SMS” which I thought was a song about text messages (which would have been awesome if it worked) is really an acronym for Sing My Song. I listened to this next and my preconceived notions about Savvy were completed blown away now. Not the teeny bopper group I thought they’d be at all. Already with an impressive repertoire that includes insane dance skills, strong vocals, a hit TV show in so many countries, having performed in over 400 concerts, 14 music videos, and upon talking to them, all the members even play instruments. Now that’s something most pop artists can’t do. Call me impressed! But it doesn’t stop there. They recently and by recently, I mean two days ago, signed with Cash Money/Universal Republic. Like stop, that’s insane. And don’t tell me you don’t know who they are. They’re the record company that Lil Wayne mentions in every other sentence. Even during his MTV Cribs episode which if I recall, is about one’s house, not record company. But that’s beside the point! :D Savvy just signed with a huge record company that has brought hip hop megastars like Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Drake to us.

Savvy is the first pop singing group to be signed by Cash Money. Ahem, did you hear me correctly? If not, I’ll repeat myself; the FIRST. Cash Money is known for their hip hop artists that have broken sound waves all over the world so to be the first of anything there, is a huge feat in itself. Savvy’s members Shaylen Carroll, Gabrielle “GiGi” LeMaire, Drew Reinartz, Alan Shaw and Andrew Bowen Stern are all incredibly talented and this record deal is truly deserved. They’ve been together for seven years, have worked hard doing it, and throughout the process made obviously a hit TV show and great pop music. Call me a fan and where can I place my preorder for their next show in New York? Savvy are in the studio now working on their début album as Cash Money artists and I’m definitely excited for it.

Shaylen Carroll

How’s life been since you signed with Cash Money?
All: “Great,” “Amazing,” “wonderful,” “a thousand miles per second”
Drew: I don’t know what happened. Kidding, it’s amazing. It’s something you don’t really get to hear in a life time kind of thing. We’re actually on the board with the kind of people who love what they’re doing and work hard at what they’re doing at the same time and they saw that in us. So to work with people who love doing what they’re doing and to have that strive, they’re only going to make us that much better. So to work with work with people love what they’re doing and are having that strive like I keep saying [laughs] is what it is.

How did you get in touch with Cash Money/how did they find you/how did the record deal go down?
GiGi: We have a very very good friend named LaVern Whitt and she started talking to our managers, Ron Stern and Christine LeMaire, and she had suggested Cash Money. And also later in the day with our manager Ron Stern, we were all in the car, he was telling us “We are in talks with Cash Money” and we’re just sitting there like “What are you kidding? You’re just joking. You’re just joking.” And a couple of months later we got the papers and we were just like “Oh my God, this is really happening.” [laughs] Just yesterday, we officially signed the press release.

Cash Money is a really hip hop oriented label with huge mainstream acts and you guys are the first teen pop group on the label. Do you think that will affect your music?
GiGi: I don’t know, yesterday Slim (Ronald Williams) was saying he wanted to expand his range of music genres into pop. I know we are completely excited to be his first pop group on his label. I think what we really wanna do with our music is we don’t want to change it to something we’re not. We want to stay who we are but even if that means evolving into a different type of music, we’re staying Savvy. It’s gonna be our sound still.

Have you met any of your label mates?
Alan: We actually went to Lil Wayne’s Carter IV release party Saturday night, they were all there. Things were pretty crazy. We got to shake hands with a few people but not formally really introduced to them yet.

Are you guys working on your album yet?
Alan: Yes, we have a few songs recorded right now. We’re probably going to start recording in two weeks like after [he] finishes working with Wayne on IV and then he’s going to switch his focus on us and get us in the studio. Then start getting us with really good producers and recording a whole bunch of music and then our album will probably be chosen off of a song.


What was the writing process like and is there any possibility of a collaboration with your label mates?
Shaylen: The writing process has been pretty crazy. We actually got to write SMS, one of our singles, which was the first song that we wrote the entire song and got to co-produce. And we love writing too because it takes a piece of every one of us and brings it into a song. And each verse you hear on that song is actually the verse that we wrote ourselves; so what we were feeling that day is really cool because fans can really connect with us and our music to know that’s really where we’re coming from and what’s in our hearts for them to hear and hopefully relate to us.

And to collaborate with people we’re excited about are who we’re about to work with, some producers, and we can’t wait to write with them and get some hits on the radio. We’re really excited.

What are your goals for the album?
Andrew: We want to produce the best pop album. This is our real first album that we’re going to be putting out under Cash Money.
Drew: I think our goals would be just to collaborate a lot of the Cash Money artists, put out the best music we possibly can. We live off a lot of Michael Jackson. Like he may come out with the best thing but maybe we can always do better. We just want to come out with the best thing possible with the album.
Alan: We also want to make music that our fans can relate to because me personally, I like that. That’s what I like listening to the most, songs I can relate to. And make good music.

You’ve had songs on Radio Disney. Are you going for bigger hit radio stations for this album?
Shaylen: Being signed with Cash Money now, we hope to produce a little bit more older, edgier sound and still stick with who we are and our music. But we’d love to be on more mainstream and Top 40 and hopefully you’ll hear that pretty soon on this. So definitely, we’d like to get into the mainstream. But we love Radio Disney very very much and we thank you for the opportunity they’ve given us and we appreciate that.

How do you get the perspective of both guys and girls together in one song?
Drew: It’s interesting, we have to find the right key for everyone to really work well together on. That’s the main point in starting is right before we start the song is “okay what key are we going to put this in?” [laughs] So that’s basically the foundation of that. And then from there we’ll write lyrics, we’ll figure it out, and one of us will each sing a part/sing something and whoever sounds the best on it, that’s where we go from there. It’s just kind of a work in progress and we like to give everyone a chance to sing their heart out basically. [laughs]

Drew Reinartz

What comes first for you guys, lyrics or beats?
Alan: Usually the producers have the beats for us and then we have a writer come in and write with out. And we’ll write the song and bang it out right there. And sometimes if one of us has like a melody on a song or we have lyrics, we’ll just work together and produce our album with lyrics. It’s different every single time.
GiGi: To add onto what Alan was saying, the producers they have different beats lined up for us and we usually pick the one that really fits us and how we feel that day.

Do you play around with music and make up your own songs?
Shaylen: Yes, absolutely. Alan he’s a genius piano player. He can hear anything and start playing it. [laughs] We all play instruments, three of us play piano, guitar, all that. Some days we just jam out. We usually go to Andrew’s house, he has this big piano there, and we’ll sit down and write what we’re feeling. If there’s a song that day we’ll sit and mess around a lot on piano. Or Alan will mix a lot of beats and be like “What do you guys think of this?” or “Hmm, this has a lot of potential to it” and maybe co-produce with them on it.

Can you all say what instruments you play?
Alan: I play piano and a little bit of guitar
GiGi: I play the drums
Andrew: I play piano and guitar
Drew: I play the guitar
Shaylen: I play the piano!

Do you plan on playing instruments during live shows?
We had a show in Michigan a few years back and we actually played live instruments and we had a live band with us. It was a lot of fun.

[Basically in awe because they can actually play instruments. I’m killer on the triangle]

I saw a video of two of you singing in Spanish. Is this something you’ll do on the album or was it just because you were in Mexico?
Drew: All of us actually sing on that song. The main reason we wrote the song was for Latin America for HBO with Gustavo Warner. He produced the song and helped us write it. It was an amazing experience for us because it was something different and we plan on continuing that or doing something else. We’ll probably do something else in Chinese. [laughs] Shaylen: We have such a great fan base in Latin America, we air in 92 countries at the moment. We did a small tour down there and being able to do that down there was a great opportunity to see how fans reacted. We send them so much love for coming out and supporting us and watching our show.

Alan Shaw

Your show, The Wannabes, it’s been such a huge hit around the world and now it’s coming back to première in your home country. What’s going through your mind?
Andrew: It was an unbelievable feeling when we heard that Starz is going to pick up our show here. We’ve been airing in 92 countries around the world but we don’t really get to feel that. Now that it’s coming back to our home, we get to feel the reaction from the fans, it’s going to be unbelievable.

When the show premieres, people will know you guys as the band on The Wannabes. Do you plan on playing music from the show together with your own music?
GiGi: Whenever we go on tour, we plan to do two different shows. We’ll do a Wannabes show for the younger kids and a Savvy show which will be just Savvy songs. I don’t think the genres will ever intermix at the same time. It’s always going to be the Wannabes and it’s always going to be Savvy.

Is there any chance there’s going to be more seasons of the Wannabes?
Alan: Yes, definitely. Just seeing the reaction from the fans all across the world from the first few seasons, we definitely have plans for a third and fourth season.

And a 10th and 11th. And a 100th season. [laughs]

Do any of you have certain aspirations to want to pursue after you’ve branded yourselves as Savvy?
Andrew: We all have different things like Alan loves choreography and dancing, producing music. We all have different things we want to do. I personally love acting, I’d love to do that later in life. Hopefully that will come into effect later in our lives.

Who are you listening to now?
Alan: Lil Wayne’s Carter IV
GiGi: Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake. I love Katy Perry. And I absolutely love Selena Gomez. All of the big artists right now.
Andrew: I’m in love with the Cash Money roster, all of them are amazing. I listen to Dave Matthews Band, Michael Jackson. Everything pretty much: country, rock, pop, hip hop, techno.

(Andrew is a rainbow of music basically)

Drew: I listen to everything. I get called weird sometimes because I listen to a lot of music in Europe. And also in Iceland because everything that happens in Europe just kind of comes to America. I like to be ahead of the game a little bit. Like Daft Punk, BJork, & Jason Mraz.
Shaylen: Pretty much everything everyone said. I love Beyonce’s new album, Kanye West & Jay Z’s new album, of course Carter IV, Cobra Starship’s album that just came out.

Andrew Bowen Stern

Current favorite song on the radio?
Alan: Carter IV’s “She Will” with Lil Wayne and Drake. That’s one of my favorite songs out there right now.
GiGi: I don’t know if I have a favorite. They’re all pretty much my favorite.
Andrew: Alan took my answer with “She Will” but a big favorite of mine is “How to Love” by Lil Wayne from Carter IV.
Drew: I really love Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and David Guetta’s “I Can Only Imagine.”
Shaylen: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. [laughs]

What artist/band would you love to tour/collaborate with? And you cannot answer any Cash Money artist!
All: We love Cash Money!
Alan: One person I think would be cool would be Justin Bieber. His demographic is the exact same demographic we have, I think it’d be perfect.
GiGi: I’d love to work with Selena Gomez. I think she’s amazing. She’s a very very classy person and so sweet.

Do you have a favorite place to play aside from home shows?
Alan: We filmed the show in Michigan so probably Detroit. Detroit’s pretty cool, we have a big fan base there. One of my favorite places to play is in L.A. Everyone’s real welcoming over here.
Shaylen: Or pretty much anywhere! [laughs]

And opposing that, is there any place that you haven’t played that you dream of playing?
GiGi: I think a big dream for everybody in this group would be to perform at Madison Square Garden.
All: Yes yes! I think that’s every performer’s dream

Savvy’s last message for their fans: We love you guys. We wouldn’t be here without y’all. Thanks so much for your support and check us out on Monday September 5th at 4 o’clock on Starz Kids & Family, Monday through Friday! And follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and our individual Twitters!

Make sure to check out the première of the Wannabes, September 5 at 4pm ET/PT, on STARZ KIDS & FAMILY!


Photo Credit: Patrick Rogers

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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (She's basically a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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