In an exclusive interview with Derrek Lemar Croney, the artist gave us a sneak peek into his upcoming third album, including the release of two new singles.
Derrek touched on the creative process behind the album, sharing the inspiration behind the songs, and what fans can expect from the new music.
He also opened up about the challenges he faced during the pandemic and how it affected his work.
With a unique blend of pop and jazz, Derrek’s sound continues to evolve and captivate audiences. Get ready for a fresh new chapter in Derrek’s music career as he unveils his much-anticipated third album.
Now to some questions…
album title? RELEASE DATE?
Title? Yes — “Good Things”.
Release date? — I’m shooting for sometime in March.
In a moment, we’ll ask about what’s on “Album 3”, but for now, what excites you about this one?
Finding my “singing voice”, making peace with aspects (of if) that I couldn’t when I was younger.
I’m very proud of how this one is produced — finally settling on a DAW workflow (Logic Pro X and Reason) and upgrading the VST “toolbox” (like UAD Spark).
My oldest son (drums) was convinced to contribute to one of his dad’s albums.
Finally, I was able to get my sister (the best singer I know) to contribute backgrounds. In fact, the beautiful blend of her and my wife (aka “Bae”) are the focus of the album’s first track.
Ah — Ok, so tell us about “Good Things”?
Sure — let’s get to the track list.
* – singles available on all the streaming places.
- 5 where I’m singing (no collaborations this time)
- 3 ‘combo’ songs (instrumental w/ vocals)
- 4 instrumental jazz tracks
Some “Easter Egg”-like callbacks to both the previous two albums are included. (yes, I’m an MCU fan, too)
“Get Away” picks up where “Getaway” (2020) ended. Again, featuring Bae and my sister in a beautiful vocal blend. Get ready to take a drive to your favorite “get away” spot.
Speaking of “callbacks”, if you listened (and hopefully enjoyed!) the Journey album, you’ll likely recognize where “All I Dream” comes from.
I just wrapped up work on “Church Boy“ — this song, I believe, will be the foundation of the next collection of albums.
“…and ‘The Dominos’” – I like to use the term “Dominos” when referring to my recorded background vocals.
“Derrek & The Dominos”
How do you hope this album connects with fans and reaches new listeners?
If I have created music that listeners have an easy time singing (without realizing it) then I’m happy.
Inspiring someone, who shares a similar story to mine, to sing and record? I’ll consider that part of my legacy.
The last album earned me a fan all the way in Italy. Let’s see if I can hit either Denmark, Norway or England — places I would happily go and sing in front of a crowd (Editor’s note: More on this later).
Describe your process (writing, etc) going from “Journey” to “Good Things”
Similar to what I did going from “The Maestro Project” to “Journey”, I took 4-6 months to explore — DAWs, sounds, and then song ideas.
I started exploring a “Retro 80’s” style and even recorded some songs (hopefully) for later — with a definite 1985-1987 pop vibe.
Eventually, I put those on the shelf — even though I did keep “Aye” for this album.
The vibe for the album started to take shape in November/December 2021 when I:
- started recording “You Are“, this time singing it solo (Derrek recorded it as a duet in 2018),
- created the chord progression for “Me & You” while Bae and I were in Lynchburg visiting her mother for Christmas, and
- writing the first set of verses for “Church Boy” on New Year’s Eve 2021
One of the biggest challenges is reviewing a song (wearing the ‘producer’ hat) and deciding “this part, or these parts, don’t belong”.
“Rejoice” was a 5-minute song at the end of October. Mind you, I needed to finish it so as to place my CDBaby order so it would be released on time.
So I’m walking on my favorite trail and this voice in my head is calmly saying, “Son, the song is too long.” So I had to cut off about 2-minutes of music and streamline the arrangement.
Then, I had to add more lead vocals. Yep — crazy times. Fun, tho.
That said, only one person has heard the 5+ minute version and I’ll likely keep it that way.
How did the recent COVID-19 Pandemic affect your work on the album?
There was no real negative effect.
Since I was confined to “work from home” status, there was definitely more time in front of the computer, keyboards and microphone.
More time to sing out ideas because I could “work” for a bit, then take a break and sing or play some ideas out.
We have a fan-submitted question — “How Do You stay So Creative?”
My mom, to this day, tells me, “You got that song in your head, don’t you…?” — because I’m seemingly always singing some idea.
There are songs on the upcoming album I’ve been writing/thinking about for over 20 years — “Showtime” and “Get Away” are two such examples.
Sometimes, all it takes is spinning up the Chord Sequencer alongside any of my favorite Reason Rack instruments to “see what happens”. Next thing you know, I’m recording “Like Heaven“.
It really does feel like God opened a water faucet of music ideas and said, “Go”. 🤷🏽♂️
How is “Good Things” similar to “Journey” and “The Maestro Project”?
“Good Things” and “Journey” each have a ‘title track’.
Other than that, “Good Things” is more a sequel to “The Maestro Project” than “Journey”.
Much in the same way I see ‘Oceans 13’ as more a sequel to ‘Oceans 11′ than ’12’.
Trilogy Thread – “Detour” (from 2018), “Journey” (2020) and “Last Shot” (2023) represent a trilogy of songs inspired/evolved from an unpublished song I wrote over 20 years ago. Listen close and one can discover the thread.
Background Vox – I don’t think I used any additional vocals on “Journey”. This time, however, I did call on some good singers to contribute.
Moving Piano Piece – Similar to “Rose” (from The Maestro Project), “Good Things” is a piano-centric moving song.
Who (or what) are your influences?
Those Old 80’s Rockers
“Living on a Prayer” is one of the best produced songs I’ve ever heard. That production influenced how I approached this one.
I recently watched a good bit of the KISS documentary on Hulu and what really struck me is how these cats just wanted to sing and share a talent — a voice — with the world.
That, and I felt like if these cats could scream into a mic, kinda stay on key, and make hits, I can have a future in this thing… 🙃🤣
I’m going to record a “Loverboy” cover one of these days. Ocean was the one artist I’ve dreamed of emulating when I was younger.
Watching Cory Henry search for his singing voice continues to push, drive and inspire me.
Because — hello!!! — have you heard these guys on YouTube or seen them live?
Is this your last project?
I’ve already thought about the 4th album and have already selected a title.
The question I’ll need to answer is, “Will THIS guy be a part of it…?“
Any thoughts of going “On Tour”?
Friend, I can barely stand to be in front of 8 people at a time without experiencing panic attacks… 🤣
Seriously, all it would take is to experience success in singing, live, in front of a crowd — from there, “who knows”?
In 2009, I sang “My Girl” on a “Spirit of Norfolk” cruise – they had a “singing competition”, and I looked at Wife #2 (who really didn’t think I could do it) and said, “I’m in”.
So despite an awful case of “head cold”, I did it, and won the competition.
Ten years later, I sang “Blue Skies” in front about 40-50 people for a talent show at a local Methodist church in Raleigh. Bae was there and when I was done, she looked at me in total amazement. It was a great feeling.
So, I can never say “never”.
I have a cousin in Louisville who keeps pleading with me to “Come to the Ville!!!!”
Thanks for your time, Derrek