VIBE: What was the inspiration behind your album Letters I Never Sent?
Philip Lawrence: The title sort of came from… the majority of the songs on the album were recorded back in 2009, around the time Bruno and I were working together pretty heavily and his shuttle was about to take off and I could see his popularity growing. I thought to myself, “If I’m ever going to record an album I should probably do it now because who knows when I’m going to have a chance again.” I knew that we were going to be touring and all these wonderful things were going to be happening with him, so when we were recording it back then and fast forwarding now to four or five years later they were almost the songs that were never heard. They were like these letters or ideas and songs that were almost never sent, but fortunately now the world can hear them.
You mentioned that you had to dig deep to express the issues in your life on this album. What was that experience like?
It was like therapy. It was very cathartic for me because sometimes it’s a little rare in popular music to be able to have the freedom to be honest and speak from the heart and talk about issues in your life and try to be an open book. A lot of times that’s not the kind of stuff you want to hear on the radio, which is understandable. For me going in to write this album I wanted it to be an honest portrayal of things happening in my life and things I’m struggling with, the good the bad. It was like a therapy session, it was good to be able to talk about it, sing about, to be able to come face to face with things that I’ve been through.
Do you think when artists aren’t only honest with themselves in their music, but also opening up to the fans that it makes for a great record?
I think that to the core of our human condition, honesty is what keeps us inspired. When we’re able to share real life instances, hopefully it can help and inspire someone else who could be going through the same thing. I would hope that it brings more validity to what it is that we’re singing or talking about.
You have a very unique sound to your music. A few of your tracks were uptempo while others were more mellow and ballad-like. How do you describe your sound?
I just think it’s a combination of the influences that I’ve had over the years. My dad was a DJ back in the 70’s. When I was growing up, there was at any given time crates and crates of albums just lying around the house. We were exposed to everything from the Isley Brothers to The Eagles to Led Zeppelin, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, and this sort of gumbo melting pot of musicians and artists that we were exposed helped shape the things that I liked. That’s why you’ll hear maybe a funk song, or you’ll hear a rock song as well. A lot of that is true to what Bruno [Mars] and I do as well. We try to not be pigeonholed into any kind of style. We work on what move us.
What is the most personal song on Letters I Never Sent?