WARRYN CAMPBELL OF THE SOUL SEEKERS
The Soul Seekers are the epitome of a super group when you look at the makeup of the group, which consists of some of the most successful and sought after musicians, singers, producers and songwriters in the business today. If you put all 8 member’s resumes on one page you’d realized they’ve worked with almost everybody whose anybody in the music game.
It’s no surprise that The Soul Seekers newest single “It’s All God ft. Marvin Winans” is one of the most popular songs in Gospel released in the last few months. So with all the anticipation of their sophomore project, I sat down with member and hit making producer Warryn “Baby Dub” Campbell to talk about what else besides the Soul Seekers, making hits and his biggest claim to fame, Mary Mary!
(The Soul Seekers are: Warryn Campbell, Nisan Stewart, Gerald Haddon, John “Jubu” Smith, Charlie Bereal, Craig Brockman, Teddy Campbell & Eric Seats)
What do the Soul Seekers bring to the music game that is different?
One is the fact that we do quartet music and we’re very young. There are not a lot of young brothers doing quartet music. It’s generally an older genre. The significance is this is not something we’re doing for fun. It’s ministry for us. Everyone in the Soul Seekers has their own career as musicians, producers and songwriters. We have don’t have to do this, but we’re commissioned and called to do it, which is a big difference. We’re less susceptible to different things since we’re not in it for the money. We’ll go anywhere even if it’s for free, because it’s ministry.
Whose idea was for you all guys to come together and form The Soul Seekers?
Ten years ago there was a concert that Nisan Stewart was having at his father’s church one night where he’s the assistant pastor. It was called “Take Me Back” night. At the concert he had a group of girls singing Clark Sisters’ songs, a group of guys doing Commissioned songs, a choir doing Milton Brunson tunes and one doing Walter Hawkins tunes and he said, “the only thing we’re missing is the quartet thing”. All of us grew up on quartet singing and he said, “We should do the quartet thing”. And that’s what happened. God really came in and blessed. It was amazing. From that day on, we were asked to sing here or there and it never stopped. The year after that, we recorded our album “The Original Soul Seekers.”
There are eight guys and everyone is pretty successful in what their doing. How do you guys coordinate everyone’s hectic schedules?
Well, it’s not easy. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes we have to pass on requests because our lead singer is the drummer on The Tonight Show. Monday thru Friday 1 – 5, he’s at NBC Studios and I’m busy as well. But it seems like as busy as I am, I’m the only one who can make everything! LOL! I’m always available. We always have two or three guys who can’t make it, so it takes a lot to make it work. If you see all eight of us and we’re not in California, it took some doing!
Does it ever get frustrating?
It does. A few times we were on the verge of saying “we’re not doing this anymore”. Then all eight of us would get together and do a show somewhere and say, “man, we can’t stop”. The way the move of God happens when all eight of us are on stage is incredible. It’s not us. So, we have to make more sacrifices to get out there. With this new album coming out, we’re going everywhere. We’re going to take three months and just tour the country. We’ve never been down south and we have to go down south with the quartet sound. We’ve been all through California and the East Coast, even the Midwest, but the south is where we want to be. We’ve even been to Amsterdam.
How is this new project different from the first?
There are different twists and turns here and there. We definitely have a bigger sound now. On the last album we didn’t have the horn section. This time we do, plus steel guitar players and percussion. We have Marvin Winans singing with us on the record too. And to my surprise we had a much bigger audience at the recording this time. I looked up and everybody was there. From Coko, MusiqSoulchild, Dr. Bobby Jones to Tye Tribbett, Fred Hammond and Rodney Jerkins. I said to myself, “I didn’t invite these people.” LOL! They just love us and showed up. I was so grateful. We had a great time. We have a DVD that will come out at the same time the album does. Also, the DVD from our first recording that nobody ever saw is going to be on there as well.
When will the album be released?
Probably, in October.
The first single “It’s All God” is like a throwback Winans’ song. Was that intentional and who wrote the song?
A good friend of the groups, Harold Lily Jr, wrote that song. I called him and told him we needed a song and the next day that’s the song he played for me. I knew we had to do that song because it was much better than anything we had. We actually had my mentor, Marvin L. Winans, on another song, but when I heard “It’s All God,” I knew he had to be on this particular song. It came out amazing and so far people are really responding to it.
As a producer known for making hits, can you tell when a song is a hit?
Well, yeah. I can tell by how I feel. Take Mary Mary’s “God In Me” for instance. I really, really, really like that song a lot. Before it was a song, it was just a track that I did at home. I listened to it all day, every day. Then when we did the song and I couldn’t stop playing it. You should get that intangible thing that makes you “feel” something about a song and it should evoke some sort of emotion that overwhelms you. If you don’t respond that way, who else will?
What is it about your chemistry with Erica and Tina that has resonated so well throughout the years?
I’m trying to figure out what the chemistry is. We’re in the studio as we speak. I can’t really explain it. Sometimes we’ll be four hours in and have written seven songs. Other times we get out what we call the “wack juice.” We just keep writing to get through whatever that phase is to get to the good stuff.
Have there been songs that you’ve done that you liked that everyone else wasn’t feeling?
Absolutely. I like most of my songs, but the gospel songs are different. With the gospel songs, I know which ones are hits. With R&B, I’m more detached because I send them in and they do whatever they’re going to do with them, especially when it comes to rap. Like I could do a record with Kanye and I won’t know if it makes the album or not. My heart has to be in it for me to love a record. Most of the time I make records for other people. But with gospel music, the songs start from a sentiment I feel and it’s much more personal.
Do you remember what your first hit was?
It was a song called “When I Close My Eyes” by Shanice. I was 20 years old.
What is your biggest insecurity as a producer or do you have one?
If I have one, I don’t know what it is. I’m extremely confident in the gifts God has given me. I don’t doubt God. When it comes to producing records and writing songs, I don’t do any of it. God writes the songs and I take dictation. I don’t show up at the studio trying to come up with something. I don’t place restrictions on myself, even when other people do. When I have an idea I just go with it.
How do you deal with the backlash of doing Gospel and secular music?
You have to be yourself. You will only be successful being yourself, especially when it comes to God’s work. He called me to do what I do. I came into this knowing that. If I didn’t come into this knowing who I was, people would tear me down. I’d be weak. I’d allow people’s opinions to sway me. I was commissioned to do this by my father and my pastor. I was 16 years old at the time. When I told him I was never going to do secular music he sat me down and said, “You have to treat music as your occupation and you have to separate your occupation from your salvation. Be a light when you do your music”.
WARRYN’S 20 RANDOM TRUTHS
- Are you afraid of heights? No.
- Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving.
- Favorite Mary Mary song? “I Got It.”
- Favorite TV show? “Entourage.”
- Favorite bible story? I Samuel 21:10-15