Shawn Stockman is a part of the legendary group Boyz II Men, a group that can still bring generations together. Although he has reached a high level of success as a group, it’s now his moment to shine as a solo artist. His debut album Foreword tells a story, an introduction to Stockman’s story. “I wrote every song,” Stockman states. “If I didn’t write it by myself, I co-wrote it.” So, while you’re here, get into the story of Stockman,” and his debut album Foreword (audio of interview below).
What’s going on? How are you doing?
You know, chilling at the crib (laughs).
I ain’t mad. All the years you’ve been around, I’d like to be in your crib too. I know you got more things to do than I do.
Well, you know, it’s funny cause I’ve never, just purposely… I’ve never had a studio in my house cause I kinda like to keep things separate. Like I like to make my home my home, and when I have to go and create work, then I can work. You know what I mean? At a studio somewhere, you know, keeping things separate. But because of this whole thing, and you people are asking me to sing songs and stuff like that. So now I find myself buying equipment. So now my guest room, which; I ain’t gonna have no guests anyway, it’s now become my studio. I’m having equipment shipped to my house now just to kind of make a little studio. Nothing huge, but something, you know, conducive enough to actually make records and make songs.
Going off of that, right. You say you typically try to separate your home life from music and studio life. Is that a lesson that you learned early on, or just something that you just wanted to implement?
Yeah, I learned that very early. We were taught that by people in our corner, and I’ll tell you a story. Years ago, me and the guys were at Neverland with Michael, and he’s taking us around the grounds, doing all the typical stuff. We’d be on ferris wheels, bumper cars, and all that other stuff. Like a few miles, a few thousand yards from his main house, was a smaller house, right. So we go into this house and he has all of his awards. All of his gloves, the plaques, the trophies, this accolade, that accolade. And what Michael told us was that the reason why he has them in this house is because he doesn’t want to be in his main house seeing all of those things because you naturally say, ‘oh, look what I’ve done.’ Because his whole thing is I don’t ever want to look at what I’ve done. I always want to feel like there’s more to do.
So he kept those awards away from where he lived because he wanted to wake up with the intention of actually wanting to create more. So I took that, Michael being one of my biggest inspirations, and always tried to practice that same thing. My house is my house. My house is where I raise my kids, where I’m with my wife and family and, and that’s it. That’s the sanctity. And then anything else after that, when I go out, that’s when I work and that’s where I go to the studios and stuff like that.
But you know, in this case, and times have changed to where you don’t have to have a big old studio anymore. You’re paying literally for the room in a studio. Nowadays you can record full albums in a closet, and it’s full quality, and it really sounds good. I’m just buying a little setup.I already have most of the stuff where I’m just getting the right microphone. I got guitars, I got bass, I got my drum machine and I can create music without necessarily having a huge room anymore. You don’t need it right now. You can still have the comforts of home.
Everybody that knows music, knows that you are legendary. But you just having a Michael story, I’m just like, this man; you know how casual of a flex it is to have a Michael Jackson story? Like, you have to have talent to have a Michael Jackson story. That’s powerful.
You know what? It’s even a bug out for me when I think about the fact that, here’s a guy that, he basically is the reason why I I sing. He’s the reason why I got into the business, and why I was so inspired to do so. And then many years later, to then call that same guy your friend. He knows you by name, he asks how your kids are doing, he asks how things are going. He asks is everything all right with the guys, when are we hanging out? You know, that type of stuff. It’s a bug out, for me. And so trust me, it wasn’t an intentional flex. It was just one of those things that just happened to be a part of my life, and it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to have experienced those things with those types of people.
That’s beautiful. How does it feel for you to step out from the group, into having now, your solo debut album?
You know, I came into this whole thing, William, with the intention of knowing that there was going to be some work to do. I understood that the environment in the music industry has changed, and quite frankly, you know, why would anybody care about a record coming from me who’s known for being in a “90s group.” So me having that all in my head, and me understanding what the environment was, it then allowed me to let all of that go and to just be me because no one expected this. And there’s a freedom to that. So, I went in with the intention of doing whatever the hell I wanted to do, and writing how I felt would be a great introduction, or a best representative introduction as to who I am as an individual that’s been in a group for so long.
That’s the approach I took, and understanding that me leaving, or rather, just stepping out of a comfortable situation, and me wanting to take a chance on my own was something that was gonna not only be somewhat daunting but exciting. You know what I mean? So, this is exciting for me, to know that it’s all on me. The spotlight is on me, and that could be a good thing, or a not so good thing. But my approach behind it, it’s been all positive, which is why I think the reception has been as good as it’s been because there aren’t any preset notions. There’s no hype, there’s no big huge promo package behind it. This is just me creating some music that I believe that people will love and hopefully appreciate. And that’s it.
Well, I will say when I did listen to it, I liked it by the way. I genuinely do. I’m not just saying that, but when I listened to that, no problem. But when I listened to the album, I heard Shawn Stockman the man, the solo artist. I didn’t necessarily hear Boyz II Men, which I think is a good thing. So, was it kind of hard for you, musically to, or you know, mentally, getting over that initial hurdle of, this is you, this is your work, this is what you’re putting out?
I think it’s good. I think I took the mentality that it would be harder for people to understand that, more than myself because I’ve been doing this for a long time. The solo project has been something I’ve been dreaming of for years. So me finally doing it at this stage in my life, I’ve already warmed up to that idea and I was just waiting for the right time and moment. Which is the reason why I called the album Foreword, it’s an introduction from me to people. To kind of get to know me from this angle because again, me understanding that people would kind of scrunch up their face and say, ‘well, what’s he doing this for? Or why is he doing this?’ would be the harder hurdle to jump over opposed to me. I was already there.
I was just trying to get other people used to the idea that yes, this can happen too. You know, that’s, that’s what this whole thing was about, which is the reason why I named it the way that I did, and created the songs that I created. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. I didn’t want to come off too avant-garde, and too risqué where people have to scratch their head, listening to it, asking ‘well, what the hell is this?’ I wanted to tap into what my core was, from a songwriting and singing standpoint.
This is who I am. Yes, the book can get deeper, but this is who I am. I want you to know who I am first before you know everything else. You never go out on a date and tell everybody everything on the first date, you’re going to run that poor woman away. You want to be able to at least give them an introduction to who you are. Get to know me, I get to know you, that whole thing. And then as the comfort level develops, then you can expose more.
So, you had said the solo album was something that was in the works for you for years. Why would you say it took you so long to have it coming to fruition?
Timing. Because as much as I might’ve wanted to, or might’ve thought about doing certain things, or doing the solo record; these years past helped me understand that mentally, at least in the beginning I wasn’t ready. So there were certain things that I had to learn, understandable, develop and experience in order for me to write the songs that I wrote. So it gave me, these years waiting, material. From personal standpoints, to others to see, to witness, and to write about. I always wanted the music to always come from a real place and not be a thing where, ‘oh, I got to get this producer, I gotta get this song writer, I got to get this guy, I gotta get that guy.’ I wrote every song. If I didn’t write it by myself, I co-wrote it. And this wasn’t about anything but; you can’t have people tell your story better. Nobody can tell your story better than me. So this is why I did it the way that I did.
I love that, you know, especially because with the whole topic of writing, co-writing, ghost writing, I feel like it really is important. Like you said, nobody can tell your story better than you can. And you come from an era of storytelling, and album sequencing so people can get the full picture, the full story. So because this is a part of your story, right? How would you describe the songs you put into fruition, the sequencing of the album? What is the story of Foreword?
The story of Foreword is, here’s some songs that I want you to enjoy in hopes that they connect with you on some level. These are some experiences that I’ve gone through. These are some journeys I’ve traveled, these are some pleasures that I’ve enjoyed. And quite frankly, there are no different from experiences, or pleasures, or things that you’ve gone through. Again, this is an introduction. This is me saying hello, my name is, and just like any date or a type of relationship, you develop the similarities.
You develop an understanding that there are similarities to all of our lives. And these are the songs that come out of it. You know, this is me living life, and growing, and it not being about anything else. There’s no other intention, but here’s my music. Enjoy it. See if you connect with it. And if so, I’ll see it, a concert, and then I can sing them to you too, and then we can further get into the story. Let’s get into this, and that’s pretty much how it is.