It began with a MySpace message. Three Rancho Cucamonga teenagers who called themselves “Tha Boogie” were starting their music careers, and took to the social networking site to post some of their newest recordings for anyone to hear.
But there was one man in particular they wanted to listen: award-winning producer Raphael Saadiq. “I sent him a MySpace message saying how cool I thought his music was and how much I loved his stuff,” NuSchool recalls. Shockingly enough, Saadiq responded almost immediately, and messages and phone numbers were exchanged. Within weeks, they were at the producer's North Hollywood compound working on material, and eventually toured the East Coast with their producer. For three kids from the Inland Empire who describe their sound as “The Cure-meets-No Doubt-meets-Tha Boogie,” it's stuff they didn't even think to dream of.
LA WEEKLY: Whose parents made them take piano lessons?
NuSchool: (awkwardly raises his hand) It was me. And I did classical voice as a kid. I started when I was 10 or 11. Lejin started off with drums when he was four and grew up singing in church.
So how did you know that NuSchool could play?
Korus: Well, NuSchool and I are actually first cousins. I was kind of a shy kid and one of our aunts were always trying to make us do something when we would all get together, whether it was acting or singing. So when they got me up there to sing, he was like “Ahh you're good!”
NuSchool: She had a nice voice.
How did you guys hook up with Lejin?
NuSchool: I met him when I was 12 years old. His older sister and I were in the same class and I went to her birthday party one year and met him, but it wasn't until three years later I found out he was interested in producing and making music.
Tell me about how you were able to get in touch with Raphael. Whose idea was it?
NuSchool: I sent a message to Raphael and it was along the lines of “We'd love to work with you someday in the future.” He responded back quickly saying he loved what we were doing; here's my phone number.
NuSchool: Yep, that easy. That was the first response, it wasn't even a back and forth thing. He looked and I guess really liked what he heard and he said at the time that Teedra Moses encouraged him to call us.
Korus: It was a couple of calls and he told us to come to his studio. I don't think we believed it was happening, I know I didn't until I got there. We played him the album, he listened closely, nodding his head all the way through and then was like, “Let's do this.”
What's it like working with a legend like him?
NuSchool: The coolest thing about Raphael is that he, as you know, is the most down to earth person, which is really admirable considering all his accomplishments. So to see someone on that end of the spectrum that has done so many things you aspire to do and can maintain such a humble style about them is crazy inspiring. It's one of the major things we've learned from him.
Korus: He gives us pointers all the time, especially about our live show. When we went on tour with him, he was helping us get it together and watching him made us realize we really had to bring it.
For better or worse, what was your “Welcome to the big leagues” moment on tour with him?
NuSchool: Um, we did lose a bag of clothes in New York. We just left the venue, Irving Plaza…
Korus: We just GOT the clothes from Raphael's assistant and we had a photo shoot the next day where we were supposed to wear the clothes. So we left to drop off our stuff at the hotel to get out of the dressing room. We get up to the hotel room and our road manager at the time was like, “OH SHIT I left the bag in the taxi!” And we were supposed to wear those clothes at the photo shoot, but we did manage to take a shirt from the bag. So it was alright, but it was super awkward when we saw his assistant. Welcome to New York, right?
Or welcome to the music biz?
NuSchool: Ha, yes. Now we do multiple sweeps everywhere, whenever we leave ANYWHERE, we need to double check and look around to be sure that we leave nothing behind and we all are on top of everything. We don't need to deal with that stress again.