And when we say the first ever, we’re not just talking here at Raptalk. We’re talking like the first ever anywhere! Back in May of 2007 while the collective known as 1500 or Nothin’ was rehearsing at a North Hollywood studio for an upcoming performance, I caught up with members James Fauntleroy, Larrance Dopson, Knotch, La Mar Edwards and the rest of the gang. The group had just come off of performing on Jay Z’s “Show Me What You Got” as part of Just Blaze’s musical team and we’re making a nice name for themselves in the industry. The problem was that the media wasn’t really focusing on these talented young kids from Los Angeles. It really was a nice story being overlooked and so since I basically ran with the same crowd as the group, it was no problem to hook with these youngsters and get their story. Take another trip back in time with us and we drop another throwback from the past!
Interview conducted by Tim Sanchez in May of 2007 for Raptalk.net
TS: James, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
James: James Fauntleroy, Flossleroy, 1500 Or Nothin.
TS: What’s your role in the group? I know that there are a lot of producers, singers and writers.
James: I am the primary writer. We all write, we all make beats, we all do everything. That’s my specific role though, I am a writer.
TS: Tell us what you are working on.
James: I am working on a bunch of crap (laughs)… I work so much, I don’t even know what day it is, what time it is, or how I am even speaking English to you right here (laughs). But let’s see…. Last week Jennifer Hudson was in. Chris Brown was in. Charlie Wilson was here on Monday.
TS: No shit? Uncle Charlie from The Gap Band?
James: Yup, with his Cowboy hat and his cowboy boots. I worked with Jesse McCartney last week, this little white kid. Ashlee Simpson came in to. I did this song with Nick Lachey.
TS: You are writing for all of these people?
James: (laughs) Yup, I am a bona-fide writer. (sings) Amen, Jesuuuuus. I do the writing, work on the background, and I also work with an amazing producing group The Underdogs.
TS: Who have you had the most fun working with so far?
James: 1500 – and Jennifer Hudson, because she’s fine. Chris Brown because he’s cool. Kiki White because she can sing her ass off and she’s got a lot of ass so that’s hard to do.
TS: Tell us about working with Jennifer.
James: It was amazing because Jennifer is just so fine. I looked her in the eye and told her that I loved her and she said she loved me back. I told her, “If I was a TV show, would you watch it?” and she said “Yeah.” I said “It would watch you back baby!” I gave her a hug and it’s even on my Myspace. I grabbed the hell out of her head like, “Come on, baby.” I grabbed her head and everything.
TS: What should we be on the lookout for?
James: Look out for that hot Mars mixtape and the 1500 Compilation. Also Chris Brown’s CD, and Jennifer Hudson. Also Glen Lewis.
TS: What’s the Mars mixtape?
James: That’s La Mar’s (from 1500) mixtape that he’s got going on. It’s going to have everybody hot on there, including me, because I am hot (laughs)…
TS: We are chillin with Knotch from 1500.
Knotch: Yo, what up what up what up?
TS: Tell us what you got going on….
Knotch: We are just producing, doing hits, every day all day, 1500.
TS: What are you guys working on…
Knotch: Well right now everybody is just trying to get placements. So if y’all need something, come holler at us.
TS: What are you working on personally?
Knotch: Personally? Umm…. I ain’t really trying to put it out there like that. Right now just know that I am working in the studio with artists. A deal is on the way.
TS: Ok. Well, tell us about the group then.
Knotch: I am one of the producers within the group, as well as Chuck, La Mar Edwards and Larrance Dopson. Right now we are at rehearsal, trying to get ready for a show tomorrow night. That’s pretty much it right now. Just getting ready for shows and doing tours. Larrance is just getting off the tour with Snoop. La Mar is working with everybody. We are just grindin’.
TS: How much fun are you having with this group?
Knotch: I am having more fun than I’ve had my whole life. I love it. This is the best situation that I have been in. As far as music and working with different labels and groups, this is the best one because everybody has got love for each other. Everybody is talented. You know, everybody has their ups and downs but at the end of the day we still do good music together. We come together and do good music.
TS: How did you become a part of this whole thing?
Knotch: I just started going out more and I kept running in to them. They started inviting me more and I started just going. We just really started doing music together. Automatically, we just linked.
TS: Is there anything more that you can tell us about you? Can you talk about what you’ve worked on previously?
Knotch: Previously, I’ve done some stuff for Layzie Bone and a few other artists. I did a remix for Trey Songz, it was not released but I did do it. The stuff that I am working on, I don’t really want to talk about because if they don’t come out…oh well.
TS: I can dig that. It’s all good. Thank you for taking the time and keep up the good work.
TS: We are sitting here with Larrance from 1500 Or Nothin.
Larrance: What up man, what up? 1500 Or Nothin!!
TS: Now I had the chance to talk with some of the other members and it was cool, but tell us about 1500. What is it? What does it stand for? What does it mean?
Larrance: I am going to tell you how it all started. A lot of us grew up together. I went to elementary school with Chuck. Me and La Mar have known each other for nearly 5 years from church. Basically all of the good people from Los Angeles in church, you know, the good young people. We all just came together to form one band.
We played for Bobby Valentino, before he had his deal, when he was coming up and we were coming up. We did this gig for him, but on the last rehearsal we had to give him a price. He asked us how much do we charge and so we talked amongst ourselves and we were like, “We aren’t going for anything under 1500.” You see, it was $1500 or we weren’t doing anything because there were too many of us. So they asked us how much we would charge and we told them “1500 or nothing.” So they were like, “Alright. What’s the name of the band?” We just all looked at each other and said “1500 Or Nothin’” (laughs). We’ve been rollin’ with that ever since.
TS: How long have you guys all been together?
Larrance: We’ve been together for about a good 4 years now. I’d say 4 or 5 years. With everybody, me, La Mar, James, the Ivey sisters, Alex, and Libby. There’s a lot of dope singers and writers.
TS: The rap world has been hearing a lot about you guys lately. You guys have been doing a lot of good things. Give us a recap of what you guys have been up to this past year?
Larrance: We had a song on Mack 10’s “Hustler’s Handbook” album. That was our first big break. We did one on Bobby Valentino’s album “Gangsta Love.” Snoop’s “Welcome to The Chuuch.” We were on the latest Dogg Pound album with a song called “Don’t Sweat It” featuring Nate Dogg. We also work with Just Blaze a lot.
TS: I wanted to ask you about working Just Blaze.
Larrance: Yeah, that’s one of my mentors. I met him a couple of years back. A guy who used to manage me back when I was young, he hooked us up. I had met him right after he worked with Joe Budden, and he was just on top. I did some keys for him and we did one track, and so now every time he comes out I work with him or when I go out there to New York. We are a team now.
TS: You guys worked on Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got.”
Larrance: (Nods Yes) The 1500 band with Just Blaze, that was crazy! I’ve got the footage on my Myspace. Y’all check out my page, Myspace.com/larrance1500. That was crazy because we didn’t know that track was going to be for Jay Z. He (Just Blaze) came out here and we were just working on a gang of records. We were actually working on some stuff for Detox, for Dre, so hopefully that will work out too!
TS: Were you there when Jay Z recorded that?
Larrance: No, we were in Los Angeles when he (Just Blaze) called us in. It was crazy because I saw him chop up the sample on a Battery and Pro Tools while using his lap top. I played the piano part, the rumble thing at first I wasn’t going to do, but I just felt it. La Mar played the keys. La Mar played a little bass too. Chuck played bass. Bam was on the drums. Bam is just amazing man.
TS: It sounded like you guys just recorded that live right on the spot with Jay right there, especially how the end of the song came about.
Larrance: It’s just about a chemistry. We’ve been playing so long with each other. We just know what we are all going to do at the right time. I don’t know how that is, but that’s just how it is.
TS: Tell us about the Game & Nas song. Just Blaze at the end called you guys up there like a little church thing at the end.
Larrance: We’ve got a 1500 choir too. It was around 20 to 25 of our good friends that sing – people that we know and have personal relationships with. We just came in like, “Do you need the band? We’ve got the band. Do you need the choir? We’ve got the choir.” Anything that has anything to do with music, it’s 1500, man.
TS: Dude, how many are there of you guys?
Larrance: Officially, there’s about 12 that actually work in the industry and have their own individual thing. There’s James Fauntleroy, he’s signed to The Underdogs. He’s like their main writer. They’ve got songs with Kathryn McPhee, Chris Brown…
TS: Yeah, he was telling us about that.
Larrance: (points to a member) You see that guy BJ? He’s got songs on Mario’s album. He sings background for Usher. My sister Alex is an incredible writer. Libby, she works with all of the producers. Lil Chris, he’s the youngest one but he plays everything. He’s grown so much. Bam, the drummer, he sings. You’ve got the Ivey sisters; they all grew up under Babyface. They were signed to Babyface when they were like 14. They’ve also got a lot of placements singing background for people like Whitney Houston and Kelly Price. It’s just a gang of talented people that make good music.
TS: Let’s talk about you! You are talking about everyone else. I know you play in Snoop Dogg’s band, the Snoopadelics. Tell us about that.
Larrance: Thanks to Terrace Martin and DJ Battlecat. Shout out to them, they are my big homies. They looked out for me with the Snoop thing.
TS: You’ve been having fun touring the world?
Larrance: A lot of fun. Don’t believe the news! That’s all I gotta say. Do not believe the news (in regards to Snoop’s international troubles).
TS: You are right there. You’ve seen it all first hand.
Larrance: It’s fun though. I just toured with Snoop and Diddy and it was incredible. I learned so much from Puffy (Diddy), like how to handle yourself on stage. It was incredible the two of them coming together. I’ve never done a show like that, ever. I mean, 3 different wardrobe changes, we are wearing suits. He’s got an 8-piece horn section and we’ve got our band. The energy was crazy every night.
TS: You play the keys in the band?
Larrance: I play the keys and the drums. I am learning the bass right now. We’ve got to teach each other whatever we don’t know.
TS: Word has it that 1500 is putting an album together.
Larrance: Yeah. We are putting the 1500 album together, 1500 & Friends. Basically what we are doing is getting all of the people that we work with the industry, from Kanye to T.I. La Mar is my production partner but he has a company with T.I. too. It’s called Smash Factory. So he’s been working with T.I. and a lot of other people.
TS: When do you think we will see this project come out?
Larrance: Really we are taking our time on it. We’ve got so many songs but it’s just got to be right. We are going to have live band stuff, the southern club records, R & B, Soul, and Pop. We’ve even got a record for Avril Levigne (laughs).
TS: (laughs) Get out of here…
Larrance: My sister, Alex, she’s incredible when it comes to that stuff (pop music). Sometimes you don’t even know that she’s black (laughs). I’ll let you hear some of her records. We’ve got everything. Country records, we’ve got all of that. In church we play everything, country, whatever, they put a little bit of everything in it.
TS: That spirituality shows in a lot of your music from what I’ve heard…
Larrance: I appreciate it man, I appreciate it.
(Libby walks up)
TS: Introduce this girl here…
Larrance: Let me introduce Ms. Libby….
Larrance: She’s just – I’m speechless right now because she’s so talented and young (laughs).
Larrance: Every producer is trying to work with this girl. Just name like 5 producers
that you are working with.
Libby: I just want to say that my favorite producers are 1500. No disrespect to the other ones – Ryan Leslie & Nephew. Basically I have worked with a lot of producers but I’ve had the most fun and I’ve learned so much from 1500. They give you space to be free and there’s no pressure, that’s why I like working with them. They are so talented. I want to be like 1500 when I grow up (laughs)….
TS: You are signed to Sony, right?
TS: How long have you been signed to them?
Libby: Maybe like 4 months. I was with Universal but you know, I had to kick them out (laughs). But yeah I am just finishing up my album. 1500 is going to be on half of the album. That’s official.
(Alexandria walks up)
TS: Introduce yourself….
Alexandria: First lady of 1500, Alexandria.
Larrance: This is the one I was telling you about. The one that has got all of the pop records and the versatile style.
Libby: I love Alex. She’s like super talented and I’ve learned so much from her. She’s the truth for real, versatile from R & B to Rock.
(Lil Chris walks up)
Larrance: Y’all heard me talk about Lil Chris earlier, the smooth brother of 1500, the man who plays everything. I met him when he was 14 or 15, and he was playing everything. Everybody looks up to him in the L.A. church world. The boy is 18 and he’s played for Omarion and Bobby Valentino when he was only 16. He sings and he’s working on his album.
Young Chris: Young Chris, holla at ya boy….
Larrance: Right now I am going to introduce the most beautiful and most talented,
Lisa Ivey – one of the Ivey sisters. They are just incredible. They’ve got placements that you won’t even believe and don’t ever want to tell anybody until you read the credits.
Lisa: I just want to give the glory to God. It ain’t even about trying to say what I’ve done or where I’ve come from because I know where I am from. I’m trying to speak through my music and through the things that I do. I’ve got a couple of sisters and they are hot, man! They are hotter than me but you know I just feel like God has given me something to say and I am going to say it. It could be good or bad but I am not tripping.
Larrance: Now we have Tavia Ivey. She’s like one of my favorites. Can you tell them what you’ve done and stuff?
Tavia: Like what?
Larrance: I know you are humble and everything but just share a few things and names.
Tavia: I do more background stuff because I love doing background. So I would say from Mariah Carey to Whitney Houston to Michael Jackson and Chaka Khan – a little bit of everybody. It’s pretty cool, I like it. It’s fun.
TS: You ever going to come out to the forefront though?
Tavia: You know I am working on that right now. I am thinking more of like a Pop type of album rather than like R & B.
(Me and Larrance walk back to the studio so he can pack up the rest of his instruments)
TS: So who’s the spearhead of this group? The central figures and leaders? Is that pretty much yourself?
Larrance: The head of our production company is myself, La Mar and Chuck Hamilton. We all started as a band but then we all started producing and now everybody writes.
TS: You guys were having church up in this rehearsal earlier.
Larrance: You’ve got to have fun…
TS: So this was a rehearsal for an upcoming performance?
Larrance: Yeah, we’ve got a show tomorrow night, but we actually perform at B.B. King’s every Tuesday. Twice a month we do the Temple Bar. A lot of our friends come out and we’ll have different people come up and play. We all switch off, it’s fun man.
TS: So how does it work when you guys get credit on an album, since you are all one big group? Do you spread it out or what?
Larrance: A lot of the stuff that we’ve got placements on recently have been through the production team, so that’s myself, La Mar and Chuck.
TS: So when it’s credited through production, that’s you guys…
Larrance: Yes, through production. Now Lil Chris, he’s working with a lot of different artists. It’s 1500, but we want to spread out individually. I have learned so much from Snoop, we just had a meeting a few days ago. What I learn from him I teach to La Mar. La Mar teaches me what he’s learned from T.I. on the business end. Chuck teaches me what he learned from Game. It’s about teaching each other so we can all be better.
TS: That’s cool to see especially here on the West Coast. I like how diverse your sound is too. It’s not the typical perceived West Coast sound.
Larrance: We’ve got a lot of tracks. I’ve got to let you hear some more stuff. A lot of our tracks can never sound the same. We will do whatever we feel. If it’s country, then you will have a country song.
TS: I know you have all grown up in music, but are any of you guys trained musicians? Like going to school?
Larrance: La Mar went to MI, Musicians Institute, for about a year, but no (laughs).
TS: So this is all just God’s gift?
Larrance: It’s God – everything. I play by ear. I really don’t read music at all. I mean, we all know the basic chord charts, how to get around, but we just play by ear. We hear it and play it.
TS: Anything you want to tell the readers?
Larrance: It’s all about good music. All of these producer’s beef’s are like, for what? It’s about making good music and making a lot of money while doing that. Honestly, if we weren’t making money, we would be doing it anyway. We’ve all got a passion. The money is like not important at all because that’s going to come. If you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, working hard, staying humble, making no enemies and being everybody’s friend, nobody is blackballing you and you can do good business.
TS: So you guys will work with anybody?
Larrance: Anybody……with a check (laughs). I mean, we’ve worked with so many people without checks, but that’s just the grind coming up. Favors for favors, that’s what it’s about man.
TS: It was really great to be here. Thank you for having me out here, it was fun. Usually when I am in the studio, everybody is serious, but this was a good change up for me. Bring that fun back, please…
Larrance: You’ve got to. Like Morris Day and Prince used to do, just having fun with it.
La Mar Edwards
Larrance: Let me introduce this guy. This is my right hand man. If I am not doing it, then he’s doing it. If I am in New York, he’s in L.A. You feel me?
TS: Alright, so tell me what you do, man.
La Mar: I love God. I love my family and my mom and dad. I love music and I produce with 1500. We are doing good things this year and God is blessing us and it’s a blessing to be around a bunch of talented people like them.
TS: Everybody seems to be working on something. What are you working on?
La Mar: Um, not really anything. Just doing songs.
(Note: He has the Mars Mixtape that the other band members mentioned earlier)
TS: So you are just working within the nucleus of the group? Just helping everybody out with their stuff? Nothing for yourself?
La Mar: Yeah I am, but that’s not where my focus is. If I have some extra time to mess around, if I hear a hook or an idea, then we’ll experiment but other than that it’s just trying to get placements and song deals.
TS: I spoke to this gentleman (Larrance) here for about 20 minutes and he broke it all down, but let me hear your philosophy of the group…
La Mar: In a nutshell, 1500 is the new Motown. It’s a company as well as a brand. It’s a movement. It’s an era, if you will. We are bringing music back, from creating to playing drums, to live producing to vocal arranging, writing, formatting songs, everything.
TS: Are you guys bringing more people in? Or is it staying where it is right now?
La Mar: We have a core crew of people but we’ve picked up people of immaculate talent along the way. Along the way God has put people in our lives.
TS: Ok, how many instruments do you guys play? It seems like everybody was taking turns playing tonight.
La Mar: Me personally I only play about 3 or 4, but Chris played like 4 or 5. Larrance plays 3 or 4 and Chuck plays like 5. So we just try to perfect the gift that God gave us so that we can utilize it to what we are doing.
TS: Do you guys prefer the live playing or do you prefer to sample?
La Mar: You can’t “not” sample. It’s like sometimes you can create something but you also add another element to it by sampling. It makes producing fun. It can make things a little livelier.
TS: You want to end this big ol’ interview with some last thoughts?
La Mar: Jesus saves and I love everybody. 1500, we are smashing. Smash Factory – this is Mars and we’re doing it real big.