A violin. A bass guitar. A keyboard. A host of percussion instruments. Justin and R.Y.A.N. on the mic. Justin Fraley and Ryan Easter are the gentlemen behind The Drawing Board EXP, LLC. – a record label here in Cleveland.
By ReGINA ‘G STYL’ CRAWFORD
A violin. A bass guitar. A keyboard. A host of percussion instruments. Justin and R.Y.A.N. on the mic. Justin Fraley and Ryan Easter are the gentlemen behind The Drawing Board EXP, LLC. – a record label here in Cleveland. The two took their unique brand of storytelling to the stage at Urbean Joes Café on Sunday, Feb. 13. ‘A Love Story’ took audience members on the journey of a relationship from the initial contact to a time when the relationship gelled into something long lasting as they performed songs from Easter’s first album “2 Seater,” as well as, music from Justin’s sophomore album “Melodic Movement” and his upcoming third album “ChromoZone,” to be released in May.
Even though they have been partners in the industry for years, this is the first time they will take the stage at the same time. “Our music is really getting to the point where we want it to be as far as reaching people,” said Fraley on why they are hitting the stage together at this time. “The main reason,” he added, “is because Ryan’s album is coming out and then my new album is coming out in May. So this is kind of like a release slash feature for both of us.”
The Drawing Board has its own studio that they built themselves. They have written, produced and mixed and mastered music for quite a few artists over the years. They are still in the process of building their arsenal of artists, while at the same time creating their own sound, their own message to a diversified audience. The first project they worked on together was Fraley’s debut album “The Art Of Conversation”, and from there the partnership took off with creating a new music vibe focusing on the communication between men and women.
Justin is no stranger to the mic. He has been a spoken word artist for quite a few years, and all of his albums fall under the genre of spoken word. “I’ve been writing since I was in the seventh grade,” he said. “I was never really good at communicating verbally. I could always get my point across, or paint a picture, or take you somewhere with my writing. When I met him [Ryan], I realized that it doesn’t just need to be poetry over music, it needs to be felt. We don’t only want our music to sound good, we want it to feel good.”
So, when asked to give a preview of what to expect from the upcoming “ChromoZone,” Fraley said, “People can expect my growth. People can expect production. A couple of tracks I produced myself. The idea behind [the album] is genetically [we are] X and Y chromosomes, man and woman. What I’m doing is painting a picture of a man and a woman gaining an understanding [of each other].”
Even though he has been writing for years, it wasn’t until after a career in the NFL didn’t produce the desired outcome that he took to his art. “Realizing that I had something to say,” Fraley said when asked why he decided to start taking his art to the stage. “I do poetry different from what’s [considered] normal poetry. I figure I can get my point across in speaking to you, or using a tone of voice that pulls you into it so you can feel it,” he adds. “So I just started going out and doing it, and with encouragement from other people, like Ryan, I kept doing it.”
Easter has been an audio engineer and producer for more than nine years, and only steps to the mic when needed according to his bio. In his bio, he also states that right now is that time. But, what makes this the right time? “Remember when Anita Baker would come out [with a new an album], you knew about? Kem, when he comes out, you know but you don’t really know. So that’s kind of the point,” he began. “Not that I’m saying I’m going to save music or nothing like that. I’m just saying it’s time to market music to people who don’t get it marketed to. It’s time to make music that people older than 24 can appreciate,” he said.
Easter released his debut album on Feb 18th, and made his first feature performance on stage at the 806 Wine Bar. “2 Seater: Hip Hop For Him and Her” was born out of the artist’s desire to be able to take a drive with his female companion listening to music they can both enjoy and relate to. “‘2 Seater’” is the same concept as ‘ChromoZone,’” said Easter about his debut album. “‘ChromoZone’ is X Y, man woman, and when you see a two seater [car] it’s always a man and a woman. So the title is saying that it’s for a man and a woman. One man, one woman,” he further explained. “I’m a hip-hop guy, so it’s been a ton of times I’ve been in the car with my girlfriend and I try to slip the hip-hop in and she turns her eyes to the sky. And on the flip side, when she puts in the R&B or the gospel, I’m like please change this track [in my mind of course]. So I was thinking in the car one day that it would be sweet if we both could listen to something, and didn’t have to have an attitude in doing it.”
Both of these gentlemen seem to understand that communication is key when it comes to interaction between men and women. They are also providing their fans with a foundation on which to build or improve their relationships. You can hear more from these gentlemen at reverbnation.com/justinfraley and reverbnation.com/royallyyours. They are also on Facebook at facebook.com/JustinFraley and facebook.com/royallyyours respectively. You can also purchase Fraley’s music on iTunes, and Ryan’s should be available the day the album releases.