I Ain't Going Back: An Exclusive Interview with Don Benjamin and Rhyan LaMarr
Entertainment industry veterans, Don Benjamin and Rhyan LaMarr, recently discussed their newest and upcoming projects with us, including a hot new song "I Ain't Going Back."
Rhyan LaMarr is a music artist, film director, and founder of Red Guerilla Entertainment. He has released a few singles, as well as directed some popular movies (most popularly "Canal Street"). Don Benjamin is an actor, music artist, and model. He has released a string of singles over the years, appeared on America's Next Top Model as well as a host of other TV shows, and acted in music videos, most notably for Ariana Grande. Not only this, but he was also a GUESS model -- a feat many models hope to accomplish.
The two artists recently collaborated on the new song "I Ain't Going Back," and we got the scoop on their message and more upcoming projects!
As the mastermind behind Red Guerrilla Entertainment, we wanted to ask LaMarr a few questions first surrounding his music and other upcoming ventures.
To a lot of people and your fans, you
are known for your visionary work behind the scenes as a film director (Canal Street, Restored Me). What made you want to step more into the spotlight as a music artist?
"Music has always been my first love and passion, while film is my life. Honestly, I have been doing music since elementary school. I came up in Chicago around the music scene and gravitated towards groups like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Outkast and Bad Boy Records in the early to mid 90's. Music was my way out. Before I ever decided to get behind a camera I was behind a microphone, a pen and a pad. It just so happens that film made it possible for me to come back to my first love, music."
First off, we LOVE your new song, "I Ain't Going Back," with Don Benjamin, Jack Red, and Mod-G. What is the main message from the song you want people to take away?
"I was lost and looking for love everywhere but the church. I thought I was mad at God but I was really more disappointed in myself for allowing my vices to get the best of me. God became my punching bag for many seasons. But when i came out the fire and really sought after God He broke me in ways I never thought I could be touched. I learned to love myself and find joy again. Once I mastered transparency and fell back in love with the word, I gravitated towards Proverbs 18:22. "He who finds a wife, finds a good thing." I had always heard this scripture in passing but it never really hit home until I started to seek the Lord. This song is about my journey to becoming a real man of God...
I wanted to do something fresh and meaningful to shake up the normalcy I was seeing on the scene. I'm an artist at the end of the day, which means I make music and films, and try to help raise the bar not only in positive entertainment but as an artist overall. I wanted to create visuals for the song that showcased a group of positive gentlemen graduating towards greatness and love. With everything going on in the world currently I just pray we can add some relief and escape to a world that is hurting."
Check out the music video below!
That's incredible; thanks for sharing that personal truth with us! Speaking of the music visuals, since you're a film director, did you also direct the music video?
"Yes, I directed/produced and wrote the treatment for the video. They kind of go hand-in-hand when I'm creating. I've been directing music videos and writing music for the past 20 years. Actually started putting music to video in 6th grade believe it or not!"
You've been doing this a while then! So it makes sense that you're a founder of Red Guerilla Entertainment, whose mission is to create diverse forms of visual content to "color outside of the lines." Can you give us any hint into more special projects coming up?
"We have a couple amazing projects coming up actually! "North of The 10" staring Don Benjamin, Destorm Power, Chris Witowske and LaRoyce Hawkins, which is a coming of age dramedy about 5 friends coming up in the entertainment biz in Chicago. We also have The Sean Bell bio pic we are doing which centers around the death of Sean Bell and the 50 shots that struck him down that one fatal night."
So lots of great projects coming with Don and others! We can't wait to see them. How did you meet and link up with Don for collaborations?
"Don and I met on the set of Canal Street and really just hit it off and started building from there. We currently are developing a couple film and TV projects, as well as some more music, so be on the look out."
Since Rhyan and Don work so closely together on many amazing projects, we asked him a few questions as well about his career thus far, and partnership with Rhyan...
Since being on America's Next Top Model back in 2013, you have blown up in the entertainment industry, touching all parts of it, and doing it well: modeling, movies, and music. Do you have a favorite passion/career?
"Music and acting have always been my favorite. I love being creative. They both allow me to tell a story in a different way."
You've modeled for some incredible brands, including landing a GUESS campaign -- every model's dream! Do you find your modeling experience has helped you become a better actor (whether it be music videos, film, or TV)?
"Thank you! I wouldn’t say it helped with acting other then maybe confidence and being in front of a camera. But it did as to my character in my new filming I’m working on with Rhyan. LOL I won’t give to much away now but... I’ve learned you can always take elements of your life and add it to all acting roles."
Not only are you featured in "I Ain't Going Back" as both an artist and the music video feature, you've been featured in Ariana Grande's "Into You" music video. What was it like working with the newest pop princess?
"It was really dope. She’s a good person and really easy to work with. The shoot was super long but well worth it. Hopefully I’ll work on another one with her some time or maybe do a film with her."
In addition to the music video and song, you were cast in Canal Street, of which Rhyan was the director. What's it like collaborating with him, another visionary artist involved in various aspects of the entertainment industry like yourself?
"It was the start to something amazing. And I don’t think God does anything by accident. I love everything about Rhyan - super talented and a great person. So I was very thankful for the opportunity to be in the film and grow more with him after it."
Do you ever feel pressure to keep coming out with new music or acting or modeling gigs to entertain your millions of fans (including your 2.2 Million Instagram followers!)?
"There def is pressure. If you don’t keep up with the flow people will forget about you in this biz. So you have to keep things in the chamber and always be working on something new."
What do you feel about the Proverbs 18:22 verse? How do you relate?
"As I’m getting older, marriage and family is the focus. And love wins. And having a Queen by your side you can’t lose. God is happy when we find us a wife and settle down."
Do you have any new projects coming up that you can share with us?
"At the moment me and Rhyan are going to start production on a film called "North of the 10." We are going into production this summer! I’m looking forward to it."
Check out some behind the scenes photos from their video shoot below. Also, keep up with Rhyan and Don by following them on Instagram, and share this interview to support their mission!