Day26 on New Music, Reunions and Diddy: ‘We Ushered In the Bad Boy Era You See Now’
Day26 was born with the world watching. Willie Taylor, Qwanell “Que” Mosley, Michael McCluney, Brian Andrews, and Robert Curry all had one thing in common back in 2007: they wanted to make the band. Handpicked by music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs on his hit reality show Making the Band, fans got a chance to see the formation of an R&B group.
After signing with Combs' Bad Boy Records, the group released their self-titled album Day 26 in 2008. The album made its debut at number 1 on Billboard 200. The group now had a successful album and a hit reality show. In 2009 the group released Forever In A Day and filmed the final season of Making the Band.
In 2011, Day 26 announced their separation and desire to each work on solo projects. But on August 26, 2017, the group held a concert to celebrate their ten year anniversary in New York City at the Highline Ballroom.
We caught up with Day 26 to discuss where they are now as a unit, life after reality tv, and lessons they have learned from working in the music industry.
How have you all grown since leaving the group and coming back together?
Brian: Me being away from my brothers gave me time to figure out who I was as an artist and what I needed to do to be a better member for Day26.
Willie: Just took time to add to my craft, I was doing a lot of solo work and trying to find myself as an artist, as well. It also gave me time to become closer to my family. When we made the group we just took off running, we were doing shows everywhere. It took so much time away from being home and being able to be with your family, so that time was taken to spend with family.
Mike: I became a better businessman. The time away helped me to hone in and focus.
Did you split as a group or did you all just decide to work on separate projects?
Brian: There was never any beef, like Willie said earlier; the minute we made the group we literally came home for like a week and a half and we hit the ground running. So, from recording to touring, to being around each other 24/7 it was a much-needed break.
I was seeing these guys more than I was seeing my own family. I think it was a good break because we've all grown so much. To be around these guys now and to see where their mindset was before and to see where it is now–wow. It’s amazing.
Has the group reunited permanently or is it just for the ten-year anniversary?
Willie: This is the great thing about Day26, right now we've kicked off what started as a ten-year anniversary concert. But then when we got together and started making music, we realized an album is coming out of this. Things are beginning to line up for us to be around for a while.
Will you guys take the indie route for your project or will you be working with a major label?
Willie: All that is still in the air at the moment, the way the industry is setup right now, either way, can be very lucrative for us. We just want to make sure that we are making the best decisions at this point in our career, we are independent at the moment, but we are in talks with other labels.
What is the vibe for your upcoming project?
Brian: We're working with Bryan-Michael Cox, he played a huge part in the Day26 sound. We give him all the credit. We are also working with a lot of up and coming producers and writers.
Willie: Of course, there is going to be a lot of Day26 because we do a lot of that ourselves as well. With this project, we want to let the world know exactly who we are.
Will you all continue to work on separate projects while working in the group?
Mike: I don't think we'll stop making our own projects. Being an artist there are a lot of different avenues so I don't think anyone of us will stop doing the music we love to make because that's who we are. But as far as our focus for Day26 we are all one hundred percent in.
What was the driving force for you all to come back together to give fans a special 10-year anniversary concert?
Willie: We always have our anniversary and we have been together for a few years on our anniversary. When it came down to the tenth year it felt different. It came to my spirit and I hit the guys up and by then I knew that it was going to be a good moment. I wanted to share that moment on stage with my brothers, and make it big for the fans and it just came full circle. I think it was perfect timing.
What was it like emotionally and mentally to be in a group that was on a popular reality show? And how was the transition after the show ended and you went your separate ways?
Mike: We were like the first and the last of a dying breed but the first of a new era of that type of reality television. And we didn't realize that's where everything was going, we just wanted to be artists. The transition from that was a big eye-opener because we were thrust into a digital age that started with us. For me, it taught me that you always have to have something else going on, you always gotta be ready for whatever is to come.
Willie: It also taught us a lesson on capitalizing on different moments and making sure that our business is one-hundred percent accurate. We were young, we came in trying to figure things out, and so we learned enough to be able to come back and make this thing as big as it should have been before.
R&B has changed a lot over the years, now we have artists like SZA, H.E.R, Khalid, Sampha and so many others who are changing what the genre sounds like. Where does Day26 fit in musically?
Brian: I don't think we have to fit in, I feel like when it comes to this R&B thing whenever a person hears a Day26 record it's a no brainer. Our sound is very distinct; I feel like once we drop this new music it's gon’ be like damn this is what R&B is.
Brian, you asked Diddy on Twitter about being left off the Bad Boy reunion tour, did you ever get a response? And as it stands now what is the group's relationship with Diddy?
Brian: Let me start off by saying this: when I said that I wasn't looking for any bad vibes. I was asking a real question. I didn't have his new number, I'm not gon’ lie, I did unfollow him on Twitter and he was following me so when I tried to hit him back I noticed I couldn't DM him. So that's why I went and asked the timeline to message him but had I not unfollowed him I could have easily sent him a DM. Diddy is the big homie, he will forever be the big homie. My words were taken out of context, I didn't mean for it to do what it did.
Willie: I personally don't think it was taken out of context--the fans knew it wasn't meant out of disrespect. It was coming from a passionate place, we had a great run with Bad Boy. But it was like if you're going to do a Bad Boy reunion how are you going to leave out a very important era?
Brian: We ushered in the Bad Boy era that you see now.
Willie: We were scheduled to be on some things but none of it ever came to pass. As always Diddy is still the homie, he started us off on a great platform. We sold millions of records, we toured the world, and we're still able to do it.
What are some things that people don't know that can be easy or difficult when it comes to recording with four other group members?
Brian: The hardest thing is trying to decide on the direction that we want to go in. That's been the same thing since day one, we all have so many different opinions on where we should go musically.
Mike: I would agree to that, one of the things that people don't know is that you end up with a lot of free time on your hands with this many people in one group that can sing. So, you'll find yourself in the studio doing something else while you're waiting to find out the direction of who is going to sing what. You have to figure out who you are and what you enjoy doing when you're in this kind of setting and I don't think people really realize that.
Que: I would say delivering is very easy, but finding your direction can take some time.
What might surprise people to know about each of you guys today?
Willie: I own a record label as well as a production company. I don't think a lot of people know that.
Mike: I do vocal coaching and I'm almost in the final stages of turning my vocal company into a school. And besides that, I'm a big part of the dance community and I show dancers how to get jobs. We have a big convention every year for industry working choreographers.
Que: I got the key to my city in Rochester, New York.
Brian: It's so much--you just gotta stay tuned!
Watch Day26's 10-Year Anniversary Performance at NYC's Highline Ballroom:
Watch the Day26 Video for "Got Me Going":
Watch the Day26 Video for "Truth Is A Lie":