There tends to be a fair amount of goofing off when teenaged musicians gather for band practice, but the kids who came to be known as the New Respects were disciplined about running through their material, pushing themselves through marathon rehearsals on their way to proficiency, then polish. That was what singer Jasmine Mullen, guitarist Zandy Mowry (née Fitzgerald), drummer Darius Fitzgerald and then-bassist Lexi Hill (née Fitzgerald) — three siblings and a cousin — thought professionalism looked like, based on traveling with Mullen’s mom, Nicole C. Mullen, one of the preeminent Christian pop balladeers of the 2000s, and visiting the studio of her dad, David Mullen, a writer of countless Christian hits.
When it came to the kind of music to which the New Respects would devote their labors, they chose that for themselves, filling out the knowledge of classic Motown, contemporary gospel and pop craft that they got at home with a widening world of sounds, styles and sensibilities that they found appealing, using all of it as inspiration in fleshing out their own artistic identity.
“When we were kids,” Zandy says of her brother Darius, “he had a boombox and he got his hands on one of those burned mix CDs. And he would play Lauryn Hill’s ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You’ over and over, because he felt something that he’d never felt before. Same thing for me and John Mayer. There’s a way that he played that I was like, ‘What is that?’ And this is before I even played electric guitar.”
The members of the New Respects spent the mid-2010s obsessing over the otherworldly expansion of a sinewy rock attack that was the Alabama Shakes’ album Sound & Color. In the sharp-thinking showmanship of some of the New Respects’ current R&B, pop and hip-hop faves, they see a potential path for their own ever evolving band, now a seasoned trio made up of Jasmine, Zandy and Darius.
“Silk Sonic and Childish Gambino, those are people that we want to be on the road with,” Zandy explains. “I mean, the songs that you hear [on this playlist] are not only sonically exciting for us, but also their careers are something that we want to emulate in our own way. And so you’ll hear a collection of all of those stages of our careers thus far, and hopefully the ones that you’ll be able to look back on and be like, ‘They said they wanted to do that. And they did.'”