When we first met 17-year-old male model Trè Samuels during Men's Fashion Week Fall 2016 this year, he surprised us with a soulful rendition of a Chris Brown song on the spot. At the time, he described his singing talents as "hidden," but today he debuts his first solo single, "100," with a sultry music video premiering exclusively on his birthday. In a few short months, the fashion wunderkind has gone from watching Kanye West perform on the Yeezy Season 3 stage at Madison Square Garden to performing under a spotlight his own.
How would you describe your sound?
It's not conventional R&B; the writing style is very free and melodically dreamy. My music always explains how I'm feeling, sonically and lyrically.
What was your first CD?
My first CD was a compilation of Michael Jackson's music, which I got when I was five. I still play it today. He is the reason I started making music. But the first CD I asked for was Chris Brown's 'Exclusive' CD.
Have you always been a singer? When did you know you wanted to pursue it professionally?
I'd always loved music and the feeling I got while listening to it, but being a singer never crossed my mind. I started playing soccer when I was four and got a badly injured when I was 12, so I randomly decided to make a YouTube account and post covers. My first post was Chris Brown 'Yeah 3x' in October of 2010.
What was your first concert? Most memorable concert?
My first concert was Alicia Keys in 2008. She was amazing. I remember watching her play the piano and sing at the same time... She did both things so amazingly, she's definitely one of my favorites. But Kanye's fashion/music show that I was a part of this year at Madison Square Garden is something I will never forget. Standing in the middle of the arena on a platform with thousands of people screaming and Kanye playing his music only meters away from me... Definitely an emotional moment for sure.
What are you listening to right now?
Right now I am listening to James Fauntleroy, one of my favorite writers. And a lot of hip hop actually! Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Drake, Kid Cudi. Artists who have changed or are changing the game sonically. Even with how they go about branding themselves. But I'm also going through a Pharrell phase. That guy is too good at what he does.
Who are your musical influences?
It's quite a list... But a few of my favourites are Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Charlie Wilson, Usher, Miguel, Chris Brown, Luther Vandross, The Beatles...
Were you influenced by D’Angelo at all for this video?
I know D'Angelo had those black background vibes going on but I wasn't necessarily inspired by that for this video. I just wanted it to be a simple look, it's a lot more moody, the darkness of the video and the glitches that happen to me explain the lyrics visually, in a simple way.
A song that you have a strong emotional connection to:
Probably 'You Rock My World" by Michael Jackson. Most songs of his take me back to moments of my childhood, and I love being able to feel that through music. Michaels music does something to my heart that no other music can do.
Do you mix your own beats?
I don't. My mixer is Chris Corby from Australia. But I am going to learn to get better. I know the basics.
What’s the story behind “100”? What’s it inspired by?
It's inspired by all the different personalities I've encountered. Too many people try to play mind games, try to hang with you for the wrong reasons, are only there for you when the lights are on. But then they are off they are nowhere to be found. To me, it's important to ALWAYS keep it 100; be real. No matter who you are, where you gotta be, what you have to say, however small or big your dreams are, however low or high you may get, always keep it real. Keep it 100.
Do you have plans to tour on stage?
I definitely have plans to tour! I love the feeling I get from performing in front of an audience. I'll have some shows these next couple of months.
How has modeling helped you with your music career?
Modeling has helped in many ways. I am inspired to write about what I have experienced on this trip, like long distance relationships, temptation, failure/success, longing for a certain feeling or having too much of something... I can relate the ups and downs of modeling to anything I want to write about. But I am now meeting people who can help me grow as an artist — writers, singers, directors etc. It's a great platform for building great working relationships. And I am thankful for that.
Watch the exclusive premiere of "100" by Trè Samuels below and follow him on Instagram here.