"Inspiration is the gasoline to my artistry. I'm a student and a fan first, so everything that inspires me goes into my music. My love life, my ups and my downs, my family and friends, etc..."
You are one of a growing number of artists who have taken the 'indie' route in terms of label representation and music distribution. Can you talk about why you've gone that route, and why you think the trend is growing toward being an independent artist?
Honestly the indie route chose me. One of the reasons why my new album is called "...Left" has a lot to do with the fact the majors left me alone and allowed me to do this. I was so frustrated with what I was seeing in the music business that I closed the studio door and just started to create... I didn't have any idea what I was doing, but it wasn't to impress the majors. I did a record I would enjoy and possibly a few others [thus the title Esoteric.] Now as I release my fifth record my approach hasn't changed at all. It's just a way to apply balance to the music industry. I think more people are traveling the indie route because every day they are witnessing others successfully doing it. Not to mention it's even more obvious how bad the majors are doing right now.
What were your first and most recent memories/references of anything having to do with HIV/AIDS?
My first memory was watching Magic Johnson on TV announce his retirement because of the HIV virus he contracted. I was sad for him but proud of how he handled it. As a heterosexual male I always thought it didn't relate to me, but that scared me a great deal. Most recently, I've shook my head to the sad statistics posted about African American women having HIV/AIDS. We all have to be responsible. Every sex, every race, every sexual preference... Everybody...
Can you talk about the inspiration behind the title of your new album, "LEFT" and what your overall creative outlook was in creating/recording this project?
It represents my approach to almost everything. How I create my music, the steps we plan and take with our company, and how we leave the door open once we make it thru. The door was left open for me, so I try to make sure its left open for the next. Creatively I had to open myself up more for this album. I wrote about the beauty and the pain I saw, not just what I felt...
As a songwriter, how do songs take form for you? Do you always start with lyrics, or are sometimes driven to write based on the music you may be working with?
It's different every time. However the inspiration comes I'm usually prepared for it. I am always jotting down lyrics, but for the most part I prefer for the songs to just come. I use to write a song a day, but people only gravitated to the ones that I really felt. So now I only create when I'm really feeling it. Some of the songs on this album came together within minutes without a pen and a pad, while others were slowly orchestrated. The music usually starts first, but the lyrics are not far behind.
You've worked with a pretty vast range of artists since your start in the music industry. What have been some of your most enjoyable experiences in terms of writing, recording, and singing background and why?
There's something to learn with each experience. When Jill and I sang "One Time" together we were holding hands in the vocal booth. I'll never forget that. Singing background for Kenny Lattimore taught me a lot about professionalism. I try to take from each experience. I mainly work with people I am fans and friends of, so working with them is rarely difficult.
You've got numerous artistic talents, from singing, writing, producing, to acting. Do you have a particular favorite and if so, why?
Wow, thank you. I appreciate that. I enjoy creating in general. This is not a straight answer, but whether on stage singing or acting, or in the studio writing and producing, my favorite part about all of it is being able to create.
What are your feelings about homophobia as it pertains to the way it's addressed (or not) in the black community and entertainment industry?
I majored in musical theatre at Howard University and a large part of my class was gay. I was very ignorant to that lifestyle and honestly was caught off guard by it all. But I quickly realized our preferences had little to do with our talents, our hearts, and who we are. They were great classmates and to this day good friends. In my opinion, the black community still holds a lot of that ignorance that I once had. It just takes education to cut back on the stereotypes and negative acts towards homosexuals. And the entertainment industry is over critical on everything now. There once was a time when art was judged by its quality, now it's judged by who presents it.
How important is the element of inspiration to you as an artist?
Please name some of your musical inspirations.
It has everything to do with being an artist. Inspiration is the gasoline to my artistry. I'm a student and a fan first, so everything that inspires me goes into my music. My love life, my ups and my downs, my family and friends, etc... As for musical inspirations the list is too long to name... The main three most responsible for my development as an artist are Stevie Wonder, Commissioned, and A Tribe Called Quest. But thru the years I've dove into everything -Tom Waits, Biggie Smalls, Bill Withers, Radiohead, Sade, Lewis Taylor, Terence Trent D'Arby, Prince, Gentle Giant.. I could really go on forever.
Living or deceased, name one artist you would love to work with if given the opportunity and please explain why.
Wow, I'd say everybody I listed in the last answer. Hahahaha... I'm a Libra so I am very indecisive, but I will say Erykah Badu. I would love to watch how she creates and I feel our voices would compliment each other. Not to mention she is pretty easy on the eyes.
What is the most common misconception people have about you?
I don't know... maybe some believe that I'm unapproachable. Nah, really a lot of people don't realize that I'm not a major recording artist, so that brings a lot of negative and positive misconceptions. The most common one would probably be that what I've gained has come easy to me.
What are some of your long term goals over the next ten years, personally & professionally?
My overall goal is to grow old doing music, so in ten years I hope to still be releasing albums and touring. I hope to be married with a few beautiful children. I also would like our label to be at the point where we can put out projects for other artists. That's the long term goal.