When R&B singer Avant stopped into D.C. last month, DC Fab! caught up with him to talk about his new album, VIII. Find out what the Cleveland-bred singer had to say about the state of R&B music, his new project and of course, D.C.
DC Fab!: In an interview recently, you spoke about being true to who you are with your music and catering to your fans. Do you ever feel like that has hindered you from branching out and trying different types of music?
Avant: Not necessarily, I am who I am. At the end of the day, this is my eighth studio album. I‘ve been in the game for 15 years. I have a fan base that loves what I do. So me being true to them is what I’m here for. I love all the facets of music, and I think it’s fly that we have different facets of music, but I’m considered in it [R&B], I’m cool with who I am.
Speaking of different types of artists and music, are there any features on your upcoming album or any artists you would like to work with in the future?
Well I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of different artists. This album here, I got my artist, his name is Malone, from Chicago. He’s extremely talented. I have another artist as well from Dallas, her name is Vicky, but she’s not on the album…When they hear my album they’re going to hear the history, new stories, great music and enjoy it. Trust me.
You’ve been in the industry now for 15 years, so you have a pretty good handle on the ebbs and flows of R&B and how it’s been changing. Who do you believe are some of the up and coming artists?
Oh man, it’s so many. I can’t even [name] my man Chris Brown because he’s already here. But there’s a lot of great artists out there. It’s just all about having an outlet. I feel as though as lot of the outlets have closed since I’ve been in the industry, period. So much talent, like I said my guy Malone, trust me the guy is unbelievable and my girl Vicky, she’s unbelievable too. My focus is really on getting them in the right lane and the right avenue for this whole game.
So you currently have two tours dates up on your website. Are you gearing up for a big tour after your album release?
Yes I am, I’m gearing up. We have a couple of things we’re trying to pull off, but it will be definitely after the album release on September 25. After the album I’m definitely looking to go on tour with a couple of groups; groups that make sense, and just shake it up. [I want to] find those true R&B lovers who still want to hear the R&B of my time, the real R&B I would say, and let’s do it.
You mentioned “the real R&B”, how do you feel about the current state of R&B, is it not authentic anymore?
It’s truly not authentic, but at the same token, it’s what they’re giving to the kids. To me, sometimes, I look at us human beings as mummies. Wherever you turn us to, wherever you tell us to go, we go there. So to me, it’s more like the R&B now is watered down, it has to have a hip-hop beat to it, and it don’t really have to make any sense. It’s just the rhythm and the vibe of the music makes people go. I honestly believe that for true R&B you have to have great musicianship, you also have to have great lyrics that mean something, that have substance for people, and it helps shape their lives. If I’m going through some heartbreak, I might need a song to lift me up out of it or to help me through the situation. And right now I think the kids are getting cheated because everything is just geared in one lane. You know, I have to party off every record or I have to be stuck in the same mode, and that’s why you don’t have these kids with their own mind frames and thinking about how to advance and get to the next level. Music plays a big part to me in people’s lives so I think we need to bring that true R&B back.
Each one of your singles and each one of your songs tells a love story. I was actually listening to “Special” this morning and I really do appreciate that because you can really connect to the music. What love situations are you singing about on this album?
It’s nothing new under the sun but I can write and make it feel like its new. I have a song on my album called “Apart,” and…that song is saying sometimes you can be in a relationship and you don’t even know that you’re gradually coming apart, you’re gradually losing each other. That record is really fly. I have a song on there called “Come Get It,” that’s really fly. It’s just talking about yeah, you’re not my girl but you love me and whenever you call I’m coming to get it (Laughs). To me it’s all about knowing how to tell a story. When you can tell a story you can keep it fresh, it can be young, it can be fun, and it can help people through whatever they’re going through.
What is your favorite part about coming to D.C.? Do you have any favorite clubs or restaurants yo u like to stop by?
I love Chocolate City, period. I think Chocolate City has everything for everybody, you know what I mean? You might love food, you might love just being in the whole crowd with the people, getting great conversation. And the clubs! Instead of doing the club thing you guys like to party in hotels (Laughs). I think that’s extremely fly too, so big ups to Chocolate City for that.
VIII is in stores on September 25.