With a musical discography that spans seven studio albums over the past decade, Cleveland, Ohio native R&B singer / songwriter Avant brings his latest album “Face The Music” and his stellar voice on his first ever tour of Australia at the end of March. Keen to connect with his Australian fans and “thank them for all the love and support” they have shown him over the years, speaking to Avant was like a conversation with an old friend. He is delightfully laid back, open, honest and funny as all get out with quick come backs that leave you chuckling. Clearly an attitude that has seen him maintain his longevity on the every changing R&B/ Soul canvas.
Since his debut album ‘My Thoughts’ back in 2000, Avant has remained a constant pulse in this industry, maintaining the ethos of getting into this game knowing it is a marathon and not a sprint, a pace that has seen him deliver quality over quantity and a purity and honesty felt in every song he has penned. The current single ‘You & I’ featuring soul-stress Keke Wyatt delivers that impeccable template of soul stirring vocals married together with the right amount of emotion, pitch and feeling – a recipe that has worked for the pair in the past, with Wyatt appearing alongside Avant on his 2000 hit “My First Love” . Such is the works of this hands-on father of two, Avant is a firm believer in finding the right balance between artist and person and making the shift between the two work well. Hands on in his personal life as he is in his professional life, Avant is fiercely proud of the journey he has walked thus far and believes in sharing that journey with his fans, something he is keen to do when he visits Australia soon.
Not one to be pigeonholed, Avant is a versatile artist, recording with a variety of artists such as hip hop heavyweight Lil Wayne and award winning Jazz instrumentalist Brian Culbertson. His current album, which was released on 5th Feb 2013 features productions from respected industry duo Tim & Bob ( Boyz II Men, TLC, Bobby V ) plus works by Avant’s own production collective called Monopoly, which sees the singer form a collective with producers Dre Hun and Kajun.
Preparing to woo and wow his Australian fans at a series of sell out shows across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, Avant is also looking ahead to a future that could see him swap his studio panel for a director’s chair as he plans to write his first scary movie – information that shocked me at first given his smooth and soulful background, imagining him penning a slasher flick was just too much to bear. He broke the news swiftly then went on to soften the blow with that old friend humour that makes you know you are in safe hands. Read on to discover more about this multi-talented, super cool singer/ songwriter and what truly keeps him grounded!
Congratulations on your new album Face The Music, your seventh studio album to date. What was the creative process like for you on this album compared to your previous works?
Thank you so much Ms Hennessey, I am so excited about this album and bringing it down to you guys soon. You know this album saw me working with some amazing new producers called the Monopoly, one is a songwriter and the other is the music guy and together with myself we have really worked well together and created something really special on this album. It was a great marriage with all of us working together and we had a great time in the studio too which the fans will be able to hear on this album. I also wanted to give a different vibe to the feel of this album and make the content really different you know, it’s not just all love songs but a great mixture of everything we go through in life and that’s what made this process really special for me.
Your debut single off this album is called “You & I” and features Keke Wyatt, whom also appeared on your previous Top 10 Billboard Hit “ My First Love” back in 2000…..nice to hear you back together again. What is it about this union so special?
I think it is really about the fact that we love the music we create and that’s all its really been about. Our voices and energy work well together and its kinda funny in a way cause when you hear the tracks we perform the tone of those tracks are all sensual and sexual yet meanwhile we be in the studio just laughing, having a fun time playing around with different sounds and vocal techniques and not trying to make it sound as it is often received (laughs). Keke and I understand and know what our sound should be and we respect music and what we create so yeah we work well together.
Very excited to hear that you are coming to Australia for your very first tour soon….How are you feeling about your tour and visiting the land Down Under?
Oh man I am so excited to come and meet all of ya’ll (laughs). This is my first time down under and I’m coming by myself this time around just to get a feel for the crowd and how my music is received by everyone. Next time round I hope to bring my band as I think they would just love it. I am just so blessed to be able to bring the history of Avant to you guys and share my thoughts and music with you all through my performance; I just hope everyone enjoys it as much as I know I will enjoy bringing it to you all.
How would you describe yourself as Avant the Artist to Avant the Man? Many differences or does it all morph into one at some point of a performer’s career?
One thing any artist needs to know to do is turn it off at some point and know when to take time out for the other aspects in your life. I am blessed that I have been able to do that. Avant the man is about his kids you know, I have a son and a daughter that I just love so much and I am about helping navigate them through this world as their father. Avant the Artist is just ready, I’m an animal right now just writing records and performing for the people you know but it is a balance act and one that I think every artist needs to learn how to create that balance and make it work for them and I am lucky I can juggle the two well.
What do you want your fans, especially your Australian fans to get from this new album? How would you best describe Face The Music in terms of its message and tone?
The way I would describe the album is that it’s a journey. You pick up this album is like you picking up a component of your life that will be addressed in this album. I deal with not only relationship issues between a man and woman, but relationships across the board, love, loss, motivation. Different ways of expressing who you are and how you living and that’s what this album is all about, YOU! My fans, your lives and a celebration of who you all are to me.
Who would you say your biggest influences are musically and why?
I would have to say Marvin Gaye, Babyface, R.Kelly, you know the guys that really paved the way for this industry, those who have put in the time and hard work really have my admiration and respect.
The R&B / Soul scene has certainly changed over the years, with a culmination of new artists emerging at a rapid pace. What are your thoughts about the current R&B environment and the role you play in it?
I think it’s in a good place right now to be honest, for me I have always been an underdog in a way in this scene you know, always working extremely hard to maintain my position as the artist to prove a point. So for me it’s never really changed as I have always made sure that everything I created always meant something to the listener. To me that is much more important than just having that initial big boom hit then have it fizzle out thereafter. Making music that means something is always more important than just clocking the hits. To me the industry changes and it should change but I am always going to be true to myself.
What can we expect from you show Avant? Can you give us a teaser please?
Hahahahah well you can expect some sensual sexy good music and just an awesome and blessed time.
What’s next for Avant? Any new projects you can share with us?
Avant: Well can I be really honest with you Ms Hennessey? I’m trying to write a movie. Yeah but not a drama or romantic movie, nah, wait for it, I’m trying to write a scary thriller type movie… (chuckles)
Ms Hennessey: What? Are you serious Avant? Why dare I ask?
Avant: Laughs again ….I wanna scare the hell outta people that’s why hahahah
Ms Hennessey: I was just going to offer my acting services to your project until you mentioned scary. No boo boo, Ms Hennessey isn’t trying to be getting killed or knocked off in the first horror scene of this movie, no thank you …..you on your own Avant (laughing)
Avant: Now see I wouldn’t do that to you in the first scene girl, don’t worry you the heroin in this film I promise, I got you hahahhahah
Ms Hennessey: I guess there is a first time for everything – I’ll just wait for it to come out at the movies hahahaha.
For more information on Avant and his latest album Face The Music visit: www.avantofficial.com