So when is your new album coming out?
“The first single – ‘I Will Wait’ – came out this past October. It was an awesome introduction to the project. We have a tentative date to release ‘6.9.69’ by the end of March. I also wrote a book called ‘In My Own Words’. It is a collection of my song lyrics, poetry, and musings. We want to release the book at the same time. We have a distribution company interested in releasing the album on vinyl. There are so many options with a project like this.
We don’t want to make the grave mistake of releasing the project without weighing all of our options. That being said, at the same time we don’t want to lose any momentum that we may have gained from the single ‘I Will Wait’. It’s hard to know when the right time is. But again, tentatively, end of March we want to have the album release. That also means a release party, tour, the works. I am excited to share this project with everyone after so many years in the making.”
There’s this other song titled ‘Music Is Love’. I have heard you play it in a few of your DJ sets in the past months. Everyone on the dance floor is loving it, responding very positively to it.
“I was influenced by the O’Jays. They did this song ‘I Love Music’. And nobody does music songs anymore, you know, about just the love of music.”
A song about music.
“Yeah, nobody does that so I did. ‘Music Is Love, love is what we need’. But there’s also Billy Preston. He popularized a song called ‘Music Is The Voice Of God’. My thought? If music is the voice of God, then music is love because the Bible says God is love. So music is love. And love, God, is what we need.”
There are a lot of big egos in the music industry. You have been able to avoid that over the years. Where do you think that comes from (not having a big ego)?
“Your parents. Just being mature. Recognizing what’s real and what’s not. What’s not real is fame. It doesn’t put any money in my pocket. It doesn’t give me any real power. Fame is just this idea that you’re more than what you are. Somebody that I admire, somebody like Lalah Hathaway. She’s probably one of very few people who can sing two notes at one time. Can you imagine that? And then she harmonizes with her own note.
It’s unthinkable, but she’s human. When I see her I can’t go crazy. I mean I would be in awe if I met her. But she’s a person, she’s a woman, and a very beautiful lady. And that’s it. So I can’t let any sort of attention get to my head. It’s just never going to happen. I like my life. I like who I am. But I don’t like facades. I don’t like people who put on airs and act famous. I hate that. It grinds my gears.”
But that probably enhances your art, the fact that you are so down-to-earth.
“Well, I think your art is an extension of who you are. So if you are egotistical or you are this person that thinks they’re God, your music is going to sound like that. You know what I mean? You’re going to talk about yourself. And how good you are in bed. A lot of rappers do that. And they use these vulgarities and things saying how great they are in bed. Then you’re probably egotistical.
Whereas you have a guy like James Taylor. “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.” He’s a beautiful person. His lyrics are just as beautiful as he is. It’s an extension of who you are, your music and your art. Usually, those Rock/Heavy Metal guys… A lot of the time there are anger issues there and there is some rage going on. Not to say that people who do classical music are not angry people, but usually it comes out. What’s in you comes out. Do you feel me?”
“I’m old. I’m old in the way I think musically and even the standards that I have. Old fashioned. I think ladies should still be ladies. Gentlemen should be gentlemen, especially when it comes to artists. I don’t think a lady should ever look like a whore on stage. And I know that is old (fashioned).
People love when a woman looks like a whore, they love it. The ones that look like whores, are the richest in the music industry. And it’s not about selling your soul. It’s about preference. The woman likes all of this (her body) out. She likes scantily clad things. And the fellas who buy those records, they love it. So clearly, I’m old because I don’t. I mean one’s personal choice is different from what I’m talking about. I’m talking musically. Look at Janelle Monae, a very rare beauty. You will never see a piece of skin below her neck. She has a shirt all the way up here (to her chin), tie, a whole outfit. Nothing. No skin. Jill Scott never looked like a whore.”
In addition to being an artist/producer/songwriter among so many other roles, you are also a remixer. What are your thoughts on remixing today?
“You know, I’m not feeling this change toward remixing. I mean remixes are just a great thing to have. If you have an artist and you just want something different, sure you call up a cat that you think can do a great job. That’s one way to look at it. But I am one to promote my own sound. I want Honeycomb to have a sound. Motown Records, Berry Gordy… There was a sound there. They call it the ‘Motown Sound’. He didn’t do remixes. They didn’t call up Stax Records and have them remix it to sound like them (the ‘Memphis Sound’). No, he stuck with Motown. And that’s my way of doing it, this music.
I got a call recently. A young man wanted me to do a remix and that’s because he wanted his label to have my sound. Or why would he call? So depending on where I am financially , I’ll do it. But I don’t really get into remixes too much at the end.
If it’s somebody that I respect, I’m honored to get the phone call. Ralf GUM called me and I’m doing a remix for him because it’s Ralf. He’s been around for a minute. Somebody I respect, sure, why not, I’ll do it. But you’re not going to get a remix out of me just because I want to make that little bit of money. No. I have my own artists to build. You agree?”
Words: Amanda Frontany
Interview: Josh Milan