We catch up with singer ahead of Battle of the Bands
Time Out Bahrain staff
You’ve been to Bahrain before, do you have fond memories of the kingdom and are you looking forward to your return visit? Yes, I visited previously to attend the F1 race. However, it was a very short visit. I flew in by jet and the only part of Bahrain I saw was the track.
You’ve recently released ‘Talking Book’, your ‘love letter’ to Stevie Wonder. Will we be hearing any of the songs from the album?
Of course, we will do half the tracks off Talking Book, coupled with a few tracks from my other albums.
Has the man himself told you what he thinks of it?
I spoke to him recently, and he loved it. He seriously couldn’t believe what I have done with the song!
I know it’s hard but, if you had to choose, which would be your favourite and why? My favourite covers from the Stevie record are ‘You and I’ and ‘Sunshine’
The album is said to ‘leap genre barriers from experimental soul to alternative rock, from retro-disco to hip-hop’, how do you manage to work in such a range of styles, where does the inspiration for the different interpretations come from? This range of genres is natural to me because I listen to a lot of different music. I go the studio and it just sort of happens. It also helps that I grew up listening to different styles of music which inspired me to always try and be different.
You’ve also collaborated with the likes of Outkast, the Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake – it seems you have an impressively star-studded fan base but who are your own influences and how has this changed over the years? I am a huge Prince fan and most of my influence comes from him. As you know, I am also greatly influenced by Stevie Wonder. I also love Biggie records and Outkast and try to learn something from everyone I meet in the industry.
You’re perhaps best known for 2000’s ‘I Try’, will you be playing this for your Bahrain audience and do you ever get tired of it? I never get tired of that track. In fact, I love it so much that we will definitely perform it at the concert.
What else can your island fans expect? Expect everything! This is really a performance that you do not want to miss.
You’re also credited as a record producer and our own Battle of the Bands final will be the opening act for your show. Any tips for our young musicians on getting their music out there and getting ahead in the music business? Be good at what you do. Before you rush to perform live, take the time to think about who you are as an artist. It is important to not only be good, but also to be unique.