Avant Interview (by Timid)
How’s the new single “Read Your Mind”, how’s the response, how’s that going?
Avant: It’s doing very well man. It’s doing extremely well. It’s like in the Top 10 with a bullet. It’s a blessing man just being in this music game and people respect your music the way they do.
Alright, yea it’s definitely a nice joint. Definitely. Now your first two albums were on Magic’s label. Now this one’s on Geffen, what happened with the label change?
Avant: What happened was, Magic just wanted to get rid of the whole music thing. You know, he has his hands in so much other stuff. He just felt like, you know, he wanted to just dead that. And it was big ups because he opened the door for me and told me to gone head kick it down and do what I do. So I appreciate him for giving me the chance to expand on what I do musically.
Definitely, definitely. Now tell me about the new album Private Room.
Avant: The new album Private Room is personal, you know what I mean? I tried to make a personal album because I felt like the last two albums didn’t get the pub or you know the publicity they really needed. So I tried to beat the odds man and come out with an album that the ladies or whoeva’s listening to it they say, “Yo I feel like this dude right here next to me and you know, he’s spittin this to me.” You feel what I’m saying?
Now you got…I can hear various vibes throughout the album like “Heaven” has an R&B track, but it’s got like an 80’s feel from back like New Edition type old New Edition. Like “Don’t Take Your Love Away” has like a 70’s feel to it. And what’s the other joint, “Have Some Fun” has like a R. Kelly type delivery, but has like a Frankie Lymon feel on it with a hip hop beat. It’s like you going all over the place with it.
Avant: Well, what I try to do man, I try to create man something brand new for the listening ear. You feel what I’m saying? So you know in doing that you kinda lightweight, but at the same token you stay grounded with what they want to hear from Avant. You feel me? So that’s what I try to do. Like I said it’s personal, but it’s just hitting them in a different direction.
What’s your favorite joint on the album?
Avant: It’s hard to say man because I wrote like 95 percent of the album. So it’s hard to say, but since “Read Your Mind” is doing so well I would have to say “Read Your Mind.”
True, true. Any certain inspiration for that song?
Avant: The actual inspiration for that song came from me sitting up in the house listening to Teddy Pendergrass, “Come on go with me, ah babe, come on over to my place.” You know what I mean? I been listening to that joint and I’m like, yo I wanna make a 2003-04 version of that joint right there. You know and I came up with, “I can read your mind babe, I know what you’re thinking.” It’s the same type of vibe man trying to get the young lady out the club and feel real comfortable with going home with you. You feel me?
Alright, tell me about Barbershop 2, you’re in the movie and on the soundtrack.
Avant: Yeah, well actually the Barbershop 2 thing I gotta give it up to Geffen Records for getting me there. I’m Cedric the Entertainer’s best friend, but he’s having a flashback and my name is Dexter in the movie, and we’re on the L-Train singing “Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
So it’s back in the day, so you’re not dressed up as an old man or nothing?
Avant: Oh, I gotta be. You know I had to do it.
Yeah, cause Cedric’s got a nice little voice on him too.
Avant: You gotta check it out its very funny man, so check out the movie Barbershop. Trust me.
Oh yea. I’m definitely checking for that cause the first one was hot. Now I gotta ask you, on the label your bio labels you as “The Real Thing”. You know, so I mean can you really sing or is it like a studio engineer in the back that’s tweakin everything to make you sound hot?
Avant: Well I just sung to you playa you come up with your own interpretation.
I’m just saying cause you know there’s a lot of people out there now that’s got hits but really don’t have the voice and there’s an engineer that should be on the credits as well.
Avant: I feel what you saying brother, but like I say I let the people to let you know if I can sing or not.
Okay, cool cool. Yea, cause I mean your album is definitely hot; I’m feeling everything on there. It’s got a nice well-rounded vibe for everything.
Avant: I appreciate that man. Thank you so much.
You got any advice to any aspiring singers, voice tips, industry type tips?
Avant: I would say man keep yourself healthy. You know what I’m saying. I don’t drink or smoke, you know what I mean? Keep yourself healthy and really be in tune with what your doing in this music industry. You feel what I’m saying? You got to take it serious, this is not a vacation for you this is your everyday job. So, treat it as if you punching in a clock everyday, you feel me? And you want to impress your boss, and your boss is yourself. Well I say my boss is the people, I gotta impress the people.
Okay, is there anything that you’re doing that you’re into that you want people to know about?
Avant: Well actually, I’m working on my own movie too. It’s called Family Reunion. It’s a comedy, it’s a slapstick comedy. Right now I’m just focused on my music though man. I love R&B music man I just love what R&B is and what R&B will always be. You feel me? I don’t want us as R&B artists, cause I love the hip hop and R&B connection. I think it’s beautiful, but I know hip hop is not losing their title. But I don’t want R&B to lose their title either. You feel me?
Yea, I see what you saying cause a lot or R&B tracks especially recently are meshed so deep with hip hop, it’s kind of getting a label as hip hop as well.
Avant: Exactly so you know, I just like to…like you said I got a lot of stuff on the album that give you like a throwback type of sound. Because I want people to understand what R&B is, it’s about a good music, it’s about good music, but it’s also about the ups and downs of life. You feel me? That’s why I’m feelin’ that Alicia Keys joint so much because it takes me back to where I was like a young boy in high school, you know what I mean? And that’s the vibe that R&B is to me.
Definitely, definitely. It can set a whole mood, a tone, and everything.
That’s hot definitely. So you’re out of Cincinatti?
Avant: No, actually I’m from Cleveland.
Oh, okay. They put down here…I got Cincinatti. Alright, so how’s the hometown love?
Avant: It’s lovely man, everybody got love for me here man. I can really relax though when I come home because everybody’s blue collared basically, working hard, but they respect me and what I do and if I threw a party I could block off the street. So, it’s good.
Okay, that’s always a good party when you gotta block the streets off.
Avant: Right. [chuckles]
You setting up any kind of tour or something to promote the album?
Avant: Yea, for sure. We’re trying to get out man like probably not this month, not December coming up, but the one after. After the album gets out and gets heated up, we’re setting up some stuff with Ginuwine, myself, and Jagged Edge.
Oh, that’s gonna be a hot little tour. The ladies are gonna love that, the fella’s taking the ladies to that they gonna definitely be in good terms with em’. That sounds, that definitely sounds good. How’s Geffen treatin’ you?
Avant: It’s lovely man. It’s a whole different twist, like I said man I’m blessed because a lot of cats don’t get to start their career over. I feel like this is a start over for me. You feel what I’m saying? Cause the first two albums I really appreciate the fans, I even appreciate MCA’s whole family regime because I went platinum on both albums. You feel what I’m saying? This time out I mean I’m doing way more than I’ve done before and they’re looking at me as a true artist. Like they say the truth. So, I’m with that.
Right, right. Well that’s cool man. Get that love for your label too. We’re actually running a contest, I guess sponsored by Geffen represented by you about that HDTV the 53-inch the DVD home entertainment…
Avant: Exactly. Right, right.
So you can pull some strings. Hook me up, what’s up? Think you can slide me one, I could use one of them HDTV’s man.
Avant: I feel you man. You probably can talk to some people at the label, they’ll probably hook you up.
If stuff was that easy… So, well I’m a let you go I don’t want to up your time it’s your day off and what not. I know they got you working hard.
Avant: Man it’s a blessing. Man it’s a blessing to talk to you guys and you know, express my love to you guys. And also I want to tell the fans I love them for supporting me and making me who I am. And uh yo, I’m trying to stay in this game 50 years. I wanna be like Ron Isley or you know, Frankie Beverly and Maze you feel what I’m saying?
Avant: That’s what I’m trying to create.
Ya’ll can get at us anytime. We’re always willing to accept some stuff from you cause our site is primarily hip hop, but you know when your name came across it’s like yo we gotta get something on this cat here.
Avant: I appreciate that man.
Yea, cause you’re definitely doing your thing.
Avant: Have a wonderful holiday too.
Hey, you too man. Your Thanksgiving good?
Avant: Yea, everything was wonderful Thanksgiving. I had my family man at my house and well just praised the Lord together. You feel me?
Yea, the label got you doing anything for New Year’s, you gonna be singing somewhere or you gonna take that…
Avant: We’re setting up something now for that.
Okay, alright. Well I appreciate you taking the time, I know you been busy and what not. Any final words you want to say or have said to the people or anything?
Avant: Yo, just tell them I love em’ man and it’s going down baby, ride this horse until we fall down. You feel me?
Thanks to Room Service for setting this up and to Danielle Harling for transcribing the interview.