We recently caught up with Avant for an interview on Instagram Live. During our conversation, we touched on his upcoming album “Can We Fall in Love”, his writing process, memories of his debut album “My Thoughts” as it celebrates its 20th Anniversary, reflections of each of his albums, and more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your upcoming album “Can We Fall in Love”.
Avant: The album will be out July 10th. I did a special song for all of my true fans out there, it’s called “I’m Nothing Without You”. It’s a real song and when you talk about a legacy like myself and 20+ years in the game, it’s all about the people man.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We are happy to be able to speak with you because last year there were some nasty rumors about your healthy. Glad to see that you are ok.
Avant: I’m good man, I’m good. I don’t have no haircut, but I’m good! *Laughs* I appreciate all of the love out there. People are crazy out here today. I stopped eating meat and that’s one of the main things. It took people by storm. It’s kinda crazy but I respect it and love all my fans for standing by me and loving me for what I do.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You have the new records out from this album “Not Gone Lose” and “Edibles”. Talk about your mindset currently.
Avant: We’re all in quarantine right now, and I wanted to make sure that even though we are all in the house, we’re all on our own devices. We’re not talking to each other, we’re talking around each other. I’m trying to put some music out there that will directly affect one another so we can talk to each other again. This album is amazing, and I’m not just saying it because I did it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve always stayed true to R&B and had a masterful way of writing love songs but in different ways.
Avant: I think what it is man, we get afraid of wordplay. That’s what I love about the rappers. The way you keep rap fresh is you use different wordplay. That’s like what I did with the word “Edible”, people don’t use that word often. I use it and try to use wordplay around it. That’s what keeps things fresh. Also listening to different scenarios that people go through. You can’t be trapped in your own mind and living in your own world with this R&B thing. You have to venture out and find out what’s going on new. That’s what I try to do with all of my albums.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What will this new album “Can We Fall in Love” sound like sonically?
Avant: My process for this album was to let the forces do what they do. I don’t want to go in there and force anything. I want to go in the studio and let it be as it may. It came out wonderful.
YouKnowIGotSoul: It had been five years since your last album. You usually only take 2 or 3 years between albums. What was the difference here?
Avant: I had to slow it down. People start not appreciating what I did. It’s no knock but I’m trying to tell you, I come from my heart. I don’t try to be the artist out there trying to be all in the camera. It’s all about music with me, this is what I love, I love music. I’m going to give you that. I also miss those things about the mystique of artists. Where back in the days, you just couldn’t get an artist tall the time, you had to wait for that artist. That’s why I respect everybody that’s still got that. At the end of the day it’s about music and what you love. They show that they love my music and I really appreciate that.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Any collaborations on this new album? What can we expect?
Avant: You can expect relationship driven songs. It talks about the good and the bad. I was going to name it “The Good and The Bad”, but somebody in the company said to call it what it is, because my next single is “Can We Fall in Love Tonight”. What I know is a lot of people make love but are not in love. It’s two different things. The young kids need to understand that. Just because you made a kid doesn’t mean you were in love. It’s a difference. I have to make that evident by bringing out a record like that. You’ll hear it soon.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your debut album “My Thoughts” celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary this year. Take us back to creating that.
Avant: You’re taking me back! That album, that’s when I found out what people really wanted to hear in music. I was writing fantasy records before. I had records that were talking about if love was gold, I would be rich. That was cool and a fantasy, but when I got my heart broken, I did “Separated”, I let my manager hear it and he said I had to release it. I didn’t think anybody wanted to hear heartache songs, but he said that’s exactly what people wanted to hear in music. That’s where the whole “My Thoughts”, it was coming from me, and it was my perception. The first album is everything you’ve been through up until that time. A lot of times people’s first albums are crazy. But after that, that’s when you have to venture off and get more ideas and things to talk about. It becomes a challenge after the first album. For me to have 9 albums, I’m thankful and appreciate you guys.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You were so polished as an artist so early on. How did you get to that point?
Avant: It was myself and the producer Steve Huff. We were both coming up and trying to figure it out. It’s a lot of music that I’ve done over the years, from “4 Minutes”, to “Don’t Take Your Love Away”. I was listening to Teddy Pendergrass when I did that record. It’s always special when you look back on things. That’s a good thing to look back and be able to create something brand new that don’t sound nothing like that album. That’s what I did with the new album.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We recently interviewed Steve Huff and he told us about the work you put in just to make it. Take us back to the mindset of a young Avant.
Avant: Wow man. A young Avant. I was sleeping at my manager’s house. I didn’t have a dime man. I respect my first manager, he really helped me out a lot. Then, it was a grind. I didn’t have the major labels all in my back pocket like that. I had to release my stuff from the streets to the people I did every show that I could. It was the grind. It catapulted me to where I am today. I tell everybody don’t be afraid of the grind. I heard a great quote, “if you can manage fear, you can take over the world.” That’s the truth. It’s all perception. You have to understand, everybody feels like they are bigger than who they are. If you live in reality instead of perception, you understand things will go wrong. A lot of times it’s not you, it’s just what it is. We’ve got to get away from it all being about the artist, it has to be about the music. I think that’s what we’re losing today. We’re making it so personal about the individual. When people listen to “Read Your Mind”, they’ll say Avant did it, but because of the way I wrote the song, they feel like it’s them singing the song. When artists can get that in their mind and quit making it so much about them and make it about the music. Look at Marvin Gaye, he wrote “What’s Going on” 50 years ago, and it’s still relevant today, because it’s about the damn music.
YouKnowIGotSoul: That’s something you’ve always done, make music that’s the soundtrack to people’s lives. Songs like “Get Away” and “I’m Sorry”.
Avant: People always ask if I’m vulnerable in those times because I put myself out there. But everyone is vulnerable at times. I’m so secure in myself, I don’t care about that. I know somebody needs to hear this to get through. That’s my main focus, making sure I put something out there that people can hear to get through the heartache in pain. Or put you deeper in love. That’s what this thing is all about, it’s about the music.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your mindset when you recorded your 2nd album “Ecstasy”.
Avant: It’s funny, dudes start making a little bit of bread, I thought I was the sexiest guy in the world! *Laughs* I wrote “Makin Good Love”. I thought I had the magic stick! I let this music take me to places. I didn’t try to control it, I just let it take me to places.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your third album “Private Room”, it’s one of our favorites you did.
Avant: “Don’t Take Your Love Away”. The backstory behind that is, I was actually listening to Teddy Pendergrass. Kobe Bryant had just did an interview in Denver with that whole situation. He was very vulnerable. I started putting myself in Kobe Bryant’s shoes. That’s where those lyrics come from. The whole situation was I was talking about a man with all of this bravado, having now been put down to a little dude with nothing. He didn’t want to lose his family. So that’s where I get my music from, I take it from a different place. People think I’m going through a lot, that’s just how I write. I write from things I see and it brings out so much.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your “Director” album.
Avant: The record was really fun, it was my first time branching off from Steve Huff and working with other artists and producers. I actually felt the love that other people respected my music. I got to work with The Underdogs and those guys were amazing. We did “When It Hurts”, which was a wonderful records. We did “4 Minutes”. I did “You Know What” with Jermaine Dupri. It was fun because I broke off. It was so dope because people wanted to work with me. It was just my introduction to all of the other great producers out there. It was fun.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Have to mention the song “Gratitude” on your “Face the Music” album. Absolutely love that song.
Avant: Think about that, how many people even use that word in R&B? They don’t know how to. So mentally you got to pull these words and make them fit the scenario. That’s what I try to do. It was a beautiful record talking about the beauty of a woman. I thank people for understanding my method. It’s controlled chaos. That’s how I create.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your last album was 5 years ago and that was “The VIII”. Take us back to that one.
Avant: At that time people wanted to hear music from me and I wasn’t really signed to anybody. I just released the album myself. It had some great records on it. One thing about me is I’m true R&B. When it come down to it, I love hip hop, but I don’t want to merge both together. I could do a hook, but I don’t think it should be merged together. That’s what the industry wants to do, get rid of R&B, and just have a merge of the two. That’s unfair to all of us. My thing is you will always get R&B from me, and it will always be something to help you and your situation