Vivian Green’s debut album “A Love Story” is often heralded as a classic. As an R&B artist coming out of Philadelphia during the early 2000’s, her music is often times associated with the neo-soul movement. When you actually put the project side by side with some of the other albums under that classification, Vivian’s sound really stands out on its own.
We had Vivian as a guest on a recent episode of our SoulBack R&B Podcast, and she shared some revealing thoughts about “A Love Story”. After we heaped a healthy amount of praise her way for how good the album is, she shared why her opinion of the album differs from ours and most fans who love it. Check out what she had to say below.
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Vivian Green: I feel very differently about it than you guys. I’ve never called myself a neo-soul artist because I never thought I was. I always thought that’s the reason why my first album never is mentioned in that same respect as those other artists. I don’t think a lot of neo-soul fans consider me to be that, and I think they’re right. I think maybe because my first album was produced in Philadelphia, which was a city doing a lot of that music at that time. It didn’t come out of A Touch of Jazz, along with Floetry, Musiq Soulchild and Jill Scott. I’m saying the sound was a bit different. The producers probably felt a need to fit into the trend of what was going on at that time. Me as a songwriter, it starts at the piano before I go into the studio with a producer. It’s so different from what ended up being produced on my first album. I think I tried to correct that later. I tried to get some producers that understand me better musically, so my music can be properly executed in a way that I feel that it should have always been. It’s very difficult when a publicist slaps a label on you and says you’re one thing, and then the people don’t think you’re that. Then you don’t know where to fit in. Press is going to always call me that forever no matter what, you can’t escape it.
I love Erykah Badu, she is the Queen of so many things. When I listen to me and then her, I don’t hear anything similar. So I don’t understand why people thought that. I think a lot of times it’s just an association. People associate you with others, and then that’s it. As a younger artist, I definitely had issues with that. People always ask “Are you going to make an album that sounds like your first album?” and I’m always like “No!” *Laughs* I think I’ve been trying to undo what happened on my first album. I wasn’t as vocal or assertive. I let a lot of people come in and do things, and I just went with it. I was just playing “Emotional Rollercoaster” on the piano the other day, I was showing Kwame the actual chords I wrote for the song, which sound nothing like the chords on the song you guys know.
I think sometimes when there is a movement, people kind of get caught up in that. Producers totally follow trends. You can get caught up in a sound, and then for the rest of your life keep explaining that you want people to stop saying that! *Laughs* It’s very interesting to be an artist who grew up listening to everything. I have so many influences. People always talk about Philadelphia International Music, I love those, don’t get me wrong. My parents were more Motown lovers. I didn’t even get into the sound of Philadelphia until I was an adult. I was five years old knowing every Supremes song! That was my upbringing. If you say where you’re from, people have this whole template of who you are. It’s very difficult. I don’t think I’ve ever done well in press. I think early on I used to be upset about it. You’re young, you don’t know how to deal with the press yet! *Laughs* You’re just going off emotion. I’ve always been a little defensive about it. Now I can laugh, it’s been going on so long it’s funny.
In addition to the sound aspect of my first album, it was definitely a heartbreak body of work. Often times when people reference your first album, they could be referencing the sound, but also the heartbreak. The sad girl! *Laughs* Someone is always going through something, so a lot of people just miss that. That’s another thing I was trying to get away from. That’s fine, that’s a real story about first love. I wrote “Emotional Rollercoaster” when I was 19, and when it came out it was 3 or 4 years old. Ok, that was that, and now I’m just kind of really grown! *Laughs* I don’t see relationships the same way that I saw them I was 19-22, when songs on my first album were made. Half of it was already made when I signed to Sony. You know I did a lot of that album with Eric Roberson. It tells a story of a few years of my life as a young woman, and just going through the ups and downs of love. Everyone has that first heartbreak that kind of shakes you. That’s what that was about. To try to repeat something that really doesn’t happen again, well hopefully it doesn’t again! *Laughs* It’s a really difficult thing!