Award winning R&B/Soul singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian McKnight needs no introduction. With over 2 decades in the music industry creating classic hits like ‘Back at One’ and ‘One Last Cry’ and toying with an uncharacteristically explicit number “If You’re Ready to Learn,” in 2012. Earlier this year the singer released a sexy single called “Sweeter” and is currently gearing up for the release of his second offering for the year “4th of July” and his 15th studio album, “More Than Words”.
The forthcoming LP is set to include a collaboration with singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat on the title track and sees the 43-year-old return to the authentic, melodic and lyrical rnb music that his fans have come to know and love him for and what the music business has been missing.
We chat to the New York native about working with his songs, staying relevant and being in love.
So tell me about the new album, who you’ve worked with?
The only people I’ve worked with on this are my sons we have our own production company. We use technology to the fullest, I have my studio in my apartment and they have their studio in their apartment and we have a drop box. When I’m working on something- it’s the weirdest thing because BJ can control my computer from his house so they’ll be times he is on it and my cursor just starts moving and he’ll text me ‘hey man are you on the computer’ I’m like yeah and you’ve just freaked me out there feels like there’s a ghost in the machine. That’s how we work he mixes and masters. But I did duets with each of my sons but other than that its all me.
So how is it working with your sons? Did they always want to get into the music industry?
Yeah they’ve been with me on tour and have been doing music with me for about four five years now. So it’s not a new thing its just that these last two records have been well actually 3 exclusively with the three of us .
You’ve been in the industry for so many years now where do all the ideas come from?
I live my life the people I’ve come in contact with more specifically the women I am dealing with at the time are the vessels by which I get my inspiration and I didn’t really realise that until recently when I decided that I didn’t want to be in the relationship I was in. I decided that I’m just going to be honest for the first time in my life and then I realised the reason why I have done so much of that is because when there’s no songs inside of them I’m on to the next one which is no different to the other creative people I know so this is not a new thing I just live my life and then eventually all those situations come out in the song.
Many people say that Soul and R&B music are dead! How do you feel about that?
I believe that is the truth I think the music of today should have a different name but I think what happens is that if you are Black and you sing its automatically bumped into a R&B category and most people couldn’t tell you what R&B is. So I think that with most of this music or whatever it is I think they should just have a different name for it you know whether it is ‘Hip-Hop something’ or I don’t know but they just seem to lump it into R&B. R&B in itself is probably dead in its self from that stand point its not in its not in the forth front, when its not in the fourth front then its dead. This is the music people still pay to come and see so I don’t know how dead that is but it allows me to continue to live the life that I am so we’ll see- maybe its making a come back we’ll see.
Are there any artists that you’re feeling at the moment?
What artists- you can’t ask me that because I’ve been listening to the same music for the last 30 years. I don’t listen to music just to listen I’m always learning and the people that I’m learning from is the people that I’ve learnt from when I was a kid so Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Donnie Hathaway and then all those 80’s bands. I was on YouTube and I was watching all their videos the other day Bill Collins, that’s what I listen to because those great songs are still being played and loved today I’m just not sure how much of today’s music is still going to be relevant to the people 30 years from now
So there are no current artists you’ve looked at that you have thought I’m impressed by them there talents amazing
That’s the problem when you hear Stevie Wonder you know that’s him, when I listen to the radio now I think that sounds good and I’ll say well who is that? They say that’s so and so. Next song comes on I say oh that’s the same guy and they’ll say no that’s a different person. So it’s very difficult for these artists to distinguish themselves because most of them sound the same. So I don’t really know and I’m sorry that I don’t – I mean people want to hear about what s current and I’m old school I just don’t get it I don’t necessarily understand it I get that these kids need their music and this is their music and I leave them to it – that’s me!
Anymore acting plans?
Well I don’t know. I do it based on how I feel about the project I’m not actively pursuing an acting career but I was in a movie last year. I was really awesome in it, I enjoy it but I don’t necessarily like watching myself.
When was the last time you cried?
Two days ago, we were talking through a scenario of a script. We were going to write about this particular situation and as I was visualising what we was talking about and how emotional that was I’m an emotional guy you know I cry with music I do that kind of thing. I’m a Gemini.
When’s the first time you performed live?
I sang when our Pastor was leaving our Church and my Mum helped me write a song for his farewell thing called ‘Heaven was never promised’ and I remember that like it was yesterday.
First time you told someone you loved them?
I was 17 and I was leaving to go to college and my girlfriend at the time was not happy about that so I wrote her a first song I ever written with lyrics and we cried and we said our whole I love you thing.
When’s the first time you heard one of your songs played on the radio?
In 1992 I was driving on Sunset and Highway in Hollywood and I didn’t even realise it was on I was on my way doing what I was doing and it dawned on me half way- shit that’s my song and that was really it because you have to realise it took me three years to put that record out so by the time it was out it was more relief than jubilation so I was like finally now what
Last thing a fan said to you to make you smile?
I can’t tell you that (laughs) but in that same lane she said something like ‘oh my God your muscles are so big’.
What was the last meal you cooked?
I don’t cook, I can make French toast but only if you are really special in the morning, I’m a bachelor I live alone so I have to do a lot of either having someone come over, I have a great kitchen it’s awesome but nobody ever cooks anything there so yeah I eat out a lot.
What are your plans for 2013?
To stick around that’s my plan every year I take what comes and I try my best to put the right fork in the road and hopefully in the end of 2013 I’m in a better place than I was in the beginning.
Do you find it hard to stay current?
I’m not trying to stay current If I was I’d be making the kind of music that young people make trying to be relevant and people have said I’ve tried to but I’m not. I do what I do because there are people that still love what I do the challenge is getting them to know when it is out and available for them so I just continue to do what I do. There are many many decapitated brands in the market today that are just as tasty as the real thing and I mean that.
Brian McKnight More Than Words hits stores on March 4