Avant interview conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Avant: Following His Own Direction

October 2005

After four very successful releases, Avant finally feels he's in control and titling his album "Director" re-enforces his new mentality, hopefully getting passed the R. Kelly comparisons.

Enlisting the likes of Jermaine Dupri, Rodney Jerkins, Tricky and long-time collaborator Steve Huff, the singer is very confident that this album is comparable in quality to his previous efforts.

"Director" is set for release fall 2005.

MVRemix: What's your first memory of R&B?

Avant: My first memory of R&B - that's a good question, I've never had that before. It would probably be Michael Jackson with... What is it? Motown Live? I was a little guy, but when he performed on Motown Live and done "Billie Jean."

MVRemix: Is the name "Avant" your given name or one you chose because of it's meaning? (The front of an army)

Avant: Yeah, yeah, it's actually my last name, and I thought it had a nice ring to it and so I used it.

MVRemix: Was singing something you were taught or did it come naturally?

Avant: I think it came naturally because I've never had professional work on singing, but in the same token I know it's god gifted so it had to be natural.

MVRemix: Tell me about "Director."

Avant: I named the album "Director" because I wanted people to understand that this is a time where

"I think that they're gradually getting over the comparison of R. Kelly. I think by me creating my own style and my own sound, now people know of me as an artist. I think that that was the biggest thing that hindered me through this whole game."

I'm taking over my life. I want everybody to know that Avant is directing every situation in his life right now from his family to the music game and I think I'm tryin' to get my fans to do the same thing. If you're at that point and you need to take over, do what you need to do and so...

MVRemix: What about guests/producers - who do you have lined up there?

Avant: Oh, you know what... what I did with this album - I changed it all up. Because the last three albums have been produced by one producer, Steve Huff, what I did was I branched off and I dealt with a lot of heavy hitters such as Jermaine Dupri, Brian Michael-Cox, Rodney Jerkins, The Underdogs, Tricky and Steve Huff. I tried to make every sound come together and be right. Every song is gonna give you that Avant feel from the way I use my metaphors to the way I might use a word or two. But, it's gonna be totally different when it comes to the production side of it because I have different people vibin' this time.

MVRemix: How would you compare the concepts to those on "Private Room," "My Thoughts" and "Ecstasy"?

Avant: It's a healthy comparison because like I say if I wasn't doin' it right, it'd be kind of different. I made it mash because of that - I'm dealing with a lot of different issues, but you're still gonna feel that Avant brung it to the table with what he do right. That's really why everybody's gonna pull the fourth album in to wrap around the last three.

MVRemix: How did you hook up with Lil' Wayne?

Avant: That was an experience because I was in the studio with my man Jermaine Dupri, and he had came in with the beat. I'm like "Whoa, this beat is crazy." He was like, "Sit with it and go ahead and write the joint." So I sat with it and wrote it up and I was like, "Yo, I wanna get a rapper on this joint." I'm like, "Yo, I know who I can get." I called my man Lil' Wayne up and he was like, "Yo, no problem." He was on tour, so he had to fit me in. He had no problem with fitting me in and that's how it happened. He's also working on his album, he's asked me to do something on his album. He says he has nobody but me featuring on his album, so everybody look out for that.

MVRemix: How does it feel to be partly responsible for people's moods?

Avant: Ah it's lovely man, to be honest. I was talking to a young lady earlier about a song "Don't Take Your Love Away." I was just honestly being honest about every feeling in every situation. We all make mistakes, but don't let it be the reason why you leave me. Give me another chance to change. I think just being a writer, it helps, because you can express what's on your heart - you can pour it out to the people and the people can receive it. Either she's upset or he's sad or she's feeling good and that's what makes it special to me.

MVRemix: What are your thoughts on the current world of R&B?

Avant: It's a little shakey right now, I must say to be honest, it's a little shakey. But in the same token I think that things are gonna change soon. There's a lot of good artists coming out now and I look at the Hip Hop world, and I remember when the Hip Hop world was weak. But, now it's standing strong and the R&B world - we're kind of lightweight weak right now, but everything... there's nothing new under the sun and the world spins around. So we'll come back strong. I'll give it a couple more years but in the same token, this album is definitely a strong R&B album. It has a little twist of what the Hip Hop world is about, but basically it's R&B.

MVRemix: How did the Lloyd Banks remix come about?

Avant: Ah, it was funny because I was in the studio... actually I was at the awards show - I forgot which one it was - I saw 50 [Cent] and he was like, "I wanna work with you dude, I wanna work with you." So I was like, "Okay." He called me up and was like, "Yo man, I've got this Lloyd Banks record I want you to do," I was more than happy to do it, but he said, "There's a guy already on the record, on the actual record. I wanna take him off and put your voice for the video." It was truly a blessing to see that the Hip Hop world was feelin' me as an artist as well as the R&B world, you feel me, it opened up a lot of avenues for me. Right now I have a song that I've just done on the Eightball & MJG album, and also the Ying Yang Twins, I've done a song on their album as well. So I've ventured off and done a couple of things since that. So I wanna thank those guys for opening doors for me.

MVRemix: Are you working on any other films?

Avant: A lot of people ask me about the film thing but I'm tryin' to just put my stamp on this R&B game because I look at it like this here man, people that were very successful and I'm looking at artists going over into films - they had been in the game and I'm speaking of the LL's and Will Smith's - they had been in the game for years. Me, myself, I wanna make sure that it's not just a short stint if I do go into films, I want to make sure that I've put a stamp on this music game so that it'll be an easy transition.

MVRemix: Do you remember the first film you saw?

Avant: [chuckles] Whoa. Nah man, I don't know man. I don't remember.

MVRemix: What about a favourite?

Avant: A favourite film would have to be "A Colour Purple." I like the dynamics of it; you had comedy in it but you also had the seriousness of what was going on at that time. So it gave me both comedy, and then came the action

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"

Avant: Fight physically?

MVRemix: Yeah, but just as a joke.

Avant: I would probably fight myself [chuckles]

MVRemix: Which personality would win?

Avant: I would have to say the softer personality would lose for sure.

MVRemix: What do you think is the biggest mis-conception of you?

Avant: I think that they're gradually getting over the comparison of R. Kelly. I think by me creating my own style and my own sound, now people know of me as an artist. I think that that was the biggest thing that hindered me through this whole game. But we're getting passed that, me and my audience are starting to see that I have my own style and my own vibe about things. You know what I mean?

MVRemix: Aside from the album, what else have you been working on? Guest appearances, compilations etc.

Avant: I'm glad you asked that question because I have property in Cleveland, Ohio right now and the Hurricane Katrina victims - I'm trying to get them a place of residence, so I'm fixing up my buildings right now just to house some of these people and give them somewhere to live because they were pushed and forced out of their situation. I just want to be there to help in all different ways.

MVRemix: Any last words?

Avant: I want them to know that I truly love them, 'cause I hear people all the time on my website saying "I love you" and "I miss you" and I truly miss them as well. I thank them for making me who I am today. I can't wait to see 'em and the only way I can show 'em is through my work on the new album. I pray they receive it well and can't wait to get back out there and see 'em on tour.

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