Van Hunt is one of R&B/Soul's newest talents. His singing skills are smooth, and subjects are as you'd expect with a genre such as soul, but they contain more depth and thought than most of the genre's hits today. Being humble enough to conduct a second interview with me (our first one didn't come out due to a poor recording), Van Hunt answered what I decided to ask...
MVRemix: With an upbringing as your biography describes, what made you choose music?
Van Hunt: Well, I can't say it was any one thing. It's more probable that I was just chosen to make music. Its always been inside of me, you know? I always had melodies and beats and rhythms inside my head. I think the thing that made me decide to put it together and try to express myself musically was trying to imitate/duplicate the albums that I used to hear. From my mother and my father.
MVRemix: How did you first go about seeking a record deal? Was it something you looked for as your goal from the start or did you try and make music first?
Van Hunt: I just sought out a record deal for a short period of time. I spent most of my adult life trying to produce and write for other artists and during that time I met my manager; Randy Jackson, who put me on the path to becoming a recording artist. Because I guess he saw something in me that I probably didn't really seek. I just wanted to make music, it wasn't necessarily as a recording artist. But then, once I did put together my first demo together. My first real significant demo... I'd made songs before but never put a demo together. I started doing that and I felt more comfortable. I put another demo together and I put pictures on it and started expressing myself like it was a real album. Then I hooked up with Dallas Austin in Atlanta and he turned my demo into Capitol Records. He'd had a label deal with them at that time. His deal fell apart with them, but I decided to stay on with Capitol. That was it really. There were really only two people I wanted to talk to in the business. That was Lenny Walker and Andy Slater from Capitol. Those are the only two people I actually talked to about signing.
MVRemix: For someone that had never heard of Van Hunt, how would you describe your material? Because your R&B seems more eclectic than others'...
Van Hunt: I usually say it's classic American music. I think Black music is probably one of the richest products that America has ever come out with. That's what it is. It's deep in Black culture. Negro spirituals; from Richard Pryor records to Muddy Waters Blues albums, I mean. You've got all of that up in there somewhere. That's what it is to me.
MVRemix: If you had to compare the album "Van Hunt" to a designer clothing label or a particular luxury car, which would you choose and why?
Van Hunt: [Van chuckles] Maybe Prada because of the elegant roughness of their clothes. And, the car, probably a Maserati. For the same reason. It's stylish, but there's still a certain edge to it.
MVRemix: Name your drink of choice.
Van Hunt: Grand Marnier. No doubt about that man. Well, Grand Marnier in the Winter. Red Wine in the Summer.
MVRemix: In your opinion, is an artist credible if they only thrive in the studio with technology?
Van Hunt: It may reduce their credibility as a singer - not as a recording artist. To me, all of that is involved. There is a certain level of magic that goes into creating records. It's all about the artistry of recordings. Whatever it takes to get the palette down, to satisfy the palette, I think that's cool. If you're frontin' yourself off as some magnificent singer or some magnificent musical talent. Then you're gonna find trouble once you get out on stage and have to duplicate shit. I mean that's probably the reason, and I don't know. But that's probably the reason why Andre from OutKast doesn't want to tour. I think he knows he can't duplicate that live. But yet it's still a magnificent effort as far as the album goes.
MVRemix: A quote from one of your songs, "I really love it when we make mistakes." Are you someone that embraces regrets or regrets nothing and why?
Van Hunt: I embrace regret, only so that I won't repeat what it is. If I'm in denial or trying to pretend like I haven't hurt someone's feelings or didn't say the wrong thing then I'll probably do the same thing again. So I like to face the situation that I'm in head on. To learn to love it as part of my history and vow never to repeat it again.
MVRemix: In your opinion, is it the differences that make relationships work or the similarities?
Van Hunt: I think similarities help in the beginning. It's nice to have something in common with somebody. I think that's why most people fall in love. They feel a real common denominator with somebody. But later on, once you do get beyond the curtain, that this person, this individual - there's certain things you don't like about them. Then the challenge kicks in to see if it's a real relationship at that point. You can work it out with anybody depending on how much you're willing to change or sacrifice.
MVRemix: You thanked your inspirations in your liner notes. Few artists do that. Why did you choose to?
Van Hunt: I couldn't think of having my first album and not thanking everybody that was involved with the making of Van Hunt. All of those artists who I've listened to for so long, without a doubt they're influential in my singing.
MVRemix: In your bio you state "I'm definitely inspired by real experiences and relationships, but I like to think of the songs I write as like movie scripts. Do you feel you're able to be sincere all the time or do you sometimes sugar-coat things so as not to hurt someone you care for's feelings?
Van Hunt: I never sugarcoat anything. But there are things that I won't talk about if I don't feel like it's time. I've got two more albums done, and they deal with subjects that I didn't feel I was able to deal with on this album ("Van Hunt") as a new artist.
MVRemix: Can you tell me a bit about those albums?
Van Hunt: Yeah. It's funny because when I first turned in my record to Capitol, it was a lot more raw than it is now. I was a little dismissive of this record just because it wasn't as raw as I'd initially wanted. Then I started to see what it was and I had opened up myself to some new ideas and that was okay. Now I'm in love with the idea of my initial ideas being advanced by bringing in musicians. By listening to other people's music and not having to be so... [chuckling] To answer your question, not to make a long story longer. With the next two albums there's a little more of that. They're still my songs, but they're definitely using the participation of other musicians, friends and muses. Just more of me than I would have allowed in the past.
MVRemix: Do you have any non-musical creative aspirations?
Van Hunt: I would like to re-build some of the areas of the Black community. I do see the situation where a lack of education is not going to allow my people to move on to other areas and do other things. I just think if someone could get in there and work with the existing architecture and the existing landscapes - they could turn it into something that my people could be proud of. Then I think we could start to re-build those communities. I'd like to be a part of something like that.
MVRemix: What are you listening to right now?
Van Hunt: Detroit Cobras, Peaches. I've been listening to a lot of Soul Stirrers recently.
MVRemix: If there's one thing you have left to do before the curtain closes, what would it be?
Van Hunt: I'd like to dominate the music scene for about four or five years. That's it. Haha. I don't need much more than that. I just need a good three or four albums that no one can say that they're not at least good and knock it. Just like Stevie Wonder's records - you might not be into it. But you can't knock the talent or the quality that's there. I want to have that kind of impact.
MVRemix: Apart from promoting the album, what upcoming projects do you have in the works? collabo's etc.
Van Hunt: This Blues record I'm putting together with various artists. People that I really want to work with. I just wanna make a really good blues record.
MVRemix: Predict your next year.
Van Hunt: I don't know man. Hopefully there's a few awards or something. Sell some records. I just want to keep touring and stay humble. Keep working hard because I love working.
MVRemix: Any last words to fans or potential fans that are going to be reading this?
Van Hunt: I'm a songwriter and I'm in a rebellion against my era and I hope they can appreciate that.
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