Interviews

Rahsaan Patterson: Dropping Neo Soul For Soul

Singersroom recently took a journey into the mind, spirit and soul of one of music’s most talented artists, Rahsaan Patterson. Intending to speak mainly about his forthcoming album ‘Bleuphoria,’ this soul singer went further to boldly state his overall views, suggestions, likes and dislikes about his genre. Rahsaan even revealed his distaste for being categorized as a neo-soul artist, “That ‘neo’ part I don’t care for only because there is nothing ‘neo’ about soul. There’s no such thing as new soul – it’s just soul.” He also calls music lovers and musicians to return to the soul music of the past. He expresses that the goal of soul is to have your spirit fed by these artists. With his holistic and classic approach to understanding, living and breathing soul music, Rahsaan Patterson is ready to reemerge on the soul circuit to give fans what they’ve been missing.

Singersroom: Since the 2007 release of ‘Wine and Spirits’, what have you been up to? We’ve missed you!

Rahsaan Patterson: Well I get that from a lot of folks. I have been living life, I have been growing. I’ve been working and doing shows – recording, writing and mentally preparing myself for the release of this album. Growing as far as all the natural growth, time and love one has when they are progressively creative.

Singersroom: What does ‘Bleuphoria’ mean to you?

Rahsaan Patterson: It means several things, one of them being just another word for what it is and where it is that we reside on this earth. Also it is the destination and result of finding love. It’s that combination of bliss and euphoria.

Singersroom: As your sixth studio album, what made this project different from previous works?

Rahsaan Patterson: The most obvious is that I did a majority of the songwriting. I basically did all of the pre-production myself as well, which I had only done maybe twice before on ‘Wine and Spirits.’ So with this record I needed to challenge myself, I needed to share different facets of myself with whoever is interested in listening. I think I met those challenges and I was introduced to that area but there is still more to come and opportunities for growth.

Singersroom: While touring, what differences have you experienced performing for international audiences as opposed to in the states?

Rahsaan Patterson: The level of love and appreciation I receive is the same all around. People ask that question a lot thinking that I’ll say, “Oh the love that I receive in Europe is so much greater” [Laughs]. When actually I’m fortunate in that the love, respect and appreciation is exactly the same. All I would say is that there is a larger percentage of people who know about me in Europe than certain people in the states in terms of my music and popularity. However, for those who are aware of who I am and what I do and they come to my shows, they give me the exact same love that I receive overseas.

Singersroom: In your opinion, what differentiates soul artists from R&B artists?

Rahsaan Patterson: [Laughs] I don’t think there is a difference. I think the important factor is that regardless of genre, when the emotion behind a lyric and the way it’s communicated is a part of one’s authentic self and is spirit-driven then it’s soul. You can be listening to Steve Perry from Journey who is considered rock, but he’s one of the most soulful rock singers there ever was. Basically if it’s not authentically coming from your spirit then it’s not soul. I believe that any genre of music can be considered soul.

Singersroom: Now that you’ve explained to us the differences in the two genres, which one would you classify yourself as?

Rahsaan Patterson: I don’t put myself in a box. Obviously as a black male singer who grew up on a lot of soul, people naturally label me as soul or neo-soul. I don’t mind being called a soul artist but that “neo” part I don’t care for only because there is nothing “neo” about soul. There’s no such thing as new soul – it’s just soul. It’s unfortunate that we have to separate the level of soul singers who once were and those who make music today. It’s kind of jacked up that people singing with soul nowadays can’t be a part of that group. Soul is soul – simple as that.

Singersroom: Seeing how there is so much in a name, being named after ’60s jazz saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk – do you see any similarities between you two?

Rahsaan Patterson: We’re obviously two different people, but universally speaking when one takes on the name of someone else after that previous person has existed there are certain attributes you will find that you can kind of live out vicariously just by having that name. Especially from an artistic standpoint I feel like the similarities are definitely based in the diversity of what I do and what he did.

Singersroom: The day-to-day strain of being an artist, performer and songwriter can be tough. Who is the one person you turn to when things get too overwhelming?

Rahsaan Patterson: Oh my mother most definitely. I turn to my mom, my older sister, Lalah Hathaway and Chaka Khan because these people love me unconditionally. These people understand me and understand who I am and what I’m doing. Two of them have been in some of the same struggles as me being artists. I just feel blessed to have them all.

Singersroom: If you could have a conversation with any iconic soul singer of the past, who would it be and what would you talk to them about?

Rahsaan Patterson: I want to say Billie Holiday and I would want to talk to her about many things [Laughs]. Mainly, I would want to ask if she had any foresight when she was younger about what her life would become. I imagine that for certain people you instinctively know what your path is going to be. You have some insight that comes from God’s vision and the universe showing it to you. So I would ask her about that.

Singersroom: For as long as you’ve been in the music industry, how have you seen it change throughout the years?

Rahsaan Patterson: I have seen that the level of talent with singers and performers has diminished. Also the level of pretense that exudes from a lot of these performers today is really nauseating. That’s not to say that the great artists of our time don’t have an ounce of talent because I believe that there’s a certain level of talent needed to succeed as a performer. However with former artists, at their core was depth, true talent, spirit and a destination that they were trying to assist everyone else in getting to. Now it’s just like look at me, and when you look at them you have to ask what are they communicating musically and spiritually that’s making your heart, soul and spirit evolve. Not to say that there aren’t one or two artists out there doing that right now but as far as mainstream goes it’s all flashy, pretentious, look at me shit. I believe some of us can get back to that purer place and some of us never left that place. That’s why we don’t listen to the radio or look at awards shows [Laughs]. What we do is we listen to our Anita Baker, Lalah Hathaway, Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder because with them you’re being fed.

—— By: Interview By Aleta Watson

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