It’s been awhile since we’ve heard new music from R&B singer-songwriter Anthony David — four years, to be exact, since his last studio album, Love Out Loud (2012). Now he’s back with new music and a new message. Following the release of his lead single “Beautiful Problem,“Anthony David is set to deploy his new album The Powerful Now on August 26th.
Anthony recently dropped us a line to speak about The Powerful Now. He opened up to SR’s Joe Nelson about realizing the defining moment of the album, helping others in understanding the need to live in the Now, the influence Afrobeats has on his music, Oprah, and plenty more.
Pre-order The Powerful Now on iTunes HERE.
Joe: Thank you for joining us. Definitely looking forward to going through some questions and finding out more about the album, The Powerful Now. Thanks for your time.
Anthony: No Problem.
Joe: Just to jump right in, your new album The Powerful Now is coming out August 26th. For those who are familiar with your prior albums, how would you say this album is different versus what you have put out previously?
Anthony: Especially the first half of it. It’s just stuff that I wanted to do. I really didn’t stick to any sort of format. I don’t do that anyways. I tried to keep it as if I hadn’t any stuff out before. So anything that was in me.
If I had that question in my head, like “maybe they don’t want to hear that or me, but I was like whatever (chuckles). This is my fifth album, so I’ve done a lot of things. I felt like shaking things up.
Joe: Okay, that makes perfect sense. After a while of putting out so many different songs/albums, you’d want to change it up a bit. Especially as I remember the press release saying that the album “pushes the boundaries of R&B”. Can you discuss how you are doing that on this upcoming album?
Anthony: Well, it’s 2016. You’ve got an emergence of music anyways. You have all these different genres out. All these different people from different backgrounds globally that can hear each other’s sounds and play with it. I think it’s crazy if you don’t respond to that. So that’s how I treat it. So all the music I like, I try to do it. From Rock to now EDM is popping. Obviously growing up with hip hop. To me, it is just about using whatever influences you have.
Joe: I saw a quote that stuck out to me in the press release: “R&B today is not niche. We have just as much to offer as every other genre.” Can you elaborate on what you meant?
Anthony: Yes. It’s an art form. I think there are things that some consider more artistic than others. Unfortunately now when you see some of the awards shows and stuff like that, they don’t consider the songwriting craft of R&B, even though it has contributed a lot. Nowadays you don’t get to see that, that much.
There are true songwriters in R&B. If you look at the Grammys, you kind of don’t get to see that. Adele kind of expresses it as an artist. Her stuff is pretty artistic. I think that’s how people view it anyways, but it’s real quick and they do kind of put her into the Pop category. They don’t mention the roots of it. It’s very poppy, but it is R&B.
Joe: So it’s more about the distinction between what’s considered R&B versus what’s being put into a specific category such as Pop, even though it’s about all around vocals in a sense?
Anthony: Yes. I shouldn’t have even mentioned her in that sense. It goes back to that thing you’ve probably being hearing where that a lot of blacks do that, but you don’t get to see that kind of thing. Then everyone acts like certain things are just a breathe of fresh air. There’s a lot of artists that do it and are concerned about the art. It just seems like it just gets shoved to the side. You also do see a resurgence of love for 90s R&B, which is pretty much that. Which is what I’m talking about, people just trying to do art.
Joe: I remember reading an article from another artist that we spoke with at Singersrooom.com. He discussed that nowadays a lot of singers are rapping on songs, or rappers are trying to be singers.
Joe: There really isn’t a distinction between the two art forms. It’s more of everything being merged. Not necessarily to say that it’s only African American artists, but everything is being categorized as one.
Anthony: Yeah, certainly. I think there was a time when people really appreciated that, but now I feel like it’s being shoved into party mood only. It became really singular, and that’s the part I don’t really dig.
Joe: For The PowerFUL Now, I was reading the background information, and it discusses how you write songs at that moment. Hence the term, Now. Would you say there is a defining moment or experience that sums up the entire album?
Anthony: Yeah, I think the title cut actually. The funny part was the album was called Simple Man for a little while. For most of the time that was the working title that I was dealing with. Then Gypsy (the guy who I actually did most of the record with me when we produced that song) got it. He’s the guy that actually started me in music. He did my first demo. We just linked back up. We just tried to get into stuff that we liked, and he had this idea for a video. This vibe of a track. Whatever he gave me was the content, and when I found it, I had the hook. Gypsy was like, “That’s a great title, The PowerFUL Now. That’s really dope.” That was the defining moment because that’s the moment we reconnected musically. We were still compatible musically. I think when the hook of that song was coming together, that defined it.
Joe: That goes into what I thought when I heard the title, The PowerFUL Now. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it is more or less about living in that situation and doing things in the Now? In a sense, going through life and enjoying that moment and the Now.
Anthony: Yeah. Completely. I took four years off pretty much, and I did songs when I felt like it. That also deals with “The PowerFUL Now.” I would do songs in moments, and there was a little time where I found myself in conversation talking about the past or what I wanted in the future. As we started working on it I was like, “Fuck it; we did all that, so let’s make Now”. “Let’s make this thing, great, Now.”
Joe: On this album would you say you have a favorite track or one that stands out among all the others?
Anthony: Again I might have to say the title track. It moves around all the time. There are so many styles. I could say “The Powerful Now” because it’s sad. Then again, I could say “Iodele.” That really came from a real moment, dealing with a friend who’s going through something. I’ve always liked songs when I can get the exact feeling out that I was trying to get out of something. That was a good exercise in that. Then also there, “I Don’t Mind” which is more of an Afrobeat song which is what I listen to now anyways.
Joe: That’s pretty cool. I actually just got into Afrobeats a few years ago myself. I happen to see a video for Fuse ODG.
Anthony: Oh yeah, that song “Antenna.” I liked some songs before that. I started out liking this guy named Flavour. That was m birthday song a few years ago because I went to Kenya and that put me on. Then I was at this bar around here, and that song “Antenna” by Fuse ODG came on, and the video was playing. It was crazy. They were doing that Azonto dance, and I thought, “This shit is lit!”
Joe: I think I stumbled across him because he was doing a cover of someone’s song for BBC Radio.
Anthony: I became a fan of his. I liked his “T.I.N.A. (This is New Africa)” joint. I liked that idea. I liked what he was bringing. Especially at that point, I had been doing a lot of traveling through there. It was really dope to see the new attitude and this new flavor. They’ve taken some of the swag that American R&B and Hip Hop have. Along with reggae, dancehall and EDM from around the world; they’ve given it back in their own way. It’s fun party music. It’s not too crazy. It just gives me life. I have a ball.
Joe: I remember what song he was doing the cover for. It was “Waves” by Mr. Probz.
Anthony: Wow. He did, “Waves?” Wow
Joe: Yes. BBC does a series on Youtube where artists cover each other’s songs. I remember Jason Derulo did a few. I believe it was “Waves.” I remember running into it a few years ago and getting up on him, Wizkid, and a few other people.
Anthony: That’s funny, now that you mention him, Mr. Probz. He’s definitely an influence for me too because we have a very similar vocal tone. Matter of fact, people kept telling me when they first heard “Waves” that they thought it was me. When I first heard people said that, I said, “You goofy.” Then I heard it and realized, “Oh, shit. That does sound like me in a good way.” It actually gave me some esteem because I like the way I sound. I liked the way he sounded which must mean I like the way I sound. Not to say he is copying or anything. We have a similar tone. It inspired me a lot because he’s really dope. I ended up talking to him on Twitter because I covered the song. It’s a dope song. He’s a dope MC. I like him a lot.
Joe: Speaking of other artists, I saw you recently posted that you completed a video with your frequent collaborator and buddy, India Arie. Can you tell us about that?
Anthony: The song itself is not a collabo. It’s just that when we were working on the song and got to the last part, I started singing “Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful” which was already in the chorus. The way we were singing it, Shannon was like, “Remember India had that song, “Beautiful” on her first album?” We were also working on stuff for her. She just always comes up in conversation. While we were already writing the song, Shannon was already writing the video. She stated, “You have to get her to come in and sing that part.” But we couldn’t get her into the studio to sing that part. She was in town during the time when I was shooting the video, so she came through. We hadn’t hung out in a while. She had been living in New York and Seattle so it was good to kick it.
Joe: I saw that you were recently on the OWN drama Greenleaf. What was that experience like?
Anthony: It was dope. That was a really good thing that was going on during the time off. I got into some TV. I got a call from a friend of mine. I was in a play doing the blues and stuff like that. I was playing locally around here covering some blues. A friend of mine asked me about it, and I sent her a Youtube of what we were doing. She mentioned they wanted someone to play some blues on a TV show.” I said, “Cool!” They wanted me to play “Cold Turkey,” one of my old records. I got there and realized, this is Oprah! (laughs). She was on the set. She was super nice. We had a good time. She was there knocking out her role. As soon as I saw her, I found out what the show really was. Once again, Oprah is putting it down at the right place and at the right time.
Joe: Haha! I would hope. The lady has made a career out of just being Oprah at this point.
Joe: She’s a brand. Worldwide everyone at least knows who Oprah is.
Anthony: For real. A great representative considering all the other images we have out there for ourselves. It’s good to know that she’s one of the people you can be proud of as a black American.
Joe: Is there anything else that you have in the works that you would like to share with us as we wrap everything up and with The Powerful Now set to come out on August 26?
Anthony: I’m really in a good writing mode. You’ll probably hear a lot more music. There won’t be a four-year gap. That’s kind of it. We’re just keeping it moving.
Joe: Definitely good to hear that there won’t be a four year gap. Your album is coming out, you’re promoting and other things.
Anthony: I learned a lot during that time.
Joe: Thank you. We appreciate the time. Getting to find out more about you and the album. Definitely love the Afrobeats conversation.
Anthony: That’s funny you actually just gave me a thing when describing the album. I do records, so I don’t have to talk, but when I do interviews I have to talk. There’s something you said about interpreting what I had said, and it makes a whole lot more sense. It really is that, when you talk about a powerful now. You mentioned that I mentioned moments, and it’s true. Every one of these songs is about a now. So I appreciate that. I think I am going to be saying that from now on.
Joe: Well I am glad that I could help. I can at least know that when you do other interviews, I gave him that idea.
Anthony: Yeah, the thing does move a lot of genres very fast so that’s why. Each one is its own special moment.