Interview: André Cymone
Tue, 04 Mar 2014 10:01:01
You might know André Cymone from the inimitable bass grooves he laid down for Prince. However, you'll really get the chance to know this unique and undeniable talent on his latest solo opus, The Stone. It's a deep, dynamic, and diverse journey spanning the outer reaches of pop, rock, and funk. In many ways, it could be viewed as an introduction or gateway into Cymone's own creative space. It's a place you're going to want to spend a lot of time too.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, André Cymone discusses The Stone and so much more.
Is there a thread that ties The Stone together for you?
It depends on what you mean. If you mean musically, yeah. If you mean lyrically, yeah. That leads to what we're going to do which is part two of this album. Musically, I wanted to get back to just music, musicianship, and doing it from scratch. You've got five musicians, an engineer, and you press play. You're writing songs on an acoustic guitar and getting back to the basic foundations of songwriting and music.
What did you want to capture sonically?
It's interesting because I have little kids. I have twins that are six-years-old and a little boy who's eight-years-old. I played The Beatles to them. Every time I got into the car, that was the first thing they asked for, and they wouldn't let me deviate from that program. I was just inundated day after day with The Beatles. I obviously knew how great The Beatles's records were and how amazing they sounded. When you listen to them over and over again, you start to get a whole new appreciation. It made me go back to listening to a bunch of classic records like Chuck Berry and Jackie Wilson. I thought, "Well, if they like that, let's see if they like this!" Then, I'd play them Frank Sinatra and things like that. The more I got into it, I got into doing the classic stuff. It got to be fun. I hooked up with some musicians that shared that same kind of flavor, attitude, and spirit. We just started jamming. As soon as we hooked up on the vibe of the song, we let it roll.
Was a lot of it captured in the moment or on the fly?
It depends. I reconnected with a manager who used to manage me when I was just doing production after I did a solo thing and I was taking a break for a while. He found me on Facebook and hit me up. He was like, "Hey, what are you doing?" I said, "I'm making another record. I'm playing acoustic guitar and singing. I'm doing a lot of things really basic now". He wanted to hear something so I told him to come on by. He came by the crib. I was getting ready to play this CD with some polished stuff. He looked at me and went on, "Nah, you said you played and sang. Let me hear that". I said, "Oh, you want me to just play and sing you something on the spot? Okay!" I jammed a little bit of one of the songs. I got towards the hook, and I stopped it and started explaining it. He told me, "Just sing it! Don't explain it! It's Wednesday, I'm going to come back on Friday. I want you to play me all of those songs you told me about. I want you to play them. Don't stop. Just to play them and sing them!" I played five songs on Friday from top-to-bottom. Three days later, I played those without reading them and five more. Soon, it got to about sixty or seventy songs. Finally, he just said, "Stop, you're ready to make your record!" We weeded out all the angry songs and got to the heart. Between me, him, and my wife who's part of our team, we went through everything. Some songs were right for the first record, and others were better for the second. That's how we came up with the idea of doing a part one and part two.
What does "Live Life" mean to you?
Oddly enough, it's about a lot of things. My oldest brother had passed away not too long ago. He was a very colorful individual. He had a lot of influence over me. I think his personality and persona live in that song. It reminds me to step back and make sure you stay in touch with life and live it. Don't let anybody try to sell you sorrow. It's your only life so live it to the fullest. He was colorful so he was involved in a lot of different things. I tried to be like him, and it wasn't really my game. It came close. There were some hairy situations, but he kept me on the straight and narrow. He said, "Music is where it's at. You should stay involved in that. Don't get involved in this other stuff. You handle your thing". It comes from that school of thought.
What song resonates with you the most at the moment?
I love "It's Alright" and "Naked". Those are two of my favorites. I love them all. I love "American Dream". It's hard for me to pick a favorite because it's a very consistent state of mind with all the bases I was trying to cover. I tried to make sure I captured the essence of where I'm at mentally and the state of the world right now. "American Dream" connects and resonates because I think it's something a lot of people can relate to. "It's Alright" is an interesting story. For a lot of musicians, they can relate to the reality of the up and down lifestyle. Sometimes, you got money. Other times, you're broke. You go up and down. You build up only to tear it down again. At the end of the day, hey, it's alright! It's a humbling song about life. That's why it resonates personally the most.
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