Interview: George Tandy, Jr.
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 09:09:57
George Tandy, Jr. builds a new base for 21st century R&B with The Foundation [iTunes link]. Boasting intricate instrumentation, impeccable songwriting, and his dynamic and powerful voice, this collection channels an old school spirit with a modern energy. That comes directly from the architect himself. His reverence for classic R&B courses throughout, but he does it justice by bringing his own sense of soul to the table. That's why this is one of the year's most powerful R&B albums.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, George Tandy, Jr. talks The Foundation, the music that shaped him, and so much more.
Did you approach The Foundation with one vision or vibe in mind?
Most of the album was written in one particular part of my life so I was on one vibe and wavelength for a while. Then, I wrapped a couple of songs around it to stay in the same vein. I wanted it to be a journey or an experience—something where people didn't have to skip from one song to the next. Coming out of the gate as a new artist, I wanted it to feel like a body of work as much as possible rather than just a bunch of "good songs" that were put on the same project.
Is it important for you to tell stories as a songwriter?
I think my permanent intention is to create an emotional platform and have it be very clear. Then, it leaves room for me to tell a story if I want to or for people to fill in the spaces with their own stories based off the emotional demand of the song. They can relate to it and plug it into their lives however they want. It's really personal for me. I do have personal experiences related to songs like "I Am" or "Jaded". Those are stories more so.
What's the story behind "I Am"?
Just to be candid, I wrote "I Am" at a time when I was feeling like I was at crossroads. I had the rug swept out from underneath me from a musical standpoint. I was dealing with a label that wasn't treating me fairly. They weren't really seeing my vision or who I am as an artist. I had to severe those ties. I was dealing with a lot of family issues. I was at a point where I was asking myself, "Who am I beyond the desires, the people I'm related to, and my name? Who am I at the core? Who are we at the core?" I thought, "Let me create from that point and have there be no boundaries". There's no time limit. There's no instrument that's off limits. I can say whatever I want to say. What is my true intention? I really poured my whole life into that song. I played everything on it. I pride myself on that song. Sonically, it feels like you're listening to a movie soundtrack. I really wanted to do that. It had to feel like that.
Where did "Alone" come from?
"Alone" was a very personal record for me. I wanted to create a song acknowledging how sometimes we can love somebody, but based off where we are in our lives, we're better off being alone. I was dealing with a situation where I was asking my partner at the time, "If I'm willing to make certain changes in my life, would you be willing to make the same efforts so we can continue moving in the same direction rather than be creating so much friction?" If not, I'd rather be alone. I can love you, but I'd rather be alone.
What artists shaped you?
Number one is my father. The passion and energy he put into his music was the first impact. I'd watch my mom perform too. Outside of my family, it was Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Maxwell, and Eric Benet. I like Jay-Z, Eminem, and Lupe Fiasco. I also dig John Mayer. I could do this all day and sound like I'm a rep for Music Choice or something [Laughs].
Where did the album title come from?
The moment I decided I wanted to do an album was like ten years ago. I thought, "Whenever I pull the resources together to do a project, I'm going to call it The Foundation". I call it The Foundation because it represents so many things. Nothing lasts without a strong foundation. Our families are considered the foundations of our lives. I wanted this project to be the foundation of my musical career. Even if it was the only project I put out, it would be the foundation of what I represented as an artist for however long this journey lasts. It also represents the relationships I've built along the way. It's about everyone who believes in the vision. The Foundation is something everyone can hold on to like a treasure or proud part of their lives. The Foundation also represents my approach to music. I wanted to take an organic approach with live musicians. I wanted it to feel as live and real as possible. There's something about musicians playing a computer can't regenerate.
If you were to compare The Foundation to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's a great question. Some of my favorite movies are 300 and Troy. For me, it represents a bunch of battles and internal battles won. It's a bunch of victories. It could be any movie where there's a victory at the end. Even if everybody dies, but they died with honor, The Foundation is that for me.
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