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INTERVIEW: Avant Talks ‘The VIII’ Album, Not Competing With New Artists and more

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Avant is among the few consistent, yet underrated, male R&B artists of our time. The R&B veteran — known for classics like “My First Love,” “Read Your Mind” and “Makin’ Good Love” —  will release his eighth studio album, The VIII, on September 25.

Serving as the follow-up to his 2013 album Face The Music, The VIII is dedicated to Avant’s fans. With songs like “Special,” which has peaked at No. 5 on urban AC radio, Avant’s goal is to create songs that are relatable to his fans.

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“I’m just trying to give people what I consider real music is,” Avant tells Rated R&B. “My creative thought process was to try to get back to making the consumer the super star.” 

Rated R&B caught up with Avant where he dished on The VIII, competing with new artists, his protegé Malone (who we featured as our Rated Next Artist), his plans for a tour and more.

RATED R&B: If you had to sum up your album in three words, what would it be? 

AVANT: Real. Music. Incorporated [Laughs].

RATED R&B: What do you hope listeners take away from listening to The VIII? 

AVANT: It’s about you. I think that music nowadays is so self-absorbed. I think that for you to be the consumer, you have to want to buy something that has a personal connection to you. I’m shooting for getting back to hearing lyrics that can help me grow as a person. 

RATED R&B: What song on the album is your most personal? 

AVANT: Ah, man. I would have to say “It Doesn’t Matter.” My manager was going through a divorce at the time I wrote that record. I just tried to actually be him on that record. 

RATED R&B: You did a sequel to “Best Friend,” from your Face The Music album. Can you tell us more about that?

AVANT: [Laughs]  I would listen to it off Face The Music and would say, “Well, there’s no conclusion. What happened?” I tried to put some closure to it. It’s almost like a story. I want people to know it’s not about the single, it’s about the body of work. I’m taking you on a journey. So for those who heard the first “Best Friend,” I gave them a conclusion on the second one.

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Avant and Malone

RATED R&B: You collaborated with your new artist Malone on The VIII. What are some of his qualities that stood out to you and what can we expect from him in the near future? 

AVANT: He has a wonderful voice. He’s a good dude. He likes to listen. He likes to learn. He’s easy to work with and extremely talented. His album is going to be bananas! At the end of the day, talent has to override everything when you’re talking about having a great artist. That’s what he sold me on.

RATED R&B: The way people consume music has changed over the years. More people are using streaming services like Spotify to listen to music. Do you think music streaming companies help or hinder the music industry?

AVANT: If you use it the right way, it definitely can [help]. Just like everything else, if you don’t use it the right way then it can be a negative. I think that it has its purpose and that’s where the world is going to now.

RATED R&B: Your debut album (My Thoughts) turned 15 this year. What do you remember most about recording that album? 

AVANT: Me pouring my heart out. Your first album is everything you went through in that span of your life. So, it was very emotional with songs like “Separated” and “My First Love.” It’s like, “Wow! This is everything that I’ve been through in my life.” I didn’t know to write from anything else. After cutting that album and having it out, [my label] was like, “Yo, man that’s great but we need another album from you in six weeks.” Now I understand the process of not just writing about the things I’ve been through but the things I’ve seen, things other people have been through as well. I understand that this is an every second job. I’m cool with that. avant-ratedrnb-3

RATED R&B: What’s one piece of advice that you wish you had during your debut era? 

AVANT: Wow, that’s a great question! I had so much fun back then so it would probably be “Slow down a little bit. Embrace the moment itself.” I really didn’t take a step back to enjoy the moment itself.

RATED R&B: The last time we spoke, you were talking about plans for a duet album with Keke Wyatt. Is that still in the works?

AVANT: It’s still in the works. It’s just finding time to do it. She’s moving around a lot. I’m moving around a lot. We just have to sit up in the room and make this thing happen. Everybody’s been asking about it so it’s something that’s definitely on the port.

RATED R&B: Will there be a tour for this album?

AVANT: Yes, we are. We’re just trying to pick the right young lady because I would like to [tour] with a young lady so you can get the best of both worlds. My focus is to go out and get people involved with what real music is to me, which is great storylines, great musicianship — that’s what I came up listening to. I think that the youth is being cheated because the only thing they have is dance music and strip club music. There’s a space for that but everybody can’t do the same thing.

RATED R&B: So, do you feel like you have to compete with newer acts?

AVANT: It’s not a competition. It’s more of a way to try to find the fans. I’ve sold over a million copies. I just have to find the people who want to hear true stories and what music is really made about. I just try to understand that there’s a lane and there’s people who want real music and try to give it to them. When you hear a record like “Special,” it’s like nothing that’s on the radio right now. I did that to make a point. People were like, “Man you’ve got to turn up.”  Then I release “Special” and they’re like, “Man that record is beautiful.” [Laughs]. It’s about finding the emotion that people don’t know they have anymore. It’s there but you have to find that emotion. You’ve got to pull it out of them.

Pre-order Avant’s The VIII on iTunes now! Follow Avant on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

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