In today’s music industry, creating a sense of longevity is very difficult to accomplish. When one-hit wonders and cookie-cutter artists, who are searching for a quick come up, are flooding the scene, it’s hard to take many artists seriously these days.
Defying the odds of the music industry and continuing to keep himself relevant since the ’90s, is R&B crooner, Bobby V. Beginning his career as a young boy in the R&B group, Mista – which is known for the 1996 hit “Blackberry Molasses” – Bobby V has done his thing as a solo artist since 2005 and has released five solo studio albums to date. Each album, producing hit after hit, has done great things for his career and skyrocketed him to being considered one mainstream R&B’s elite artists.
Now, 8 years after his first album, Bobby is expanding on his talent and delivering a new sound for the fans. Straying away from his typical and most noted commercial style, the 33-year old is now looking to deliver a side of him we’ve never seen: the side of soul. ThisIsRnB recently got the chance to chat with the veteran singer, and got all the details on his new sound, his latest single, “Back to Love”, upcoming Peach Moon EP, and everything else he has in store.
Check out the exclusive interview below:
Your latest single from the ‘Peach Moon’ EP titled “Back to Love” is a little different in terms of sound from your regular work. What made you go into this direction?
Basically, it was just time for change. I’ve been in the industry for quite some time you know, with five solo albums and I was in the group Mista too when I was like 12 or 13-years-old. So, I’ve been around music for pretty much all of my life. You know, my previous solo albums have been very successful. They’ve given me the platform to tour around the world and be who I am today. It’s like being in a relationship. If you and your boo thang keep doing the same thing every night and all y’all do is go to dinner and a movie, it’s gone get boring. That’s kind of how I got with my music. I just felt like I was talking about the same things, singing over the same tracks and you know, I just really wanted to switch it up and keep pushing the envelope with something different.
With the ‘Peach Moon’ EP, what specifically made you go into the direction of focusing on live instrumentation?
I’ve been touring with my band over the past two years, but before then I did track shows. You know, just me and my DJ and we rocked the crowd like that. It got to a point in my shows as well where I got tired of doing track shows. Now, I only do band shows and nobody will ever see me do a track show again. When you perform to a track and then perform with the band, it’s like night and day. I also learned how to play the piano over the past two years. My music director is a classically trained piano player and I’ve always liked the piano. I bought a baby grand piano for my crib about 8 years ago when I got a lil’ money and I would always play around on the piano, but it was simply just playing around. He saw me playing around and he was like “Man if you really took this serious, you could learn how to play.” I was like ‘for real? Well why don’t you teach me?’ So, my music director Murph, started giving me lessons for the past two years. When I say lessons, I mean every day. He would come by the crib and you know he would just teach me how to play. You know, I progressed so much and really my piano playing has gotten me into music more than I’ve ever been. First of all, it gave me a whole new respect for anybody that knows how to play a musical instrument. Especially somebody that plays and sings at the same time. That has to be one of the most difficult things to do. So, I have a whole new respect for the Alicia Keys’, the John Legend’s of the world, the Stevie Wonder’s, Ray Charles, you know Jamie Foxx…the people that can play piano and sing at the same time. It just opened my eyes up to real musicianship. It’s not to knock traditional R&B ’cause you know lately, I’ve been riding to a little bit more Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Maxwell – I just really been on that vibe – and Dwele. I just really been on that vibe. That’s kind of been in my iPhone.
I’m a really big fan of this last album Dwele put out and the one before that – W.ants W.orld W.omen. He’s a really talented man.
Yeah man, he’s crazy.
Speaking of crazy, I know you filmed the video to the new single in Atlanta. When do you plan on releasing that?
It should be ready in about two weeks. We’re just waiting to get the edits back and what not. It’s gonna be a dope video you know. We kind of kept it very simple and sexy. It’s just me performing in a very small and intimate space. I got a couple young ladies there and you know, I’m just really just…you know, it’s all about the music. That’s really where I am right now. I don’t want people to pay attention to nothing else – just pay attention to the music because I’m putting more in to the music than I ever have before.
Right. So, what made you use “Back to Love” as that first single?
Because that was the best example of the project. It’s kind of like Chevrolet coming out with a new car. It was like that was the best commercial, I would say, to promote my project. When I say commercial, I don’t mean commercial song. It was just the best way to. Some of my stuff is even more soulful than that, but I didn’t want people to hear it and be like ah man, he’s going way too left! It’s still R&B. It’s not like I’m going crazy and getting outside of my lane to where it isn’t R&B. This just has more soulful elements, more live instrumentation. It’s just a good representation of what my EP is about and my whole new movement.
I know that you’ve been doing the shows with Erykah Badu and Lyfe Jennings and Jill Scott. How has that experience been? Have people been well-receiving of your new sound?
It’s really crazy. After I performed with Erykah Badu and Lyfe Jennings, both of them came up to me and was like ‘I love your shows.’ I just kind of look at it like I’ve been a mainstream artist my whole career. I’ve been a mainstream-radio artist making trendy, radio records. I’ve really never done shows with artists like Lyfe and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. It’s just now that I’m starting to do more shows with artists like Chrisette Michelle and artists like that. You know, a lot of them haven’t seen me perform and don’t know much about me outside of my mainstream hit records. Once they actually saw me play the piano and really sing, they said, ‘He can really sing, he’s a great performer.’ You know, I took that as a humbling experience. Also, me watching their shows and staying because I’m able to learn from them. That showmanship is totally different from a mainstream artist. Not to knock mainstream music, but when you do soul music and funk music – go to a D’Angelo show or a Maxwell show and then go to one of the hot R&B artists today – it’s definitely a difference. It’s not like a hot R&B artist show is worse, it’s just a difference. It’s a different crowd, it’s a difference in the whole vibe in the room. One is not better than the other per se – everybody can like what they like – but there’s definitely a difference of the feeling in the room. You know, that’s what I’m working on trying to capture as I rehearse and I try to perfect my show. I’m really trying to kind of get the feeling that Erykah had in the room. You know, when she stepped on stage, you felt that. I mean I just left Brazil and I performed for like 40,000 people and they went crazy for me too, but it’s a different kind of crazy. It’s kind of eerie the way that I’m explaining it, but soul music just brings out a different kind of vibe in the room.
Speaking of that performance in Brazil – I know you said it was a crazy experience – how did that come about? Were you on tour with Erykah?
Nah, that was just a regular show on my schedule. It was a promoter out there and it was actually my first time going to Brazil. They were putting on some type of festival out there. I actually performed by myself with one other local artist. I was actually kind of in awe because I brought out so many fans. Like, I didn’t know I had that many fans in Brazil or people that knew who I was. It was a humbling experience.
You said that was your first time being in Brazil?
I mean I’ve traveled everywhere in the world. You know I’ve been to Africa, I go to Australia every year, I go to Europe 2-3 times a year to tour and I was just in Japan for the New Year. I don’t want to say this in a conceited way, but I am an international artist. People know Bobby V internationally and I’ve been blessed to travel the world and go so many places. Brazil is just one of those places where it was an untapped market for me. I had just never been there. It’s a few other places I would like to go. I would like to tap into the China market – you know, I have been to Japan, but I haven’t been to China – I wanna try that market. I would like to go even more places in South America like Argentina or Colombia – you know, places like that. I’m just trying to hit all the spots that I can hit.
You’ve been out for about 7 or 8 years now. Being technically considered as a veteran, how do you remain relevant with your fans throughout the years with all of the new R&B acts coming in and how do you pick up the new fans?
For me, it’s two things. The one word to explain is just, it’s just consistency. Over my career, no matter what people may say about me – they may not like me or they can say I’m short or they can say I’m this or they might say that – but everybody always comes up to me – I saw Jamie Foxx in the club last night, you know Jamie Foxx came up to me. He was kind of far away and he came up to me and was like, “Man, let’s do a song together, man. I love your music.” I was like dang! I’m in the club in New York and that was Jamie Foxx! Everybody that comes up to me, they always be like, “Man, bruh, I love your music.” To me, it’s the consistency – that’s the key to staying relevant. You know, you might not see me on every TV show, you might not see me performing at all the award shows, but at the end of the day, you take all five of my albums and you listen to them, it’s going to be good music. That’s what I stand strong on. I will not put no garbage out. That’s not to say that everybody’s going to like every song I release or my projects as a whole. One thing with my transition is as a mainstream artist, it’s kind of a format that you have to follow. When you get ready to put out your single to promote your album, you kind of have to put out a “radio record” and that radio record has to follow a formula. It has to follow a certain tempo, you have to have a rapper on there…you know what I’m saying? That’s like the “formula” for making a hit record for mainstream radio. I followed that formula for the past 8 years – since 2005 – and I kind of just got tired of following it. I wanted to step outside the box. All of my singles followed the formula and some people didn’t like some of my singles. I ain’t gone even lie, I didn’t even like some of my singles – if you want me to be for real, for real. But, the album and the project as a whole, it’s gone be good music.
With this new EP, will there be any features on it, or will it be solely you?
I’m gone link up with some other artists, but it’s not gone be the typical artists that I work with. It will be a collaboration with a Dwele or a collaboration with a Marsha Ambrosius – you know, people like that. I’m just throwing names out there. I haven’t approached anyone, but those are the types of people that I plan on approaching. I’m trying to do something with D’Angelo, Marsha Ambrosius, Lyfe Jennings or a Chrisette Michelle. You know, just those types of artists that really embrace soul music.
Are there any particular artists whose albums you’re looking forward to this year?
Definitely. I know a lot of people are dropping albums right now. On the R&B side, I would like to hear some new music from those artists that I named. Like some new Maxwell, D’Angelo, a Jill Scott project…I’d like to hear more from them. As far as mainstream, I pretty much like who everybody else likes. I’d like to hear anything that’s real dope. You know, Trey Songz makes good projects. I’m sure all of them are in the studio now working. I just get excited about new music. So, as long as myself and my R&B colleagues are embracing R&B, then I’m with it 100% percent. I’m not out there trying to support people that’s out there kind of abandoning R&B and just trying to do whatever it takes to be popular. You know, Miguel is a hot mainstream artist and has embraced R&B – Trey Songz is the same way. Trey Songz does make club records and I make club records too. Trey Songz has done his thing as a mainstream artist. Whoever is doing their thing with R&B, I’m rooting for ’em.
I know you mentioned Marsha [Ambrosius], but who are some artists that you are looking to collaborate with in the future?
Just kind of the people I named. A lot of those artists because I’ve been known as mainstream artist. I mean, they’re “mainstream” too, but I guess the term that people use – I don’t agree with it – but it’s Neo-Soul. It’s cool for me and the reason why I’m pro this movement is because a lot of my fans are younger. I want to try to help bridge that gap. You know, a high school student may not necessarily be up on a Maxwell. Their parents might, but they might not be up on him – they might be on a Bobby V. Especially with hip-hop being a dominant format right now, I think my popularity and doing soulful type music, will help the youth that’s not exposed to the soul music. I think they might listen to me because I have had a lot of mainstream success and they can kind of relate to me, you know?
Sure. Totally understandable. In relation to your new single, “Back to Love”, is there someone in your love life right about now?
Nah, just married to the music. I have had relationships, but they haven’t worked out. Right now, I’ve just been on the road and working on this project. One thing about doing R&B records, I can usually take like an hour to an hour and a half and be done with it. These kind of records, it might take me a whole week to do one song [laughs]. It ain’t like I can just go in the studio and freestyle a verse and come up with some harmonies and some melodies. It’s totally different. So now, I go in and I might just record the chorus and have to stick with it for 3 or 4 days until I can come up with the right next thing. It’s just, whew, it’s hard [laughs]. But, it’s rewarding.
Other than this ‘Peach Moon’ EP, what do you have planned for your fans?
Just a lot of touring – that’s my thing right now. I want people to see the live show. A lot of involved content so they can see the making of Peach Moon. You know, I have really dedicated fans. Like, if you say something bad about Bobby V, they’ll just go ham on you [laughs]. So, I just want to give them in return a lot of love and just to let them know that I appreciate them just as much as love they love me. Just kind of keeping the people in the loop of what I’m doing.
What do you want your fans to take away from this upcoming EP?
I want them to know that I’m serious about music. I’m serious about my career. Every artist has that defining moment where they step out on faith and do something different. You can’t keep doing the same thing. Honestly, a lot of people have told me that I’m taking a big risk by doing this because it is something different and it’s not typical. How do you think people will receive this or what if it doesn’t work? You know, I got my faith. Faith is what got me here. My belief in God…you know, that’s what got me here. So, I’m stepping out on faith and just stepping out the box and doing something different. That’s what I want people to know. I want people to do the same too. Don’t be a follower – be a leader. If you believe and you got a dream or a vision that God has given you, step out on faith and make that thang happen.
Interview by Ni’Kesia Pannell