Skip to main content

John Legend - Evolver - Interview

Marvin Sparks caught up with 5-time Grammy award winner John Legend who returns to our ears with his infectious single 'Greenlight' [available from 6th October '08] and follow-up 2 multi-platinum albums, 'Evolver' [out on 20th October '08]

Marvin Sparks : What have you been up to since ‘Once Again’?
John Legend: First of all I went on tour - I went on tour for about a year and started working on the new album pretty much. It was a lot of fun to make and I worked with some great people and here we are, 'Evolver'.

Marvin Sparks : How have you as a person and artist evolved between albums?
John Legend: Well, I don't know if I learnt anything about myself but you just kind of grow as a person over the years and you just live life, have relationships, do what you got to do and you grow up. I feel like I keep learning from life, and each album is a reflection of where I am in life at the time.

Marvin Sparks : 'Once Again' was much more mature sounding compared with Get Lifted. How would you describe this one?
John Legend: Yeah, it was mellower and mature. This album is more up-tempo, electronic and more pop sounding.

Marvin Sparks : During time off you released our Estelle on your label?
John Legend: Yeah I released Estelle`s album on my label, HomeSchool, and its doing ok [laughs]

Marvin Sparks : What did you see in Estelle that they didn`t see over here?
John Legend: Well, I felt like she wasn`t fully realised by everybody. I felt like if we worked together we could make a great record and that`s what we did. We made one.

Marvin Sparks : As well as running your label you went to Africa for charity work, how was that experience?
John Legend: I went to Tanzania a few times and we`ve been working with an organisation called Millennium Promise. Millennium Promise runs programs throughout Africa in different villages helping people who are living in extreme poverty and I wanted help. I wanted to raise money to help fund the villages that they were working with and visit it and we started an organisation called the Show Me campaign.

Marvin Sparks : Bringing it up to current day, your album 'Evolver'. Tell us about the recording process of the new album.
John Legend: I worked in Atlanta, Miami and New York; it was just based on whatever writers and producers I was working with to meet them where they were working most of the time. I worked with Pharrell, Kanye [West], Andre 3000, Will.I.Am, Ne-Yo, and Supa Dups [Black Chiney]. We worked with a few people and everyone gave their input and did a great job.

Marvin Sparks : What can listeners expect to hear?
John Legend: I talk about relationships a lot and this album is no exception to that. This album definitely covered relationship issues from meeting a girl in the club, to breaking up, to morning sex; whatever floats your boat. This album`s got a lot on there.

Marvin Sparks : First single is 'Greenlight' with Andre 3000, how did that come about?
John Legend: I started writing with this guy named Rick Knowles. He played this guitar loop and I started singing [hums melody to chorus of 'Greenlight'] 'I'm ready to go right now'. [The melody] came to me, I wrote the song then we switched up the beat a little bit, sent it over to Andre 3000 and he put his thing on it and the rest is history.

Marvin Sparks : It's obviously very different to what you've released before. What made you take a risk and go in this direction?
John Legend: Well it wasn't really risky to make the song; I was just having fun at the studio and seeing where it went. Some people thought it was a bit risky to put it out as the first single `cause they were like 'Man, this is too different to what you done before. You're going to put people off,` but I was just like, 'You know what? This is a hit and I love it. I'm happy with it and I want to put it out first,` so I did it.

Marvin Sparks: What is the weirdest or best 'Greenlight' you've received?
John Legend: Some girls ask me to marry them when I meet them which is quite a green light!

Marvin Sparks : 'No Other Love' is the surprise and my favourite song. What made you do a Reggae track?
John Legend: People - when I go to Jamaica especially - everybody is always like 'John you need to do a Reggae track because your voice would sound good on a Reggae beat'. I tried it, it worked so I put it on my album.

Marvin Sparks : It sounds like authentic Reggae to me. I also played it to my Dad and he loved it. Do you listen to much Reggae?
John Legend: Not a lot but I feel like I get it and when I worked with Supa Dups it was natural. We did two songs in two days, which we were happy with. We put [No Other Love] on the album and the one I did with Buju Banton is a bonus track.

Marvin Sparks : I look forward to hearing the track with Buju. Is there anyone else you would like to collaborate with? Have you heard Tarrus Riley`s cover of 'Stay With You'?
John Legend: Yeah, I heard the re-make of `Stay With You` and it was very cool. Maybe we should do something together, me and Tarrus.

Marvin Sparks : Another song which stood out for me was 'It's Over' featuring Kanye West.
John Legend: I think that's going to be the second single. Pharrell actually wrote the song, he co-produced the track and you can hear his vocals on the background.

Marvin Sparks : You were quoted saying 'Again' was the best song you had written before you released Once Again. Do you feel you have bettered it on 'Evolver'?
John Legend: Yeah I said that shortly after I made it actually. I don`t know, `Again` is still pretty classic to me so I'll let the people judge.

Marvin Sparks : As your time as an artist you`ve won a lot as an artist from Grammy's, plaques, Estelle. Do you feel there is much left to achieve?
John Legend: I`m always trying to do better, be more successful, have bigger hits and keep ascending.

Marvin Sparks : Where do you see yourself 2 years from now?
John Legend: Making more records, probably putting out the 4th album and touring the 4th album.

Marvin Sparks : Will we see a John Legend clothing line or in a movie?
John Legend: Might do. You never know [laughs]

Marvin Sparks : Lastly, if you were working in a record shop, why should your album 'Evolver' be the one bought on the 20th October?
John Legend: [Be]Cause it's better than the other ones. That's all you'll need to know. I'll play you snippets. Snippet-for-snippet I'll win [laughs].


Popular posts from this blog

So, Jamaican Music Is Currently Dominating UK Pop Chart

Based on official UK top 100 singles chart week commencing 15th April 1. Drake featuring Wizkid & Kyla Don't listen to the afrobeats or UK funky claims, Drake made a dancehall song with elements of the aforementioned. But I addressed that in the ' Mis-Appreciation of Jamaican Culture ' post. 2. Sia feat. Sean Paul - Cheap Thrills Sidenote: Song declined by Rihanna 5. Zara Larrson - Lush Life Sidenote: Allegedly a song declined by Rihanna. Not sure how true that is. 10. Rihanna feating Drake - Work (peak chart position 2) 13. Major Lazer feat. Nyla & Fuse ODG- Light It Up (peak chart position 7) Sidenote: Nyla is part of Brick & Lace fame. They dropped one of the best written dancehall pop crossover songs ever in Love is Wicked . I believe she's the singer although she singjay's on this. 26. Justin Bieber - Sorry (peak chart position 1) 39. AlunaGeorge feat. Popcaan - I'm In Control 43. Kygo - Stay (peak chart

About Chronixx Somerset House show: this is NOT a review

So basically, I went to Chronixx's show at the prestigious Somerset House on Sunday. Had the time of my life again. Decided I'm not gonna write a review on Monday because what else is there to say? I've seen him five times (six if you include the time babylon locked off proceedings cos of curfew in Jamaica. Seven if you include his appearance at Rebel Salute) and been impressed every time. How do I keep retelling the same story? "You have to see this guy. It is one of the best shows you will experience in these times," will forever be the moral. If you wanna read a review of this show  go here . You can take in my reviews of Chronixx in 2014 and 2013 . If you wanna do that and wanna hear what I've got to say, stay here.

Remember When Riddims Were King

Before you read, thank you for your interest and hope you enjoy. I actually fleshed it out into a book. You can get your copy from   Now for what you came here for... When Riddims Were King 23rd May 2020 will be remembered in history for one of the most epic events in one of our universe's darkest times. We will never forget the night dancehall kings and former extremely heated rivals, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, battled on the Verzuz platform built by hall-of-fame producers, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. An unfiltered, 360-degree view on Jamaican dancehall events was showcased; DJ’s and dancing (Beenie Man’s daughter Desha Ravers) to deejay’s clashing on the same riddims. The latter elements provided the jewels in the night’s highlight reel, and undoubtedly the best thing to happen on the Verzuz series. Word spread like guava jelly within the dancehall community and Jamaican diaspora upon announcement. Not only was it a clash between the longest and fier