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Eric Benet is back with a new album "Lost In Time", a new single "Never Want To Live Without You", just back from a tour and on top of that he just got engaged! Happy times for Eric and I had the opportunity to congratulate him. Naturally, I asked a couple of questions about his engagement, his album, his upcoming tour, and how he defines 'good R&B'. He even gives a inside scoop in the recording process and his typical day. Enough for a very interesting interview I must say!

[Q]: First off, congratulations on getting married! What inspired you to take the viewer behind the wedding (song: "Never Want To Live Without You")?

[A]: The song "Never Want To Live Without You" came from a place me wanting to spend the rest of my life with somebody. So when trying to come up with a video-concept, it was just hard to go around that. The song really reflects the plunge with the person you want to live the rest of your life with. That's why.

[Q]: Secondly, naturally congratulations on your new album 'Lost In Time'! How much time is lost when getting married?

[A]: Laughs... My fiancee takes great pleasure in all the minor details. I am like the person who comes in and is like "yeah, those tables claw are good". So, she is spending a whole lot of time and I am coming in giving my last minute approval. So, it's all good.

[Q]: Nowadays you constantly hear about 'breaking barriers/innovate' in music. Your new album is inspired by the 70's soul. In what way do you consider this 'breaking barriers'?

[A]: Well, a couple of ways. I think the music industry is going through some convining barriers. I think that, especially in the R&B genre, there seems to be a lack of authencity when it comes to music. There is a lack of instrumentalists playing the record and a lack of vocalists who sing without the aid of having their vocals over-processed/auto-tuned. I think that it is weird that thinking out-of-the-box is: playing the instruments and actually sing. That is strange but I think that the industry is - I won't say last leg but is defitinely limping.

A good remedy could be giving more time to the actual musicianship in making music. Maybe we could turn things a bit. I like to think that "Lost In Time" is a record that is holding the torch for that kind of artists. Hopefully record labels are taking notice and invest in artists that really want to have more 'music' in their music.

[Q]: You just finished your tour. How did it go? Any plans for another tour?

[A]: Yeah, I did a tour with Fantasia and Kandi Burruss which was extremely enjoyable, successful and we had a lot of fun. The audience really found our voices , unique performance styles to actually blend well together. I welcome the opportunity to work with Fantasia and Kandi Burruss again. I am actually going to be doing an international tour in April. It's going to be Europe, mainly France and the UK , Korea, Japan, and we may squeeze in a couple of countries along the way. Then when I get back, thinking May, I am goin to do another domestic tour. When those dates become final - check out my website at ericbenet.net.

[Q]: Are there goals you want to reach as an artist?

[A]: I just want to keep getting better. The biggest compliment for an artist, at least I am speaking for myself, when people tell me that stuff is classic or timeless. Somewhere in the back of my mind when I am in the studio that is usually what I am going for. I am not really going for something that is radio going to love. When I am in the studio I am trying to make something that I can imagine 50 years from now people still be able to relate to. So, I just trying to get better as an artist with every record I make.

[Q]: When creating a track, do you have a set theme and pre-written lyrics, or do you start with an idea or the music first?

[A]: I really don't have uhhmmm... I usually just let the music dictate the theme. Usually when I come up with an idea, once I iniatlly hear the melody I can hear how the musical arrangments should go around that melody. Then it is usually a race to try to get some version of that recorded before we start to get forget it. Once I have a foundation, some sort of blue print for the song, then the lyrics just start coming. The melody dictates what the lyrics are saying and how they saying it. It's a really interesting process.

It's strange that when coming up with a melody. Sometimes I get married to some vowl sounds. SO I just start singing scratched melody., There may be some words in there that mya or may not be used. If they are not real words then they are vowl-sounds. Usually I get married to those vowl-sounds - so I found myself trying to find words that match this vowl-sound that I am married to. You know... I try not to do this. Uhhmm, that is a too much information but anyways - next question.

[Q]: How do you define 'good R&B'? In what way has R&B developped since your debut?

[A]: I define 'good R&B' that really comes from someones soul and experience. I define 'good R&B' that uses dope musicians playing the hell out of a track. I think that 'good R&B' vocally you have to able to hear in the recorded voice the pain, joy or confusing that the lyrics are trying to portrait. Like I was saying before when vocals are too processed into auto-tune it's kind of hard to feel those emotions.

I really don't think it is processed since my debut record. I think that there have been artists out there that.... I mean what I listen to what they call R&B nowadays does not really feel like R&B in more cases then not. It feels more like techno, influenced hiphop with somebody singing auto-tune on top of it. I think there a few artists our there that probably have the similar philopsy that I do. That's not really touching my soul - I want to go into the studio with somebody who can really play the drums and play the hell out of the piano and/or guitar. And I just whale on top of that track. I think that is a good start for good R&B.

[Q]: Recently, what is a typical day like for you?

[A]: I wouild liuke to say that I am one of those songwriters who can't let a day go by without writing something. I always have to working but truth is I am much lazier then that. WHen I am come up with a record there is a lot of stuff to be done. A lot of promotion, going frmo a home for quite a bit but then there is downtime. There are two different realities: a reality where I am acutally promoting the record like now. The day would start, more often then not, in a city other then home. I have to wake up early to go to a radiostation, interviews, talking to people, somewhere in there work-out trying to take of my body, eat and drink right. I usually go to bed pretty early.

When I am not promoting anything, I wake up later, make my breakfast, and usually there is some mindless television involved. Usually reality shows, tht I am probably too embarrased to tell you the names of, some online poker. I have a thought in my mind about a song but it won't happen. I probably would go see a movie with my girl or India and then I'll be like "Ohh, it's bed-time!". So that is my life when I am not promoting.

[Q]: Final words?

[A]: Yeah yeah please follow me @ebenet. Come to my website at ericbenet.net and keep up with my (touring-)schedule (domestic and international). You can buy yourself some chocolate leg-draws, chocolate leg-panties, we have some other 'Eric Benet-stuff that you should have (ie., a nice Eric Benet-poster). THat's a nice item.

And if you like an artist's music, pelase support that artist. Please buy their CD if you download it. When that artist comes to your town please go see them. Please support them. And we'll keep making music for y'all.

Video Interview
The interview was recorded on video which has been put online at YouTube. Watch the video interview with Eric Benet here.

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