The R&B megastar reveals all to NME about his new direction
Usher has revealed that his forthcoming seventh album was inspired by visiting the Coachella Festival.
The soul superstar has already made waves with the Diplo-produced single ‘Climax’, and the album also features collaborations with a range of leftfield artists including Empire Of The Sun, who produced the track ‘Looking For Myself’.
Last night, Usher previewed the album with an exclusive playback of tracks from the album at London’s Dover Street Arts Club. And after the tracks had been played, he made a surprise appearance in person.
Speaking exclusively to NME, he said that it was the experience of getting out of his comfort zone by attending the Californian rock festival Coachella that spurred him to do something different.
He said: “Empire Of The Sun I thought, ‘man what an incredible sound’, there was something just fresh about. And when we started working on ‘Looking For Myself’ in fact the week that I wrote and produced the record it was right after we’d come back from Coachella. And having gone to Coachella in California, it really kind of gave us an opportunity to have a restart, because that was certainly a different experience for me.
“I said, ‘I love the feeling that we have here and the different styles of music, let’s find a way to make an album that works everywhere, that works here, works for my fans, works for the classic audience, works for my pop audience, and that’s why you feel you’re hearing this eclectic mixture of music’.”
Of the suggestion that he was making a brave statement with the record, he said: “I leave the pressure to everybody else, me I just live it and live in it. Every album represents a statement for the period, and I think this one truly is, because of the places that I’ve been, as long as I’ve been doing this, the people who come along with me. It’s almost like a challenge for me to have the same ‘aha’ moment for this new music, this new experience.”
Alongside the futurist R&B of the single, along with ‘Numb’, the album is also packed with club bangers like ‘Scream’ and ‘Euphoria’. One of the darkest moments lyrically is ‘Sins Of My Father’ which plunders a deeper and more confessional lyric than usual. Usher admitted: “I definitely allowed myself to open up and talk about things that I wouldn’t normally was definitely a yes for this album. Every album I try and talk about or at least acknowledge things that I feel. ‘Sins Of My Father’ was a story, but told in a roundabout way that would allow people to live vicariously through that experience that I feel.”
It has been widely reported that the album will be called ‘The Shanertance’, but this has been denied by the singer’s representatives. It is is due for release in May, and the label certainly have high hopes for it. Introducing the tracks, the executive from RCA likened it to a “landmark record” in the vein of Marvin Gaye‘s ‘What’s Goin’ On?’, Prince‘s ‘Sign O’ The Times’ and ‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill’.
Watch the video for ‘Climax’ below.