INTERVIEW: JOHN LEGEND ON KANYE WEST, MARRIAGE & THE AUSTRALIAN SUMMER

 

Hazal Alkac

Published November 8th 2013

There are not many artists kicking it today that are as broadly appreciated as John Legend. His soulful R&B is applauded by not only what we consider the mainstream audience, but also by those of us who dwell in the alternative music scene. There’s just something about Legend’s music that allows him to work with the biggest names in rap and hip-hop without bearing the ego that is inherit to the genre.

I caught the legend (see what I did there?) at the end of his last day in New York as he packed his bags to head out on the final leg of his tour with Alicia Keys.

What has 2013 been like for you?

It’s been pretty crazy; I put out an album, I got married, I started going on tour, [and] moved into a new apartment in New York. It’s pretty much a lot of interesting and good change and I’m having a good time.

You have so many titles other than just being a musician. How does that work when you set out do make a new album – do you find yourself on different tangents because you dabble in so much?

Even though it seems like I do a lot, there’s a whole bunch of stuff I turn down. We always want to be smart about the kinds of choices we make. If I’m doing something it’s because I’m excited about it and I believe that I can do it well. So all of the film things I’ve done, all of the music things I’ve done, all of the other things I’ve done have all been because I have been excited about whatever it was…and also because I thought I could do a good job at it.

You achieved so much at such a young age; as a kid did you feel like you had too much energy? Did you feel like you had to constantly create?

I was a very precocious kid. I took piano lessons starting at the age of four and started singing in the church choir at the age of six. I always wanted to be doing something and learning something and trying something new. I love performing, I love being in front of people. I loved being the center of attention (laughs) so I guess its good that I’m a performer.

That seems weird to me, because you come across as very polite and humble.

I was always kind of mellow when I wasn’t on stage, but when I’m up on stage the whole room is watching me and it makes me feel like I’m in control. I love it.

So how was the process for the fourth time around with Love in the Future?

It was very similar this time as far as the writing process; my writing process is pretty much the same all the time. I think each album has its own sound and I think that’s a matter of the choices as to who I work with as producers and then what kind of final goal I have for each album. Just where I was mentally and where I was creatively – that’s where you can hear the differences, not so much in my voice or in my writing style but in the production and the arrangement style of each album.

What is it like working with Kanye West?

I’ve been working with him since 2002. I love working with Kanye and we have a really good creative rapport. He’s always got great ideas and its always a pleasure really taking all of his ideas and using his input the make that sound that we make.

You said you wanted this to be the best album of your career, do you think that it is?

Yeah I do, but I want the next one to be better. (Laughs)

You’ll be in Australia touring this summer, how do you feel about braving the Australian heat?

I don’t think Australia has anything worse than Dubai in the summer.

Valid point! What are your plans for the next year?

We have a loose lay out – we want to tour Europe again. I want to do a solo tour in the US again but this time stripped down and sort of unplugged. Then I want to make another record.

What are you planning for the stripped down tour?

A lot of it will be me and a piano. I might bring out a guitarists so it’ll be just me and a guitar…It’ll be much more intimate.

Just thinking about everything you do tires me out… are you tired yet?

(Laughs) I get tired in small spurts, but that just means I’ve gotta take a nap. I’m an active napper.