Interview: Brian McKnight
Multi-instrumentalist and multi-million selling musician Brian McKnight has long been regarded as one of RnB’s most celebrated and respected songwriters and recording artists. Having made his mark in music back in the nineties, the crooner has released a dozen studio records throughout an illustrious career which has also seen him collaborate with the very best in the industry; from Vanessa Williams, Boyz II Men through to Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey and Jermaine Dupri.
The Back at One hitmaker is preparing to release his twelfth studio album, Better, at the end of February and we caught up with the RnB legend to discuss the collection. Here is what Brian had to tell us…
Brendon Veevers: Hi Brian, how are you doing and where does our interview find you in the world today?
Brian McKnight: Home in Los Angeles.
BM: The handicap is 6.6 and dropping.
BV: You are gearing up for the release of your 16th album, Better which will see the light of day on February 26th. What can you tell us about Better? What style can fans expect to hear throughout the release?
BM: First off, there’s very little computer driven music on this album. I wanted to make music like I did 20 years ago, a la, a whole band playing at the same time. The songs are autobiographical as always but I think this time even more personal.
BV: The release will be your 16th collection and 12th studio album – that’s quite a phenomenal achievement. How are you feeling about yourself as an artist and your position in the music industry alongside the new generations of musicians who are dominating the charts these days?
BM: I don’t really think too much about that. My responsibility is to my art and my fans to do the best job of writing, recording, singing and producing that I possibly can at this time.
BV: Over your illustrious career of over 20 years, you have worked with the creme of the music crop including Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Colby Cailat and Josh Groban to name a few. Can we expect any collaborations on Better?
BM: There are a couple but they’re not with huge names that you would know necessarily. When I have guests, its because I think the songs need something else and I choose the person I think has that something special to add to the track. So I called in rappers Glasses Malone and Sixx John and Hawaiian singer Kimie Miner.
BV: Has there ever been any pressure for you from those around you or from yourself to change your style and compromise your roots to keep up with what music listeners are into ahead of putting a new record together?
BM: Not really. I have pretty much always had the green light to do the music I wanted to do from the beginning.
BV: Lets go back to Better; have you claimed a favourite track on the new collection and if so, what makes it a personal favourite for you?
BM: Because I write them all its hard to have one favorite. I just write them and then I let the fans decide.
BV: Having released so many records during your career, what would you say are the key differences between Better and previous releases?
BM: In every case the common denominator is the same, me, that’s what makes them all very similar. What makes them different is my frame of mind at the time I’m writing them.
BV: In terms of today’s more recent acts in the music industry, who would you say is doing big things and is perhaps overlooked and not getting the love they deserve?
BM: You know I’m not really familiar enough with a lot of today’s music to say but I will say that there are some folks like Taylor Swift who have it all figured out .
BV: From the release of your very first album back in 1992 through to the upcoming release of Better, what would you say has been the most important lesson that you have learned about yourself personally and about yourself as an artist?
BM: I think in both cases its that nothing is a given and you can’t take anything for granted .
BV: As mentioned earlier, when we last spoke to you you were in Washington DC as you were doing a play called Love Lies. Are there any future acting plans in the pipeline that fans can look forward to?
BM: Not that I’m willing to talk about at this time .
BV: Will you be taking Better out on the road at all throughout 2016 and if so, what can you tell us about the shows and territories on the schedule?
BM: I’m a professional touring artist so I’m always on the road.
Brian McKnight’s new studio album Better is out on February 26th.