Check out my interview with the legendary Babyface! We discuss his new album, being single again, the current state of R&B and more.
Some of the interview was heavily edited, but I wanted to share two of the questions that didn't make the cut. I thought he gave interesting, honest and real responses--a rarity in some interviews.
You've been doing this for over 20 years. Are record sales still important to you?
It’s nice if you sell a lot of records, of course, but these days the way a lot of record sales are, you’re fortunate if you can break half a million to a million. I don’t pay as much attention to it. I think that initially, you just want people to hear the music. Ultimately, you want to get in front of people and perform. You want people to know the words to your songs; you want to know that you’ve influenced people and touched their lives. It’s interesting, you can try and put it on record sales, sometimes you can, but the reality is that there are a lot of people who may know your songs, may know your words, but didn’t buy the record. Obviously, yeah, you want to sell as many records because you can make a good living off of it. At the same time, it’s not everything at this particular point. Of course I’m in a better position to talk like that! [Laughs] Prior to it, obviously it was far more important. Today, I would say that it’s important, but not so important to where you tweak the creative process. Meaning that you don’t take a risk in doing an album like this where some people would say—you’re switching up, you’re an R&B guy, you should be totally R&B. These songs may come from a pop folk kind of area, but I think there’s very much a soul feeling that comes with it. Soul music is heartfelt; it’s all about the feeling.
Is there anything you've done that wasn’t received well by critics or audiences, but you were really proud of?
I think the Face to Face album was certainly one where I went far more—not quite hip-hop, but definitely more younger urban. Definitely kind of going at it, which I was basically told to do, so I did. Parts of it I felt really good about it, but some of it I was like—I’m not sure about this, but I’ll do it. Interesting enough, I think image wise it wasn’t so much received well, as it was the music was received really well. The song I wrote and produced with Pharrell, it’s still played in clubs, which is kind of funny to me. It’s not like I couldn’t do the music in some cases, I did find a way to try to make it work. That still wasn’t necessarily who I am or who I’ve been as an artist so it wasn’t anything I wanted to return to. I was glad that I did it. To some people it was well-received for the artistry part of it, the musicality of it. As a whole, as an image, I think it could’ve been somewhat questioned.
Babyface's new album Playlist is in stores now!