Interview | Ne-Yo
R&B superstar Ne-Yo is currently travelling around the world to promote his latest endeavour with Malibu Red. He took some time out of his busy schedule to meet Goldenplec in the Merrion Hotel and told us all about the collaboration with Malibu, artists he’d like to work with in 2013 and some of his new years resolutions.
How did you get involved with Malibu Red and why did you want to be a part of the project?
I believe that any and every opportunity that you’re approached with you should jump at and that’s what it is to live. It’s kind of funny that myself and the people at Malibu were all on the same page. Tequila was never a drink that has never been a friend of mine so I would normally take the original Malibu and mix it with whatever tequila I was drinking to take the edge off. They made me Chief Creative Director, that’s everything from designing the bottle to making sure the mixture was right and the advertising. The whole nine. This is not me just tossing my name on something
You wrote a song for the campaign as well?
Yeah, we’re getting some great responses it’s good.
Where has the promotion taken you? Is this your first stop?
It’s officially gone global. We just left Amsterdam, we did some stuff in the UK and our next stop is South Africa and of course it’s all over the States. It’s been a pretty good ride so far.
To switch from Malibu to music – There’s a list longer than my arm of musicians you’ve worked with that includes artists such as Beyonce, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Michael Jackson even wanted to work with you. You’ve had so many really incredible experiences already. Who is on your hit list for 2013?
There’s a list a mile long. I stopped making it about the artist and more what it is the artist wants to do. There’s so much disposable music out there at the moment, I want to make music that outlives us. The kind of music that you can listen to 20 years from now and it’s still just as good. That’s what I’m striving for. It’s a list that’s a mile and a half long.
Are there any particular names on that list or is it top secret?
I’m a huge fan of Adele. I have been since before the world figured it out. I’d love to work with her. I’ve been listening to Lana Del Rey a lot lately. Her album is very boutique, you get it or you don’t and if you get it you love it. Frank Ocean is at the top of that list. He’s taken huge steps to evolve R&B. I’ve gotta get some classics in there. I wanted to work with Stevie Wonder my whole career. We’ve sat down and tried to make it happen but schedules never allow it to. He’s in Motown and I’m into Motown now so it just has to happen soon.
I heard that you are also trying to change R&B this year and bring it back to it’s roots? Tell us about that.
Yeah, I want to bring it back. I think as a genre it needs an overhaul. I can honestly say I don’t know what the evolution of R&B is, it’s something that I’m currently working out. I love the fact that the lines are blurred. I love that you have artists like me who have tried to move into other genres.
Like mixing it with big name DJs such as Calvin Harris and David Guetta?
Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing. The genre of R&B itself has to evolve. The caterpillar has to turn into a butterfly at some point. R&B is based on tradition. Out of respect for tradition you don’t want to mess with the original recipe too much but you’ve got to add some other spices in there in order for it to live. So that is the current dilemma. To where the traditional people stay happy but the new generation gets a taste and digs it too.
Are there any Irish artists you’d be interested in working with?
Yeah, the group The Script. I’m a huge fan of those guys. Do you know the lead singers name? Something super Irish.
Yeah, in my personal opinion he has one of the best voices out there and they’re really good songwriters. Danny give me a call.
Yeah, I could imagine that working out well. So you’ve played in Dublin before then?
Yeah it’s been a while but if I recall it was one of the more lively shows of the tours.
I heard that a lot of artists find that in different countries they get different responses from the audience, like in Germany the crowd sometimes aren’t as active as in Dublin.
Everybody enjoys music their own way. You probably won’t get too many fanatics in Germany, they’re a little more mellow where as here everyone’s very energetic. But everyone enjoys it their own way.
Do you have any favourite spots in Dublin or do you remember the city that well?
It’s been too long. I’m gonna go out and re-familiarise myself today.
We read on Twitter that your New Years resolution is to be Vegan? How’s that going?
Ahh [laughs] it’s going pretty good. I haven’t driven myself crazy yet. The hardest part is that I don’t really like fruit and vegetables. I’m just not a fan. I’m really trying but I’ve been a carnivore my whole life.
So why did you decide to go vegan if you don’t like fruit and veg?
It started as a test of my own discipline. There was a point where I actually had to leave alcohol alone for a second, not cos I had an issue but just cos I felt I couldn’t go out and have a good time without a drink. Once I realised that wasn’t the case it was fine. Malibu Red, celebration in moderation! For me it’s about discipline. It’s that discipline that makes you thrive. If you’re too comfortable you’re not growing and that sucks. Then I started looking into health and said I had to start eating some vegetables. Some organisations such as PETA contacted me too and then for me it became a little more than discipline.
You should try Blazing Salads while you’re here. They do some great Vegan food.
Blazing Salads? I’m looking forward to trying that later.
We’ve just hit the time unfortunately but thank you for taking the time out to talk to us today, Ne-Yo!
Ne-Yo will be back in Dublin to play the O2 on the 11th of March.