band crush: van hunt
old school r&b with a modern feel
Photo by Stefania Rosini
Grammy award-winning R&B artist Van Hunt may have just released his first album in four years, but that's not to say the singer isn't as committed to his craft as ever. The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets, Hunt's fifth studio album, shows his dedication to his personal style (hear his reference to American designer Halston in "Old Hat") and his perfectionism (he rewrote "Teach Me a New Language" three or four times). With varied interests, the artist is able to combine all his passions into one multifaceted, uncompromising creation.
Mixing funk with classic R&B to create a genre-bending album filled with both ballads and groovier tracks, Van Hunt has carefully manifactured his new music in a way that embraces change while staying true to his roots. Here, we spoke to him about work ethic, human awareness, and his favorite songs to jam out to in the car.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I occasionally fall short of my aesthetic...or, my artistic principles—but not for lack of trying. Still, here are a few:
*continuously work to improve craftsmanship
*leave self-development open to ideas outside your own
*document new ideas as they arrive
*practice. explore. push yourself.
How did your career get started?
It's not clear exactly how I became a recording artist. Looking back, there were moments where it was uncertain if I had to focus on artistry or fame in order to earn a living making records. In many ways I feel my career is just getting started; because now I understand when to do what I want to do—and when to do what I have to do.
Where do you hope to be professionally in 5 years?
First year graduate school.
What’s your next project?
I plan on detailing this very large cadre of ideas that I sleep with every night, and delivering them to the marketplace.
What are you most proud of so far in terms of your career?
I am proud to know that a few people think of me as someone who has never compromised his artistic integrity.
What famous person dead or living do most wish you could have as a roommate?
I would say Liza Minnelli. I would ask her all kinds of questions about Halston and her father, Vincente Minnelli.
What is your favorite driving music?
Boy, I would say Billie Holiday's "Lady In Satin," Sly Stone's "There's A Riot Goin' On" and any Thelonious Monk, Marzette Watts or Richard Pryor album.
Whose career would you most like to emulate?
Amy Goodman, Jane Goodall, Glenn Close, Marvin Hagler
If you had to live in a past time, what do you think would be the most fun era and why?
I would say any period during the hunter-gatherer era; before humans built large societies and began gathering wealth and a false sense of security. I think hunter-gatherers were more aware of the harsh, fragile realities of nature, and were, therefore, less self-destructive and more disciplined.
What activities do you most enjoy doing alone?
Other than sex, I can't think of any activity that I don't enjoy more when I'm alone. Including talking.
How do you wind down before bed?
I troll UFO sites.
When are you most relaxed?
The moments after I finish a song. I usually celebrate by standing in a warm shower, letting the water beat down on the back of my neck.
What kind of person were you in high school?
A less secure version of the person I am now. Silly, quiet, shy, easy-going, a naive know-it-all. A bundle of things, really.
Can you tell me a quality about yourself that you are genuinely proud of?
I'm proud of how I parent my child.
Do you have any phobias?
Illogical fear? No, there is a logical reason behind all of my fear ;-)
What’s a serious side of you that people are unlikely to know about?
Either in terms of interests, hobbies, or personality? People may not know of my deep disdain for bullies. People may not know I love boxing.
What are some new hobbies you would like to take on?
The only new hobby I will have must remain a secret. But, I intimated its identity earlier in the Q &A.
How do you hope to grow as a creative person?
If I follow the aesthetic we laid out in question 1, I think (and hope) I will become faster at translating the ideas from my sub-conscious state to my conscious state—before anxiety has a chance to taint them.
If there was a phrase that you think best sums up your approach to life what might it be?
I think it was Fred Neil who said (while taking in a relaxing afternoon by watching dolphins), "The more we DO, makes something else DO; so, let's not be DOing too many things."