If you have something special, people will notice and spread the word. Retro-Soul-Sänger Allen Stone im Klangverführer-Interview – klangverführer | Musik in Worte fassen

If you have something special, people will notice and spread the word. Retro-Soul-Sänger Allen Stone im Klangverführer-Interview

„The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man, the only boy who could ever teach me was the son of a preacher man. Yes he was, he was, ooh, yes he was“, jubelte Dusty Springfield schon 1968, und man könnte meinen, sie hätte hellsichtig Predigersohn und Soulsänger Allen Stone im Auge gehabt, der von Kritikern und Fans einmütig als irgendwas zwischen neuem Messias und unehelichem Kind von Stevie Wonder und Amy Winehouse gefeiert wird.

Fakt ist, Allen Stone hat die Fähigkeit, Menschen glücklich zu machen. Diese Stoneifizierung des Publikums kommt vor allem in seinen Live-Shows zum Tragen, denn schließlich macht er seit Jahren nichts anderes, als Konzerte zu spielen, wo er nicht nur mit seinem mitreißenden Retro-Sound beeindruckt, sondern auch mit seiner einnehmenden Sonnenschein-Persönlichkeit. Zum Phänomen Allen Stone gehört natürlich auch, selbst wenn der Künstler das nicht mehr hören mag, der verblüffende Kontrast zwischen seinem blondgelockten, erzengelhaften Hippie-Äußeren und dieser seelenvollen Stimmkraft, die ohne Schwierigkeiten ihren Weg auf alte Motown- oder Stax-Aufnahmen hätte finden können.

Allen Stone ist eben ein Anachronismus. Moderne, computergenerierte Musik mag er nicht. Allen Stone ist aber auch ein wandelnder Widerspruch, der mit seiner Abhängigkeit vom schnell-noch-hundertachtundvierzig-Mails-Checken hadert uns sich sehr bewusst ist, dass die sozialen Medien für ihn Segen wie Fluch sind. Im Klangverführer-Interview verrät er, wie er über die Retro-Soul-Welle denkt, was die Faszination an den alten Sounds aus heutiger Sicht ausmacht und wann sich Musik eigentlich Musik nennen kann. Nicht zuletzt beantwortet er die von keiner Geringeren als Chantal de Freitas – die sich nicht nur selbst auf den Weg von der Schauspielerin zur ernstzunehmenden Sängerin gemacht hat, sondern auch Stones weltgrößter Fan ist – gestellte Leserfrage nach dem Geheimnis des Sounds im Wohnzimmer von seiner Mutter.

Da man Allen Stone aber nicht erfassen kann, ohne ihn – und seine unglaublich gute Band – auf der Bühne gesehen zu haben, gibt es hier auch noch das große Finale aus seiner Show im Berliner Lido vom 27. Februar 2013 zu sehen. Erst einmal aber viel Spaß mit dem Interview, zu dem wir uns nach Allen Stones Berlin-Konzert trafen.

Halb-taub, halb-betrunken, voll glücklich. Das Stone-Fieber macht auch vor Kritikern nicht halt.

Allen Stone: Did you enjoy the show?

Klangverführer: Definitely! I admit I was located too close to one of the speakers, so I’m kind of half-deaf now, but it was worth it!

Oh, I speak loud, I know … (laughs)

Anyhow, it was an amazing show! Is this actually your first time in Berlin?

The second. Yesterday we got the chance to go around and see a little bit of the city. Unfortunately, I lost my voice in London about two weeks ago and I’m struggeling to get back my falsetto, so I’ve been forced to rest. I wanna go out and party and have a good time, but everybody else makes me rest. They take care of me and make sure that I can sing.

Talking about singing … When you were 15 or 16, someone handed your first Stevie Wonder record to you. You are reported to have said: „Stevie Wonder is the reason why I sing soul music.” What’s the story of your fascination with Stevie Wonder?

Well, I think what I first heard in Stevie’s voice was his vibrato and how high he could sing. And I grew up singing pretty high, too. And I think it’s the spirit of his music. Like Stevie … if you’ve ever seen him, if you’ve seen interviews with him – he’s a very soft spirit, a very warm and welcoming spirit. And I think that drew me to him as well. Even if I’m on stage and having a good time, I’m very soft-spirited, I like that sort of energy.That’s what drew me to him in his music beyond melody.

Actually the New York Times recently headlined: “If you like Stevie Wonder – listen to Allen Stone!”, and indeed listening to your new album evokes the sounds of Motown and Stax, a bit of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. Why do you think are modern people so attached to these retro sounds?

I think it’s because that was when music was real. To me, the sixties and seventies were the golden era of music while nowadays computers have taken over music and made it possible to call yourself a musician without actually being a musician! A lot of sampling happens and a lot of stealing music, and there’s a lot less actual musicianship that happens on record now. Why I call the sixties and seventies with artists like Simon & Garfunkel, Billy Joel and Elton John the golden era of music is because I know it’s real, it’s actual musicians playing actual songs. Nowadays, I can’t even hardly listen to records because I don’t know if they’re real.

Do you draw any inspiration from nowadays’ music artists after all?

Oh, there’s plenty! I really love Jamie Lidell, I love Gery Clark Jr., I love Lianne La Havas, I’m really into The Dap Kings, Charles Bradley … There’s a lot of great artists nowadays that I really appreciate. But I had to see them live first in order to be proving that they were musicians.

So how do you feel about the state of modern pop music in general?

Some is really good, some is really bad. But that’s music always been in my opinion since the eightees … since that dico age and the glittery side of music started coming in, since the sexy side of music came in. Before that it was very much just the music. And seemingly the glittery side of music startetd the scheme, ever after there was sort of that side of pop and there was also the good side of pop, so it’s seemingly in a balance.

So you don’t see yourself on a mission to bring back the good side of pop?

Oh, yes, of course, but I’m not in any way shaped or formed delusional and thinking that I will. I just try to make music that I think people enjoy and that will make people happy.

Talking about soul music, I think caused by today’s high gloss production of modern R&B music on one side, by a glut of classic soul revivalists on the other side, a lot of people are fed up with soul music and don’t want to listen to it any more. It has gotten some negative connotation. How do you convince these people to see your show and buy your records and not make them think, oh, that’s just another soul revivalist …?

To me, the soul revivalist thing is more about production, like people dressing in the same way as they did in the fifties … That doesn’t make sense to me. Me and my band, we are just normal guys, we dress the way we are, our personalities on stage are the same than backstage … So for me, I think it’s just repetition. Going on stage every night and proving you give the best that you can. I think if you do that, then people talk about it. And if you have something special, then people will notice it and spread the word. And if you don’t, then you won’t have a career in a while!

It’s kind of a mouth-to-mouth thing?

That’s what it’s been so far! I mean, I din’t have a record out in Europe, just now I got a record out in Europe – and it’s my third tour in Europe. We sold quite a few tickets in Germany and in London, in Holland I sell a lot of tickets … It’s quite astonishing how many people know about my music without there actually being a product out for them to listen to!

That means that social media is playing a major role by making your music public?


I think you even dedicated one song to social media, Contact-High, which deals with today’s abundance of social media interaction …

You see, social media for me has been a blessing and a curse, because it’s the only way that a lot of people have heard my music, through YouTube, or people are sharing it on Facebook, but on the other side I saw that I was just getting so addicted to this, always checking my accounts … And I still struggle with it! I go for this contact high where I’m trying to contact so many people at one time instead of … I’m losing the opportunity to connect with people face-to-face, so yeah, I think, it needs a balance, you need to figure out what’s too much and what’s okay. For me, I’m still batteling. I’m always gawking at this stupid phone.

How do you counter this digital distraction?

Well, I mean for me it’s a huge blessing, so I don’t wanna ask anybody to stop sharing my stuff on the internet, it’s a really huge opportunity for me to get my word out. But for me personally, I turned a lot of that over to my management, to other people, so that they can do my Facebook and my Twitter and all that … I get on there once in a while to contact people and say thank you, but sometimes it can take you away from the creative process. You know, you’re writing a song – and half way you stop checking Twitter!

Then how do you feel about the digital age and its interaction with popular music in general?

Well, I don’t like that it has become such a big part in the studio. I really like people to play full songs through, but there’s a lot of cutting and pasting that goes on in the studio, a lot of dragging and dropping and people not singing the full song or playing a full song or even playing a song at all, just generating sounds from the computer. I really don’t like that. I think that’s fake, I don’t think it’s music. But it reaches on. That’s their lane and I have my lane and so … I don’t even want to discredit it, it’s just that for me it doesn’t do it.

Unfortunately we’re moving to the last question now. I’m proud to pass on a question by one of my readers, superattractive actress/singer Chantal de Freitas, who asked: “What´s the secret of the superfantastic recording sound they created in his mother´s living room?”

(laughs) I think it was a lot of luck. The whole credit goes to the guys that played on the recording and the engineers because my Mom’s house is not a recording studio and the fact that we got some good sounds out of there is quite astonishing!