Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1068

B&S Update...

DISTRIBUTED IN: UK, AUSTRALIA, NETHERLANDS, SINGAPORE & USA

Feature

TAIO CRUZ'S 'DEPARTURE' TO HITS CENTRAL

TAIO CRUZ
TAIO CRUZ TAIO STANDING

Having already been dubbed “The New Babyface” by US super-producer Dallas Austin. UK-born-and-raised Taio Cruz this month releases his self-written/produced debut album `Departure`.

Having honed his writing and production skills Stateside over the past few years working with such noted studio bods as `Tricky` Stewart (Rihanna`s `Umbrella`) and Rich Harrison (Beyonce; Amerie), 23-year-old Taio now blends state-of-the-art production with the influences of Seventies classic soul, punchy Eighties pop and Nineties slow jamz on a varied set that also includes his two UK Top 30 singles `I Just Wanna Know` and `Moving On`. Relaxing in Universal`s Kensington offices, an affable Mr. Cruz (the product of a Nigerian father and Brazilian mother) gives “B&S’ the lowdown.

Why does single `Come On Girl` have a UK club/rave influence?
“Because lately I`ve been going to clubs where they play a lot of electro, it`s definitely got a bit of that vibe in there. But, while some people might associate that driving beat with house and dance music, I`ve also noticed how Timbaland`s latest productions on Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears have these new beats with a four-to-the-floor drum pattern too. So, because I think that`s where R&B is going, I basically went in that direction while adding an English techno edge that the Americans wouldn`t even know about.”

What did you want to achieve with your debut album `Departure`?
“I tried to be diverse in my music while not going too far left. Before I go off and hit people with random stuff that they just wouldn`t recognise, I`d rather they get to know me first! Which is why I`ve given them something they can relate to and won`t be too difficult for them to grasp, while at the same time not making it generic. Unlike American R&B - which is often really samey and sometimes a bit obvious - I genuinely don`t think my record sounds like anybody else. Like the chord progressions I use on some songs are not typical of the R&B genre. On some tracks I think the only reason people will associate the music with R&B is because my voice is soulful.”

Why have you spent most of your career to date writing and producing with big-name studio bods in the US?
“A lot of people get very precious about being from the UK and feel that, if you go to America, you`ve sold out. Whereas I don`t really look at it like that. I just look at myself as a citizen of the planet. So where I was born doesn`t and shouldn`t dictate where I can work, or where I should live. Ever since I was a child the singers and producers who influenced me were all American. So I guess subconsciously I always pushed myself in that direction. Which is why I eventually ended up working in America. One publisher - who heard my music - had links with Dallas Austin. Then, because Dallas loved what I did, he put me in contact with his friend `Tricky` Stewart… And so on.”

What`s the story behind `Umbrella` being earmarked for you?
“Basically I was there at `Tricky` Stewart`s studio the day they wrote it, and just absolutely loved it from the get-go! So, because this was when I was putting my album together, I was like `I really have to have this song!`! But `Tricky` was like `Let me just see whether Britney`s people come back to me first`. And then, when they did come back saying it wasn`t gonna be for her, I was like `OK. Cool`. So I started recording the demo. But then, when I got back to London, before I could get the song basically secured as mine, Jay-Z and Rihanna came through saying `If we get the song we`re gonna put this much money behind it!`… And so I guess the rest is history!”

The single `Come On Girl` is released March 3. The album `Departure` follows March 17, both through Island Records Group
Words PETE LEWIS

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz
magazine (650×1755)

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter

Featured Club

Floridita Live @bluesandsoul.comMitch Winehouse in action at Floridita, London 10/01/12

Floridita Live London

Floridita Live offers an exciting array of live entertainment throughout the week, showcasing at least two great bands every night from 7pm and open until the early hours of the morning.

read more

Featured Club

The Good Foot: Every Friday @Madame JoJo'sThe Good Foot: Every Friday @Madame JoJo's

THE GOOD FOOT @Madame JoJo's (Every Friday 10pm-3am) Soho, London

Madame Jojo's presents one of the UK's most acclaimed DJ's, Snowboy, for a Friday night residency- 'The Good Foot' features original and authentic Sixties and Seventies Deep Funk, Soul, Rare Groove, Boogaloo, Mambo and R&B

read more