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Issue 1084

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Anthoney Wright: Wright Place, Wright Time.... 2009

ANTHONEY WRIGHT @B&S
ANTHONEY WRIGHT @B&S ANTHONEY WRIGHT @B&S ANTHONEY WRIGHT @B&S ANTHONEY WRIGHT @B&S

Pete Lewis relaxes in Soho with soulful, dreadlocked UK singer/songwriter Anthoney Wright. Whose eagerly-anticipated debut album âFeet On The Groundâ is released this month, pioneered by its retro-flavoured, melodic offshoot single âNo Me Without Youâ.

Already a favourite on BBC Radio 2âs airwaves and currently being hailed by the Americans as âthe male response to the Brit-invasion of Duffy and Amyâ, Anthoney initially grew up with his grandparents in Nottingham. Where his radio-DJ grandfather introduced him to a vastânâvaried record collection ranging from Jamaican ska, calypso and lovers rock to US soul icons like Marvin Gaye and Al Green. Moving to London in his teens to live with his aunt, Anthoneyâs love of music eventually saw him lending his vocal talents to dance outfits like A Man Called Adam, Krush and - later on - Basement Jaxx, whose 2003 smash LP âKish Kashâ featured him on two tracks.

However, despite his initial love for the glitzânâglamour of metropolitan life, Anthoneyâs solo career did not get off the ground until after 2004 found him trading in his then-hedonistic lifestyle for a more spiritual existence. Which - following time spent on BBCâs âThe Monasteryâ (a TV show that showed five people spending six weeks in Worth Abbey) - eventually led to him becoming a Buddhist.

With his aforementioned new album boasting input from established production teams Absolute (Spice Girls/Tina Turner) and Pete & Steve Lewinson (Simply Red/Corinne Bailey Rae), its diverse moods move from the Sixties-influenced soul of the former Radio 2 Record Of The Week âReset To Zeroâ and blues guitar-tinged ballad âIâm A Fool For You Nowâ; to the punchy Motown feel of âLooking Thorough The Windowâ and more aggressive intensity of the Sean Escoffrey-co-penned âBarricadesâ.

Now signed to newly-formed independent label Palawan Productions (which boasts offices in both London and Los Angeles), a fast-talking, instantly-friendly Mr. Wright - whoâs also a keen sportsman - discusses his music and lifestyle with âB&Sâ over a hot mid-afternoon cappuccino.
Why name your debut LP âFeet On The Groundâ?

âTo be honest, I called it that simply because thatâs how I AM! Plus to me as a title it was kind of amalgamating everything that the songs were about. I was like âWell, when I add all these songs together and put them in a melting pot, what do I come out with?â⦠And âFeet On The Groundâ was definitely the answer!. To me itâs important that - with any success - you donât run away with yourself, and end up feeling that other people are getting the wrong impression of what youâre about.â

How would you break down the album musically?

âSound-wise, Iâd say it obviously has elements of pop, an element of funk, an element of blues... Soul is definitely a big part of it... One of the tracks comes more from a rock kind of angle⦠But then thatâs ME! I have a very eclectic taste in music. And I think today, when you look around the world, it is hard to be depicted as one thing. Basically to me music now is an amalgamation, where youâre touching on so many different boundaries. A perfect example being when Amy (Winehouse) took âValerieâ - an indie song - and very successfully made it into a soul track.â

And lyrically?

âLyrically most of the songs were written when I was going through some sort of relationship issues. Like âReset To Zeroâ and âWud If I Cudâ really did happen when I broke up with my one-time other half, and I no longer wanted to BE with her any more. While âOn My Ownâ is obviously about how sometimes itâs better to be on your own than it is to be in a relationship - because you can keep going round in circles! Like âOK. I love you. You love ME. But this is not WORKING! Letâs be REAL about it!â... So overall Iâd definitely say Iâve been influenced by FEELING. Because to me whatâs really important is to actually BELIEVE in what youâre writing and what youâre singing. Thereâs no point in just singing it for the sake of it.â

How did you get involved in the TV programme âThe Monasteryâ and become more spiritual?

âWell, one Sunday I went to the Cartier polo match - you had all the Princes there, etc. Then I came back into town, met some friends, drank some more, and went out somewhere else... But then, when I woke up on the Monday morning, as I was getting ready to go to work I was like âYou know what? Iâve had ENOUGH of all that! Thereâs got be MORE to life!â⦠So the following Wednesday I got an e-mail from a friend, telling me about this programme called âThe Monasteryâ where they were looking to involve someone who wanted to become more spiritual. So I went for an interview; the lady explained to me it was a BBC programme⦠And, by the Friday, they were asking me to come and do it! But there was only one catch - Iâd be going in in a weekâs time! So I had to change my whole life around in seven days! So I went in there with no expectations - I was really just being me. But now, when I look back on it, in hindsight I say âYep, Iâd do it again!â! Iâm still very much in touch with my mentor on the show, Father James - and I think the really great part about it is that there were so many aspects of the programme that I actually apply to my life and career NOW!â

So how did that then lead to you becoming a Buddhist and, in turn, impact on your attitude to being an artist?

âWell, once I came out of âThe Monasteryâ, I went to Bangkok. And, while I was out there, I actually visited a lot of Buddhist centres. Then - when I came back to England - I met my other half, who actually LIVED at a Buddhist centre! So for me that was IT! I kinda thought âYeah, this makes perfect sense!â. I actually liked the community aspect of it and how their thoughts were all about mind-training. Like not having GREAT expectations but GOOD expectations, so that - if they donât happen - you donât get beaten UP by them! Which I guess brings us back to the title of the album! Because, with everything thatâs going on around its release, everyone else has been like âArenât you excited?!â⦠Whereas Iâm like âYeah, but Iâm still gonna keep my feet on the ground through it all! Whatâs the point in getting carried away and thinking youâre a celebrity?â... You know, what most people donât actually realise is that âa celebrityâ is really only a job for five minutes - when you walk into an award ceremony! These people have the same emotions as everyone else; they all still use the toilet... Itâs just that they have a nice, pleasant job, basically!â

The single âNo Me Without Youâ is released February 23. The album 'Feet On The Ground' follows March 2, both through Palawan Productions

Read the REVIEW for Anthoney Wright's new album Feet On The Ground

LISTEN to tracks from Anthoney Wright's new album Feet On The Ground
Words PETE LEWIS

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