Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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


Pete Lewis relaxes in Soho with soulful, dreadlocked UK singer/songwriter Anthoney Wright. Whose eagerly-anticipated debut album ‘Feet On The Ground’ is released this month, pioneered by its retro-flavoured, melodic offshoot single ‘No Me Without You’.

Already a favourite on BBC Radio 2’s airwaves and currently being hailed by the Americans as “the male response to the Brit-invasion of Duffy and Amy”, Anthoney initially grew up with his grandparents in Nottingham. Where his radio-DJ grandfather introduced him to a vast’n’varied 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, Anthoney’s 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 ‘Kish Kash’ featured him on two tracks.

However, despite his initial love for the glitz’n’glamour of metropolitan life, Anthoney’s 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 BBC’s ‘The Monastery’ (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 ‘Reset To Zero’ and blues guitar-tinged ballad ‘I’m A Fool For You Now’; to the punchy Motown feel of ‘Looking Thorough The Window’ and more aggressive intensity of the Sean Escoffrey-co-penned ‘Barricades’.

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 - who’s also a keen sportsman - discusses his music and lifestyle with ‘B&S’ over a hot mid-afternoon cappuccino.
Why name your debut LP ‘Feet On The Ground’?

“To be honest, I called it that simply because that’s how I AM! Plus to me as a title it was kind of amalgamating everything that the songs were about. I was like ‘Well, when I add all these songs together and put them in a melting pot, what do I come out with?’… And ‘Feet On The Ground’ was definitely the answer!. To me it’s important that - with any success - you don’t run away with yourself, and end up feeling that other people are getting the wrong impression of what you’re about.”

How would you break down the album musically?

“Sound-wise, I’d 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 that’s 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 you’re touching on so many different boundaries. A perfect example being when Amy (Winehouse) took ‘Valerie’ - an indie song - and very successfully made it into a soul track.”

And lyrically?

“Lyrically most of the songs were written when I was going through some sort of relationship issues. Like ‘Reset To Zero’ and ‘Wud If I Cud’ 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 ‘On My Own’ is obviously about how sometimes it’s better to be on your own than it is to be in a relationship - because you can keep going round in circles! Like ’OK. I love you. You love ME. But this is not WORKING! Let’s be REAL about it!’... So overall I’d definitely say I’ve been influenced by FEELING. Because to me what’s really important is to actually BELIEVE in what you’re writing and what you’re singing. There’s no point in just singing it for the sake of it.”

How did you get involved in the TV programme ‘The Monastery’ and become more spiritual?

“Well, 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 ‘You know what? I’ve had ENOUGH of all that! There’s got be MORE to life!’… So the following Wednesday I got an e-mail from a friend, telling me about this programme called ‘The Monastery’ 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 - I‘d be going in in a week’s 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 ’Yep, I’d do it again!’! I’m 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!”

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

“Well, once I came out of ’The Monastery’, 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 ‘Yeah, this makes perfect sense!’. 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 don‘t happen - you don’t get beaten UP by them! Which I guess brings us back to the title of the album! Because, with everything that’s going on around its release, everyone else has been like ‘Aren’t you excited?!”… Whereas I’m like ‘Yeah, but I’m still gonna keep my feet on the ground through it all! What’s the point in getting carried away and thinking you‘re a celebrity?’... You know, what most people don’t actually realise is that ‘a celebrity’ 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... It’s just that they have a nice, pleasant job, basically!”

The single ‘No Me Without You’ 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

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