Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1097

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Encore: Coming on strong

Encore Encore Encore Encore

Consisting of 23-year-old East London rapper Pierre Joseph, 22-year-old Folkstone-based singer/producer Cairo Woodwood and 22-year-old Enfield singer/songwriter Mark Asari (whose writing credits impressively include both Tinie Tempah and Chipmunk), Island Recordsâ new UK urban male trio Encore this month release their punchy second single âThe Oneâ. Whose powerful blend of robust dubstep beats, heavy electronic synths, yearning R&B vocals and streetwise rap with a strong melodic pop sensibility, reflects the threesomeâs ethos of melding their individual musical differences to deliver something truly distinctive.

Indeed, already dubbed both âa grimier JLSâ and âa band for 2011 making unpredictable pop steeped in sharp songwriting, superlative vocals and brilliant, genre-bending compositionsâ, Encore - in addition to touring the UK with both Jessie J and (currently) N-Dubz - have also been busy in recent months recording and perfecting their forthcoming, as-yet-untitled debut album. Which will in turn boast big-name production input from both sides of The Atlantic - including the likes of DaVinChe (Tinchy Stryder; Kano); RedOneâs production team (Lady GaGa; Usher); and Nate Walka (Jamie Foxx; Trey Songz) - and is promised to incorporate elements of hip hop, dubstep, R&B, rap, grime, drum-&-bass, pop and acoustic soul. All of which can be evidenced in such diverse musical moments as the impulsive house sounds of the dancefloor-driven, flirtatious âOverâ; the grime sensibility of the bold, 808-driven âHeroâ; plus the outwardly-R&B-flavoured âYou Deserve Betterâ.

⦠Cue Encoreâs warm-mannered and instantly-friendly Pierre and Mark hooking-up for an introductory chat with âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis, as the handsome, currently-on-tour threesome head back from Belfast to the East Midlands.

Encoreâs new, second single âThe Oneâ

MARK: âWe basically just thought it was a good way to come back after our first single âWind Upâ. Because it has all the elements that weâre all personally into, like dubstep, R&B, hip hopâ¦â

PIERRE: âYeah, and also lyrically itâs talking about a situation that I think everyone in the group has been through. You know, weâve all had a relationship WITHIN a relationship - where weâve made a mistake and had to go back and turn things around to make it RIGHT again. So in that way the song is very meaningful to ALL of us. And while yes, we did originally call it âSuicide, we later decided to change the title to âThe Oneâ because we felt that âSuicideâ might have been a bit controversial. You know, we basically thought that kids going âMum, can you get me that song called âSuicideâ?â would be a bit of a no-no.â

What in general we can expect from the trioâs forthcoming, as-yet-untitled, debut album

MARK: âIâd describe it as a mixture of sounds that weâre all influenced by - such as reggae, R&B, hip hop, some pop⦠You know, musically we wanted make sure we incorporated everything we like, while lyrically dealing with everyday subjects that everyone can relate to.â

PIERRE: â⦠Yeah, thereâs a lot of different styles, different flavours - but at the same time weâre keeping everything in the right proportion! I mean, to me - while we canât say too much right now - the whole package is gonna be MAD! Because there are songs on there that EVERYBODY can relate to - young OR old, it doesnât MATTER! Plus itâs the type of album you can listen to in your car, at the club, or even a nice jazzy night IN, where you just wanna chill-out and listen to some beautiful vocals!... You know, this album is gonna have EVERYTHING!â

The individual backgrounds of each group member

MARK; âI first started singing when I was about seven/eight years old in like talent shows, in church⦠And the singers I was into from an early age were people like Michael Jackson, alongside R&B and gospel artists like Usher and Kirk Franklin.â

PIERRE: âAnd in my case, with my mum being from St. Lucia, I was first brought up on a lot of the reggae and calypso sounds, as well as people like Michael Jackson and various R&B artists. Then, with me coming from East London, when I got into my teens I started getting more into hip hop and grime. And, being in the same circle as the likes of Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder, Dizzee breaking through was obviously a major influence and a major inspiration in terms of me starting to take my OWN rapping and writing more seriously... And then with Cairo, I guess heâs the SOUL fan of the group! You know, with his dad having already been a musician, heâs the one who grew up on a lot of the classic soul artists from back in the day.â

How Encore first got together

PIERRE: âThough we did know each other through music events like industry parties and open mic nights, in the beginning we were all individual solo artists each doing our own thing. I was working on a mixtape; Cairo was doing a lot of live gigs; Mark was coming through with his publishing and songwriting for a lot of artists who are big right now like Chipmunk and Tinie Tempah⦠But then, around 18 months ago, management put us together to do a WRITING session. And, because that went so well, we were like âHey, this is DIFFERENT! Letâs try and do something WITH it!â... And then, around eight months later, we were being signed to Island as ENCORE!... So yeah, things just moved very quickly - and theyâve just kept moving forward ever SINCE!â

How the name âEncoreâ originally came about

PIERRE: âCairo actually came up with the name âEncoreâ while he was listening to the Jay-Z track âEncoreâ! I actually remember him ringing me up and saying âYo, what do you think of this name âEncoreâ?â... I was like âYeah, that sounds COOL - thatâs the ONE!â⦠Then from that we all agreed - and so âEncoreâ became our NAME!â

The influence on Encore of classic Nineties R&B acts

PIERRE: âOh, we LOVE the old skool! Because to me itâs the old skool that makes todayâs nu skool what is IS! And so for us itâs always good to go back and take pieces and elements from the original sound of acts like BLACKstreet, Joe, Usher⦠And especially TLC, who have a MASSIVE influence on us in terms of the structure and how they weaved their raps and vocals into the music. I mean, to me weâre almost like a male UK version of THEM!... So yeah, one of our main aims right now is definitely to bring that old skool flavour and feeling back into 2011 - just like I believe someone like Bruno Mars is ALSO doing.â

The ongoing media comparisons with already-established UK chart-toppers JLS

PIERRE: âI think the only reason weâre getting compared to JLS is because they were actually the ones who brought that whole new-urban-boy-band era onto todayâs scene. But having said that - while JLS are great guys who do their thing and do it very well - what makes us different is that we have more of a rougher edge, whereas JLS are very CLEAN with their sound... So yeah, I guess itâs just a case of the more we play out and the more people see us, the more theyâll be able to notice the DIFFERENCE between us and JLS!... And hopefully in time those comparisons will come to an END!â

Encoreâs views on the current UK urban music scene

PIERRE: âWell, I do agree with you straight-up that right now, male-artist-wise, the UK urban scene is definitely dominated by RAPPERS! You know, youâve got Wretch 32, Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk⦠Which is actually one of the reasons why weâre IN this whole thing - because I donât really think thereâs enough prominent SINGERS out there right now! But then, having said that, I also think that something as basic as TIMING has a lot do with it all. In that, maybe two years from now the rap scene will have died down a bit and a lot more people will be back on the SINGING tip!.. And so, in the light of all that, to me what makes us so cool is that we have the WHOLE PACKAGE â the rapping AND the singing!â

Encore are currently supporting N-Dubz on their April UK tour. Dates include Brighton Centre, Brighton (26); Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester (28); LG Arena, Birmingham (29); and The O2 Arena, London (30)

The single âThe Oneâ is out now through Island

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