Meet Cleveland, OH native and soulful crooner Antoine Dunn. He’s spent the majority of 2011 positioning himself among the names of the most notable R & B artists of today’s times, including an opportunity to tour with Estelle and Anthony Hamilton. His success has done wonders for branding and projections for his career are sky high. Check out our interview with Antoine Dunn as he gets very candid about his music, as well as the inspirations for his latest release, Truth of the Matter. our Antoine Dunn interview.
Parlé Magazine: Talk to me about your start in music.
Antoine Dunn: I am from Cleveland OH, I’ve been making music for about 12 years now. Yes I am young but my resume is substantial. I come from a family that was big on music. We were raised on it. In my household, my parents had an extensive collection of Motown Classics, I’m talking everyone from the Jackson 5 to the Dramatics, and Stylistics. My Dad was a deacon and he would take me to church every Sunday; there I got introduced to Gospel. My brother was in the choir, he was more out there and celebrated for his voice. Everyone knew he could sing. I was more reserved. I ended up trying out for my Middle School’s choir, and from that went out to National Competitions as a soloist. That was my first experience with touring.
Parlé: The term R & B Soul gets thrown around a lot; how u define that genre and why do you consider yourself in that lane?
Dunn: I consider my music to be limitless. I prefer that all music be limitless. Soul is not just R & B, to me its anything beyond the surface, not just scratching it; that has to have depth. It also has to have a purpose in my opinion. It comes from the soul of the individual. Its deep and intimate to that artist. That’s what soul music is to me, regardless of genre. They all (Neo-Soul/Soul) have roots in Gospel, blues and jazz. I leave definition up to the listeners, its better that way. What one person may hear or relate to may not be the same for the other. Its all relative.
Parlé: I understand you just recently finished the “Back to Love” tour with Anthony Hamilton, how was that experience?
Dunn: We actually just recently wrapped, the last show was in Greensboro, NC. Touring is not easy, let me tell you that, but it is the best way to learn about yourself as a performer/musician. Your priorities are tested when you’re out on the road. You have lobby call at 7am to move on to the next city. The question becomes will you indulge in the partying, etc. It is a greatest experience I can think of, to be on that stage, that platform. For me being on tour with Anthony Hamilton and Estelle was great. When I think about it, two years ago I was covering their songs and now I can see my name on the same bill as them.
Parlé: Can you share with us one of the more memorable moments?
Dunn: Greensboro was really cool because we got there about a day or two early and we got time to enjoy the city. Its a great city! Anthony and I got a chance to hang out, we broke bread together as musicians. We went into the studio and put some rough ideas together. All of that made the show that much more fun, which was different than the last time we toured together. We didn’t get time to interact. Besides that I would have to say the Greek Theater in L.A. was another memorable moment, looking at those seats imaging them being filled, at soundcheck was overwhelming.
Parlé: What was the original motivation for your endeavor in music as a career?
Dunn: Relationships. I was in middle school and experiencing puppy love. Heartbreak was devastating and next thing I knew I was at the piano, learning how to communicate and say things with music that I did not know how to say with words. Music was my outlet. I would be at the piano 8pm and before I knew it, it was 8am, I found out the business of music later, originally it was just therapeutic. When I looked up I had 200-300 songs recorded and I began to think about the financial side of it all.
Parlé: Truth of the Matter, your debut CD was released in October and it has been doing very well on the charts, how does that feel?
Dunn: It is truly the soundtrack to my life. Its been a long road. People only see where you are now, they only see the last quarter of the game. They see the album, tours, charts, etc There’s a lot more to the story. That story is in this album. I write autobiographically. It’s a gift from GOD, it flows after you have lived.
Parlé: What can the fans who have not already purchased, expect from this project?
Dunn: Quality and originality without missing a part. They can expect all the things that they know and love about R & B music. I keep my music fresh, yet familiar. Everyone loves something fresh but not too far off the map, you know what I mean. This project is a breath of fresh air. There is a lot of talk about the industry and how it changes; I came up on D’Angelo, as well as classic Motown. I write from a place of no limitations. The album is very well-rounded and relatable.
Parlé: Who are some notables names that you worked with on the project?
Dunn: I wear many hats: I am a writer/musician/producer myself. For the most part me and Edwin “Tony” Nicholas put this together ourselves. He is famed for his work with legends such as Gerald Levert, The O’Jays, and Barry White to name a few. If you are from Cleveland then you know that he is the “go-to-guy” for R&B. For me it was a great opportunity to work with him and collectively we put together a project that we are proud of. In addition, Jerry Lang had his hand in the project; between the three of us we crafted something unforgettable and can hopefully stand the test of time.
Parlé: Whats your favorite selection on the album and why?
Dunn: Without a doubt I have to say “I Am.” A year ago I lost my mom to breast cancer. About 6 months before she told me she would be passing soon. During that time those speeches that she would give me were something like a movie scene. She always told me ‘take care of you business.’ Add that to the reality of me having to let go of a long distance love and negotiating my first record deal. I began to think how would I feel if time did not exist. I would lose control, honestly. But reality is I am working against time, we all are. I cannot reach my goals of a Grammy in 3 weeks. Laughs.
Parlé: You cite Stevie Wonder and Donnie Hathaway as musical influences, what about those two legends have you incorporated into your brand?
Dunn: Musicianship. The people that I look up to are musicians at heart. I play several instruments. You can always expect that. I write with a purpose, I write to specific instruments. I make the melodies, etc afterwards. That process of making music, I learned from legends..
Parlé: Beyond anything else, what do you want your legacy to be in music and in life?
Dunn: I am a perfectionist, my sign is Virgo. We always feel like something could be better. This body of work personifies that. It showcases the journey of my career. In the fourth quarter everything seems to be going wrong, perseverance was needed. Blood, sweat and tears were given. I would never have imagined the best year of my life would also be the worst year as well with the passing of my mom. I pushed through and made an album that I can stand by. Could it be better, who knows, but for being my first I think it is very good.
Parlé: What can we expect going forward, shows, projects…
Dunn: Tours are in the works and will be announced soon. Overall I feel like this is only the beginning and it feels great. We (my team) have gotten to a point where we can let our hair down a little but our objective still remains to get into these markets where people are in need of good music, good R & B. Music that is pure and from my heart. Anybody that lives and loves the truth will appreciate this album, and everything else that we have in store. I would like to remind people to connect with me on Twitter @antoinedunn as well as visit my website antoinedunn.com and on facebook as well: Antoine Dunn.