Lovari’s previous album, “The Statement,” earned him a Stonewall Pride in the Arts Award for “Dance Album of the Year,” a nomination for a RightOut TV Music Award and included the top 10 U.S. dance single “Move Your Body” and top 20 single “Turn Around.” He is a SAG actor, appearing as one of Angelina Jolie’s brothers in the action film “Salt,” and has won a Best Suspense Award at the NY International Independent Film Festival for “Shore Thing,” a short film he directed and wrote. His new album is called “No Holding Back,” and as seen in this exclusive interview, it is the perfect title for this outspoken artist.
Your new album “No Holding Back” is very R&B/Hip Hop, which is a major departure from your previous dance album, “The Statement.” Why the shift in genres?
Well, actually, if you listen to my previous album, “The Statement,” the last four tracks on that album are R&B-ish, which sets up the tone for my new album, “No Holding Back.” Most of the artists that inspire me are from the early- to mid-90s of that genre, such as Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige and Angel Grant. I love the music of today, but I feel that it’s missing that aggression of vocal phrasing and beats that we used to feel back in that period. I wanted to bring that back. I used to listen to Mary J’s “My Life” album over and over again, and dig the whole production of Chucky Thompson and Puff Daddy. The lyrics and vocal emotion got me through a lot of heavy-duty shit back then, and I wanted to use my honesty to get individuals through anything heavy duty that they are going through right now. Although you can nod your head and bump these tracks in your whip, it’s got a lot of messages in the lyrics that are meant to help those going through hardships with love, self esteem, politics and to also spread affirmation in God and prayer, which has helped me through so much.
How did the collaboration with Heather Leigh West come about?
I’ve been a fan of Heather’s ever since “Feel It” (“What’s she gonna look like with a chimney on her?”) came out in 1998. The person I was in a committed relationship with at the time was busy fucking other people while I was busting my ass working at a record store and a recording studio to pay rent. So of course, when I found out, we broke up, and needless to say the song “Feel It” expressed what I was going through. Heather and I officially met a little over two years ago through a mutual recording artist friend, JFortino. We basically have the same positive energy/spiritual vibes and connected, both as artists and friends. I have such a profound respect for her. She actually wrote our duet on the album, “You’re Free.” I’m so grateful to her and thankful that she has shared her talented gifts with me. Her new “HALO” tracks are beautiful. Very soulful.
Also, you have Robey (“Friday the 13th” TV series and “One Night in Bangkok” hit single) duet with you on your new album as well. How did you come to record with this cult-following icon?
When I was a teenager I had a huge crush on Robey (obviously non-sexual!) and I always used to imagine going on a date with her to “Kokomo” with the Beach Boys singing and having her pick me up from school and make all the other guys jealous. I watched “Friday the 13th: The Series” every week, mainly for her. We have similar fans and supporters on social networks. I’d see a few of them post on both our pages about our separate projects. I would congratulate her as well (being a huge fan myself) and I guess curiosity got the best of her and she listened to my album and commented on one of my music videos. We began a friendship over the phone, developed a brother/sister-type relationship, and then lo and behold, she stayed with me for a few weeks at my place while on business in the U.S. and my dream came true! She recently did an interview and joked around saying, “Lovari and I slept together. But not in the way you think!” We did – in the same bed, but as innocent as can be – like brother and sister.
Most of the tracks are produced by Infinite, who won the 2011 OutMusic Award for Hip Hop Artist, then you have tracks by JStaffz, who produced for G Unit and Wiz Khalifa. In your own words, as an “independent artist,” how did you make this happen?
JStaffz is a pro and a cool cat. I’m obviously very honored to have three tracks from him on my album, and again, it came about through social networking. On the pre-reviews and listens for this album, a lot of people’s favorite track was “Still in Love” (featuring Anny Jules, written by Jose Carlos Jones), which he produced. It’s probably going to be the next single. I love a lot of the artists’ music that he’s worked with in the past (particularly Wiz Khalifa), so obviously it is an honor for me to have him on my project. As far as Infinite – she herself is an independent artist, but it took a lot of balls for her to take on a project from an artist like myself, who has a majority of dance music in my repertoire. I presented Best R&B Album at the OutMusic Awards and was there when she won in the Hip Hop category, and basically went up to her after and asked when she would have time to work on my new project with me. We had met prior to that, but it was on the night of the awards that I really harassed her. We spent the most time together on this project, and she is indeed my rock. There’s no way that this album would’ve come together without her. ‘
Your song “Keep It Movin’,” which she produced, was #31 on Amazon’s U.S. R&B Singles Chart, and you were the only independent artist on it, sandwiched in between heavyweights Rihanna and Monica. That must’ve felt good.Honestly, I initially felt more excited for Infinite and Loco Ninja (the guest rapper on the song – best known for MTV reality series and appearances on “The Tyra Show”), because I was so happy to see their hard work and dedication pay off. And yes, because I wanted Infinite to be able to say “take that!” to whoever was hatin’ on us collaborating. And then, yes, I felt extremely proud of myself, for being the only independent artist on the upper part of that chart and being so grateful to God for pushing my dreams forward. I executive produced this album, putting my own money into it, finding/hiring everyone on my own, and like my previous album, writing all the song lyrics to 12 tracks (80% of the album).
Fans of your dance music aren’t going to be disappointed though, because you do have a few club tracks at the end of the album, including “Right Here,” which I saw you perform at Jacob Javits Center and is my favorite of all of your new songs. Is that going to be a single? Or are any of the dance tracks going to be?
I love “Right Here” too! And yes, ma’am, I definitely want to make that a single, but before so, there is another track called “I Wanna Be Loved” that is also on the album, and it is being reworked and remixed by none other than Georgie Porgie, the 10th Biggest Dance Artist Of The Decade in Billboard’s 2000s issue. So I am beyond thrilled and very honored to be working with this extremely talented and very kind man, who I am learning so much from in terms of trying out new vocal tones and phrasing. In addition, there will be mixes from Gustavo Scorpio, who has done official remixes for Beyonce and Jason Walker, so needless to say, I’m very excited and grateful.
So, basically, every song on the album is about something you’ve been through with different individuals – good and bad. Can I get a one word name or phrase for each of the tracks and who they’re about?
That would take too long cause there’s over 14 tracks, but I will give you a quick run down. The title track (“No Holding Back”) is mostly about my former record label. “Who Do U Think?” is about two separate people I dated. “Carnal Need” is about down-low married men. “Keep It Movin’” is based on a brief Cory Booker Twitter chat and also gay pride – or lack of. “Down For You” is about the ex who was fucking other people while I was holding down two jobs, “Yearning” is about my own self esteem, “Right Here” is about being grateful to God for making my dreams come true.
By Diana Nettey
Lovari’s new album “No Holding Back” is available on iTunes and Amazon