UB Interview: JOE Talks “Bridges,” R&B, Brandy & More

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Bridges” is the eleventh studio album by Grammy nominated singer-songwriter JOEand it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart.

Described as a therapeutic retrospect, “Bridges” takes a look into the multi-talented singer, songwriter-producer‘s outlook on life’s relationship endeavors and where they have taken him. Derek “DOA” Allen, Edrick Miles, Gerald Isaac and Taj Jackson are among the producers and songwriters. Album collaborations include Kelly Rowland and 50 Cent.

JOE recently spoke to Tishelle of UrbanBridgez.com about his new release “Bridges,” his thoughts on R&B today, his favorite songs he’s recorded, Brandy‘s tone and much more!

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UrbanBridgez.com: With this being your 11th album, how has JOE the artist & songwriter evolved since the first album?
JOE: You know what it is it’s funny, I’m kind of going back a little bit. I touched on Hip-Hop for awhile, me and my hood friends. We did a lot of nice records for people like Mystikal and G-Unit. That was really nice in the 90’s and plus I had some big records like All The Things Your Man Won’t Do and I Wanna Know. So really it’s just trying to go back and get that again. To create that magic in music again. I went a little bit old school with the sound of it. I want to incorporate more live instrumentation’s into what R&B is. Hopefully that will inspire some kids to want to pick up an instrument and learn how to play as well as sing and dance and things they love to do. So that’s the evolution, to actually go back a little.

UrbanBridgez.com: What made you follow-up your last release so quickly?
JOE: I had to keep moving, because I had just went through a business situation and got a new partner. So that was a major change for me and a lot of the things that I did on the last album was still locked down with that business deal I did, before I did this one. But I wanted to keep the momentum going with Love & Sex and I didn’t want to lose anything. But I had to switch up the music a little bit, the lyrics were fine because they’re mine. So I had to switch everything up and grab Kelly Rowland for the next album. I just had to keep going, I couldn’t just stop or I felt I would lose a lot of momentum. So I just had to put out another record right away.

UrbanBridgez.com: The new album has a lot of feel good music with an old school vibe to it, was that the direction you set out to go with this album or did it just end up that way?
JOE: Yes it was definitely an old school direction I wanted to go with. Like with my last album the title was Doubleback: Evolution of R&B and one of the things I said the most about that album was I had to go back and grab something from the old school. Like from the Stevie Wonders, Michael Jackson’s, Marvin Gaye’s, etc. Because they made music you can actually feel. So I’m trying to recreate some of that magic to introduce to a new audience not necessary my audience. Just so they can feel R&B a little bit to know where this thing really started from & this is what it sounded and felt like back then.

UrbanBridgez.com: What one song on Bridges that you feel is one that should be heard by every JOE fan that will immediately make them run out & get the album?
JOE: Let’s see…that’s a real good question. As a body of work, I feel like once they get that they’ll understand a lot more who the artist JOE is. But I think the one song is a song called “If You Lose Her,” my next single. It’s a real story teller, it’s a real heart-felt song. The video really enhances with telling that story. (watch below)

UrbanBridgez.com: You have all live musicians on the new album, is that a hard thing to accomplish or easier than recorded production?
JOE: It’s pretty easy, it’s a lot of guys stepping their game up. A lot of musicians, girls and guys are coming to the table with some good really good talent. I’m actually fortunate to be in the position where they actually want to work with me. That’s the blessing I have, once people know you’re serious about this music and want to make the best quality music, they want to work with you. I’ve been very fortunate and blessed, specially working on this last album working with this young producer who’s getting a lot of props DOA. He produced the entire album and is just a phenomenal producer. An exceptional guy when it comes to music, he just knows how to put it together. With me writing and creating melodies and doing my silky thing. I think it’s a musical marriage that’s going to continue for a long time, because we’re just going to continue to create.

UrbanBridgez.com: Of course we at UrbanBridgez love the album title, what made you pick Bridges?
JOE: It’s kind of funny because I don’t believe in burning bridges, but I had to step out of a situation last year and I looked at it as moving forward. This is exactly what relationships are, they’re bridges. You build a bridge and you want to build the best bridge possible. I talk about relationships a lot and it’s just a metaphor for relationships with this album.

UrbanBridgez.com: This is a true to R&B album indeed, what are your thoughts on R&B music overall right now?
JOE: It’s going more Hip-Hop than it use to be. That’s just not in the sound of it, it’s the swag of the R&B industry. Specially with the young artists that are out now. I think it’s so important not to lose the essence of what it really is. The soul, the passion, the love, if you’re a group the blending and harmonizing together. That’s a lost art in itself. So understanding what R&B is and what the soul of R&B is, I think that’s what’s missing a little bit. I do see potential in artists that will have longevity. We have young Chris Brown who reminds me of Michael Jackson, he has strong potential to be around for quite some time. Trey Songz is like a little young Marvin Gaye, so to speak. So you have the artists that have their thing going a little bit. Also Miguel, who’s like a little young Prince. So they remind me of some of that essence of what that R&B was. As long as they keep in mind to continue to build, expand and grow and be who you are and be better.

UrbanBridgez.com: You and Kelly Rowland mesh very well together, how did that collaboration come about?
JOE: What a wonderful girl and beautiful spirit. I’ve been knowing Destiny’s Child for some time now. Kelly and I are big fans of each other’s and this song just happen to be just perfect. It was just the perfect JOE: opportunity for us to get down and she so graciously agreed to do it. She’s a humble spirit, so it’s so easy to work with her. Just a genuine person to be around, so it was fun. I knew her voice would match up perfectly to it. As well as her energy when it came to the video.

UrbanBridgez.com: Us Brandy fans really want you guys to collaborate again, this time with an actual duet. Have you two discussed possibly working together again?
JOE: You know that girl is amazing. I always talk about Brandy, for some reason I just can’t seem to get a song with her. I’ll tell you, when we do it’s going to be magic. She has one of the most beautiful tones. I’m going to put her on the top of the list as one of the most beautiful tones out of all of the female singers in the game right now. The girls voice is ridiculous. I would love to do another record with her. I’m doing another record after this called Date Night, she will be one of the first artists that I’m going to call.

UrbanBridgez.com: Out of your catalog, name 3 of your favorite songs you’ve ever recorded and why?
JOE: I Wanna Know, because it was one of them songs that was so simple, I didn’t think it was going to be that big. Stutter, that one kind of came out of nowhere. It was me always wanting an up-tempo top 10 record. I never wanted to be an artist that just sang a ballad at the concerts. So I wanted people to be familiar with my up-tempo records as well. So Stutter gave me that. And I’ll have to say No One Else Comes Close, is a song I made for the Backstreet Boys that I also recorded myself. That no matter what, it’s one of them classics that I can always do on a guitar at any occasion and it’s a nice crowd pleaser.

UrbanBridgez.com: Share with us one of the first artists that you were a fan of and how they inspired you?
JOE: I’ll say Bobby Brown when he became a solo artist and his Don’t Be Cruel album was a big inspiration. He was young, a dancer and he appealed to teenagers like myself. I was into that whole entertainment thing back in the day performing. I did a lot of shows back in the day, I had a lot of bands and I use to do a lot of cover songs. Of course some Bobby Brown, he was one of the hottest guys out at the time. So yeah, he was one of the guys who really inspired me to be an artist. Singing was Stevie Wonder and a lot of the gospel singers, but as far as a performer…of course Michael Jackson but Bobby Brown was the guy at the time.

UrbanBridgez.com: Anything else you want to share with fans before we wrap-up?
JOE: I’m excited about the album and want to thank everybody for the support. Those that do have it, those that don’t make sure you go get a copy. I know you’re going to love it. I got a song on there with 50 Cent for those street heads, it’s called Mary Jane. I also did Big Rich Town with him which is the theme song for his show on Starz called Power.

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