Raphael Saadiq – Interview

Raphael Saadiq

Raphael saadiq the interview.

I’ve been a fan since Tony Toni Tone. I remember when you guys split up and it seemed like you were going to do something solo then, what took so long?

I guess I never thought time ever moved, and it kept on moving. I was producing, working with different artists, I got caught up in that and going to basketball games and playing golf.

Speaking of producing or writing, have you ever written a song where you were like; ‘man, I should have kept that for myself’?

No. I feel like if you give something away things will come back to you in numbers.

What was it like working on an album for you and not for anyone else?

It felt good. It felt free and really uplifting.

Did you set out to do anything or did you play it by ear?

I kind of knew what I was doing but I played it by ear too.

I know you can play a lot of instruments; did you do all the instrumentation on the record?

I pretty much took it on myself, but I did bring in a few people to do arrangements. We have some real strings and some friends to help with production to steer me the right way.

I was going to ask you about producing. Is it important to have people there to help make sure you don’t go astray?

I do have people around like that and I’m a team player so it really worked out well.

What was the time frame for the album?

I worked on it for about six months. I nailed it.

Because you spend a lot of time in the studio were you glad to finish so you could get out? Or do you really like the studio?

I like the studio, but I like to get out. You always need a change. It was actually really good to get out of the studio and do nothing. I like all aspects of life, doing music and not doing music, but it really feels like I’m doing the music even when I’m not doing the music.

How do you distinguish between a track you use or one you giveaway?

If something feels like it’s for me I’ll use it, but sometimes I know that something is for someone else and I’ll give it away.

Have you ever written a song that sounded like it was for someone you never worked with?

Not really only because I have been fortunate I have a lot of people I work with either in the studio or they come down and hang around and the songs fits them.

Has making music gotten any easier?

It’s always a challenge, sometimes it does get easier, but it is always a challenge.

Is there more pressure now, then when you were in a group?

Definitely more pressure, but I don’t feel it that way. I just think I got it sometimes. It’s like taking a jump shot, you just shoot it and that is where I am.

If someone told you growing up that you’d be doing this for a living would you have believed it?

Half way. My friends used to tell me I was going to make it. I was always playing bass for somebody; I was always the sideman, until I was with the Tonys. And when I got with the Tonys my friend was like ‘I told you’.

What was it like when you joined the Tonys and you became a front man?

It was a bit shocking, but I was going so hardcore with it that I never thought about it really because I didn’t want to let myself down.

I see you producing, writing, playing instruments; I know you are a busy guy. What about today’s artists, do you think artists aren’t working as hard as they did in the past?

I think they are working as hard, but I think listeners don’t hear the qualities they would like. Its not always going to be the same quality, but it’s the same amount of hard work no matter what the quality.

Is there a song that you wish you wrote?

There are a couple songs. I wish I wrote “Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone.

Speaking of Sly, with your experience would you recommend kids today, who want to take after you, to pick up an instrument?

Definitely. I recommend you pick up piano and guitar.

Where do your songs start off?

Different places. Sometimes guitar or piano, sometimes a lyric.

Do you see songwriting as a gift or skill?

Definitely a gift.

Because it just comes?

Yeah, its like ‘wow, what is this?’

What artists do you think can carry music on their shoulders today?

D’Angelo and Usher.

Do people still come up to you telling you how much they loved Tony Toni Tone?

Yeah, always. People will be like ‘I loved you with Tonys’ or ‘when you getting back together?’ I hear it a lot. I think I’m getting old because people always come up to me like it was forever ago.

I was thinking about that myself, how often you might get asked when the group is getting back together.

Every day. Every single day.

Do you every look a step ahead and wonder if you’ll go after the group environment again after this?

I really do like the group environment. I think I like the solo environment too. I like it too because you can do a lot of different things, the sky is the limit.

+ charlie craine

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