Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) will welcome Grammy nominated Anderson East – with British songstress Lucie Silvas as the opener – on Saturday, March 2 at 8 p.m.
We recently caught up with the talented East, whose music is an unparalleled synthesis of rhythm & blues, gospel, soul, early rock & roll, sprinkled with some country, to learn more about his upcoming show, musical evolution, potential future collaborations, and more.
Will this be your first time in the Hamptons?
AE: I’ve been there one other time. We played something for Rolling Stone probably four years ago.
You grew up in a household where gospel was favored. Did that influence your sound at all?
AE: Yeah, I would say definitely so. There’s definitely a sonic similarity in some things that we do. I think we try to approach it with kind of the same spirit as gospel music – something that feels good and uplifting and something that makes the moment a little bit more special.
Your music is a fusion of several genres, so who or what else has influenced you?
AE: Man, there’s so many. I’ve been influenced by kids books and all kinds of random things, but I think singers in general are the biggest influences to me. I’m always really drawn to female singers, just because I can’t do what they can and I’m always excited with things I don’t understand and I have more of a curiosity. I’ve been listening to a lot of James Blake and I don’t understand how he does some of the things he does. He’s a great singer on top of all of his brilliant production. I think just the voice of a great singer is the biggest influence on me.
What’s the meaning behind your stage moniker [Anderson East]?
AE: I think if anything, at the time, just needing kind of a fresh start and it sounds counterintuitive to say, but just having some kind of emotional construct, actually. Be more honest with what I was wanting to say and do at the time. Just being the guy that goes and gets the mail out of the mailbox everyday.
You were quite young when you first started writing your own songs. Could you speak a bit about your musical start?
AE: It all derived out of wanting to record and make records. There wasn’t a big community or any community that could help facilitate that. So I figured if I wanted to record songs, I needed to write it and then if you want the recording to actually be good, it had to be pretty good songs. Pretty much everything I’ve learned how to do is derivative of record making.
How has your style grown and changed throughout the years?
AE: I think now I’ve hit that point where I know I’m comfortable within my own personality. For a long time I was just trying to reinvent the wheel and the wheel was perfectly fine rolling on its own. And it took a long time to just understand who you are and what your voice is. I think I’ve learned that little bit and it might be an appropriate time now to go and explore some other things. Again, like we were talking that you don’t know how it’s done – just to get that childhood curiosity back or maintain that curiosity.
When you’re writing or working on an album, is there any particular thing you typically draw inspiration from?
AE: Definitely other records. I’m always inspired by and approaching things differently. I think we just approach the song, mainly, as the most important title character. Just kind of flush out the song how it needs to be instead. You don’t need to draw a bunch of smiley faces over some great piece of art just to be different.
For Encore, you worked with Willie Nelson, Ed Sheeran, and a bunch of other notable names. Tell me a bit about the album’s collaborations.
AE: A lot of ’em were just really good friends of mine. People like Natalie Hemby and Aaron Raitiere, Chris Stapleton and Morgan Stapleton – good friends of mine that are also just incredibly gifted at their craft. I was just having fun having other people in the room pulling stuff out of me. It was a good collaboration experience all around – even with having Avicii there as well. It was a team effort.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
AE: There’s a lot of people I’d like to work with. It’d just be a matter of whether they’d want to work with me or not. SZA I think would be killer, James Blake would be fun. It’s definitely not in the vein of what we’ve already done, but again people that I don’t understand how they work. That’s exciting to get educated in those kinds of ways. Pharrell Williams is another one, I think his production style is really fantastic. Yeah, there’s all kinds of people that I admire and whether or not it would be a good working relationship, I think there’s a lot of them, super talented people.
And are you working on anything at the moment?
AE: I am indeed. Ever since the first of the year I’ve been in writing mode, kinda just branching out and spreading my little baby wings and exploring what the air has up there. Just kinda taking a deep breath and accessing what’s going on around me – from making Encore to now and seeing where the next path is that we want to walk down.
Tickets to Anderson East at WHBPAC are $45 to $55.
Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. For more information, call 631-288-1500 or visit whbpac.org.