His 2012 album The One is full of optimism as it explores the concepts of positive transitions and new beginnings. I chatted to Eric ahead of his upcoming three-night residency in The Jazz Cafe in Camden, London on from 22—24 June.
Miriam Doona The most recent album The One is your sixth release. It is a multi-instrumental work and is deeply rooted in R&B with funk overtones and it also has that great 70s soul sensibility. What did you listen to growing up in and what are your musical influences?
Eric Benét I listened to a bit of everything growing up but there was also a very strong soul musical influence in my home. I listened to a lot of Donny Hathaway, Chaka Khan, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Growing up there was always a lot of jazz fusion playing, as well as rock influences too. I also listened to Frank Zappa, Steely Dan, The Beatles and Elton John. Also growing up in an African-American community, it is sometimes presumed that musical experiences start in the church, but that was not the case for me.
Miriam Doona What are you listening to now?
Eric Benét I still mainly listen to my old records like Steely Dan and Duke Ellington. When I put on an Ellington record that I haven't listened to in a while, for example, I can hear something in it that I have never heard before. I do like my old stuff, but then I also like to take a look on the musical horizon to see what is out there. I really like Lianne La Havas at the moment. I find her music very contemporary.
Miriam Doona Music, of course, has always been such a huge part of your life and that of your family's. Your daughter sings a duet with you on the latest album The One. With your vast experience and many years in the industry did you have any specific advice for her on entering the music business?
Eric Benét India is very passionate about her musical career. As her father, I want her to finish college. I did not finish school and do have regrets about that. I would, and do, give her the advice that I would give any new and aspiring artist - that is to always let your creative voice be the loudest in the room. Input and opinions are always good and valuable, but always be true to yourself and the creative direction you want to take.
Miriam Doona The new album is a very positive one and deals with new beginnings and it is very optimistic in essence. Is that an accurate reflection of how you are feeling now?
Eric Benét Yes, definitely. I am newlywed and we have a new seventeen month old daughter, Lucia Bella. India is also finishing school very soon. Life is good! It is true that you can hear where I'm at in my life represented in my work. For example, my album Hurricane was very introverted and was about soul searching, which was reflective of what was going on with me at that particular time in my life.
Miriam Doona The album also has such a beautiful lullaby for your new baby. You have also been involved in many aspects of the entertainment industry. You are a singer, songwriter and actor too. Recently you have also formed your own record label Jordan House Records. What is your experience of this venture out into a new aspect of the music industry and what are your plans for its future?
Eric Benét Jordon House Records has been a dream come true for me. The One will be the first success story of the label. We will be looking to sign new artists and very much looking at getting into the studio, doing some writing and recording with artists. We will be focusing on India too. She is 21 years old now, and soon will be graduating. I will be very much concentrating on her career with her too.
Miriam Doona I know you have a three night residency in The Jazz Cafe coming up fast, on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of June. You also play a date in France beforehand, as well as one in Germany afterwards. Finally, I have to ask, do you have any plans to play here in the future?
Eric Benét I was only speaking to a friend from Dublin last week. I find Irish people have the sweetest spirit, but they also give off the vibe of “don't mess with me” too, would you agree, is that right?
Miriam Doona Yes, that is very, very true!
Eric Benét I have always wanted to go to Ireland, and to play there. It has never worked out with venues or dates and schedules, but I would really like to do so at some stage in the near future.