Carl Henry [Interview]
Toronto, ON – Okay, I admit it. I was more than a bit intimidated to step onto the set of a video shoot. I have never been to a video shoot before and it made it especially nerve-wracking for me to know that once there, I would be interviewing R&B sensation, Carl Henry. The Jamaican born, Montreal raised artist is both talented and accomplished.
With his multiple Juno nominations, all-star collaborations, and colourful soul driven sound he has traveled the world with his music. His forthcoming album, All That I Know has made an outstanding impression on radio and television airwaves already, beginning with the urban pop-club hit, “Trippin’”. The album features impressive production by Red-1, Craig Groove, and Will Guice.
I had no idea what to expect once I walked into his world. I entered very quietly, acting like a shadow in the room, observing behind the scenes. However, I wasn’t a spectator for too long. Once introduced to Carl, I immediately relaxed. His light-hearted personality and quick sense of humor only complimented his many talents. As he rushed to set, I was thrown into a whirlwind of excitement. The set was high-energy, with the track booming overhead the choreographed sultry moves.
Henry was caught up in the middle of it, and brought me along with him. On set, the production crew encouraged me to join them crowded behind the camera. There, we watched as Carl Henry and his dancers created a thrilling, sci-fi scene to set his latest track, “Dim The Lights” . . .
HipHopCanada: What is the concept of the video you are filming today?
Carl Henry: Well, the single is called “Dim the Lights” and it’s a very sexy song. It’s super high end, its sexy, and sci-fi, you know just a lot of images that I think people can relate to. You know you go into that fly club and you’re like, “Wow it’s, it’s totally hot!” There’s you know some makin’ out, and dancing. It’s just like the song says, you see somebody walk across that dance floor and you’re like, “Hmm, she’s got my eye!” You know and vise-versa and we reciprocate. So we are definitely just trying to get that energy of the club and the scene of dancing, you know it’s definitely an up-tempo song that’s just catching the vibes.
HipHopCanada: I hear that this album was two years in the making?
Carl Henry: Yes! It’s been a minute! My previous album, I Wish came out in ’05 so, I was touring and all that and just probably two years ago we just really started to refocus, and do some writing and stuff. We hooked up with CP Records- this is a CP Records-Cecil collaboration. My first single, “Trippin’” got a lot of love so this is the official lead off single, “Dim The Lights”.
HipHopCanada: Why do you call the album, All That I Know?
Carl Henry: The reason why we call the album All That I Know, which is a song I did with Belly, I mean it’s my third album for those who don’t know. The last seven years I’ve pretty much learnt a lot in a lot of places. So it’s basically a combination of a lot of things and me as a person growing as an artist. I like all kinds (of music) so I think the album kind of reflects that R&B sensibility, pop, club bangers, ballads so there’s a little bit of everything for everybody. It kind of just tries to capture who I am as Carl Henry the artist, the person, my experiences and I’m just trying to connect with my audience.
HipHopCanada: How do you think you have evolved over that time?
Carl Henry: Um, it’s funny because I look at one of my first videos, “Crazy Love” and I looked like an anorexic sixteen year old [Laughing] . It was so funny but, I think musically I have definitely grown. Vocally writing wise, I mean it’s just as you get older. I mean the experiences you have to kind of become a little perceptive. And I think I’m a little more aware of who I am. I don’t know if you ever fully become fully-fully aware, but I’m learning and as I learn, as I progress musically you know I try to take more risks and you know do more things. Just try not play it too safe, you know I want to break out of my shell some more and just take my audience with me.
HipHopCanada: Are there any other types of musical genres that you would like to explore?
Carl Henry: I grew up in the church, so singing gospel, old soul records, um you know I’ve done the dancehall, reggae, pop fusion. This record All That I Know is definitely going back to my R&B roots. I mean there is a little pop sensibilities to it, I mean it’s gospel tinged vocals it’s basically that spectrum. But I’ve done a lot of genres; I mean it would be interesting to kind of do something maybe a rock-ish remix. You know I’m open to a lot of different things. And I think with the music game kind of changing there’s so many different styles kind of blending and the whole mash up thing. So you know I’m open, I’m open if the fans, if I do something and the fans love it then hey it’s all good.
HipHopCanda: As a Canadian artist, do you think you have a sound that is distinctly Canadian?
Carl Henry: I pride myself on definitely having my own sound. Because a lot of times people who don’t know my name, Carl Henry but they’ll know my music. You know they probably haven’t been branded with what I look like or they haven’t seen me, but they know my sound. They know, “Oh, that’s a Carl Henry tune” because I pride myself on that and especially when it comes to live performances I pride myself on sounding like my record and I want to give my fans and audience what they came to see, hear and the whole experience.
HipHopCanada: And you’ve done a lot of collaborations with a lot of different artists, who has been your favourite?
Carl Henry: Wow, favoritism! I mean I’ve . . . one of my first remixes for like “One Night Stand”, having Elephant Man you know kind of grace my remix that was definitely an honor. Um, working with producers like Red-1, whose produced Lady Gaga, who is top of the game right now, I’m proud to say that you know, that’s one person I have in my camp and so forth. Working with Belly was really a great experience. Because going into it we were kind of like, there was no expectations you know, and we initially just were collaborating on one song and then vibes just kind of flowed and you know three songs later, and you know . . . I think I kind of try to make it my priority to whoever I work with find the best in that situation and that person and we kind of feed off of each other. So pretty much everybody I work with I bring something back. I can’t really say that this person would say because it’s all subjective. Um, I want to give props to Will Guice, who I co-wrote a lot of songs on this album with. Craig Groove who produced, so you know to Teron Beal, so you know all the people I worked, with I am very grateful. And the people that I’m about to work with I don’t know what the future hold but it should be interesting.
HipHopCanada: Is there anyone that you see yourself working with? Or that you would like to, in the future?
Carl Henry: Oh wow, definitely um, Ne-Yo if your listening! Respect his total artistry as a writer, I mean incredible, incredible, incredible. You know just about anybody who is at the top of their game ’cause you know there are so many acts out there that I can totally respect . . . and I just love their artistry and the risks that they take. And you know just, pushing the game a little further. I always respect that.
HipHopCanada: What’s next for All That I Know?
Carl Henry: Um, well the album, no release date yet but it’s coming out in ’09 folks! Um, probably late summer, keep our fingers crossed. But right now we’re just focusing on the single. Getting the video done, boom! It’s starting to get some love at radio and I think it’s going to be . . . I predict it . . . but, my biggest single to date. I mean we are just getting a lot of reaction from it. And it’s, it’s a hot video the concept it’s just green screen and all effect and you know it’s sexy, it’ going to be a lot of sci-fi and all that. It’s pretty exciting just the whole imagination thing and I just want to big up ‘Caz’ Cazhhmere the director and everybody who is taking part in this. But the album is definitely, like my I Wish album I think it has a whole variety, not just ballads or club jams, or mid-tempos but it’s got a whole combination of those things. And once again you know, Carl Henry, the Gemini that I am, you know double personality, I like a lot of things and I like that to reflect in my music.
HipHopCanada: Thank you so much!
Carl Henry: Thank you.
Written by Jeunesse Montgomery-Spencer for HipHopCanada