Back from Australia shows, Andre Cymone teases new projects

Andre Cymone performs during a March 2018 tour in Australia
Andre Cymone performs during a March 2018 tour in Australia (Peter Lodder)

Forget any thoughts of jet lag or road weariness. Despite a recent long-haul flight from Australia, André Cymone is back home in Los Angeles and feeling energized. "All the places I played were packed," Cymone enthuses. "People seemed to really, really enjoy it, and it was a beautiful experience."

Cymone is recently back from a series of concerts in Melbourne, Sydney and Byron Bay, Australia, where he performed shows in support of his 2017 album, 1969, as well as performances of Prince's back-catalogue with the New Power Generation.

Audiences in Australia were certainly excited to hear Cymone's hit single, "We All Need Somethin'," but other tracks from the 1969 album resonated deeply — particularly, "Black Lives Matter" and "Black Man in America." After his shows, Cymone recalls, "People very, very, very passionately came to me and said, 'Can you do more stuff like that? We really need to hear your words, to hear your songs.'"

The reaction took Cymone a little bit by surprise; although the experience of being a black person in Australia is different than that of African Americans, the themes still resonate. "I wasn't as familiar with what was going on there until people talked to me about it and broke it down to me, and how universal some of those songs really are," Cymone says. "Sometimes you don't know till you go. It was really important to me to hear from them, and I guess for them to hear from me. It was a beautiful connection."

Music fans everywhere may not have to wait long for new music from André Cymone. He's already written songs for two new albums: one is an all-acoustic collection of songs, the other is a funk album. "I'm not sure exactly which ones are going to make the cut," Cymone says. "At least in my opinion, I think they're all really important songs, but until you put them all down and line them up and figure out how they work together, you never know what's going to [make the final album]."

Cymone says one of the songs on the acoustic album tells the story of a person who has lived life so fast, she misses out on what's really important. And a track for the funk album was inspired by Cymone's own experience as an artist. "The premise is basically, 'Am I enough of myself for you?'," he explains, before expanding further:


Am I black enough? Am I white enough? Are my eyes blue enough? Is my hair long enough? Is that enough for you, and if it ain't, what can I do about that? So that's a pretty huge song, and it's definitely pretty funky. The concept came about because I think, for me, I love rock music, but obviously I can do funk music and do whatever I want. But a lot of times people say, "How come you're doing that rock music? That's white folks' music!"

And I'm like, "What are you talking about?"

First of all, I think music is music. But I think a lot of times I hear from people who think somehow that I should only do one kind of thing, and then I have to remind them, "Look, I'm an artist. I do whatever I get inspired to do. If you can dig it, that's wonderful; if you can't dig it, I can understand that. But as an artist, I'm going to do whatever I'm inspired to do."

It's a theme that really resonates with Cymone, who says he's really finding people are picking up on his sensibilities as an artist; specifically, that he can't be fitted into one specific style or genre of music. "I'm somebody who's a little more broad in my musical scope," he says, "and that makes me really feel proud because that's always what I've wanted to be recognized as. … As an artist, you want to expand and broaden and always look to break new ground if you're really an artist, and that's what I'm always trying to do."

Andre Cymone
André Cymone at Paisley Park in 2017. Nate Ryan | MPR

Cymone says it's a little early to be talking release dates for the albums, but he's been in conversations about how the albums will be released and distributed. However they're released, the songs will be Cymone's own, and they will be relevant. "I'm always looking to see what's going on in the world, because that's what I can do as well as obviously go march and speak about it," he says. "It's important, I think, for artists — if you can do it, if you've got that gift to be able to put the stories together and tell in song form about what's going on — now more than ever."

Film is another area of artistic expression that has long interested Cymone. As he looks at today's cinematic offerings, he notes that people everywhere, of all backgrounds, need role models to look up to, to aspire to, whether they're fantasy characters like Harry Potter and Black Panther, or if they're drawn from real life. "That's one reason I'm thinking about making a film about myself, growing up and doing music," Cymone says. "To come from nothing and to be successful, and Prince being a part of obviously everything I grew up doing, is an interesting story. Because I think my story is his story, his story is my story. If he were to tell his story really accurately, he'd be telling my story because we were literally inseparable for at least 10, 15 years.

"It's a beautiful story because I think it's a different story," Cymone continues. "But it also shows that you can come from where we came from — where all the odds are stacked against you and you're not supposed to be successful — yet, obviously he became one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, and I've been able to be pretty successful in my own right.

"I just think stories like these are really interesting and important stories to tell."

Resources

André Cymone - official site

Sign up for the Purple Current newsletter

Get the latest stories about Prince's musical legacy and updates on what's playing on Purple Current.
Purple Current

You must be 13 or older to submit any information to Minnesota Public Radio. The personally identifying information you provide will not be sold, shared, or used for purposes other than to communicate with you about things like our programs, products and services. See Terms of Use and Privacy.

Related Stories

  • Theft of the Dial: Andre Cymone Andre Cymone, an important figure in the evolution of the Minneapolis Sound, stopped by The Current to pick a few songs and talk with Local Show host Andrea Swensson.

comments powered by Disqus