Some kids dream of becoming a doctor, president or even an MC, but Javier took a different approach. He made his public singing debut in the sixth grade, by the eighth grade had already decided that he wanted to be an R&B singer. By high school, was sharpening his singing, guitar and theatrical skills at Hartford’s Hartt School of Music in Connecticut.
In 2003, Javier released his self-titled debut, and is returning now with his second album, Left of Center. On the new project, Javiers mix of traditional R&B, jazz and Latin influences show a more mature and concentrated style of song writing. Collaborating with R&B giants Anthony Hamilton on Count on Me, and Ne-Yo on Dance for Me, Javier has created an album thats taking R&B back to the old school.
AllHipHop.comAlternatives: The first track on the album is called Youre the One. How do you describe, let alone know that she in fact, is the one?
Javier: You just know. When you meet that person, they have everything that youve been looking for. They have the same likes and interests that you have. Its some one that can be real with you and accepts you for who you are. Thats what I would consider finding the one.
AHHA: Was the song written for or about a specific lady?
Javier: Not necessarily. I mean every song deals with different relationships, which I put my own experience in obviously. I guess its about different experiences and relationships.
AHHA: Most people come up listening to their parents record collection, but while you were growing up, your father owned a radio station. How did that influence you?
Javier: It was really cool. Before my dad owned a radio station, he was a DJ on a Spanish broadcast station. So when my dad was at work, my mother would listen to him on the air. When he would come home, he would listen to the radio to find out what was going on. It was a great, a real musical household. I grew up with an older brother and sister, so when the radio wasnt on, they would be playing a bunch of different stuff. I was heavily into music as a kid as well. It was never ending in the house. There was always something going on.
AHHA: Some people sing and some play an instrument. Some do both. Along with singing, you play the guitar. How important is versatility to you as an artist?
Javier: Ive tried to do a little something different. Today, there are really great artists that do both. There are artists like Alicia Keys and John Legend that do both. They get a lot of recognition as instrumentalists, as well as vocalists. I think theyre bringing a real R&B sound back thats been missing for a while. Im trying to bring some real R&B music back in the game.
AHHA: You said that the real R&B sound has been missing. What happened for it to disappear?
Javier: I dont know. I think that R&B is turning more towards the Hip-Hop side opposed to what R&B used to be. When it was very melodic and feasibly musical with a lot of live instruments. Today with how technology has developed, you dont necessarily need a lot of live instruments for anything. A lot of people stopped learning instruments and Im glad to be able to do both. I know that Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder played and sang. Obviously there were others that did or didnt. They had bands to back them up in the studio. It was just a completely different time, but I think that its starting to come around and people are opening their ears. Radio stations are supporting some really great music. Im happy with how things are going.
AHHA: Being an R&B singer in high school, the ladies must have loved you.
Javier: Well ya know, the ladies were good to me. I started writing songs for some of my girlfriends or the girl that I had an interest in. I started doing that in the seventh grade and that suited me pretty well. There are not a lot of guys doing that kind of thing.
AHHA: On the album, you have a collage of musical styles. Theres everything from traditional R&B, to elements of funk and Latin influences. What are other elements that you have incorporated and how are they important?
Javier: I like varying it up a bit. Thats part of the reason why I call the album Left of Center. Its a mix of different things. Its a little off of the beaten path of what you might consider an average R&B album to be. I have many influences, especially in the way that I grew up. A little bit of the Latin flavor, because my parents are. The acoustics and the more contemporary R&B. I love all the styles that I put in. Theres a little bit of jazz. Its all how I would define myself, not trying to put myself in a box, but rather just make good music. Im just trying to be myself.
AHHA: How does this album differ from your previous work?
Javier: This one is different because it is a little more mature. Also, Im playing more acoustics in this on as well. We started to take it to a couple of different places that we werent able to take it last time. We got as far as doing a reggaeton version of one of the songs [Dance For Me]. It was the idea of one of my producers that I really liked. Also, a version in Spanish that we did not put on the album, but we may put on a Spanish album at some point. We have a gospel choir from Philadelphia as well. We tried to change it up much more from what Ive done in the past.
AHHA: You mentioned that you wanted to do an album all in Spanish.
Javier: Yeah, its my heritage, and I feel that I would really like to explore that market. To be able to let them hear the music and decide for themselves whether they like it or not. I do sing in Spanish as well. So it makes sense to me, to release something to the Latin population and see what they think.
AHHA: Anthony Hamilton was featured on Count on Me. Is this the making of an R&B dynamic duo?
Javier: I would love that. We did a tour together a couple of years ago. I opened up that tour for him. We had a great time and enjoyed hanging out together. I respect him so much as an artist. Hes an amazing human being. We had talked during the tour about possibly doing something together. When it came time to put out the album, I was in Los Angeles. I gave him a call and fortunately he was in town. We were able to make it work. We sat down and wrote the song together. It was great to see him work in the studio.
AHHA: What inspired the original version of Dance for Me?
Javier: I was actually working with Ne-Yo and his camp. Ne-Yo came up with the lyrics, while a friend of mine and I came up with the music for the track. It was a great experience to see him in his element. Hes a phenomenal songwriter. You can tell by the songs that he has. Hes sick with the pen.
AHHA: Would you say that R&B has more collaborative efforts, where more artists a willing to work together than in Hip-Hop?
Javier: I dont know. There are a lot of collaborations on both sides. People get together to help each other out on both sides.
AHHA: Whats one thing that youve learned from women?
Javier: Ive learned a lot of things from women. Well keep it PG. I guess one thing that Ive learned is to never take a woman for granted. Never forget what you have or how you felt when you first fell in love with someone. Always keep that person as the highest thing in your mind. Put your woman first.