Interview: Tank Speaks on His New Album Savage


In the midst of fine-tuning his craft as a true musician, R&B powerhouse Tank speaks candidly on music, balance and promoting oneself.

Tell us how this new album is different from your previous projects.
This album is not entirely different from my previous project, Sex Love & Pain II. I think this album really picks up where Sex Love & Pain II left off. It identifies with the moments that people really connected with on that album. I created something completely catered towards that—those aggressive moments that were pushing the line– lyrically, sonically, and from a tempo standpoint. We dedicated an entire project to that because we felt like when we did that, it started carving out a space for the style of R&B that I like to do. I like to sing to women–that’s my thing. I also like to have some type of emotion and sexuality attached to the music. When we made that move with Sex Love & Pain II, people gravitated toward it. We said we needed an entire project that does just this—one that is competitive, and aggressive–that’s what Savage is.

When it comes to appeasing today’s fans, do you feel like you had to make any changes between Stronger and your new album?
Yes, you have to understand where music is and where music is going in order to create something digestible for today’s young fans. For me, the challenge has always been doing that while maintaining the classic aspects of myself that people love so much. Which is the emotion, the vocally cool things that I do, my subject matter and melody—all of that. Things change, but as they change I roll with the wave– I am in the water with the movement. On a certain level, I am an engineer of sorts—constructing the new movement of R&B. With me being in it, it’s not something I have to overthink because I’m part of it. I do understand that there is a way that it has to be done—to both inspire the young R&B singer and cater to the older fans.

Speaking of inspiring young artists–one of the biggest criticisms of today’s R&B is that there is a lack of vulnerability or love; something that has always been present in your music. (Not to mention the fact that you are one of very few R&B artists today that can really sing). How do you approach inspiring them, and what do you want them to learn from you?
Well, I think it has to do with the ability to love in a climate where love for our genre of music whether it be the urban, hip-hop, or the new R&B world, is put on the back burner. Shock value and tempo are stealing the spotlight. My job is to continue to show younger artists that it is ok to be vulnerable, to show your feelings, to be R&B, or to cater to a woman. Sometimes you have to present it in a package where they understand it. I think the biggest part is the sonics of it—how it feels when it comes on. How it stands next to records that are topping the charts. The thing that these new kids don’t want to do is be out of style. They want to be in rhythm and in season with everything that is happening. They want to be in sync with everything that is happening. You have to give them the balance. Show them that this is current R&B but listen to what I’m saying—feel what I’m doing. Here is the blueprint on how to make that happen. I think that Savage, along with Sex Love & Pain II makes those statements.

Having such success in music, as a father and so forth–how do you create a balance between your career and personal life?
I can’t say that there is a balance or time slots for everything. I think it all just rolls with the punches. Sometimes I take my kids to the studio or meetings. I think everybody involved understands the movement. I am trying to be a great dad, R&B singer, actor, and fiancée. I want to be all things great, in so many different areas. Everybody understanding what I am trying to do, helps to move it along. I don’t think there is a true balance.

What would you say has been the biggest lesson that you have learned throughout your career in music?
I have learned that one– it isn’t personal and two–most times it is just business. We are so personal about our art because we are connected to it and it’s the thing that we are born to do. It isn’t really an attack on us personally, it is just the business of what this is. A record company says they aren’t going to release another 200,000 for your project, it isn’t an attack on you personally—its business. They probably don’t feel like you’re going to make it work. From a business aspect, you have to figure out how to be unsinkable as a business so that they want to give you that 200,000. That is when you have to understand the business, and being a professional at what you do. How to create that energy where the checkbook is open and you can write your own check. You can’t be in a personal space in order to do that. You have to understand what the business is and be able to articulate through your artistry and creativity. That’s a big investment.

When it comes to your latest project, tell us about your favorite songs?
I have a new song—the second single called Fuck It Up, it is pretty racy and sexy. It picks up where When We left off. I’m loving Everything—featuring Trey Songz and Ludacris– produced by my guy Slick. That track is letting women know, I ‘ll give you everything if you’re with me. I love Savage—it’s one of those records about a girl who looks basic, a regular girl. In actuality this girl is a savage, she’s about whatever life she needs to be about.

As far as artists aspiring to get into the music business, what would be the best advice you would offer them?
I would tell them to do it. A lot of people sit around waiting for the right moment. Now we are in a space where music can be discovered in more ways than just three. From streaming to SoundCloud—all these different things or moments where you can put your music in a space to be discovered. Where people will listen, and give you a shot. You have to do it. You don’t have to wait on a record deal anymore.

Back in the day, you had to have all these different pieces to roll a song out; you don’t have to do that anymore. Now people are just waiting for the new and fresh thing. They are digging through the crates in a sense. That is the beauty of the music business—the beauty of even being an individual right now. Because you have an opportunity to just be yourself and still be heard. You don’t have to follow anyone’s rules or regulations. Just put your music up, and let it do the work for you. My advice to anybody that wants to be a part of the music industry is do it– be your own music business! Put it up, let’s go!

What are your thoughts on the impact of social media in promoting your music and building your brand?
I love it, it’s amazing! I wish we had social media in 2000 when I put out my first album. This social media thing connects you to everything and everybody. It does give ignorance a bit of a bigger voice. But, you have to ignore those moments and pay attention to the benefits. You can have a conversation about your music in China or Australia via social media. As an artist you were never able to tap in unless you were there back in the day, or the record company was making the calls for you and using their resources. Now with social media, you have your own resources. You are your best promoter and advertiser—you are all of that through your social media. I think it’s golden. Personally, it’s been a major factor in keeping me in a current state.
My social media presence –people being able to see me at my piano, telling jokes, or working out—all of these things have contributed to people paying attention to me and discovering the music. Social media has been a gift—absolutely.

If there was one thing that you want your fans to know about your forthcoming project, what would it be?
I want them to know that number one –it’s a gift, and number two –Savage is its own project. It’s one of many projects. A lot of times fans get caught up on what they want to hear from me. They will get those moments, but my career hasn’t been dedicated to just one thing. My career has been dedicated to growing and exploring the gift that God has given me—seeing how far I can go with it. That is what I am always going to do, is grown, learn, and try to be better at what I do. Savage is another step in that direction. I request that at the least, people give the project its own moment to be what it’s going to be.

– Trisha Vaughn


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