We had the opportunity to talk to rising contemporary musician MrLoveBallad. The artist's work is hosted on streaming platforms Apple Music, Spotify and Tik-Tok, where has has a growing audience of 99,000 followers. He spoke to PWR about his Angolan heritage, ambition to introduce a distinctive perspective to the ballad genre and where he hopes to see his compositions in a decade.
PWR: What drew you to undertake a career within the music industry?
MLB: For me, growing up I loved music, I always had a passion for it. It was always a dream of mine to make music. When I say dream, I literally mean music was an avenue that I never thought I could venture down. It was when I was able to get in front of a crowd and allow people to hear my voice for the first time that I felt it was something that I could actually do. I viewed it as a creative medium which I could use to impact people in the same way in which my favourite artists influenced and shaped me. When that happened, I started to think of a musical career more realistically and I began to pursue avenues in creating music professionally and experimenting with how it could define my life.
PWR: How have your personal and professional experiences shaped your approach to music?
MLB: To a great extent my personal experiences have shaped how I approach the production of my music. 90% of my work is autobiographical, I pull a lot from my life and my experiences. The more I grow and learn as a person the more it impacts my music and interweaves itself through the composition. The way I create is free-form. I write about spontaneous experiences and that is how I put myself into the music. The life lessons that I have learned are routinely present in my ballads and it makes me a better artist, somebody who is more relatable to the audience. Because the more experiences that I have are the ones which I can share with people who have had the same.
PWR: Which artists do you look to for ingenuity when developing your own music?
MLB: In the beginning it was very much Michael Jackson who was the first artist to inspire me and who is still very much an icon to this day for me. From there it went on to the Usher style of music. He was another impactful artist to my own process because I loved the way he followed in Michael’s footsteps.. Sadé influenced me a lot, Prince, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, purely by his writing ability. The way Stevie Wonder can compose a song is incredible. I don’t think there is a better song writer. I pull a lot from those artists and their talents because I want to be able to touch people in that way. To this day, those musicians inspire me and I still look to them when I am creating.
PWR: What drew you to compose ballads?
MLB: They just come naturally to me. I never really sat down and exhaustively considered the genre of music I would create. I naturally create this style of music. I’m a lover at heart and I love love songs, hence the artist name.
PWR: How do you hope to relate your love songs to contemporary culture?
MLB: I hope to relate to people through their basic emotions. We have all felt what it’s like to love I would hope. Unfortunately, we have all felt pain and had lessons we have needed to learn and grow from. I pull the majority of my inspiration from those emotions and my own life experiences. Experiences of love, moment’s where I have felt happiness, joy and moments where I have felt heartbreak. These are experiences we as a society could all relate to, so when I put it into the music.I hope the lessons that I have learned other people have learned already, or are in the process of comprehending, are reflected through my own compositions. And that they can serve as a guide to the listeners going through those stages in their lives.
PWR: What primary ideas do you hope to communicate through your ballads?
MLB: At its core, love. I believe there’s not enough love in the world , there is so much more love that is needed I hope people can feel that in my music. I definitely want to be able to connect people with love that’s one of the top reasons that I do it. Joy. I would like people to move when they listen to my music and have fun. And unfortunately a small amount of shared pain. It’s good to occasionally learn from our lessons and I believe when you can feel what that hurt has felt like for you, you can resonate with somebody who is putting it out there as well. In my view it helps.
PWR: How have your cultural and artistic experiences shaped your approach to your work?
MLB: I grew up in Angola so I listened to a lot of the native Angolan music growing up. A lot of Brazilian, Portuguese and Cape Verde music as well. Those have not been as present as I would like in my work. I have songs where I have interwoven those experiences and cultures but I haven’t released them yet. Mostly I have gravitated towards R&B because that comes really easy to me. As I grow as an artist, the more I create, the more I feel comfortable sharing more of who I am and the moments which have shaped me. I would like to incorporate those cultures, especially my own, little by little into my own work to give people a picture of who I am as an artist.
PWR: To what extent do you believe your earliest works have shaped your more contemporary pieces?
MLB: In the beginning, I had a lot of fun, I experimented a lot. I got to a point in my creation’s where I kept elements of the music more simplistic, I continued to experiment, but not as much. When I look back at my previous works, I recognise those high ‘wow’ levels of experimentation and how far I would go with each track. I want to bring that back and I have been to an extent. My contemporary song ‘Orange’ is R&B with an infusion of low-fi and an element of jazz. Looking back, I loved to experiment like that. I want to continue to do so and incorporate a lot more of it into my future ballads.
PWR: Which three words do you both associate and hope people associate with your music?
MLB: Love, growth and healing.
PWR: How has your African heritage shaped your approach to your music?
MLB: It helps me hear differently. As I said, I love the R&B genre. Being from Angola, I heard a lot of those cultural sounds because my dad was a DJ. My compositions, the placement of my notes and where I hear things is moderately different because I have a different ear for music. That helps me out a lot when composing and producing the ballads because it gives an unconventional cultural presence to the work.
PWR: What is your favourite composition to date and what was the inspiration behind it?
MLB: To date, I would have to say, it’s my contemporary song ‘Orange’, because of how vulnerable I allowed myself to be when producing it. Really what inspired it was looking back at a past situation and a connection which I no longer have in my life. And being vulnerable about the emotions that those experiences evoked from me. I wanted to really peel back the layers and unguardedly expose those feelings through the composition.
PWR: How do you hope to expand on the ballad genre within the field of music?
MLB: I want to be able to continue to do R&B. I hope to incorporate increased elements of my own culture as I get more comfortable and grow as both an artist and a person. I think that’s going to give it a different flare, a different flavour because it’s not just going to sound the same. I definitely want to be bringing back some of the classics and the emotions which R&B music has pulled from the listener. I really love the ‘soul’ music of the past and I want to be able to continue to both introduce that genre into my music and continue to reveal elements of myself. Through doing this, I hope for my music to be distinct and new, produced from an eclectic mix of genres, such as R&B woven with samba, and traditional Angolan music.
PWR: Where do you hope to see your music career in a decade?
MLB: A decade from now, I would like it to have impacted the world. I would like for people to really know my story, my upbringing, where I came from. I would love it if my music is heard everywhere, people are positively impacted by it and it makes people move whilst also pulling emotions from them.
Interview by: Sabrina Roman