Van Hunt’s latest album, The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets, is the perfect soundtrack for a sultry summer romance. It is a soulful delight that is fun, fiery, sexy and sticky. Fortunately for fans, the fun wont set with this new release. ESSENCE spoke to seasoned singer/songwriter about how A$AP Rocky inspired him, his ‘Old Hat’, and what he’s learned from women.
1. Yes, that’s his real name
Van hunt is his real name and he’s a junior. “My grandfather found the name, but he wasn’t much of a talker. So no one knows really where the name came from. My father is older than the invention of the van (laughs), so I know it didn’t come from there.”
2. A$AP Rocky’s sound and style were a catalyst for this album
After his last release, What Were You Hoping For?, Van Hunt was trying to figure out where he would fit in this new marketplace. He was recommended to give Frank Ocean a listen. After listening, he was suggested a track from A$AP Rocky. “I listened to it and really liked it. The tempo was really slow like an Isley Brothers record. I figured if we’re all the way back there [today] then that’s right where I am! If he is a face of the new marketplace then I think there is somewhere we can meet. It all started from there. It also didn’t hurt that he was also into fashion.”
3. Diana Ross is among his fashion inspirations.
Van Hunt admits that Diana is “about as stylish as it gets.” His personal style is also influenced by Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, and Karl Lagerfeld (particularly when he was running Chanel).
4. Lessons from the Ladies
The number one thing he has learned about and from women is “that there’s something very powerful about being neglected. It puts you in a position of being able to surprise people with your abilities. I’ve learned that women have been able to turn the tables in that way within our very misogynistic society. Many men are chauvinistic simply because they’re dismissive of a woman’s ability to help them and even in some cases to even harm them.”
5. Love for the Ring
One of Van Hunt’s favorite pastimes is boxing. He started getting into it while making his last album. “Someone had bought the training for me as a gift just to distract me from the process,” and he has been doing it ever since.
6. Van Hunt’s ‘Old Hat’ is deep
The track "Old Hat" is subconsciously inspired by how “modern technology has taken away some of the things that we should probably hold dear. Things that have lasted for thousands of years like integrity, patience, intuition, instinct, things that are often dismissed in our society.
7. Headroom was done in less than 20 minutes
Van Hunt confesses that Headroom was his way of competing with soulful crooners like Adele and Bruno Mars. “I think they both write simple pop songs well. They are a throwback to the old music days of Carole King or Motown. [Headroom] started out as an up-tempo song but as soon as I got the drums in, it became a slow song. It was done in like 20 minutes, as my manager loves to remind me.”
8. Yes, Randy Jackson is still his manager
Randy Jackson has been managing Van Hunt since 2002.
9. Love for Chocolate City
One of his favorite cities to perform in is Washington D.C. “There are wonderful music lovers there. I love the energy there. I love playing for them.”
10. Teach Me a New Language
If he could pick up a new language tomorrow, it would be Portuguese.
“I can hear the Spanish base, but I can also hear the African [influences].”
11. From Words to Numbers
If Van Hunt were not doing music, he would be doing something in “applied mathematics or astrophysics.” He was an English major at Morehouse before leaving to pursue music. He was admittedly a “terrible student.”
12. His personal slogan inspired the name of his label.
Van Hunt’s label, Godless Hotspot, is partially inspired by his personal slogan, “Believers and non-believers alike agree: any spot without God must be hot.”
13. The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets is about Summer Love.
The last and title track of The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets “follows the story of a young couple who have a romantic affair during summer, and the romance ends at the end of summer. For him, its also “a way of saying life has its ups and downs. I enjoy that and I’ve been writing and saying that in my music from the very beginning.”