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Andy Allo: 'Superconductor', Mixtapes And Working With Prince

Monday, 25 November 2013 Written by Jaspreet Kaur Takhi

Andy Allo, remember the name. The Cameroonian guitarist and vocalist is currently on the road in the UK, bringing her funked out brand of soul to venues following the release of her second album, ‘Superconductor’, at the tail-end of 2012.​

Having collaborated with the man himself, Prince, on the record, Allo has been winning new fans over with ease, blending her arresting vocals with a new twist on the sound developed on her debut, ‘UnFresh’. We caught up with her to talk progression, her musical upbringing and working with the funkiest man on the planet.

Andy, ‘Superconductor’ is a fantastic record. What are the main differences between your two albums musically, and how do you think you have progressed as an artist?

I agree with you [laughs]. ‘UnFresh’ was more hip hop and raw soul with an alternative edge, whereas ‘Superconductor’ is a little more refined and incorporates funk aspects, big arrangements and soul. It's a great progression from the simplicity of my first album.

I've grown so much as a singer, songwriter and musician and in the way I process music and write new songs. I haven't stopped learning and changing. I feel with each album, I will introduce the listener to a different side of myself, just like we all have different sides to ourselves. We are constantly learning, changing and growing.

You are currently touring the new album. What are you looking forward to most about performing in the UK?

Every show is unique because of the audience, so I'm looking forward to the 'meet and greet' part of the show. I really enjoy meeting my fans and getting to know the people who make it possible to do what I love.  I'm working with a new company that is organising 'meet and greets' and having fans come to my soundcheck. It's going to be a lot of fun.

You were born and raised in Cameroon. What were your musical influences when growing up? And to fast forward to today, what artists are you currently listening to?

I was very lucky to grow up in Cameroon because I was exposed the rhythmic styles of African music and the sounds of Western music and instruments. I listened to Salif Keita, Miriam Makeba, lots of Zouk music, as well as Boyz II Men, Dolly Parton, and many more. Right now, I've been delving into EDM and listening to artists like Gramatik. A fan recently made me a mixtape of reggae music I'd never heard before, so I've had that on repeat the last few days. I hope I get more mixtapes. I love listening to new music I haven't heard before.  

A lot of people will know of you as a member of Prince’s New Power Generation. That is a phenomenal gig to get, how did you manage to become part of something like that?

I usually joke around that I saw an ad in the paper that Prince was looking for a female guitar player with an afro. If only the story was that cool. Oddly enough, we knew some of the same people. I had worked with the Africa Channel when they did a television special on my first album and a year later when they began to work with Prince, they were such big supporters of mine that they introduced us. The rest is history. I've been really blessed in my career so far. It's been a crazy ride and I'm just getting started.

You have been lucky enough to collaborate with Prince in the studio – what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from him?

Space is paramount. Due to the advances in technology and the ease with which one can make music, now more than ever it's hard to show restraint. But there is such beauty in simplicity and finding the right moments to sprinkle a little this and a little that in a song. Whether it's in the studio or arranging my live band, now more than ever I look for the space so the music can breathe. When there's too much happening in a song, the clutter just muddies everything. My brain hurts.

If you could work with any artist dead or alive, who would it be? A lot of people would say Prince, but you’ve got that covered.

I know, where do you go from there?  

And finally, what can your European fans expect from you on tour?

They can expect to be taken on a journey. That's what music is all about. It should take you somewhere. We're going to dance, laugh, cry, smile, clap, and sing at the top of our lungs! I just finished rehearsing with my band, and I cannot sleep because I'm so excited to play the songs.

Andy Allo UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Mon November 25 2013 - BIRMINGHAM Library, The Institute
Tue November 26 2013 - LONDON Dingwalls

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