Interview: Funk Prince Denny Love Talks Exes, Prince & Being A Janet Jackson Stan
Denny Love personifies New York swagger with his rich barbershop quartet vocals. His voice is a throwback to old school singers of the Motown era. But don’t let the angelic voice fool you. His lyrics can be very risque and sexually suggestive. Mix that with his funk’d out performance style and you’ve got an artist that’s unique and intriguing. Luckily for us we got a chance to talk with the funk maestro himself:
1. How did you get started in music?
[I] Started with piano lessons at age 3 and after many solos and features (including a performance in 3rd grade of Celine Dion’s “Where Does My Heart Beat Now?” (laughs). I started taking private voice lessons at age 8. From there, I was involved in all the usual school music stuff but [I] did a lot on my own with my family’s support. I was able to travel a bunch as a teenager in a pop/musical theater performing troupe. We performed all over the country and abroad in England and France, including some talent competitions along the way. This inspired me in a big way to go to school (Syracuse University) and study music. I wanted to become a better musician and really train my voice. Post-grad I moved to NYC and started performing all over the city and recording stuff I had started writing in college, pretty much right away.
2. What was the first song you learned to sing?
The first song I had to learn as a child was my first solo – “On the Good Ship Lollipop” in kindergarten. After that, had to be the Celine Dion song in 3rd grade. I also got very much into Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson as a child, learning every word of every song and locking myself in my room and singing at the top of my lungs.
3. Who are your musical inspirations? How have they influenced your live performances?
Big influences include Prince and Janet Jackson. Prince was able to be fully himself, which I admired. I loved his confidence and his ability to be openly sexual, openly funny; He was just incredibly DYNAMIC and I put that into my music and my performing. I just LET IT OUT! I loved Janet’s rebelliousness and sassiness. Her attitude really inspired me because I was always dealing with barriers (like being in the closet for one). She performed hard, she danced hard, she gave it her all and it’s very much my mantra now. Give everything.
4. What songs do you enjoy singing the most?
Of my own – I love singing “Something in the Water” which I consider my baby. It’s a very very personal song where the words just came tumbling out. I love to sing “Fill Me Up” because it is super tongue-in-cheek and I love to get people’s attention and see their reaction to it. It’s also really fun to perform. Of others – I love to sing ANY Prince song and I love to sing some of my old classical pieces from my college days. I always warm up to this song “the White Swan” by Ernest Charles.
5. What is your favorite song to cover?
Favorite song to cover has to be Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” arguably the best R&B song there is. I recently covered The Weeknd’s “Shameless” which is a beautiful song that I love to sing.
6. Have you written any songs that were about past lovers? Do they know that the song is about them?
They are mostly about past lovers! There was a main guy that played a part in much of my writing. My heart was torn apart pretty much all the time back then. He would come to my shows and be front and center so he could look right at me as I performed them. He knew they were about him and he was into it. I guess he was into being uncomfortable! My song “Something In the Water” in particular, is about that relationship, right before I ended it. The song spoke volumes to me!
7. Who do you look up to as an artist?
As I mentioned before, my heart belongs to Prince, Janet Jackson and I also love and admire Stevie Wonder. To me these people are not only majorly inspiring to my music and creative process but they are real people. [They] have always been true to themselves as artists and been real about their lives and what they write about.
8. What producers would you love to work with?
Right now I’d love to work with Malay (Pillowtalk), Pharrell, and of course a dream of mine to work with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson).
9. What is your favorite tragic love song?
Does Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” count? I think so. That is to me the ultimate FEEL ALL THE FEELS. That beautiful, special love is basically ruining his life “…always smash the picture” It just speaks to me. That is real love. I ALSO love LOVE LOVE George Michael’s “One More Try” that songs KILLS ME to this day.
10. What are your plans for 2016?
In 2016, I have been very busy with my songwriting for pitching (to other artists). I recently got back from a sabbatical in LA for songwriting. Now that I’m Back in NYC I have some great live shows coming up including a second performance with Sofar Sounds and a public performance in Brooklyn Heights. We’ll likely be back at Rockwood and Knitting Factory this summer as well. Beyond that I am working on a ton of new material for an upcoming studio album/EP. It’s gonna be a busy one!