Ahead of the release of his new album, Darkness and Light, on Friday, John Legend has covered Jocks & Nerds magazine.
As well as an incredible photo shoot, Legend spoke to Mark Webster about his musical influences, his album title, his production company, ‘Get Lifted Film Company’, as well as his movie based on the beginning of Barack and Michelle Obama’s relationship, ‘Southside With You’.
During the interview, Legend opened up about his musical influences. He said, “I look to artists like Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers for inspiration more than any other artists. I consider myself to be someone who is part of a legacy, but doing it in my own way. I’m not trying to directly mimic what they’ve done, but I’m highly influenced by them and my goal is to take that influence and make something that is fresh and new.”
“They sang about love and relationships in a really beautiful, sensual way, but they also sang about love in a broader sense: love for mankind, love for justice and love for peace.”
Darkness and Light is Legend’s first album in three years and has been highly anticipated across the globe. Speaking of how he decided on the name, he said: “While ‘Darkness and Light’ is the name of one of the songs, those words kept coming back to me. There’s a lot of darkness in the world, pain and conflict. But the album also represents the desire to find light, optimism, love and joy in the midst of all that.”
As well as being in the music industry, Legend has made the transition into acting and film production. Speaking of moving into this area, he said: “I approached acting in the film business more as a musician than as a producer. I’d gotten involved with a lot of films as songwriter but when I started my company it was a process that involved finding the right directors, finding the right cast, telling the right stories. And I think a lot of that comes from my own political sensibilities. A lot of the work we’ve been doing reflects a lot of the issues I care about politically. But also there’s simply my love of great storytelling and my love of great music in relation to telling those stories.”
Legend was an executive producer on the movie ‘Southside With You’, based on the beginning of Barack and Michelle Obama’s relationship. Talking about the Obamas, Legend said: “I think now was a great time [for ‘Southside With You’] because a lot of people are feeling pretty nostalgic about the first couple and how historically significant they are given that he was the first black President, she was the first black First Lady, but also how graceful and elegant and strong they have been as leaders of the country over the last eight years. And I think people are rightfully intrigued by their relationship and how they met. We thought it was a great story to tell. Films will be made about his career as a politician but I think it takes a little more time to have perspective on that kind of story.”
Read the full interview when Jocks & Nerds is released on December 1.
Darkness and Light is available on Friday.