KNITTING FACTORY ENTERTAINMENT
Allen Stone: Building Balance Tour with special guest Samm Henshaw
- One (1) general admission ticket to see Allen Stone live
- VIP early entry into the venue
- Say hello to Allen! Meet Allen Stone and snap a personal picture with him
- Extra merch grabs? Silly Selfies? An outgoing voicemail message left by Allen? - Spin the "Wheel Of Stone" to find out what happens during the pre-show experience!**
- One (1) tour poster, signed by Allen Stone
- One (1) VIP Allen Stone merchandise gift
- Official Meet & Greet laminate
- Merchandise shopping opportunity before general doors
- Limited availability
**guest spinners to be picked randomly during check-in
- Customers can contact INFO@FUTURE-BEAT.COM with any questions concerning their package.
Along with immersing himself in a songwriting approach that involved unflinching examination of “some very dark and negative moments in my life,” Stone shaped the sound and feel of Radius by pushing himself to “get past the boundaries of what I felt comfortable with, so that I could progress into a whole new level of creativity.” Despite that sometimes-daunting process, Radius wholly reveals Stone’s easy grace in blending everything from edgy soul-pop and earthy folk-rock to throwback R&B and Parliament-inspired funk.
Radius first began to come to life back in the fall of 2013, when Stone headed to Sweden to join in a writing session with Tingsek. “His musicality is so outside-the-box, and it really stretched me as an artist,” says Stone, who’d tapped Tingsek as one of his opening acts for an 85-date headlining tour in 2012. “We just kept on throwing a wrench into the works and tried to create something that’s the complete antithesis of what you’d expect from pop music.” After recording the bulk of the album in Sweden, Stone rounded out Radius’s production at his own studio in the woods of northeast Washington and in L.A.-based sessions with producers like Benny Cassette (who’s previously worked with Kanye West) and Malay (a co-producer on Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE).
~Like many of his own musical heroes—Stevie Wonder chief among them—Stone pulls off the near-magical feat of channeling a weight-of-the-world sensitivity into his songs while still radiating hope and promise. And though that depth of consciousness feels transmitted from a more golden era, Radius continually hones in on issues both timeless and of-the-moment, with Stone’s breezily poetic lyrics touching on topics ranging from rampant materialism (on the tenderly string-accented, harmony-soaked “American Privilege”) and the toxic takeover of technology in art (on the gutsy and groove-heavy “Fake Future”). “That song’s mainly about how technology’s infiltrating music in a way that’s making it less and less human and taking all the heart out of it,” Stone says of the latter track, a soul-pop powerhouse peppered with playfully cutting lines like “Rock stars pushing buttons/Few actually play/City wasn’t ever built on lights and Special K.” And as evidenced by Radius’s lush yet raw sonic landscape—wherein the only hint of synth comes from a Moog analog synthesizer—Stone stayed true to his pledge to “keep fakeness completely out of this record” and rely entirely on live instrumentation.
Equally introspective and outwardly searching, Radius also finds Stone exploring intensely personal matters, such as depression on the stark and lovely, acoustic-guitar-woven ballad “Circle” (“That one was written at a pretty dark time for me,” Stone points out. “It’s about how depression can put you into a kind of circle, where you’re just trying to find a way out but it keeps on leading you back inside”). Showing his skill at crafting a killer love song as well, Stone looks at heartbreak and regret on the aching, electric-piano-infused “I Know That I Wasn’t Right,” slips into hopeless romanticism on the dreamy R&B pastiche “Barbwire,” and unleashes some starry-eyed affection on the dancefloor-ready “Symmetrical” (a sample lyric: “The angle of your spine/Is sending lightning bolts down mine/When those molecules combine/It’s astronomically divine”). And in tracks like the ultra-catchy album-opener “Perfect World” and the fiery, horn-laced “Freedom,” Radius unfolds into epically joyful anthems that show the full range and power of Stone’s vocals.
Stone started working those vocals as a kid, thanks largely to his parents’ influence. “My father was a minister so I spent about half my childhood in church, watching my mom and dad sing together and lead the congregation in song,” he recalls. By the time he was 11 he’d picked up a guitar and written his first song, and soon began self-recording demo tapes to pass along to classmates. Although Stone enrolled in bible college after high school, he quickly dropped out to move to Seattle and kickstart his music career. “I had an ’87 Buick and I’d drive up and down the west coast, playing any gig I could get just to try to put my music out there,” he says.
At age 22, Stone self-released his debut album, 2010’s Last To Speak. But it was his self-titled follow-up (on which he joined forces with former Miles Davis keyboardist Deron Johnson) that ended up earning him serious recognition. Along with entering the top five on iTunes’ R&B/Soul chart after its digital release, Allen Stone prompted him to score appearances on such late-night talk shows like Conan and grace the pages of publications like the New York Times (whose chief popular-music critic Jon Pareles praised Stone for possessing “a tenor voice with the eagerness and frisky syncopations of [Stevie] Wonder”). And upon partnering with ATO Records for a physical release of his self-titled album in 2012, Stone soon turned up on the likes of the Late Show with David Letterman and landed a gig as the opening act for soul legend Al Green. In the midst of all the buzz, he also took up a grueling touring schedule, tearing through nearly 600 shows in just two years.
For Stone, all that time onstage went a long way in preparing him for the many creative breakthroughs he’s made on Radius. “I think you really grow as a musician when you’re playing right in front of people, and for me constantly growing and progressing and getting better is really the most important thing,” he says. Ruminating on the emotional undertones of his new album’s title and noting that “the center of me is my heart,” Stone says he also hopes that Radius will ultimately help listeners shed new light on their own struggles. “There’ve been times in my life when records were my saving grace and really helped me to figure out who I am, and I’d love for my music to have that kind of impact on a kid who’s looking for his or her own place in this life,” he says. “Because I absolutely believe that if you’re going to stand at a microphone and say something, you need to recognize that as a privilege. You’ve got to be incredibly careful about it, and really put all your heart into the message that you’re sending out into the world.”
It might still be early days, but Samm Henshaw’s resumé is already chock-full of accomplishments. In the past few years, he’s signed to Columbia Records, racked up millions of Spotify streams with his two Sound Experiment EPs, and toured with James Bay and Chance the Rapper – both of whom, upon hearing Henshaw’s rich, soulful pop, hand-picked him to support them on the road. But things could have gone very differently for the 24-year-old. In fact, he says, “I could have ended up in prison. I could be dead.”
There was a time, during Henshaw’s teenage years in South East London, that he fell in with the wrong crowd. “I got caught up in a lot of bad stuff,” he says. “I got kicked out of my first two schools, almost got involved in gang stuff… I’ve been arrested too, which sucked.” As he watched friends and peers end up in prison, though, Henshaw realised that this wasn’t the life he wanted for himself. “I think I was always just sensible enough to say to myself, ‘Nah, I’m not gonna do this.’ There were some things that just didn’t appeal to me, as a person and morally.”
His family helped steer him in that regard too. “I’ve got great parents and sisters,” he says, “so during all the nonsense I was doing, I had people constantly reminding me, ‘Don’t do this. It’s dumb.’” Every week, Henshaw would sing as part of the worship team at his local church, where his father was the reverend. Doing so not only gave him a group of supportive friends, with whom he is still close, but kick-started the love of music that led him to where he is now. Performing in church, he says, “helped me so much in terms of my confidence and stage presence. I’m quite a shy person, so standing in front of a bunch of people and being able to sing helped me with that.” After putting an end to the “nonsense”, Henshaw earned himself a place at Southampton Solent University to study Popular Music Performance. It was there that he was discovered, when a gig he performed as part of his dissertation prompted a battle between three major labels, all vying to sign him. In the end, it was an easy decision for him to make: “I loved Columbia.”
Having turned his life around after nearly losing his way, Henshaw is now keen to help others do the same. “Musicians have this opportunity to actually influence people’s decisions and way of thinking,” he muses, “so why not use your influence to do something good?” How Does It Feel, a summery, gospel-inflected anthem, whose choral hooks and claps evoke the church music he grew up performing, distils his philosophical ethos into a song. “A lot of us talk about love, and we scream about it from the rooftops, but our actions are the complete opposite,” he says. With this song, which was written with Maverick Sabre and producer Josh Grant, and is the lead single from Henshaw’s forthcoming debut album, “I was imagining an alien coming to earth to try and understand what love is. And he has a chat with someone, and they say, ‘Love is being patient, love is being kind…’ Then he looks the other way and he sees someone killing someone, or someone being racist or sexist or homophobic, and he goes, ‘That’s the opposite of what I’ve been told.’ That’s what How Does It Feel is about. Am I actually showing love? Or am I just saying it, and not living it?”
Elsewhere on the album is Church, an irresistibly fast-paced, soul-pop song, which recalls a time when Henshaw was hardly enthusiastic about giving up his Sunday mornings to watch his dad’s sermons. “She says, Good morning, wake up wake,” he sings, before his smoky, playful voice bursts into faux admonishment, “Wake up and get yourself to church!” Growing up,” he recalls, “my fight with my parents was, ‘Listen, if you really want me to be into this, and get it, let me do it for myself.’ When I got to a certain age, I was like, ‘I’m done with this now.’” Eventually, in his own time, he found his way back. “Now, I go pretty much every Sunday.”
Both Doubt, for which Wretch 32 contributed a verse – “He’s incredible, he doesn’t write anything down, he just makes it all up as he goes along,” – and the bright, languid Broke, an acoustic soul song with a twinkle in its eye, were inspired by the spirited exuberance of Henshaw’s musical inspirations. While making the album, he listened to artists like Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Kanye West – even Natasha Bedingfield. “There was this warmth to all their stuff,” he says, “and when I listened to it, it reminded me of summer. I hear stuff in colours sometimes, and it sounds weird but the colour I always saw was orange or a darkish yellow. With everything we did, I wanted there to be the same warmth.”
Touring with Chance the Rapper in 2016 inspired Henshaw too. “I went to LA after the tour and hung out with him, and that was wicked. Watching him work is amazing; they basically rented out a house and there were maybe 50 people, and everyone was making music. I was super inspired.”
But it is Henshaw’s Peckham roots that have most shaped his identity – artistic and otherwise. Not that he was always particularly proud of being from South East London. “Because it’s got such a bad rep, and there’s a lot of knife crime and so on, I used to want to disassociate myself with that. But then you realise how South you are when you’re around people who aren’t from that area, and that background. My girlfriend’s from Winchester, so when I started going over there, I would realise, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m from a completely different part of the country.’ She’s white as well, and my parents are Nigerian, so then you see your cultures are completely different. I wouldn’t have learned any of that if I hadn’t taken a step outside of where I’m from. When I did that, I realised this is actually who I am. Now, it plays a much bigger part. It’s great to be able to do this, and to say to people, ‘Listen, you don’t have to be limited to your circumstance, you can do what you want if you put your mind to it.”
Ultimately, Henshaw hopes his music starts a conversation amongst the people who hear it – and maybe inspires them too. “I hope my music can encourage people,” he says simply. “I hope it can help change some lives.”