The future is a tricky subject these days but Houston based artist Antonio Eyez is embracing it in his recent release FutureRockNRoll. Eyez released his latest album last month which he wrote and recorded while recovering from COVID-19 earlier this summer. .
“I can hear it in my voice,” says Eyez. “I was writing during COVID. I was trying to recover my voice because I pretty much lost my voice. I couldn't speak in full breaths because it has a way of getting into your bones and just making everything weak.”
Eyez describes how he began to notice that something was wrong when he was fatigued and easily confused and forgetful. When he sees people not wearing masks or hears them say the virus is hoax, Eyez is quick to inform them that it is real. “I’m definitely grateful to God,” says Eyez.
The experience inspired the opening track “Healers Gold”, a funky, melodic track that begins with a cryptic beat and equally spooky lyrics. “It was talking about myself. We think that these bodies are immortal, we play with our mortal selves thinking that we are the boss of certain things and it's like no, we ain't the boss.”
“When I was writing, I just kinda wrote where I was and what state we were in as a country, not because of Trump of Biden, it was because ultimately, we are all in some type of crisis whether it’s this pandemic or we are just in a stage of our life where we don't know. I just wanted to make music at that time for where we were and where we are headed, I think I'm pretty optimistic in many ways.”
Eyez is never shy about his admiration for his heroes, like Prince and David Bowie, while simultaneously incorporating his R&B roots, but with the appropriately titled FutureRockNRoll, Eyez took a step further into rock and roll and seems more comfortable in his own skin and sound rather than paying tribute to his influences.
FutureRockNRoll once again sees Eyez covering almost all the bases as he played all of the instruments on the album, he plays 20 instruments and previously produced his own albums, but it marks the first time the artist has teamed up with others to finalize the album tapping Monyea Crawford and Alvin Speights to mix and master the album.
“I actually like this album more than the others because it’s based on different spectrums. [Crawford] sent me the final mixed and mastered version and I damn near had chills. Sometimes when you hear yourself or see yourself through somebody else's eyes, they may see something else that you don't see and I was very pleased with what came out.”
Eyez credits Crawford for really helping him see the value in his own sound and the need to grow as an artist and move away from his associations to Prince. Eyez has frequently performed in Prince tribute shows, and though he doesn’t plan on stopping that, he sees the benefit of pushing his own growth without such strong ties to the past.
“That was a hard pill to swallow because I think for one, that was a real pivotal point in my life where I actually did want something different but I didn't know how to say it,” says Eyez.
“I think this is the first time that I allowed myself to really trust my management and understand that you don't have to do everything yourself. I know me, I can be really stubborn sometimes because when you create something, it's your baby,” says Eyez.
“I was very nervous at first but then I understood that if you want to go to the next level, you have to do certain things. In order to really grow, you have to let people do what they do.”
FutureRockNRoll is a short yet powerful album featuring six tracks which are sonic blasts of funky bass and heavy guitar paired with Eyez’s deep vocal range sliding from high pitched notes to baritone soul driven singing.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to sit back and look at the body of work and understand where each came from. I must say, I’m more proud to do a team effort with this record than my last record. It’s ten thousand times better because you have a chance to hear the raw intensity of what it is.”
During the pandemic, Eyez has been busy performing online and even recently traveled to Tennessee to perform with Chante Moore. “Sometimes you forget what it's like to perform in front of people. You just forget sometimes how engaging that can be because we are so used to this alternative now,” he says of the experience.
Through his new partnership with Crawford, Eyez had the immense honor of producing a track by ‘90s hip hop legends, Arrested Development adding his production style to their recently released single, “Onya."
“To be a part and associated with that is just mind blowing,” says Eyez of the experience. “It just shows that I'm not limited to just my own stuff, I’m not limited to just Prince stuff, I can produce a record and that gave me the courage to say, you can produce for others as well.”
He will be performing his original material at L.O.U.D Fest on December 6 in Katy and virtually on December 10 as part of lineup for "Another Lonely Christmas," an event organized by Prince Day Houston.