Some people are easy on both the eyes and ears. Andy Allo is one such person. You might remember her as Tee Tee’s girlfriend on BET’s The Game. Or her flawless face is familiar from a Clean & Clear or Kohl’s commercial. Perhaps you saw the singer/songwriter/guitarist perform on The Africa Channel in 2010. You probably immediately vibed with the then-indie artist’s alternative, hip hop and soul sound. But if you’re an ardent Prince fan, you’ll know Allo’s voice from the revamped version of “ExtraLovable” and that she’s a guitarist with the Grammy and Oscar-wining icon’s band New Power Generation (NPG). Last month, she hit the Windy City during Prince’s three night "Welcome 2 Chicago" residency at the United Center and kicked things off at the House of Blues with her own listening party for the upcoming CD Superconductor. Allo’s voice is unmistakably sultry and sweet with a soulful, jazzy edge. Add her guitar playing to the mix and you’ve got the total package here. EBONY caught up with Allo to talk making music, working with His Royal Badness and more.
EBONY: Was "Welcome 2 Chicago" your first time touring as a solo artist?
Andy Allo: It was the first time performing with NPG in the sense that it’s new material that we had been rehearsing for the record. That was the first time debuting all the songs and debuting the band where they’re playing those songs. I played before when I had my own band before I joined the NPG. I guess this would be the first time starting a tour—a major tour—and really promoting a record.
EBONY: There was talk of a September 20 release date for Superconductor. What is the expected drop time?
AA: We just secured a release date: November 20th 2012. The record will be sold on the Allo Evolution Online Store. “People Pleaser” will be coming out; that will be available. What had happened was (she says chuckling) Ledisi is such a great friend and such a beautiful artist. She visited us here at Paisley Park and listened to some of the music from the record. She listened to Superconductor. She loved it. She was so excited. So, I think the next day she posted online how she had listened to the songs and absolutely loved them. She said, at the end of her post, “It’s coming out September 20.”
EBONY: What does Superconductor, the album’s title, mean?
I think people will feel Superconductor. I really feel strongly about this music.
AA: Superconductor, well, it’s all about energy really. If you’re looking to electricity or superconductivity there’s certain things that conduct energy very well. You can think of elements like gold or various elements like that. But one thing is the human body which conducts energy. So, with this record, what I want for people when they listen to it is to really feel there’s some energy in there. Whether you’re listening to music or you’re doing anything–or you meet somebody–there’s a transference of energy, you know? With this record that’s what I want. I want there to be some energy and there is. You can feel it when you listen to “People Pleaser.” Like you were saying you just couldn’t stop moving.
EBONY: How long did it take you to actually complete the project?
AA: Not that long. It happened really quickly. We had been writing together and I had been writing while we were touring. All of last year we toured Europe and Canada. It was really organic. The songs were there. They just needed to be arranged. And he’s, I think, the best arranger. I think it just happened so naturally. It was very fast. We knocked out those songs. We just went into the studio and it was like magic.
EBONY: Superconductor was executive produced Prince. Six of the tunes you wrote, but three you co-wrote, including the title track, with him. In addition to “Superconductor,” you also collaborated on “The Calm,” and “Gone,” am I correct?
AA: Yes. It’s “Long Gone.”
EBONY: Would you consider Prince to be your mentor? I know you’d been in the industry long before you came under his tutelage.
AA: Right. I wouldn’t say that long [in the industry]. But yes, I had released a record before and was doing things independently. Absolutely, he’s a mentor. He’s kind of taken me under his wing and taught me a lot. When he asked me to join NPG, it was a challenge because I was surrounded by these incredible musicians who’re years and years ahead of me. So, in that sense, it was a challenge to kind of be the new girl in the group. And also, I feel like I’m still so new as an artist.
EBONY: What year did you actually join NPG?
AA: Last year.
EBONY: Did you first join as a guitarist? Did he then suggest, “Let’s do an album?”
AA: I joined as the guitarist and vocalist. When we first