SB: We went a little deep there, so let’s take it in a different direction.
SB: I don’t know if you know this, but in some circles you’re considered to be a sex symbol.
RP: [laughs] In some circles? OK.
SB: Yes, in some circles. [laughs] So, do you consider yourself to be a sex symbol and how does being considered one make you feel?
RP: I don’t necessarily consider myself a sex symbol. I’ll look at myself in the mirror and be like, "Ewww," like most of us. Like, "What the f**k is really going on?" But over time the process of really acquiring that true self-love and the maturity that comes along with that — the maturity that it takes to actually do that work...and grow into that — I fully accept that aspect of myself and I’m aware that I possess it. And I’m also aware because of social media [laughs] how it impacts people based on pictures I post. Even outside of music — because music has its own appeal sensually and sexually — but in terms of the platforms of social media being able to project images, it amps up the whole idea of "sex symbol." So, I’m fine with it. I’m cool with it. I do know that I possess sexuality. I own my sexuality, and I believe that contributes to how people perceive it.
SB: Very good answer! [laughs] Since you brought up social media. Your Instagram is one of those that I suggest when people ask who they should follow in music. You always keep it visually interesting. I also know that you’ve been working with other artists as well, including contributing to Joi’s album packaging. Is that a new —
RP: Passion? Absolutely. I discovered that I had a passion for it in 2005. That’s when I started to embark upon being behind the camera and developing my eye. I bought my first real camera back in 2005 and from there it’s been a continuous learning experience and a constant rediscovering of my capability behind the camera and seeing my own potential in that area. It’s very exciting. It’s thrilling and it’s fun. I was happy to discover that I had a passion outside of music that was comparable to my passion for music. When we are fortunate enough to have a career and a passion that affords us joy and an enjoyment in what we do, we can sometimes forget that we’re capable of more than that also. We just kind of get stuck there and think, "OK, so I’m serving my purpose here. This is what I came to do and that’s it." We don’t know there’s more to explore until we start exploring. I was just very happy to know that there was something else, even though it was still in the realm of art, the idea of furthering myself as a photographer and becoming a director. Really walking down that road and telling stories in a different way. Visual stories where I don’t have to be in front of the camera. It was just a beautiful thing.
It’s thrilling and scary at times, which means that it’s a road I have to walk down. And to be able to collaborate with a dear friend — who is one of the most uniquely exquisite artists and influential in so many ways that people can’t even consider — our dynamic not only as friends but as creatives, there’s spark, there’s fire there. And it’s very comfortable. We don’t pressure one other. We say, "Hey let’s shoot today." Or I just happen to have my camera and we get in that mode and we start doing what we do and it just happens naturally. That’s the beauty of it. I was hella honored that she trusted me to capture her. I do know that when you share time, space and heart with someone and they trust you, that’s a big deal.
SB: So with your growing interest in the visual medium, does that mean that we’ll actually get a video for this album?
RP: Quite possibly! [laughs nervously] Quite possibly. As you’ve seen on my Instagram, whenever inspiration hits me, I’ll record clips of things just to help accentuate songs that you may have heard before. So absolutely there is the possibility of me creating videos for this album. Whether or not I’m in them is another story. It all depends on how I feel.
One of the interesting things about the industry right now is that, back in the day, the idea was your song's coming out, you've gotta have the video simultaneously. Nowadays, you have put your song out and let that breathe. Then you can put the lyric video out and let that breathe. You can extend the life of your song by putting out a video three months later. It extends the life and there's no cutoff time. Whereas back in the day it felt like there was a cutoff period and you had to rush and do everything immediately. Now you don't have to do that. So I'm kinda feeling that, honoring that. I appreciate that the single is out, and it's breathing on its own. There's no need to rush or hurry up or fill all this space that people need or expect. It's like, let the song do what it's gonna do. If there's a visual that goes with that, then yay. There could be a visual for another song instead. There's various ways of doing it now. Which I do appreciate. That's one aspect that I'm not mad at. As an independent artist, you can wear that s**t into the ground.
SB: I know you are always on the road. Are you going to tour in support of this album?
RP: I am. There are dates that are still being honed in on. There are dates that I do have like in Chicago and Nashville and a European tour the first week of June. Once the album is released, then more dates will start to come.
SB: Getting back to the album, one thing that I was pleasantly surprised by was that you really leaned into house music on this. What made you include so much house? It's a pretty good selection featured here.
RP: Well, you know, when you look back to, say, Love In Stereo, it ain't the first time on my albums that kinda opened the door to my love for house. And of course, there was the remix to "Where You Are" that really introduced me and house together. And then on After Hours there was "So Hot" with the four-on-the-floor. And of course "God" on Bleuphoria. So there's always been sprinkles of it in there. It just felt like it was time to give a little bit more. Like with every album, it always picks up from where the previous leaves off. So "God" ended Bleuphoria and now we have Heroes & Gods. Then we have more of the house/dance energy inserted into this record as well as a walk through my various albums, glimpses of feels and vibes from my other records. Just a very progressed and graduated approach to recording for the last 20-something years. It's like graduating with honors [and then] getting your doctorate, so that's how I approached making this record.