Stylistically speaking

By on February 1, 2009

The Stylistics, the Philly ‘70s soul crooners, famed for their smooth-as-silk harmonies and legendary ballads  “You Are Everything,” “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” and their disco jam “I Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love)” are still bringing on the love. Original members Airrion Love, and Herbie Murrell are now joined by Van Fields and lead vocalist Harold Eban Brown to keep the Stylistics sound alive.

On a recent trip to Japan, TF had the privilege of sitting down with the gentlemen for a chat on love, life, and music.

What is love to the Stylistics?

Airrion Love: Well besides being my last name. [Laughs.] All of our music involves whether in love, out of love, want to be in love, being hurt by love, I think that all is represented in some aspect of our music.

Van Fields: A lot of our music was written when ‘romantic’ music was king. I think the writers and producers that came up with that stuff that we do was right on point on the “love era.”


Harold Eban Brown: Love is a universal emotion. Like Aaron said earlier, it affects everything and everybody. If you can’t give out love, everything else is useless.

Herbie Murrell: No matter what your situation is, if you put on a love song, it soothes your mind, soothes the soul. You’ll be going through trials and tribulations with your love affair, and you will find that one favorite love song that you like. You know what I’m saying? Put that on, and [it will] kinda put you back in that frame of mind, that you can work things out. Over the years, that’s what our music has always been about. We talked about being in love, being out of love, and making up through love.

What is it you do each day to keep love alive? Are you really romantic in real life?

Love: With a name like “Love,” I better be. [Laughs.]

Fields: We, like everybody else, think sometimes by being in the entertainment business that people tend to put you in a little box. We have those feelings also. The songs that we do, other songs that other artists do that we like ourselves, can put you in a situation where [you can go,] “Yeah! That’s my song!”

Brown: It’s like an author. When you’re writing a book, how can an author write about something he or she never experienced? So, how can we sing about love if we’re not practicing it on our own, in our own lives? I’m definitely romantic.

Love: Too romantic! [Laughs.]

How have your families been influenced by your music?

Love: Some of them were born! [Laughs.]

Brown: In terms of our children and our wives, when they go to work and school, they’re being put in a box too, because of how they look at us. We think of ourselves as regular people, just like you. If you work at Honda — my job is the same as yours. I gotta travel more, that’s all. And I get to sleep a little longer, of course. [Laughs.] Other than that, you got the same bills. You know what I’m saying?

Of all the people you’ve met throughout the years, who would you say was the most inspirational and why?

Murrell: In every act or group that’s out there, there’s always something to learn from them and what they do. Going back to the beginning, Gladys Knight and the Pips. Their thing on stage was about class. Steps and class. The Temptations, and their performances that they brought to the stage. James Brown, in the very beginning of our career was very influential, because he took us on a 46 one-nighter tour, so that allows to expose what we were doing musically. Over the years, there have been many. People that just came up and said certain things to us. They gave us inspiration to get a little education.

How do each of you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Love: Working.

All: [Laughs.]

Love: On stage. The month of February is a big month for us, ‘cause we’re working in the States but mostly every weekend. So we’re out helping other people get love. [Laughs.]

Check out the Stylistics’ latest album, That Same Way, featuring all new songs. In stores now.


 Photo © Elena Derevstova

About Martin Leroux