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Artslandia Q+A with Boyz II Men

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Boyz II Men perform with the Oregon Symphony on  Tuesday, September 13th at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

When was the first time you sang with a symphony, and how did it feel compared to fewer instruments or a backing track?
We’ve been performing around the world for over 20 years, so we’ve been lucky enough to play with some truly amazing symphonies throughout our career! It’s always a great experience to sing with a symphony, because the sound is so strong and pure.  With a backing track you don’t get the full effect of each song, so we love when we get an opportunity to play with a variety of different instruments.  We’ve recently picked up guitars and started to incorporate them into our shows at The Mirage in Vegas as well!

Boyz II Men is obviously a world-famous household name. Do you think it’s important to reinvent yourselves to stay fresh, or to be consistent in your vision and ignore trends? (A case can be made for either; just wondering where you guys weigh in.)
As artists, our main goal is always to make timeless music.  Rather than doing what’s trendy now, we look at what our fans want, and pair it with our vision to create music that won’t just last a month or a year, but forever.  We’ve been lucky enough to be successful with our approach, and the fans have really responded to the music we make.

Your band is known for ballads that are incredibly earnest and emotional, yet lately you’ve been dabbling in comedy, singing “You Just Got Slapped” a couple years ago on How I Met Your Mother, and approving use of “I’ll Make Love To You” in the awkward funeral scene of Tina Fey’s just-released The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt. How do you feel about comedy, and what makes your heartfelt music work in a comedy context?
We love comedy, and love to laugh! We’re always joking around whenever we’re together. At the end of the day, our music is all about conveying emotions, which works well in a comedy setting. Music brings emotion to the table and captures different feelings, so we love seeing our music in this kind of setting—after all, you can’t get through life if you take it too seriously!

What’s each of your favorite track off your new record, Collide, and why?

Nate: My favorite song would definitely have to be “As Long As I’m With You.”  It’s really different from the songs we’ve done in the past, and we get to explore different vocal parts, which made it fun to record.
Shawn: I love the song “Better Half.” It’s a great song that we can either play with a band or just pull out our guitars and sing!
Wanya: I really like playing “Losing Sleep,” because it gives me the chance to showcase my vocal range and I love the dramatic intensity of the song.

What’s been your experience playing the city of Portland? What audience do you expect and/or hope for?
We’re very excited to play in Portland; we’ve performed here a number of times and we always love the fans and the energy here.

Tickets to Boyz II Men with Oregon Symphony