LOS ANGELES– Kanye West credits his dad for his risk-taking attitude.
“I like the challenge of having to win people over with a new concept,” West said in a recent interview. “My father (Ray West) was a salesman. And I saw him have to talk people into things and expose people to new ideas all the time. And I like that.
“What’s the point if you’re not presenting something new to people, that people might not be ready for, and exposing people to new ideas?”
Expect new theatrical ideas when West takes to the road this summer. West will launch a European tour featuring his latest album, 808s & Heartbreak, in July and expects the tour to hit the United States by fall.
Speaking on the set of a recent video shoot for his friend 88-Keys’ “Stay Up (Viagra),” West said he was excited to find new ways to blend his songs together.
“Being on stage, it’s the glory,” West said.
The producer-turned-rapper-turned-singer has consulted with many of the same people who helped inspire staging for his last set of shows, the “Glow in the Dark Tour.” They include filmmaker Spike Jonze, who directed West’s upcoming “See You In My Nightmares” video, and The Jim Henson Company.
West was alone on a colorful, futuristic tilted stage for nearly the entire performance of his “Glow” tour last year. It came after West’s mother Donda died in November 2007 and he had broken up with his fiance, events that put him in the mood for a less-than-celebratory hip-hop concert.
“I get bored with stuff,” West said. “The last one was done because I didn’t feel like doing a rap show, because of all I was going through in my life. All I felt like was playing with ‘Star Wars’ (toys) and being Luke Skywalker. So I figured you know, ‘I’ll do a rap show if I can just be like Luke Skywalker every night.’
“And so I just wrote my own sci-fi and played in it.”
The blue period that inspired that tour also set the stage for 808s & Heartbreak. It features West using the Auto-Tune technology popularized by T-Pain to sing in a hollow, distant voice about loss and sorrow.
He says he considers 808s as much a fashion project as those $400-plus Louis Vuitton sneakers he recently crafted.
“The subject matter was real life. The medium was melody,” West said. “And the format was very similar to the way people would organize a fashion show, moreso than an album. And I felt like this was my season. … I deliver my music more as a designer than a producer now.”