Usher on Moving to Vegas for Residency, Directing New Music Video (Starring Lori Harvey) and Work-Life Balance
Usher’s got it bad for Las Vegas.
The Grammy-winning star, who is currently performing in Sin City for Usher: My Way The Vegas Residency, says he’s moved to Vegas for music — and also for his family.
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“I began to curate my own little world here, so much so that I’ve actually put a flag in the ground. I’ve actually moved here,” he told THR. “For one year I’ve been here. I’m not saying that this is the end-all-be-all, but I have a place here so I can accommodate my family.”
The residency at Dolby Live at Park MGM has earned rave reviews, and he returns to the stage Friday. And this week he announced 15 new dates for June and October, with tickets going on sale Saturday.
“I’m trying to figure out how to create balance between my normal life of taking care of my kids and taking care of myself. The one compliment is the fact that I get a chance to sit in one spot and everybody comes to me as opposed to traveling around the country,” the 44-year-old father said.
Speaking with THR, the eight-time Grammy winner behind hits like “Burn,” “Yeah!” and “U Got It Bad” discussed his residency, his upcoming single and music video, a possible Super Bowl halftime performance and more.
How has performing at a residency been versus traveling the world during a typical tour?
It’s time-consuming and very expensive to move around like that. But the one thing is the time that you lose. Being at home, the one benefit is I get a chance to spend a little bit more time with my kids.
During the school year is a bit complicated, but in the summertime, it’s really fun. [Son] Usher gets better at basketball, at least he’s trying to. And Naviyd, he’s found some really cool camps here and he made some friends here. My littlest ones, they literally are happy wherever they are. We kind of live in this really cool mansion in the sky down here, so it’s pretty fun to be in the middle of all the action and then come right home and you’re with your kids.
What has it been like putting the residency together and also seeing such a great response from your fans?
Nerve-racking. I spent my life entertaining people — this is the point where I get a chance to enjoy myself. So I’m doing what I want to do as opposed to thinking about what I need to and wondering if everybody’s getting enough of what they need. “Am I getting enough of what I need?” is the question. I get a chance to sweat it out and sing and relive some of those choreographic moments and then have impromptu moments where I bring people on the stage to celebrate.
You recently teased your new song and video for “GLU” on Instagram. What can we expect?
Sean Garrett and Lil Jon, the last time they came together it was incredible [on “Yeah!”], and then they added the funk that is the Avila Brothers? Man, now it’s just going to another level. The Avila Brothers played in my band during my last residency. We’re not doing that anymore, but we’re now making records together. [The song is] based off of the energy that I think we created here [in Vegas]. It instigated us getting back in the studio and making something that we now are ready to serve. And Sean Garrett, he did it, man. He wrote a smash.
Is the music video done?
Yeah. I decided to make my directorial debut with this one. Lori Harvey was my lead. I shot the video and because it was Valentine’s Day, and I was so excited about what I was working on, I was like, “Let me just offer them something on Valentine’s Day. The day of love.” People love it, and now it’s getting ready to come out [and I’m] getting ready to give it to the world.
What made you want to direct this video?
I’ve always had some part in the creation of what I’ve marketed or branded for my songs, but now I wanted to sit in the director’s seat. I wanted to look through the actual lens and offer some of my vision and my view of how the song plays out, but I’m not taking all the responsibility. I had an incredible crew, an incredible co-director, Mike Ho, whom I’d worked with before. I actually saw him and Chris Brown as they did “New Flame” and I witnessed that process that Chris went through. Obviously Chris has grown as a creative and now shoots his own videos. It seems like a timely opportunity for me to go after something.
This song is about passion. This song is about a connection between this man and this woman. So I begin to spell it out and write it out. Me and L.A. Reid talked about it as we were launching this music together and he was like, “You know what? I think you should shoot it.” I was like, “OK. Well, shit, why not? I’ll go for it if I can build a crew.” I got an amazing crew and great producers to help me bring my vision to fruition. And art is far more than me standing in the booth or dancing on the stage. It’s also what people remember — the visuals.
Following Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance, there was some talk about you doing the halftime show. Is that something you’d be interested in?
It would be something that would be an honor to be asked. If there’s a conversation about it, then apparently my fans would love to be able to see that. If I were asked to do it, I would definitely.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of your Confessions album and the 30th anniversary of your self-titled debut album. What goes through your mind when you think about that?
Man, that’s been a long time. Part of it is you hear people say you don’t really understand how long you’ve been doing something until you look at your kids. But my kid is 15 years old. That means I’ve been a parent for 15 years. So my albums, they’ve always been viewed like my children. You know what I’m saying? I got like a 20-year-old and a 30-year-old.
I’m honored, man. I’m really happy that 30 years and counting I’m still able to put out music that people are excited about. I’m still making things that are relevant in time. I’m still representing for all the ones who paved the way, but paving [my own] way in this time. An entire family can come and enjoy [me as] an artist. You got grandma, you got mom, you got the son and you got the daughter — that’s a lifelong goal for any artist to be able to say that your entire family can come and enjoy a show or performance, like three generations of music.
Interview edited for length and clarity.