"Watch out for the addict; he's always trying to bring you down, down, down," cautions Bo Saris in his silky, soulful voice, delivering a message that's grave but also chillingly beautiful. The London-based, Dutch vocalist has been quietly releasing music for a decade and, thanks to a new deal with Decca Universal in the United Kingdom, "The Addict" is his ticket to a new, overseas audience. That's fortunate, as the song is a welcome revelation.
"Personally, I believe every person has a form of addiction," Saris tells Billboard. "I had a few close friends of mine who were struggling very deeply with that. I was going through a rough time and I just wanted to write a song about it."
Saris lists Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, Prince, and Michael Jackson as his primary influences. The sound of "The Addict" is rooted in the past, but it's pulled off with such skill and genuine emotion that -- as traditional as it is -- it cuts deep.
The song serves as a sampling from a forthcoming LP Saris recorded with Andre "Dre" Harris of the production duo Dre & Vidal, who together worked tracks like Ciara's "Oh" and Chris Brown's "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)."
Saris began performing at the age of 17. "I had this old buddy of mine who was a great guitar player," he remembers. "My mother moved to the south of Spain, and we'd walk there on the beach in our bare feet just with an acoustic guitar and some percussion. We did loads of touring on the streets, little clubs, beach bars. Since 2004, Saris has released three solo albums and a live album in the Netherlands.
According to Saris, fans can expect a vinyl-only EP, followed by a full length album during the first quarter of 2014. As for an American release, Saris has been negotiating with several labels, with an announcement forthcoming.
"I always like playing in Holland because although it's such a small scene, you can still do quite a lot," he says. "A lot of people organize festivals and every town has its own little club where you can play."
Now that he's courting a larger audience, he's introducing himself to the music scenes he's long drawn inspiration from: "We don't have as strong a musical history as the U.S. and the UK, so we always looked to, 'Okay what is the U.S. doing? What is the UK doing?' But it's becoming better and better."