Maxwell*Maxwell is back with his first single in seven years titled, “Lake by the Ocean,” from “blackSUMMERS’night” – the second installment to his” blacksummers’night” trilogy—due July 1. The neo-soul crooner is going on tour to support the effort, and along the way he’ll headline the ESSENCE Festival June 30-July 3 in New Orleans.

Maxwell chatted with the publication about the long delay in-between albums, the story behind his new single, and he praises Mrs. Obama for being a “strong woman.”

Below are excerpts from the interview:

You weren’t supposed to make us wait so long for blackSUMMERS’night, so what happened?

Maxwell: I don’t know. I got gun-shy, I guess. I just know that life hit me in certain ways, and songs developed and evolved in another way. I’m not the best at wanting to experience certain things in terms of fame and stuff. And then of course with me it’s about breathing new life with real-life experiences. You just wait for that relationship or that thing to make you go, “Wow!” You also want to sonically be on point. You don’t want to play yourself musically. It’s like, “Is it good enough? Is it right?”

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What is the story behind your new single, “Lake by the Ocean”?

Maxwell: That song has been written for a while. It was [originally] a lot slower than what we have now. This record’s got more of a get-up-and-dance kind of situation. For me, it’s a weird spot in love yet again, that being able to be all right with the little that you have as opposed to needing more.

How will this album be different from the first part of the trilogy?

Maxwell: To me, it’s always about sonics. With the last record, we had that very live sort of sound. This time it’s got this sort of electronic feel at times. I’m working with the same people who worked on Urban Hang Suite—all of my albums, pretty much. That’s why we are always very sensitive to making sure that we are evolving.

Any particular highlights that you can tell me about?

Maxwell: Well I’m finishing up “III” right now. The coolest thing for me is for the first time name-checking a certain person, and it’s Michelle Obama. I feel like she’s probably one of the strongest women in the world. I wanted to pay homage to her because she’s a very special person.

You’re playing ESSENCE Fest again the weekend that your album drops. What does performing at the Festival mean to you?

Maxwell: It’s the ultimate African-American soul experience. It’s the Lollapalooza of soul music and black culture. All the people that I looked at growing up, you saw them there. It was tailor-made for us. And it spans my career. So it’s an exciting thing.

Listen to “Lake by the Ocean” below and purchase tickets to the 2016 ESSENCE Festival here.