- Get In Media: Atlantic Connection Sets the Record Straight on Making Beats
- Jay Z, Ron Howard “Made In America” Documentary on DVD in May
- New Video: Chromeo – “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”
- Album Review: Ayo, Ticket to the World (Soul)
- Watch Snoop Dogg and Dam-Funk perform “Faden Away” on Conan
- New Music: Lizzo – ” Batches & Cookies”
- New Video: Ledisi – “I Blame You”
- New Video: Alice Smith – “Be Easy”
- SEVEN Questions with French Nu Soul Singer Osmojam
- Janelle Monae Hits Up The Arsenio Hall Show
Upcoming Album Releases
Apr 19 - Tame Impala, LIVE VERSIONS
Apr 22 - Kelis, FOOD
May 5 - Lily Allen, SHEEZUS
May 6 - Quantic, MAGNETICA
May 11 - 30 Seconds to Mars, LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS
May 12 - Chromeo, WHITE WOMEN
May 13 - Little Dragon, NABUMA RUBBERBAND
May 26 - Sam Smith, IN THE LONELY HOUR
May 27 - Avery*Sunshine, THE SUNROOM
May 28 - Róisín Murphy, MI SENTI
Jun 10 - José James, WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
DJ, producer, and musician Atlantic Connection grew up hearing theory, scales, and chords. Born Nathan Hayes, his mother was a professor of music and piano teacher. He started making music at age 16. Since then, Atlantic Connection has released numerous singles, EPs, albums, and toured. In 2008 he “switched gears and put a focus on music sync licensing,” where his career has taken him to television and film. MTV’s new series The Show With Vinny starring Vinny Guadagnino from Jersey Shore fame features his track “Hypem” from the EP of the same name as the show’s theme song.
Atlantic Connection released the four-song EP The Limit last year. In 2012, it was The Love Architect, a full-length album blending soul, R&B, dubstep, and drum and bass music.
Get In Media spoke with the DJ recently as he shared four misconceptions that new producers should know that are so not true, the beat-making process, as well as how he got started making music.
4 Misconceptions About Making Beats from Music Producer Atlantic Connection
Sample CDs Are Bad
Sample CDs are great for the simple reason the sounds are already cleared. You may have to dig for quite some time to find sounds that work for you. However, if you take the time to dig and think outside the box, I bet you’ll be surprised. Of course, knowing theory and playing original riffs is extremely valuable, but we don’t all have the same backgrounds and that’s what keeps this whole thing uniquely unpredictable.
Making Electronic Music/Beat-based Music is Simple and Formulaic
Sure you can throw some loops together, download some construction stems etc., but where’s the creativity in that? And how are you contributing to the innovation of the music? If you’re simply regurgitating trend expectation, you’ve missed the plot (and I’m not talking imitation equals flattery. That’s a whole other topic). Creativity is the only reason we’ve made it this far. Contribute or peace out.
One DAW is Better or Worse Than Another
At the end of the day, you should work with what works for you. I started with Acid 1.0, moved onto Reason. Used that for years. I tried Logic, but I just didn’t vibe with it. Same with Cubase. It just didn’t feel natural. I ended up with Live and I’ve not looked back since. Why? Because it works for me. So find what works for you and use it to it’s fullest.
You Should Sit Still and Be Serious While Making Music
No, get up and dance around the room to your song. Sing it in front of the mirror. Order pizza. Pretend you’re hearing it in a club. Empower yourself through your art. If you can’t, why would anyone else?
Atlantic Connection: I was born in and adopted from Colombia, raised in Boston, moved to North Carolina in high school and a year after college moved to LA, and been here ever since.
I was always into music, playing guitar, bass, violin, sax, piano. I played in a few punk/ska bands in the ‘90s. Fast forward, I cut my teeth in the whole rave scene in the late ‘90s, started DJing around 16 or so, started gigging out before I was even able to get into the clubs [laughs]. I started producing music around 2000 and signed with my first record label in 2002, and from there just took it up—tours, record releases, etc. Through 2008, at which time I switched gears and put a focus on music sync licensing, got a job with MTV, which turned into a six year relationship resulting in some incredible experiences and opportunities, which opened a ton of doors. I did a lot of TV shows, movies, and a few commercials, during which I was always asked to write electronica, so it all tied right back into my love. Now it’s all come full circle—the producing, DJing, all of it. It’s merged into one experience.
AC: The process of making music starts in many ways. Sometimes it’s a melody in my head. Other times it’s a sample I hear when listening to old soul ‘n’ funk records, or sometimes I just build some nice drums and add different sounds and stuff until I find a good vibe. Lately, I’ve found some pretty cool apps for my phone where I can scratch ideas on the go. Inspiration for me has always come from my experiences in life. I always tell people, if you want to know where I am in life (emotionally, spiritually, socially), go listen to the last three songs I wrote. My music is an internal expression of my external reception. It’s how I process life.
AC: This is going to sound so archaic. Once I’d written enough music I felt confident in sharing with labels in 2000—most were all in the U.K. as that was the core market for all of us—I would find the labels post mailing addresses and send physical demo CDs [laughs]. I would also go to every single club [and] event night within a five-hour drive that was hosting a DJ who was signed to a label I wanted to sign with and bring them a CD for the label.
But once AOL Instant Messenger happened, everything changed. All of a sudden we, the producers and DJs, were all connected through these secure chat windows with file-sharing abilities and we all got on music forums and shared our contact info with each other. The fans joined these forums and we were able to interact with them. The international community grew closer.
Within a couple years, not only did the U.S. scene get a lot tighter, but also a lot more of us started breaking into the U.K. markets because ideas and collaborations were more easily exchanged. Going back to how I was able to promote my music, it was through all of us playing each other’s tunes. Constantly supporting, camping up, collaborating, working under different names, playing weekly nights and interacting with the small community of magazines promoting the sound—Bassline, URB, Rinse Knowledge.
There also weren’t as many of us back then, so there was this limited element to it with all, in terms of skills as a DJ and who was bringing the freshest ideas to the table and who had the hottest tunes. It really mattered.
AC: Listeners? There’s every way in the world now, just pick your poison. TV execs? That’s a whole different game. I’d start with registering yourself with a PRO (performance rights organization) and keeping up to date with their newsletters and events. Lots of times companies like ASCAP and PRS host networking events and conferences dedicated to the subject of networking into the music sync-licensing world. You can also pitch your productions to music houses. You may have a sound they’re looking for. I know lots of young producers who have had success doing that.
AC: I’d say nothing is subtle and everything is out there. Nothing wrong with using another vehicle to be heard. Just be true to your personal beliefs and don’t judge others in the process. Future Soul? Yeah, sure will! I’ve just finished off a new EP for SMOG Records that’s full of it. So excited about it. One of the tracks is already in rotation on MTV.
AC: I came up with the term future soul back in my drum and bass days. Must have been around 2004. I was still living in North Carolina, listening to a ton of soulful, sampled hip-hop, which was heavily influencing my drum and bass productions. Aside from the community of DJs and producers I existed within, no one around me knew what drum and bass was. I’d try to explain it to them: “Oh, yeah, it’s kind of like soul samples with D&B.” They’d respond with something along the lines of, “So, do you play the drums or the bass?” So, I just started explaining my style as future soul and it stuck. The term in its current simply means the fusion of soul music with electronica.
- Published via Get In Media, April 14, 2014.
Budweiser Made In America is an annual music festival held in Philadelphia that features some of the hottest hip hop, R&B, rock and EDM performers on the scene. Directed by Ron Howard, the documentary Made In America releases on DVD and video on demand on May 19th.
Jay Z, alongside business associate Steve Stoute, created the fest in 2012 “as a way to bring together music and culture.” First premiering on Showtime in October, Howard gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how the festival came together for its inaugural show — which includes interviews and concert footage from artists such as Beyoncé, Kanye West, Janelle Monae, Run DMC, Skrillex, and Pearl Jam.
Signature Entertainment’s Jon Bourdillon said, “We are proud to release Made In America in the UK. With the collaboration of great talents including Ron Howard as director and one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, Jay-Z, it is the must-see music feature film of the year.”
Canadian electrofunk duo Chromeo returns with new visual “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”, where lead man Dave 1 (born David Macklovitch) plays a jealous priest. The pair, which includes Patrick Gemayel (aka P-Thugg) releases their fourth album White Women on May 12th, a follow-up to 2010′s Business Casual. Regarding the album title? In a Rolling Stone interview last October, Macklovitch had this to say: ”It’s ambiguous – ethnic guys [Dave 1 is half Moroccan, P-Thugg is Lebanese] making a tribute to black music with an album called White Women. “We felt it was a challenge to this super conservative climate we’re feeling in America these days… We just wanted debates like this to be engaged. It’s interesting that the music we make can branch out into these conversations.”
Once again working with Jay Newland, who produced her first two albums, Ayo penned songs about world matters as well as everyday issues such as people who “whine, whine anytime of the day” (“Complain”) to living life simply with just her guitar (“Hullabaloo”), and a song she wrote in New York about the riots in London (“Fire”), which is also the first single from the album. The talented guitarist also performs a duet with singer- songwriter Citizen Cope on “Justice,” a country-folk ditty with a blues-like quality.
However, a surprisingly sweet cover comes in the form of “I Wonder” by newly re-discovered artist Sixto Rodriguez. Sixto’s story was documented in the 2012 film Searching for Sugar Man, about the folk musician that seemingly failed as an artist in the U.S. in the ’70s, but become a huge hit in South Africa years later. The documentary was a fan favorite at film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca. Simply put, Ticket to the World is as powerful as it is beautiful.
Ayo was born Joy Ogunmakin to a Nigerian father and Romani mother. “Ayo” is the Yoruba translation of “Joy.”
Producer Dam-Funk and rapper Snoop Dogg (aka Snoopzilla, aka Snoop Lion) have teamed up as 7 Days of Funk to pay homage to funk performers of the past like Bootsy Collins and George Clinton. The duo recently stopped by Conan (Dec. 9) to perform the lead single “Faden Away”, a mix of G-Funk hip hop and urban soul that includes heavy synthesizers and basslines.
Dam-Funk says about working with Snoop, “Snoop is a funkster, too, but he’s a well-rounded artist across genres, so to work with him on this music is to further the sound. He’s beloved worldwide, so anything he says or touches or does, people respect and trust. And for this particular project, it was such a natural vibe. It wasn’t put together by labels or management — these are two brothers who came together.”
The record 7 Days of Funk is out now on vinyl, CD and cassette. Yes, cassette.
Minneapolis isn’t particularly known as a hotbed for hip hop, but it is known for innovative sounds in the soul and R&B category with groups like Mint Condition, The Time, 94 East and of course, Prince. Rapper/singer Lizzo is an emerging artist from the city that has the likes of NPR music critics taking notice. Her blend of catchy wordplay and confident presence makes “Batches & Cookies” a standout from the crowd, so be on the lookout for more of Lizzo in 2014. Meanwhile, peep her new album LizzoBangers and watch the video for “Batches & Cookies” below.
A follow up to 2011’s Pieces of Me, New Orleans native Ledisi returns with new single “I Blame You” from her forthcoming LP The Truth. In the Derek Blanks-directed video, the singer showcases a slimmer, trimmer, more confident Ledisi.
Regarding the single’s meaning, the Grammy-nominated artist told ESSENCE magazine: “It’s about a relationship and you’re excited about the person making you excited about you, again. So, you’re blaming that person for bringing some light into your life.” She also shared via The Singersroom,
“With every album I grow, and with ‘The Truth’ I’ve gone to a new level. It’s an extension of who I am and where I am in my life. Everything I am feeling and experiencing is in this album and I am excited to share it with my fans.” And we can’t wait!
Check out the video below. The Truth arrives in stores on March 11, 2014.
Last month soulful singer Alice Smith performed on BET’s Black Girls Rock! awards, an organization that empowers, encourages and celebrates women of color in the arts. However, weeks before the show aired, the Brooklyn-based artist shared her newest video “Be Easy,” a black and white montage of vintage images showcasing her in different settings.
Having been on the music scene for nearly a decade now, Alice released her sophomore album, SHE, in March, a follow-up to her Grammy-nominated 2006 debut For Lovers Dreamers and Me. SHE is a blend of soul, rock, blues, R&B and jazz.
Unlike mainstream artists who have large marketing and PR departments behind them, independent artists do much of their promotion and advertising themselves or with a small team of support. Paris-based singer and songwriter Osmojam will soon release her debut album Echappée, a project blending nu-soul, jazz and pop sounds, however, she will be doing it with the help of fans and not a record label.
The French artist, born Nadia Henry, will allow you to listen to the whole album for free via email subscription, and then you can make up your mind on the album’s release date. Once she hits 500 subscriptions, the album will be out!
Osmojam is a contraction of “osmosis” and “jam” like in jam session. Echappée means escape in English. Earlier this year, the indie artist released an acoustic 80’s EP where she covered American pop songs from the 80’s such as Janet Jackson’s “Miss You Much” and Wham’s “Wake Me Up”.
The lead single from Echappée is entitled “Avec une Idée” which translates to good ideas and ironically is about using creativity to renew and push us further. Recently the singer took the time to answer a few questions regarding the theme of the album, why it’s easier to write in French than English, her love for Brazilian neo-soul artists and the artists she collaborated with on Echappée.
Watch Osmojam’s “Good Ideas”
What can we expect on Echappée? What’s the meaning behind the title?
“Echappée” means escape in French. I’m both a very nostalgic person and a dreamer. The music I find the most moving is the one that takes me back to my childhood, when I used to listen to good old R&B, when I used to think everything was possible and I could become anything I want. Writing the tracks on the album, I really wanted to go back to these old Rhodes sounds you could hear on some of Whitney Houston’s songs or Disney’s soundtracks. I wanted the album to be an invitation to escape from the present and to go back to the time where people seem to take more risks while composing, both on the texts and the melodies.
Ironically, some people told me I did not take any risks with this album since I did not propose anything new, musically. To my mind, the risk I took was elsewhere: I made the music I wanted to make, regardless of what people may want to hear right now. I chose French, which is not considered to be the ideal language for this style of music, and on the top of that I chose quite unusual subjects for a soul/R&B album: music creation process, childhood, multiculturalism, boredom and disappointment, politics… So listening to “Echappée”, you’ll find groovy tracks, from R&B to neo soul, with a jazzy touch, not really addressing subjects like love and relationships. [Because I feel] there are already some people out there doing it very well [laughs].
The songs on this album are mostly in French, but your 80’s EP was in English. Why did you decide on French this time around?
When I compose original songs, it is really important for me to write in French because I have the impression I will never be as truthful in another language than in my native language. The director of my choir had these beautiful words: to really touch people, you need to use the language you’re crying in. Plus it is kind of a challenge to deal with the sonorities of French words, to keep it grooving, and I love challenges! If Joy Delalane can do it in German, it should be possible in French! I think French soul/R&B artists need to be more proud of their language and should promote it more, even if their inspiration mainly comes from Anglo-Saxon artists. For ”80″ EP, it was quite different since I did covers. My aim was to give my own rendition of pop songs from the 80′s, to transform them but to keep the lyrics. That happened to be in English.
It’s funny, though I don’t speak the language, I still find Echappée very relaxing. I’m a big fan of R&B duo Les Nubians, been for years. I interviewed Hélène Faussart in 2011 and asked her if that’s intentional, to make music that connects to the listener no matter the language spoken. She essentially said it’s about the feeling; music is a universal feeling. To that, what would you add?
I think she pretty much said everything. True, you don’t have to understand the language to be touched by a melody or a rhythm, or to even sing the song. For instance I love Brazilian neo soul (Patricia Marx, Ed Motta…) and I can’t [understand] a single word! You know the big impact American music has in the world. In fact I think many people in non-English speaking countries are used to not understand the lyrics, at least at first listen, and to look for the translation if they really like the song.
Talk to me about some of the collaborations on Echappée.
I collaborated with many French soul singers on this first LP. I met most of them in my choir “We Are One”, directed by the talented Obam Zoe Obianga. I have a trio with two-gifted songstress, Judy Benonie and Nkia Asong, who are very active on the Parisian stage. The song, “Un simple accord” (A Single Chord) is about how joyful and satisfying it is to make music with other people. Then “Déception” (Disappointment) is a duet with my dear friend Aldrick, who released his album “Histoire de” (This is the story of…) last year. We are both fond of acappella R&B so we did everything with our voices on this track. Then I have a song with the brilliant Ray Lika, who is also doing many of the backing vocals on the LP. Our duet, “Des crayons de couleurs” (Coloured Pencils) is about how time flies and how we sometimes regret our childhood. I also invited two rappers, TIS on “Metro” (Subway) and Nicky Lars on the remix of “Si tu veux rester” (If You Want to Stay), which is a track I gave up for free several years ago and decided to redo.
What inspired the Lady Gaga jazz cover?
Frankly, at first I disliked this song, but they always played it in my sports club and I ended up knowing it by heart. Then I said to myself “how about redoing it but in jazz fashion”? I know Lady Gaga is a gifted musician and she already did a jazz duet with Tony Benett. So I thought she would not be too offended with this version if she happened to stumble on it [laughs]
What do you want fans to take away from this album?
I simply hope they will be pleased enough to replay it several times, and I hope they will get what I’ve tried to do: make French grooves and tackling different themes than what we are used to.
Describe your music in three words?
Nostalgic, groovy, and frenchy!
Subscribe to Osmojam’s mailing list and listen to Echappée for free and decide on the album’s release date.
Janelle Monae electrified on The Arsenio Hall Show on Monday night with current single “Electric Lady,” taken from her sophomore LP The Electric Lady (Wondaland Art Society/Bad Boy). The singer danced and moonwalked across the stage with her trademark high energy and live band, which follows her recent SNL performance and Sunday night’s Black Girls Rock! opening. The Electric Lady is out on iTunes and in stores everywhere now.
Folk singer Valerie June recently stopped by NPR to perform a three-song set for their Tiny Desk Concert series. With an unusual sound that blends folk, soul, blues and gospel, the Tennessee-bred artist sang “Workin’ Woman Blues,” “Rain Dance” and “Somebody to Love,” from her acclaimed LP Pushin’ Against a Stone.
“Dontcha” is the new single and video from Syd the Kid and Matt Martians, better known as soul band The Internet. It’s from their latest LP Feel Good (out now via Odd Future Records). Vocalist Syd the Kid is noted as Odd Future’s DJ/producer and Martians is The Internet’s producer. “Dontcha” was created by Chad Hugo (of The Neptunes) and Grammy winning Michael Einziger. The smooth black and white visual was directed by Lacey Duke — who also directed Janelle Monáe’s ”Tightrope [Wondamix]” video featuring B.o.B. and Lupe Fiasco in 2010.
The Internet met through MySpace five years ago, but only formed the band in 2011 — which includes bassist Patrick Paige II, drummer Christopher Allan Smith and keyboardist Tay Walker. Having produced music for Odd Future over the years, they released their debut album Purple Naked Ladies in late 2011, featuring controversial single “Cocaine.”
Noteworthy releases for today.
Robert Glasper Experiment, BLACK RADIO 2 (Blue Note Records)
Following last year’s Grammy-winning Black Radio, Robert Glasper Experiment returns with Black Radio 2, featuring a who’s who list of R&B stars from Brandy and Jill Scott to Common and Dwele. Also peep the hilarious Wayne Brady interlude after the Norah Jones-assisted track “Let It Ride.” [jazz/R&B/soul/hip hop]
“THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY” SOUNDTRACK (RCA Records)
“The Best Man Holiday” (in theatres Nov. 15) is the sequel to the 1999 romantic comedy “The Best Man” about old friends with their share of secrets and relationship problems. The film’s holiday soundtrack includes tracks by R&B vets like Charlie Wilson and R. Kelly, as well as R&B stars like Fantasia, Jordin Sparks Ne-Yo and John Legend. [soul/Christmas theme]
Yuna, NOCTURNAL (Verve)
Malaysian singer/guitarist Yuna returns with her third LP Nocturnal. A blend of soulful, melodic pop songs. [pop/soul]
Last week Robert Glasper Experiment released the new video “Calls” featuring Jill Scott. The single is from the forthcoming Black Radio 2, which hits stores October 29 via Blue Note Records.
It’s a follow-up to last year’s Grammy winning Black Radio, and like its predecessor features a slew of R&B and soul artists including Brandy, Faith Evans, Lalah Hathaway, Anthony Hamilton, Dwele, Marsha Ambrosius and Emeli Sandé.
Noteworthy releases for today.
Amel Larrieux, ICE CREAM EVERYDAY [Blisslife]
Fifth studio album from singer-songwriter and former member of 90′s R&B group Groove Theory. (soul/R&B)
Donna Summer, LOVE TO LOVE YOU DONNA [Verve]
A tribute/remix collection from house legends Frankie Knuckles/Masters at Work, and newbies Holy Ghost!, Hot Chip, and Laidback Luke. (club/dance/house)
Katy Perry, PRISM [Capital/Virgin EMI]
Sophomore release from America’s favorite pop star featuring lead single “Roar.” (pop)
John Legend’s fourth solo studio LP, Love In the Future, sells us on all the good and right parts of finding a perfectly imperfect love. The great thing about the singer is that he’s so believable in respect to his admiration and very public romance with his new wife (model Chrissy Teigan) for which most of the album is dedicated, that you do not get bogged down in the intensity of the entire project.
Following 2010’s Wake Up! with The Roots (which won a Grammy), the “Get Lifted” singer also hit it big last year with the single “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” featuring rapper Ludacris from the Think Like a Man soundtrack. Though Love In the Future features a host of collaborations from Hit-Boy (Kanye West, Jay-Z), Ali Shaheed Mohammad, Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest, Lily Allen), as well as West and Dave Tozer as co-producer and co-executive producer, Legend still couldn’t lose by tackling what he does best — which is love. With covers of Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes” and Anita Baker’s “Angel” (a duet with Brooklyn singer Stacey Barthe), the album is a wonderful mix of old school love and new love perspectives. And the newly released “All of Me” video featuring Teigan just solidifies the entire project’s theme.
Must-spins are “You & I (No One In the World),” “All of Me,” “So Gone” and “We Loved It” featuring Seal.
Though Prince doesn’t appear in his latest music video for new single “Breakfast Can Wait,” the Minneapolis native is showing that sense of humor I’ve always heard he had. The video, directed by model/actress Danielle Curiel, an 18-year old whom the artist discovered is the clip’s main star. She’s playing “a decidedly sexier version of the purple superstar.” According to USA Today, “he gave her artistic freedom of the video when he read her proposal for it.”
The release date for the tentatively-titled new album Plectrum Electrum has yet to be confirmed, but it is expected early 2014.
Diffuser.fm says: “Breakfast Can Wait” became an instant viral hit due to its cover art, featuring comedian Dave Chappelle dressed as Rick James. The comedian’s famous impersonation of the late singer originated from his days on the 2000s series Chappelle’s Show.
“Breakfast Can Wait” can be purchased at 3rdeyetunes.com.
Source: USA Today
During the summer, R&B singer and songwriter Wayna returned with new single “I Don’t Wanna Wait” from her forthcoming EP called The Expats. The new project (set for release Nov. 12) blends the music of soul, reggae, bossa, jazz and a new international sound thanks to the gifted musicians she collaborated with.
The Ethiopian-born, D.C.-based Wayna was nominated for a 2009 Grammy award in the Best Urban/Alternative category for the song “Lovin’ You (Music),” a cover of the 1975 Minnie Ripperton classic. In a telephone interview in the middle of August, the talented artist spoke to me about her latest EP, the slew of gifted musicians she connected with in Toronto, life after a Grammy nod and whom she would most love to work with in the future.
Watch Wayna’s new video “I Don’t Wanna Wait.”
Tell us about The Expats EP. What can we expect?
The Expats is a culmination of a series of writing and jam sessions that I’ve done over the past two years. Basically I was working on a new project and wanted to go in a different direction; I wanted a sound that was more international and reflective of my Ethiopian heritage and the kind of music I grew up listening to, just reggae and dub and music from all over the world, bossa. I met these great musicians in Toronto; and I don’t know if you’ve ever been Toronto but it’s this amazingly international city.
People from all over the world and everyone there kind of gets and appreciates the various cultures that are fused within the community, so there’s a real appreciation for diversity and understanding of the different cultures. So that really translated in the musical scene [and] as a result the musicians were well versed in so many international sounds that when we got in a room and really just jammed, we ended up with something really fresh and different and that was the beginning of it, the start of it, this thing called the The Expats was based on that; around this group of international people coming together to create a new thing.
So, the sound of the EP is going to pretty much be a lot of world music, reggae and soul?
Yes, it’s like I call it “world soul.” Like this soul background that I come from but infused with this afrobeat, reggae, dub and bossa [nova] I grew up listening to.
That sounds pretty awesome. Were you intimidated at all by the talent because that entire team seems quite overwhelming?
Yeah, because it was a whole different sound and world music has its own kind of… there are different feels and rhythm you just have to get it; it only comes with practice or exposure really. But what I found out was that it’s in me. I didn’t realize that I kind of had these things in me when I just gave myself permission to explore it; I found out I could just hang.
How many tracks are on the album?
What we decided to do since it is a departure from my previous style; I decided to do an introduction where I’m just doing an EP for now to sort of get people accustomed to the new sound. Next year we’re going to release the rest of the material, so on this EP I’m releasing six songs out of what we did but we recorded like several more and I’m going to complete the rest of those and release those next year.
I mean with the recording process when you have so many different ideas, so many different musicians, how do you guys determine which songs to put on the EP?
That’s a very, very good question. And we ran into that problem sometimes because everybody had different ideas, but I think the main thing was that we all really respected each other’s opinion, so it tended to be like the most passionate idea won, like when somebody was very adamant about something being great we would do it. But all of it kind of had to go through the filter of me because I was ultimately the one singing it. There would be times they would come up with grooves that were dope but I was like I can’t see myself doing that, it’s just not me.
It seems like it was a very democratic process.
It’s funny that you said that. That’s exactly what our emcee called it; this is a very democratic process.
So who are your influences, who are you listening to right now? I’m sure a lot of the music that you’re listening to kind of had an effect of the creative process, right?
Yeah, very much so. You know I went back to the greats; I stripped everything off of my iPad and just refilled it with like the best of the best. For a while I was listening to only Fela [Kuti], Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, The Beatles, like I just really just stripped it down. And then slowly but surely I started to add artists that had different nuances that I appreciated. And then I worked my way up to The Police. Right now though I’m really into Radiohead. I’m going through a Radiohead fast right now. I’m only listening to Radiohead [laughs].
It’s like that sometimes. I think I was going through an Emeli Sandé phase where I was listening to every single thing that she had out. So I totally understand! So, do you ever feel like you have to conform to get to where you want to be?
Absolutely, in fact I had a mini crisis during the making of this album too. Some industry people were like “Oh, but we just want “My Love” [her song that charted on Billboard music charts in 2008] we don’t want anything new; we just want the same thing, we can sell that, we know the video format we can put that in.”
And it really rocked me, I’m not even going to lie, I won’t even minimize it. It made me really look in myself and ask myself like am I willing to stand on the creative decisions, the creative person that [I am] which is not a commercial, not necessarily a commercially viable path.
Like everyday, I already made those choices when I first started. I could’ve when I first started, I could’ve decided to make pop, R&B music; I could’ve tried to be another Beyoncé but it’s just not me. It was never me so I know that I will only be successful at being myself. The hardest thing is to be more of yourself and not less of yourself. But I feel like the more of myself I am, the best chance I have.
I think a lot of people, a lot of listeners, I know for myself, I can tell when an artist is being authentic in their sound where as when they’re trying to force a sound.
I think fans are keen to that nowadays. They know when an artist isn’t being real.
So I commend you for that.
I’m always curious, after you’re nominated for a Grammy, where do you go from there?
It’s a good question because the first thing that an artist who goes through that says to themselves, is “How do I get back here?” you know. And of course, I felt that and I wanted to get back there, and not only get back there, but [also] win. And do it over and over you know.
I think what the Grammy nod basically showed me was that a commitment to excellence will be rewarded eventually. Along the way there were so many shortcuts I could’ve taken, that would’ve compromised the quality of what I was doing; if I’d tried to do it faster, if I tried to not invest in the right mix engineer or if I didn’t hire the right vocal producer, that wouldn’t have happened to me. So it kind of reaffirmed the importance of doing high quality work; it challenged me to not only wanna maintain the same level but I wanna go even higher to do that. I think that was the motivation that I needed, like my choices were rewarded now I just wanna make better choices, different and better choices to get me in a better situation.
Do you have any dream collaborations, artists; independent or a little more well known, that you’d like to work with in the future?
I always said that my dream producer was André 3000. I mean because I’m completely in love with him [laughs]. I mean not in that way, maybe a little bit less so now [laughs] but mainly artistically, he’s so amazing. Yeah, he’s really musical. I really love that most of the producers I’ve worked with came out of hip-hop, like the phrasing, the writing you know from hip-hop artists. I would love to work with Common; I think that would be an amazing thing to do.
When can we expect a tour, performances rather?
So I am starting to do some shows right around the time of the release. We haven’t yet booked the CD release party in D.C. Shortly after the release; I’ll be at the Shrine on November 16th…
That’s in Chicago, right?
Yeah, Chicago and they’re the main soul [venue], a great venue for soul music and world music in Chicago. And I think I have one other date, and it’s slipping my mind right now…
Oh yeah, I’m playing at the Apollo [Apollo Music Café] on January 11th and the dates are rolling in, especially as we continue to promote the music.
Any plans to come back to Houston? That’s where I’m at right now. [In 2009 Wayna was arrested at Bush Intercontinental Airport and given a weapons charge for a 24-inch collapsible police baton she had in her carry-on bag; she uses it as a prop for her performance of her single “Billy Club” which is about police brutality; the charge was dismissed the following day]
[Laughs] Oh really. Okay, not in the immediate future. I would keep it open, I always said that when I went back, it would be a situation where I’d have my management, my band; just so that I was surrounded by people that I just could revisit that experience in a healthy way. I mean I love the city of Houston; I feel like a lot of the people got me through … that whole ordeal, I felt like I got a lot of love from people there.
If not Houston, at least Austin, because that’s right up the road from us…
Oh sorry, I can’t wait to go back to Austin! I think we’re planning to do SXSW.
Nice! Well, that’s all I have Ms. Wayna, anything else that you’d like to add?
Soul sensation Emeli Sandé stopped by The Queen Latifah Show last week for a sweet performance of her U.S. single “My Kind of Love.” The song is from Sandé’s top-selling 2012 album Our Version of Events. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
“Our Version of Events,” which was already the biggest selling album of 2012 in Britain, has sold more than 591,000 copies this year. Its total U.K. sales tally now stands at 1.93 million copies.” An amazing feat for a debut project.
If you have yet to catch the songtress live, definitely put it on your to-do list. I caught her in July at the House of Blues here in Houston and it was easily one of my favorite shows in the last twelve months. You can read the live review here.
Watch “My Kind of Love” below:
The British duo of Aluna Francis and George Reid, otherwise known as AlunaGeorge, creates future-soul with definite pop sensibilities. Fusing electronic music with R&B, soul and experimental takes, the singer-songwriter and producer are fast-tracking it with their debut album, Body Music.
The wild part: the crew has been dropping singles from the LP since August 2011, touring off the strength of those songs and amassing a dedicated fan-following in the process. With Aluna’s light-as-a-feather-vocals and George’s spacey production and instrumental skills on released tracks like the bouncy “You Know You Like It,” “Your Drums, Your Love,” and the snappy “Attracting Flies,” the pair also includes a great cover of Montell Jordan’s 1995 hit, “This Is How We Do It.”
In a recent interview with NPR, the duo said they included the track because “we both adored the song… We were doing some festivals last year and this year we’re doing loads of them, and this is all without us having an album out,” George admits. “So we were expecting an awful lot of people to listen to an awful lot of songs that they’d never heard before. And it was a case of having something that people would recognize in our set.” Aluna chimes in, “A kind of feel-good anthem that we could make our own.” Their version is a glitchy, R&B piece that still holds the essence of the original, but it’s entirely cooler.
Body Music isn’t all about sweating it out on the dance floor either; mid-tempo and slow winding cuts like “Outlines,” “Diver” and “Friends To Lovers” are well worth plenty of slow dances as well.
Watch AlunaGeorge perform a slowed-down version of “Your Drums, Your Love” for a VEVO GO Show in the U.K.
Original review appears HERE.
“Ridiculous” is the second single and video from R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn. The Ne-Yo penned track comes from the self-proclaimed Love King’s fourth studio album A Place Called Loveland, which is in stores now. In the visual the singer displays sweet admiration for his beautiful love interest.
DeVaughn appeared on the scene in 2005 with his debut album, The Love Experience, featuring one of my favorite tracks called “You.” Subsequent albums include Love Behind The Melody (2008), which included hit singles “Customer” and “Woman” – the latter nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008 for “Best Male Vocal Performance.”
A Place Called Loveland is a follow-up to 2010’s The Love & War MasterPeace.
Victoria Hesketh, professionally known as Little Boots, releases Nocturnes, a romp into the world of house and disco that is a delight to listen to. The first time I played the sophomore album, I swore I wanted to break out some glitter and neon lights and just dance my troubles away. No surprise, the word “nocturnes” literally means “a work of art dealing with evening or night.” Little Boots herself says it is “an album indebted to the night.”
Produced by Hesketh and DFA co-founder Tim Goldsworthy, Nocturnes, which was released on her own On Repeat label, is a near-perfect blend of delightful pop and fantastic dance tunes, reminiscent of Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, but with a lot of old-school analog New York disco and house influences. Goldsworthy crafted seven of the album’s 10 tracks. Favorite spins include “Confusion,” “Beat Beat” and “All For You.”
Below check out the first single “Broken Record.”
(original review posted at SSNYC)
Six years later, India.Arie is back with Motown Records creating, encouraging and sharing the music her fans have loved since 2001’s Acoustic Soul. Though it’s been four years since her last album, Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics (Republic), from the beginning of SongVersation, you feel that the soul singer-songwriter is in a much better place emotionally as well as creatively.
Recorded in Atlanta and Los Angeles, the energy of the project is just as honest and introspective as is upbeat yet melodic. Tracks like “Just Do You” (“Somebody’s got to be a star/Just do you/Somebody’s got to raise the bar”) and lead single “Cocoa Butter” (“Your love is like cocoa butter on my heart/I show you my burns/You show me lessons learned”) spill over with that signature empowering and loving vibe.
SongVersation includes 20 tracks, 11 of which feature Turkish musicians, including percussionists, horn players, and an oudist. Gramps Morgan from famed reggae band Morgan Heritage appears on the lovely “Thy Will Be Done.” Below is the video for “Cocoa Butter” as well as the album’s track list.
India.Arie | SongVersation | Neo-Soul | Soulbird/Motown Records
01. “SoulBird Intro”
02. “Just Do You”
03. “This Love”
04. “Nothing That I Love More”
06. “Cocoa Butter”
07. “SoulBird Interlude: Trombone”
08. “Moved By You”
09. “Life I Know”
10. “Break The Shell”
11. “SoulBird Rise”
12. “Thy Will Be Done (feat. Gramps Morgan)
13. “Brother’s Keeper”
15. “SoulBird Outro: Clarinet”
16. “I Am Light”
17. “SoulBird Reprise: Ney”
18. “Thank You”
19. “6th Avenue”
20. “Strange Fruit”
Original review posted at SSNYC.