Interviews

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE... the Isaac Aragon interview.

Monday, 08 April 2019 14:07 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

alt'Love Bless America' is the latest single from US blue eyed soulster ISAAC ARAGON. if you read the savvy soul media you'll know all about it; if you listen to the better soul stations, you'll have heard it.... it's been critically acclaimed and winning plenty of airplay. Surprisingly, maybe, nobody knows too much about Mr Aragon. So, to find out more we hooked up with him and he started by telling us a little something about himself....

I'm 29 years old, and I was born in a small, mountainous area in the northern part of New Mexico, USA. Most of my adult life has been spent in Albuquerque, NM. New Mexico is a crossroads for many very strong and distinct cultures and the music I was raised on was a reflection of that. I was raised with the sounds of Spanish flamenco guitar, Native American drums, Mexican mariachis, Depression era Delta Blues, Rock and Roll, and of course the music that CHOSE me...Soul Music.

Growing up, then, who were you musical heroes and influences?

First I must say that I was brought to music by my parents. They played/sang old Spanish Catholic songs at church every Sunday, and it was they who put a guitar in my hands in the first place. But I didn't quite take to it, not even a little bit...there was no purpose, no incentive. I wasn't spiritually moved by music...until I heard Bill Withers. Bill Withers changed, forever, the trajectory of my life. Simplicity. Raw, sincere human emotion. I never knew how powerful the human voice could be, and how one could say so much with so few words. My discovery of Bill led me on an inevitable journey to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Equally powerful musicians and songwriters in their respective ways. These 3 true artists taught me how to speak to the world about society, about politics...and turn it into a palatable, beautiful experience. And it has since been my goal to carry that torch (making soulful, socially conscious music), while defining a voice and sound distinctly my own. A few other notable influences of mine are Donny Hathaway, Gregory Porter, and Allen Stone.

Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2019 17:10

 

ALL ABOARD THE BATTLESPARK GALACTICA - Bobby Sparks II Talks Schizophrenia, Chilli Sauce And Prince

Friday, 05 April 2019 07:16 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

      alt"My father made the best chilli in the world," says Bobby Sparks II in a deep, sleepy voice that possesses a languid, molasses-rich, Southern drawl. "He used to win chilli cook-off contests all the time. He was known as Chilli Poppa." The quietly-spoken 46-year-old keyboard player originally from Texas - who can heard on Snarky Puppy's latest album, 'Immigrance' - is reflecting on the inspiration behind a spicy number that appears on his debut album, 'Schizophrenia - The Yang Project.' It's a succulent funk jam with a sticky backbeat called 'Bobby Sparks Sr.'s Famous Chili' and is intended as a homage to his late father's famed piquant Mexican stew.

Though, Bobby Jr. might not be noted for his culinary prowess, on his new album - a sprawling double platter released via the Leopard label - he blends together different musical ingredients like a bonafide master chef. Indeed, the album is characterised by an abundance of tangy and delectable flavours. As already mentioned, you'll find some searing chunks of funk, but you'll also discover R&B, hip-hop, jazz, blues, and rock flavours together with elements drawn from symphonic and world music. It's a kaleidoscopic collage of sounds and styles that is breathtaking, and at times, almost epic, in its scope...

Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2019 18:07

 

CHEAP DREAMS ... The Eli Reed Interview

Thursday, 28 March 2019 14:35 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

altELI "PAPERBOY" REED was one of the first of the new generation of "for real" soul singers and he's all set to launch his next t album '99 Cent Dreams'. We last spoke back in 2010 when he was riding high with his long player 'Come And Get It'. That album had the backing of the mighty Capitol label and Eli's next LP was out on Warner Bros... before long, though, he was back working for the indie set up Yep Roc – also the imprint for '99 Cent Dreams', so when we hooked up again we wanted to know just what happend at those major labels....

That's am big question! A lot happened in between 2010 and now, some good and some bad. Unfortunately, major labels these days can be quite topsy turvy. Especially a few years ago, there was a lot of bureaucratic upheaval that went on, with people being shuffled around to different positions or losing their jobs altogether. It was a tough time for artists like myself because no one at the majors wanted to take a chance to push for a big campaign since if things didn't pan out they could easily be fired. Ultimately I ended up getting dropped from Warner in 2014 after a lot of my champions at the label either lost their jobs or were moved to different areas. I was quite disillusioned with the whole process and ended up channelling that to make the "My Way Home" album that came out in 2016. I made that record on my own dime and was put in touch with Yep Roc by my old friend Nick Lowe. They loved the record and were happy and excited to be in business with me which was a feeling I never really got at any of the majors I was on. In the end it was a tough process and I'm just now coming out the other side of it.

Try to define the differences between major labels and indie ones.... in retrospect do you regret signing with those big labels?

I still say that the answer is no and if I got the chance to work with a major again I most likely would. I think the major labels can provide funding and infrastructure that just about nobody else can match and if you're looking to make a big splash as an artist, that's the way to do it.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2019 16:50

 

STILL SWINGING - Sergio Mendes Talks Cheltenham, Sinatra ... and Pele.

Friday, 22 March 2019 08:57 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

  altWe live in an age where the words 'legendary' and 'iconic' are overused and bandied about my mainstream media commentators with indiscriminate abandon to describe anyone who's been in the public eye for more than a couple of years. But in an era of ephemeral celebrity, SERGIO MENDES is someone who lives up to the true definition of 'legendary' and 'iconic'. A noted pianist and bandleader, he's a bona fide legend of Brazilian music who rose to fame in the mid to late 1960s when he and his group Brazil 66 took the alluring music of his homeland to a wider audience with big US pop hits like 'The Look Of Love,' 'Fool On The Hill,'  and 'Scarborough Fair.'  Fifty years on and Sergio Mendes, who recently celebrated his 78th birthday, is still going strong. He's the subject of a forthcoming documentary, In The Key Of Joy, which is due for release soon, and is working on a new album, the 43rd of his career. 

Sergio is due to fly in and do a handful of concert dates in the UK later this year and his short itinerary includes a stopover at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, where he and his band are due to perform a 75-minute set on Saturday May 4th at 2.00pm. Ahead of his Cheltenham gig, the Rio-born maestro talked exclusively to SJF's Charles Waring about his forthcoming trip to the UK and his long and storied career...

Last Updated on Friday, 22 March 2019 11:23

 

NO KIDDING! August Darnell Talks Alter Egos, Cab Calloway, And Hails Kid Creole & The Coconuts' New Album, Live In Paris 1985.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 08:23 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

 

        alt"Our music was very difficult to categorise," explains softly-spoken August Darnell, the Bronx-raised creator of the 1940s-era retro hustler, Kid Creole, who together with his band, The Coconuts, brightened up our lives in the 1980s with memorable songs such as 'I'm A Wonderful Thing, Baby,' 'Stool Pigeon,' and 'Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy,' all of which were UK Top 10 hits.  "You could find our albums in Third World music bins in record stores," the singer/songwriter remembers, "only because there were some reggae or calypso in it. It was just bizarre because in my opinion it was just pop music, whether it borrowed from salsa, jazz, R&B and funk."

Darnell, now 68, is as charming and charismatic as ever and though he's  laughing at how his homeland pigeonholed his group's music, he's making a serious point. In Europe, Kid Creole & The Coconuts were huge, but in America it was a different story. Their music appeared to confuse some listeners. That's because in the USA, music was strictly segregated in terms of radio play, marketing and promotion and Kid Creole's fusion of different styles caused a consternation bordering on discombobulation. Musing on his band's failure to be wholeheartedly embraced by America, Darnell says: "I used to blame it on the dichotomy of the radio stations because in America if you didn't fit into a slot comfortably - if it wasn't R&B, if it wasn't jazz, if it wasn't pop, but it was all those things combined - then radio stations didn't know what to do with it. That was my excuse in the old days."  

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2019 09:56

 

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