Since last January the soul world has been treated to a series of classy singles (and their remixes) from a new band, MF ROBOTS. “New”, however, isn’t really the appropriate adjective. You see the duo that comprise MF Robots are seasoned soul veterans. In the blue corner we have JAN KINCAID. Soul collectors will know that Mr K was a founding member of the Brand New Heavies and was with the band for something like 25 years! In the red corner we have DAWN JOSEPH – session singer extraordinaire (credits include Phil Collins, Michael McDonald and Cee Lo Green amongst others), solo performer and from 2012 lead singer with the Heavies. In 2015, Jan and Dawn jumped ship and decided to go it on their own and now, almost three years down the line, they’re all set to release that all important debut album. So what better time to dig a little deeper and find out more about Jan and Dawn’s robotics? Meeting up, we began by asking how that big break decision came about…..

DAWN: Obviously working so closely with Jan for 3 years, we discovered we had a mutual passion for music and knew that we wanted to develop a new project outside the band but it was all about timing. It was a natural progression. The time was definitely right to move on.

JAN: Yes, I was increasingly feeling a bit restricted by the Heavies formula musically and the way the band was being run and was ready for a change. Working with Dawn was a breath of fresh air but the stuff we starting writing together even within the Heavies time was sounding like it needed a new platform and didn’t really fit in that imprint…so we created a new one.

OK…. now what everyone wants to know…. why that name? Do you prefer MF ROBOTS or MUSIC FOR ROBOTS? We’ve heard both being used….

JAN: Either is fine with us. The name is a tongue in cheek dig at the state of the music business and its current tendency towards Generic sounding music and safe song writing style …there’s a lot of style over substance and a lot of mediocrity and little in the way of anything sounding edgy or trying to sound a little different…we plan our music to be anything but generic.


So how would you describe your music…. how is it different to what you created with Brand New Heavies?

DAWN: When we play live we have a lot of fun and that also comes across on the record. It’s almost a kind of escapism. Music in general should be a way of escaping and forgetting about the bad, the negative, and the problems we may be experiencing. It should empower you to think positively, whatever life is throwing at you. This record will definitely make you wanna get up and dance!

JAN: I think the music within the Heavies format was becoming a little formulaic and not really evolving anymore. In my opinion, it had reached the peak of where It was going to go It happens naturally in bands that have been going that long sometimes, also the common desire to make new music or change was lacking as time went on. As far as I’m concerned what you do next as a musician is more exciting than what you did 20 years ago. Being a new band enables us to be completely free creatively, to approach our music with an open mind. Making this album has been a truly liberating experience in many ways…a lot of frustration was released and a general celebratory mood ran through the whole process. I find working with Dawn very easy. Song writing is a breeze, and the ideas come thick and fast .I think that fluidity comes through in our music… it’s a celebration of where we are at and how good we feel about what we are doing…it just flow. I think our album offers a little escapism. A lot of what’s out there seems to be vey introspective. How many singer songwriters do we need singing so many angst ridden songs!!!! I know times are tough but it’s still ok to wanna dance or get away from that mood once in a while.

altYour debut album is due in May … why have we waited so long? I mean I think it was last January that we first covered you in SOULANDJAZZANDFUNK…. we were told then that the long player was due last September.

DAWN: I know, and I bet there are some people thinking that we hadn’t actually finished it yet that’s why we are delaying it!! I can tell you we finished it in the summer … honest.

JAN: In my experience timing is everything. We’re excited about our album so of course we wanted to share it with the world as soon as possible, but things have to be done properly. We wanted to position ourselves as best we could, and give our album the best possible chance of reaching our audience. To do that takes time; we looked around at several offers and opportunities as they presented themselves to us, and chose the best one. Now we have found the right home for our record, and have put together the right team around it. Here we are finally. The record will be released on May 4th as double gatefold vinyl, cd and across all digital platforms.

Our January coverage was about your first single… ‘The Night Is Calling’ – how did it do?

JAN: I t did exactly what we wanted it to do, in that it created a buzz for the band and got peoples’ attention. It sounded different to everything else around at that time and we were really happy with how it was received and peoples’ generally positive response to our new band.

You played live on the back of the single … how did the show go….what band did you use? Any other gigs since?

DAWN: Yes, that was the first show and it’s still hard to believe that after that debut gig at the Bussey Building, our first booking was in Georgia (Russia), opening up for Joss Stone at the Black Sea Jazz Festival! Then we closed the festival to a packed audience. It’s something I’ll never forget. We’ve since played the Margate Soul Festival, Sala Clamores in Madrid, and last month we played to over a thousand people at the Lotus Jazz Festival in Poland. It’s incredible to think that we are playing these great venues and festivals and we’re yet to release the album! We have a great band, who are all ridiculously brilliant musicians, who we’ve been playing with in other bands over the years.

JAN: We’ve actually done quite a few more shows since then and have had a great response to our live show…we collectively have had a lot of experience in playing in front of all kinds of crowds which is great, we definitely get the party started wherever we are and so far the response has been great, even when we’ve played a gig where only a handful of people know who we are. We currently have a lot of enquiries from promoters from all over about booking the band. .so look out… we’re coming!

altThen there were more singles – ‘Come On With The Good Thing’, ‘Believe In Love’ and ‘Show Me Love’ alongside lots of remixes … how did they maintain momentum for you?

DAWN: It’s been building really well with each single. You never know what will happen. I believe 100% in what we’re doing and that’s all that matters. It’s about building the awareness.

JAN: Yes – with each singe things are growing, we’re building a reputation for a quality product which we’re proud of. The reaction has been fantastic thus far, and it’s an exciting time for us… We’re really excited for people to hear the whole album as we’re very proud of it, we’ve put a lot into it .Each track too has been quite different from the last, that was deliberate to showcase the variety of what we have on the album., but lucky for us the response has been really positive despite the variety so we’re chuffed.

So – the album…. what can you tell us about the songs that haven’t been singles…..

DAWN: Each song has earned its rightful place on the album! Without sounding too clichéd, it has been a journey. Well actually more like a pleasant drive out in the countryside on a sunny Sunday! The lyrics were written from the heart, and it was a very fluid process, we seem to have a great connection. There’s a song for everyone on there, and we even get to duet on “The Greatest Me and You”.

JAN: I think it’s a record with a lot of depth in terms of its influences and this means there’s a lot of angles we’re covering…We go through influences from Prince to James Brown to M.J to soul, Jazz to hip hop to Stax and back again but we apply our song writing teamwork to the formula and come out with something that somehow sounds like us. It’s like a big stew, best cooked long and slow to get the best flavours!

Putting you on the spot…. which one track best sums up your sound?

DAWN: There a various elements that make up our sound so it’s difficult to say. But my answer would be ‘Scary Monsters’

JK: I concur, that one has everything in it.

Who are musicians on the set?

JAN Well, : Dawn did all the lead vocals, I sang a duet on ‘The Greatest {Me And You}’ and also on ‘Show Me The Love’ Across the album we blended Dawn and myself in the b.vs on most of the tracks to get a certain sound and, of course, I played the drums ,percussion and Keys on all the tracks. My brother Per played bass on most of them, Naz Adamson played on a couple…Ernie McKone played on one. Mark Beaney and Chris Franck played guitars… and the horns were Graeme Flowers (trumpet) and Andy Ross (saxes)…James Knight also played sax on “come on with the good thing”…

altMaking all this music –who’s the boss… be honest!

JAN: There is no “boss” it’s a collaborative effort. ..we both bring our skills and knowledge to the party and throw into the creative machine…if I have an idea for some music that vibes us both, we start throwing round vocal ideas, then lyrics and before you know it we have something…on a couple Dawn had a finished idea for a song that I then messed with the musical background and took it somewhere else.. all of these things happen fluidly and as I’ve said we’re both open to pretty much anything to get the results we want

Does your release mean the end of Brand New Heavies?

JAN: Don’t really know. I Wish the band well but they’re now masters of their own destinies so let’s see. A lot of songs I wrote in that band outright or some I co-wrote meant a lot to a lot of people over the years and I’m truly grateful for that experience and understand that. But in terms of the future, In order to survive, I think the music you write and make today is almost more important.

OK, so what is the official release date and how can we find out more?

The release date is May 4th…and all our up to the minute info is to be found online, on our Facebook page MF Robots…Twitter @musicforrobots and Instagram mf robots…