THE SYSTEM REBOOTED – Electro-soul pioneers DAVID FRANK AND MIC MURPHY talk to SJF about their new album, ‘System Overload.’

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The_System_-_SweatWhat equipment did you use to get the classic System sound?

DF: Oberheim OB8, DSX, DMX, and a Mini Moog was the start…

MM: The early System was quite simple Oberheim, DMX, DSX, OB8, and Mini Moog.

Whose idea was the name ‘The System’?

DF: Mic Murphy, ladies and gentleman!!

MM: That’s my concoction…In 1981 the people’s technological revolution was just beginning. The hippest item was the Walkman and the Baby Apple computer. Everything was a system – a sound system and the system as in “we the people.” The subtext was that we come from completely different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

How did you get to sign with Mirage Records?

DF: Jim Delahante was the A&R man who signed us. He loved ‘It’s Passion’ which was our first hit – our first song too. It was on the radio in regular rotation in NYC and LA within 4 weeks of our completing recording.

MM: As a result of my stint with Kleeer I knew two record execs; Jim Delehante at Atlantic and Ray Caviano of RFC Warner and they took my phone call. I had my mentor, Dennis King, who was the manager of Kleeer and head mastering engineer at Atlantic Records, press up three lacquers of ‘It’s Passion’ the morning after we recorded it and I was able to walk it over to Jim and Ray. Jim called Jerry Greenberg (Mirage boss) in for a listen and he signed us on the spot.

Your breakout hit was ‘You Are In My System’ – do you remember how that song came about?

DF: Yes. LOL……ok I’ll let Mic tell you.

MM:  We were given the opportunity to record an album instead of another 12-inch and one day at the music building  David played me this musical idea which he was a little shy about. I immediately recognized what was great about it. I flipped his chorus idea into the verse and the verse idea into the chorus and convinced him that it was hot and came up with the hook on the spot.

Robert Palmer later covered the song – how did that feel?

DF: Great. He was a favourite of ours. It is a worthy cover.

MM: I had been a fan of Robert Palmer from my Jack Sass days.  We used to cover ‘Sneaking Sally In The Alley’ at our shows. So I was completely over the moon when we were informed that he was cutting a version. Sure did help our credibility real quick.

In ’84 you had a song, ‘Baptise The Beat,’ on the ‘Beat Street’ movie – how did that come about?

DF: They were making the movie in NY and asked us to be in it because we were a big part of the NY music scene, Check out the new remixes of it on Electro Ave Records. So much fun!!

MM: We were asked by Atlantic to screen the movie and we wrote the song the next day and we were very fortunate to have it included in the soundtrack. Once again we came up with something quite unusual in beat and approach and it worked. I love when that happens.

You also performed the title song on the Eddie Murphy movie, ‘Coming To America’ – how did you get involved with the movie?

DF: We didn’t write that song. Nile Rogers did. The soundtrack was on Atlantic and they wanted us to do that song. It was great working with Nile.

MM:  Actually Nile Rogers produced the soundtrack and wrote the song – we provided the System flavour.