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

chaka-khan-this-is-my-night-warner-bros-2What do you recall of working with Chaka Khan on her ‘I Feel For You’ album?

DF: Besides playing on it… I was in the studio one day and watched Arif Mardin, the producer, editing 1/2 inch tape and flying in tape scratching sounds….for many hours. Arif  was a brilliant musician. He and Reggie (Lucas) made a huge forever hit out of a good basic song. Arif was able to get the best out of all of us as he was just plain old charming and relaxed. The overall sound environment that the production lives in was totally unique at the time and still is, at least to my ears.

MM:  Singing the chorus of ‘This Is My Night’ (which we wrote) with her in the vocal booth while she was chain smoking and singing her ass off. So much adrenaline I think I sang higher than I ever had before.

Of all the outside production projects that The System did, do you have a favourite one? If so, which one and why?

DF: Actually we put our all into them all. I really can’t single one out.

MM:  So many magic moments. Producing Ashford & Simpson’s ‘It Comes with the Package’; song writing a demo called ‘Wrap Around Girl’ with Mick Jagger; Gavin Christopher’s ‘You Are Who You Love’ – what a pure singer and spirit; Jeff Lorber’s  ‘Step By Step’ featuring Audrey Wheeler and, of course. Angie Bofill’s ‘Another Night With No Love In Sight.’

What memories do you have of making ‘The Pleasure Seekers’ album in ’85?

DF: That’s a big question….one feature was yelling ‘Big City Beat’ at Unique (studio) with Tom Lord-Alge producing.

MM: I remember recording at Unique Recording with the Lord-Alge Brothers…really great recordings and mixes and feeling like we had found our niche.

Don’t Disturb This Groove’ was a number one record for you in ’87 – what did it feel like topping the charts and what effect did it have on both your lives and career?

DF: I woke up with a smile on my face for months. It was everything I ever wanted to achieve. Still is.

MM: The feeling of catching the perfect moment when everything just comes together…for me it was a perfect combination of hard and soft and it really was the template for many grooves that came after it.

After ‘Rhythm and Romance’ in ’89, you went your separate ways – why was that?

MM:  Wish I had that answer!

DF: We had done five albums and probably ten others for other artists and Mic wanted to do a solo album so it was time for a break. We also had opened a studio which was a business that was difficult to maintain. Life teaches you. We are back!!

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

DF: ‘Don’t Disturb This Groove’ and the privilege of writing, learning about and playing music everyday all day.

MM:  Playing a little LA club, ‘Club Lingerie,’ in 1983 just on the heels of our first album followed by our appearance on ‘Soul Train.’ #2 little known fact: we were slated to appear on ‘Solid Gold.’ Not sure of the name. They film three acts and which ever two move up the charts they air on TV the following week. Kool and The Gang had ‘Celebration’ and then I watched a little guy in high heels (Prince) perform ‘Little Red Corvette’ – needless to say our ‘Pleasure Seekers’ ended up on the cutting room floor. I would love a copy of that footage.

What do you think your greatest achievement was with The System?

DF: ‘Don’t Disturb This Groove,’ ‘You Are In My System,’ ‘The Pleasure Seekers,’ ‘This Is For You,’ ‘It’s Passion,’ ‘System Overload,’ ‘Diabolical Love’ and  the whole body of work. If you printed it out it’s quite substantial….like my classical composer idols.

MM: We made some really good ear-bending records and created a style all our own.

What response have you had to the new album so far?

DF: It’s been great. Reviews couldn’t be better and it is a work in progress and a promotional challenge that we are enjoying very much.

MM: Really heartfelt shout-outs from long time fans and new ones alike.

Will you be doing any live gigs to promote the album release?

DF: Yes very soon. We are setting that up.

MM: We really hope to tour this record – that would be a great achievement.

After this, are there any plans for more System albums to follow in the future?

DF: Yes, I have sent Mic at least six track ideas in the last week. We will do something monumental. I just got some new gear and software including Access Virus Ti2, Elektron Analog Four, Ableton Live 9 and I’m studying and studying…. thinking of our next take on the ‘Urban Elektro Music’ of the future.

MM:  We demo’d an awful lot of tunes for this album so we have a well to dip from and after priming the pump the ideas are truly flowing.

‘System Overload’ is out now via Science Lab Records.

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