Category Archives: Interview

Meet: The Brothers Footman (Interview)

The Brothers Footman are literally four brothers, a cousin and a close friend newly formed in their mission of making genre-defying music. The brothers, Dikembe, Gerald, Micah and Joshua were raised in a close-knit household where their parents preferred gospel music. As they came of age, the discovery of other sonic worlds took over and their budding musicianship grew beyond their childhood influences. It was an unplanned bump in their daily routine that spurred the Indiana natives to casually share their music on the Internet. They were seen by indie label Victory Music Buzz within a year of posting and soon had a deal. 

Whether it’s the R&B and country sound of “Clear Country Sky” or the doo-wop and rock-influenced “A Lil Mo’ Time” the band’s collective voice paints a lasting memory after one listen because of their singular style. This summer they are touring and releasing new singles as they continue to hone their playing, writing and smooth harmonies. Dikembe, who sings and plays guitar, shares their story and some details about how The Brothers Footman dove into music and where they are headed next in their odyssey. 

 

I feel like people are missing out on so much music because we have categorized it so crazy”

How did you and your brothers become artists?

It started when we were little kids both of my parents were involved in music in different groups singing and stuff in church. The whole family plays so we pretty much started then but we never tried to be a band together until about I’d say about six months ago.

Do you play an instrument as well?

I do, I play the guitar and Gerald plays the piano Josh plays the drums but he’s also a front man and then Micah plays the bass and then we got Zack Craft on the guitar and Don Reynolds on the drums.

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NUEX Talks The Affectus EP & Finding Their Way (Interview)

Credit: Brandon Shields

Camille Michelle Gray and Teddy Aitkins are the D.C. based indie duo NUEX. Their explorations into electronic sounds are somber, joyful and carry a sense of rebirth. They just released five new emotionally nuanced songs for their Affectus EP. The journey started when they met four years ago and started making music together within days of meeting each other. Aitkins’ transcendent production and Gray’s celestial vocals are part of a sonic world that is open and full of intensely layered feelings. In the interview below, they talk about their origins, the Affectus EP and why they call themselves NUEX. 

“Revenge, hopefulness, melancholy, hubris, enjoyment”-Camille

Are both of you from D.C.?

Teddy: I am from many places. I was born in Liberia West Africa. My family came here as refugees in the ’90s and we lived in the D.C. area (Silver Spring). I ended up getting heavy into music in my early teen years and played in several punk and Go-Go bands which got be involved in the D.C. music scene. I moved to other places after high school and after being away from home for about 10 years, I moved back to the area. Home sweet home.

Camille: I am!

Is there anything about D.C. that influences your music?

Teddy: I think we are naturally influenced by all of our experiences and surroundings, so inherently, yes.

Camille: Not anything inherent to D.C., no. But the city has always been a backdrop to a lot of my experiences, some of which I write about on the EP. So in that way it has a passive influence.

How did you find your way into music making?

Teddy: My first instruments were, tuba and trumpet but that was mandatory at the time..this was in fourth and fifth grade, so eons ago. Then sometime in sixth grade, the snare drummer for the school concert band wasn’t in attendance and I was asked to fill-in for some reason and I ended up having a lot of fun. It just came natural for me. I became the permanent snare drummer, then the marching band drummer, then I upgraded to becoming the marching bandleader, then high school (and college) jazz drummer until I started my own bands. Did a bunch of fun goofy talent show stuff in high school for my hip-hop band, Go-Go band, and punk band. During my college years, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a few regional and national touring bands where I really developed my chops in the studio and playing live. I like to think that all of that was getting me ready for now. Being the co-founder for this wonderful band that Camille and I call NUEX. Watch Out World!

Credit: Brandon Shields

Camille: I’ve been music-ing for 20 years. So I think it found its way into me rather than the other way around (hahahahahahaa, cheesy). I wrote my first song at eight. I was enrolled in violin early on, always in some orchestra or performance group. Dabbled in the keyboard. Then I graduated into guitar and honing my singing-songwriting that way, later doing YouTube covers and features with hip-hop artists. And 20 years later I am who I am now. Music was the foundation of my life. Always will be.

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The Last Poets Understand What Black Is (Interview)

Fifty years ago The Last Poets formed as a group in Marcus Garvey Park on what would have been Malcolm X’s 43rd birthday. The outspoken minister and activist was killed three years earlier in 1965 amidst civil rights turmoil in the country and a serious disagreement with Nation Of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. The group emerged with their self-titled album in 1970 and took America to task for its racism as a trio of two poets and a percussionist. Their Pro-Black poetry was in the same class as the work of Gil Scott-Heron who also admonished America’s racist practices with the eloquence of jazz.

It has been 20 years since The Last Poets released Time Has Come. Black Lives Matter, Trump, and the overall feeling that America has not changed since they started making music five decades ago brought them out of retirement to record Understand What Black Is. The new music is just as fiery as some of their favored jewels like “Niggas Is Scared Of Revolution” and has a distinct jazzy dub sound. The album is also a celebration of their 50th anniversary as a group. Hip-hop and rap music gets so much of its passion, rhythm, and candidness from The Last Poets. Members Abiodun Oyewole, Umar Bin Hassan and Baba Donn Babatunde recently answered some emailed questions about Understand What Black Is and their view of America today. 

 

“Malcolm X was about human rights”-Abiodun 

 

 

 

It’s been a while since your last album, what is it about this time that made you want to create new music?

Umar:  The fact that we are alive and able to do this after 50 years and the changes we have been through as men in the black community, we look at things differently and more wisely as we are older and wiser.

Baba: And we are in Trump time.

Abiodun: To let it be known that The Last Poets are alive and well, and we are still thinking and we are still very vibrant when it comes to our thoughts and the world we live in.

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Syleena Johnson & The Rebirth Of Soul (Interview)

Syleena Johnson has been holding the mantle for soul music since she became a fan as a young person. Her almost two decades as a solo artist seems logical because of her father, Hi Records soul legend Syl Johnson. But the creative spirit was something Johnson came into after making plans to practice medicine. The shift into a music career proved to be enduring and a real fit for the edginess of her blue-toned voice. She is always associated with the “All Falls Down” collaboration she did with Kanye West in 2004. Newer fans are quick to talk about her time on the reality series R&B Divas: Atlanta. Music is her foundation and she has shared her journey within a discography that has addressed many aspects of her womanhood, relationships and humanity up until the present. In 1995 she recorded This Time Together: Father And Daughter with her dad and they have come full circle with 2017’s The Rebirth Of Soul. Their new project is a collection of soul covers from the ’50s and ’60s  recorded live with some of Chicago’s most respected musicians In this interview Johnson explains the story behind The Rebirth Of Soul, her path to music and being one of the hosts of TV One’s new talk show Sister Circle.

“You can not have a Rebirth Of Soul album without Aretha Franklin”

How did you and your father get around to recording Rebirth Of Soul?

We actually did six years ago. This album has been sitting in the can six years. I was pregnant with Kingston and my dad asked me if I wanted to do a covers album. My dad came up with the concept and it was weird because I already recorded Chapter 5 and he suggested live instrumentation and I said fine if you put it all together I’ll show up. I picked some of the records. Otis Redding “This Heart Of Mine” which is probably my favorite Otis Redding song ever.

What did it feel like to record live for the first time?

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been doing this a while with my dad but what was the first time was recording live with musicians from this era. And having to recreate with them and that was tough. But I welcome the challenge because you know one thing about my dad is that he brings out the best in me because he really believes in me as an artist. He really believes in me as a vocalist he gave me the confidence to know that I could go in and complete these songs. 

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Calvin Richardson On His New Album All Or Nothing (Interview)

Calvin Richardson’s expression of classic soul has resisted fads and an ever-changing music industry since his debut back in the ’90s. In 2009, he made the rare move to salute his musical idol Bobby Womack with a tribute album. Like many artists, Richardson was apprehensive about approaching the work of an idol. The album, Facts Of Life The Soul Of Bobby Womack not only enchanted Womack but was a timely piece because of his 2009 passing. Anyone familiar with Womack can hear his influence on Richardson’s style that still has its own timbre. Richardson’s respect for Womack, gospel training and his stubbornness about following his own muse has kept him working as one of the go-to independent R&B artists of the past 20 years. His breakout song with Angie Stone, “More Than A Woman” is still an exciting introduction point for new fans.

Richardson has just released his seventh studio album, All Or Nothing, which is a collaboration with southern producer and songwriter Willie Clayton. The video for “Treat Her Right” championed Richardson’s vision of old-fashioned romance by putting the woman at the center. The North Carolina native spoke to this website about the making of All Or Nothing and his artistic origins.

“I know what my roots are and I know what moves me” 

 

What’s the backstory to All Or Nothing?

It was just time to you know to get in the studio and create an album again. Willie Clayton’s a blues southern soul artist that’s done pretty well for himself in that particular area but we got together and did “Treat Her Right” and we put it out to radio independently on our own and just got a lot of traction.  The song got a lot of attention we just got in the studio and made an album. There was no inspiration I was just inspired by life in general just as an artist being creative.

How did Willie Clayton come into the project?

 Our paths crossed many times. I work in a lot of markets where he works as well. We have been on shows together and sometimes over the years we’ve become really good friends and had talked about doing some stuff together and so we actually just had a show together in February in Little Rock, Arkansas and we just bumped into each other in the hotel after the fact later on that night and you know we were just talking about doing something let’s just do it and we did it. 

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