issue 87

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Page 28 of 57

and it's just a matter of that time, and even if everything's against you and people are doing different things, it'll always kind of come true in the end. That's it, we've always stuck to principles of how we produce and how we make music and what's good and not just follow the trends and do what's cool, it's about just doing what you do and obviously it's the same for Kathy. It's always taking it back to church. People talk about House, what is House? House is a thing, it's a rhythm, it's a spirit it's a groove, House is we. Our House. That's what House is all about, so when you get into all those different categories, it's gospel to me, that's really what it's really, really all about, deep, deep, gospel. That's where it stems from for me. I used to have people like The Commodores as my musicians, so this is where I come from so when I was brought it to House, those fuses of music, oh, gosh, just putting all that stuff together was just mind blowing. How was that journey from singing in the choir to The Commodores? It was easy, that was like going to church, because that's what those musicians did back then, it was real, everything was real, you were singing right on the spot, we'd be at the bus stop, in the bathroom, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, it didn't matter where we were. The singers, we'd just start blowing the musicians would just start playing, a majority of my stuff at the beginning is just straight out live music, no machines and this and that, it's straight up musicians playing what I wanted. So it was actually harder coming from that to House, I wasn't used to what y'all put it, "fast music," because again I came from that slow it down and take your time, and give that message. So tell me about that moment, coming through to House music, how was it? My girlfriend Karen Bernard, she asked me to come in, because I was doing RnB, gospel, and she asked me to come in and do a song for a guy from Sony Music and the studio is packed with people, Louie Vega, Fred McFarlane, you name it, they were in the building, so I had to go in there and sing this song, "Can't Play Around" which was my very first single, they had to put me in a room, and I started singing an intro to the track, which doesn't even belong to the track, it was a lace track and from singing the intro and breaking off into House, it was different, in a sense it was an easy transition from gospel to I would say sort of bluesy, jazzy, cause I took up all those elements into one. Who else was around you that you saw taking a transition into House at the same time, or inspiring you at the time? CNC Music Factory, cause that's who I started with, I did a lot of stuff for Mile Davis, the things I was doing wasn't Housey, the switch was kind of easy, they were looking for somebody with strong vocals so I used to do a lot of stuff for a lot of different artists. What were you doing with CNC Music Factory? Actually I was supposed to sign with them before I went to Dave Shaw and Sony Music, again my girlfriend Karen Bernard was trying to get me to sing, I used to run around with them, so she was trying to get me into singing, we sang with people like Bowlegged Lou in Studio 54, I was young and hanging out in Studio 54, I was with the right people from a very young age, but Shirley Caesar's my aunt, Stevie Wonder is my children's' uncle so my family goes way back when it comes to music, don't really talk about it much, but it goes way back. Was the moment when you finished your record, Can't Play Around a big moment for you in terms of defining your music career? Yeah, it was strange to hear it on the radio. I was living across the street and all my neighbours were playing my music and it was like, "okay, alrighty, this is kind of strange." So it was different, didn't stay in New York that long, from the first single just jumped off from over there to over here, Italy is where it started, from New York to Italy and it kinda just went full circle, I never actually went back to the states really, kinda stayed on this side of the world. How did you get to Italy, what's the Italian connection? Maritza Clemente, Ten City, Ten City's manager was my manager. Me and Mariah Carey got signed to the label the same day, she was going up to be signed or marry her husband and I was sitting in an office with Dave Shaw so all of this was going on. I reckon they used to pit us against us each other in a sense, so it was Mariah Carey, me also Joy, those were Mariah Carey's background singers, so we worked together a lot and then kind of branched out to really doing House or "Underground House" as you would call it, but it started out lovely. In some ways you're a living legend in the scene, do you have people that you would put into that category? I hate that word, "legend" because it makes me sound so old. Jocelyn Brown, love her, I've been following her since I was young, young, young, young, that kind of made me go, oh, she's got some chops, singing that kind of music, those kinds of vocals. Chaka Khan, Witney Houston, Patti Labelle, I had lost of women that inspired me to do different things, Patti Labelle inspired me not to be afraid to use my vocals cause in the beginning people would be like, "You're singing too strong" or, "You're singing too high." So they would limit you more or less like being a robot, sing like this and sing like that so when it got to the point where it was just like, let her go, she's gonna do what she's gonna do anyway. I'm the type of singer where if you just let me go into the studio, you'll get the best because its cold coming from me, I'm not being programmed or you know, so it's definitely different. So you had a special relationship with London, tell us about when you first came over? Very special…when I first came over it was nice, I met Sybil and Brown Stone, they used to do a lot of open mics in Piccadilly so it was me, Sybil, Brown Stone, Snap, whoever came through, that's how we were rolling, that's how it was special to me, meeting all my peers, being able to get up on the stage with them and just blowing, no one's worried about who's better, just having a good time, just spreading the messages through each other. I did a show with Tom Brown, Funky for Jamaica, so I've done a lot of stuff here with different artists and have definitely had a lot of special moments, yes. So you guys must be very busy. Yeah, it's going quite well at the moment to be honest, it's getting crazy, can't complain. We've started up drenched records; we started that up a while back now, and sort of put it together, let's get the tracks first of all, see where we go with it and then had the idea for the label and once we did that, it was quite mad because everything flew, everything came together in minutes and things went from there straight up. I think for us it was quite a lengthy process in terms of us finding ourselves and how we work and what we do, you can never have, from a production point of view, you can never have two people that are the same, you can never have two people that wanna drive it, you know? You've got to have things to bounce off of each other and I think from the minute we started working together, we're like a married couple in terms of opposites attract and we have opposite ways of doing things but they're both coming together and it's like from an engineering point of view, from an ideas point of view, from a value point of view, we just clicked and we're going back like 5 years now, we were introduced to each other through a friend and we started working on material and we came out with some stuff but it was just messing around and ideas, nothing concrete, and then we took a bit of time out and then we got back together and then it just clicked, you know? We get into the studio and the ideas just flow and it came to the point where we were 2 years down the line and we had a hell of a lot of material that we had been producing and putting it together and we were just like, "what are we going to do with this material?" and it just seemed natural, we're old, we're wise, we've been there we've done it, we've bought the t-shirt, we've been through this, we've been through that, we've kind of signed stuff to other labels and we've done that and we were just like we want to control our own music and we want to control what we do and how we do it and who we work with, we don't want to be dictated, and that, with what Kathy was saying, and our influences in music and what we do, as I said earlier we stay true to that, it's not just about getting some vocalist to do some robotic line that's just flat, to the point and that's that, there's too much of that out there right now. We want to produce a track to send it to Kathy for her to just do her thing, that's it, and when we go into the studio that's what we're thinking about, isn't it? We kind of just let our juices flow and our ideas flow and just lay it down and it all just comes together, like we can have two days locked down in the studio where one and half days of that we're just scratching our heads and not coming up with anything but then it just snaps and it comes, and it's there, and we look at each other and we know it's there, we look at each other, don't we? and we're just like, "That's it. That's the one" You just know when the bassline drops, I keep saying to Dave, it's at that moment when the next DJ's coming on where you say, just one more record is that alright? and you leave that and then say alright, see you later, bye, and then they're looking at you saying, you git, what am I gonna put on now?! I've had it done to me so many times by DJs, especially in European gigs when you're over there and the promoter has their regular resident DJ that they want to play before you come on, and before you come on, they drop every big record that there is in the world, and they go, it's your turn now, and you go, thanks mate, thanks for that and I have to start right from the bottom upwards and people look at you like as if to say, why are you going to play that and it's just like, well I'm not going to play the same tune he's just played, I'm not gonna do that, never have been. What do you think of Michael Jackson's estate selling all of Michael Jackon's shares in to Sony so that they now own The Beatles again? Sad, sad, he worked a lot to get what he got and he wouldn't have done that, he fought very hard to build that, so he wouldn't have given it away, I'd be turning over, he's turning over. I think that kinda comes down to the media, doesn't it, and how you can be painted in such a way that that could completely be the opposite of who you are and what you're trying to achieve, but it's masses, isn't it, like how you're portrayed and what's said about you and how people latch onto crap said. I think people that knew Michael wouldn't agree, they wouldn't have agreed with that, because you knew how, if you grew up with Michael you knew how he felt about certain things and what he was trying to do and what he was trying to build, and he didn't build all of that for somebody else to come and just tear it down, so no one else sees it that way, he's probably spinning in his box. ISSUE 87 / 20016 29 HOUSE follow @KathybrownDiva

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