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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Smokin' Soul: An interview with Lucille

Upon first hearing the Smokin’ Soul EP from cultural diversity-driven nonet Lucille, I’m left with something of a confession to make. It occurred to me that the last time I had such unexpected emotions stir within me after hearing heaps of unpredictability underpinning the refreshing sounds, may well have been back in 1989 when I spent a month or so delving deep into Club Classics Volume One, Soul2Soul’s debut LP!

Baltimorean frontman MC Rebel Sun (MCRS) and Argentinian guitarist and producer Isgav Dotan (ID) and their dynamic range of duties are beautifully bound together by a fine and fascinating assortment of female vocalists.  I can only imagine that those in attendance for last year’s live shows would’ve enjoyed quite the spectacle, as illustrated in their sleek, sumptuously produced ‘Live at Abraxas’ video, which to some degree encapsulates the experience.

Ahead of their forthcoming first album’s release in May, along with Lucille counterpart Joel Covington (JC), Lucille’s aforementioned founder members MCRS and ID kindly agreed to help crank-up my album anticipation efforts by answering some of my questions.  Hopefully, this interview will turn people on to their album and who knows, just as the Lucille motto states, it might just ‘Move bodies and souls around da' globe’!

AS: Why the name?
All:  The name Lucille has left its traces on Afro-American music: B.B King gave his guitar the same name and Little Richard wrote a rock n' roll anthem of the same title. It fits well with what we are trying to do.

AS: What influences your sound above all else?
ID: We try to reach a balance between the vintage 60's/70's warm sound that we love and that can be heard in albums by artists such as The Meters, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye and Etta James, and secondly, the innovative, cutting edge, heavily processed and produced sound that’s now being showcased by artists like The Roots, Gorillaz and Danger Mouse etc… plus a few extra herbs and spices of our own.

AS:  Who’s the main driving force or do you work as a team?
MCRS:  Izzy!!

AS: What changes can we expect with your latest outing?
ID: Since we released our last EP ('Smokin' Soul') at the end of last year, we had quite a few changes in the band's line up, as far as members who joined the crew since then.   While the EP was recorded pretty much as a solo project with different collaborations scheduled, this upcoming album is based on the core/family that we assembled over the past year. Each of them is an organic part of the Lucille crew and you can hear it in our sound.  The horn section is a perfect example, as it became much more prominent in these sessions. 

AS:  Do you enjoy playing live or are you more at home in a studio?
ID:  We are definitely stage creatures.  We love getting into the studio to cook up a new track but at the end, the live show is where you test it. We'll take 5000 people dancing over 20,000 iTunes downloads anytime. Our bank manager will beg to differ I guess!

AS: Any career highs or lows you care to share?
ID:  Well… last year we were selected to play the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, which meant a lot for us, being a young band.  The entire trip was full of challenges, right from booking the flights, hotels and a van for nine people on our own… right through to Rebel Sun waking up in the morning of the show with no voice after 11 shows in a row… and on to having to attract an audience to a venue we’d never been to, in a city we’d never visited and without a fan base. Long story short, the place was packed, Rebel sun burned the stage and the crowd didn't stop dancing!  So yeah… that was fun!
MCRS:  My career is nothing but highs and lows... just watch me… but to mention one... the ReeperBahn festival for sure!

AS:  Your career defining dream moment would/will be what?
MCRS:  Watching the crowd singing my songs so loud that the mic' becomes useless.

AS:  Where will you retire to when you're tired of comeback concerts?
MCRS:  SUN never retires... LL Cool J said "Don’t call it comeback... I've been here for years".

AS: Where do you go when it all gets too much?
ID: Brain nap with the TV; the good destroyer of young minds always has the ability to reboot my mind.  
MCRS: My life is always too much... that’s my comfort zone.

AS:  Best song, movie OR album ever
All:  So many… but if we had to choose one it would be ‘The Score’ by The Fugees.

AS: What’s the best / your favourite music video?
ID:  There have been many great music videos made over the years that I could put my finger on, but I would have to say that one of my personal favourite is a pretty new one.  "The greatest man alive" by The Black Keys and RZA is a great track with a great video.

AS:  How important do you feel visuals are in relation to music?
ID:  These days I feel like one can't really go without the other. People’s threshold for entertainment became way higher than it used to be. Adding to that the fact that a lot of your presence as an artist goes down on YouTube, it's hard to get any attention for your music without a visual attached to it. But unlike what people might think, it's not always a bad thing. When it's not coming from a greedy shallow place, it can motivate artists to stretch out their abilities and work harder on innovation and originality.

AS:  Know of any upcoming bands that are destined for greatness?
All:  Female rock singer Goldie is heading out to conquer The States as we speak. We had the pride and joy to collaborate with her on our upcoming album and she definitely has one of the greatest voices we have ever heard.

AS: Who would be your dream collaborator?
All:  Questlove, Blackthought (AKA the Roots), Etta James (R.I.P) and Danger Mouse on the same job. Those four amazingly influential individuals would most definitely provide an amazing experience in the studio.

AS: What music are you listening to of late?
ID:  60's & 70's soul, The Black Keys, Wu Tang Clan and A Tribe called Quest.

AS: Where do you sit in the grand scheme of things?
MCRS: In the illest part... I like to think!

AS: When do you plan to take over the world?
ID:  The plan is already in motion!  We just need to get the laser device we ordered on eBay and we'll be good to go!!!

AS: Any message for underachieving or odds-facing musicians out there?
ID:  Use a calendar, set up your goals based on deadlines and follow through.  Think about where you wanna go and think and learn about what you need to do or what needs to happen in order for you to get there.  Start doing it.  Set specific deadlines for each of the steps you decide have to be done.  We are still trying it ourselves! 

AS: Why? What's your biggest why question that mystifies you most?
JC: Why G.O.D ruined creation with man!

AS:  Does complaining accomplish anything?
MCRS:  Accomplishes proving ya punk ass won't accomplish anything!

AS:  What makes the world go round?
ID:  Movement. You choose the brand.

AS: Is bedtime more half nine with a half read paper or more half four with fully red eyes?
ID: Half five with the morning paper. The sound of the paper hitting the door is always my cue to leave the warmth of the creaking studio chair and to get my ass to bed!

AS: Wish you were doing anything else with your time other than music?
MCRS: The only thing would be spending more time with my kids.

AS:  Any forthcoming plans for you / the band?
ID:  We are currently recording our new album which is due out in May… after that we take over the world!

 AS: Any choice epitaphs or famous last words for which you’d like to be quoted?
MCRS: The motherfucker was on some ill shit... hell if it was rational... but he was on it!
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