Interview with The Foreign Exchange

2_thefe_by_tobiasrose_komplekscreativeinc1

By Seher Sikandar

The Foreign Exchange (Nicolay and Phonte of Little Brother) play Yoshi’s SF with a full band at midnight on Saturday, September 12th.  Wait, what?  Yeah – midnight, y’all – for a special “Beyond Jazz Music Series.”  You can get tickets for $25 at Yoshi’s website.

In preparation for the show, I got the guys to sit down with me for about half an hour to answer some of my favorite questions.  Phonte talks about how he wishes he was Theo from The Cosby show, why he is the boss of himself, and spying on his kids.  Nicolay shares college dropout fantasies, stories of his mama’s records, and simple kidnapping best practices.  More on that in un momento.

Their debut, Connected, was a uniquely melodic hip-hop record.  It introduced me to one of my favorite female vocalists, Yahzarah (former background singer for Erykah Badu) – homegirl gets it in.  She will stomp yo ass out with those pipes, forreal forreal.

Judging from their sophomore release, Leave It All Behind, being formulaic clearly isn’t part of the plan, though.  The follow-up work steps away a bit from the group’s hip-hop roots and trades it in for a haunting soul sound sprinkled with ambient and house vibes where Phonte decided to sing more than rap. Electro-soul space cadet and DC-based songstress, Muhsinah, was the first lady for this album.  Tingles up and down your spine type isht right there.

[Read more...]

Video Interview With Teedra Moses

By Seher Sikandar

Giant Step Contributor, Seher Sikandar interviews soul singer Teedra Moses with a special surprise guest at the mid-way point.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/n_i9X4bm0nQ" width="550" height="445" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]

Teedra performed at Yoshi’s SF last week and just before the show I got to catch up with her for a bit backstage. Yes, I asked her about where she’s been and about her upcoming project. But these days I’m really into just asking artists about themselves, their thoughts, their interests – so I hit her with some of my randoms.

Teedra talks about her favorite feeling to personify, a dream besides music, what was the first song to personally touch her, and all kindsa fun ish you probably haven’t heard in another interview.
[Read more...]

Van Hunt Interview

vanhuntBy Seher Sikandar

If you haven’t heard of Van Hunt, consider this your official warning: you will be perpetually whack if you don’t get on – right – now.  Now.  This funkaholic is performing live at Yoshi’s Oakland this Thursday, August 20th at 8pm only.  Tickets are $18 at Yoshi’s website.

“There’s no greater happiness than to be able to be yourself and pay your bills,” says Van after what he calls a “tumultuous two-and-a-half years” following his parting with Blue Note in 2007 (which took over his former label of about 5 years, Capitol Records).

And now he’s reemerging.  Waist deep in a new project he hopes to release in February 2010, Van describes his mental spaces for creating this record as having an ‘extreme range with lots of up’s and down’s.’

“It’s a vast project; I can’t imagine needing to make another record after it.”  Kind of a big deal.  But!  To hold us over in between what seems to be a monumental project, Van just independently released a free compilation of demos, acoustics, and b-sides titled, Use in Case of Emergency.  Featuring work recorded between 1997 and 2005, it’s kinda the ish – and his original cut of “Hot Stage Lights” (called “Man of the Year”), I have to say – is sorta amazing.

It’s clear this man is a true artist at heart – first and foremost and without a doubt – so it doesn’t come as surprise when he says the album won’t be released unless it’s done completely right.  ‘Doing it right’ this time around includes having a live band help with the tracks (instead of Van playing all the instruments like he usually does) – and that costs money.

I spent half an hour catching up with Van and getting a little peek into his world – all the way from his five-year-old, to records he’s bought, to what keeps him waking up in the morning.

[Read more...]

Ragen Fykes Visits The Bay, Shares a Freestyle

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ePCUlp4cNBI" width="550" height="445" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]

Seher Sikandar interviews Ragen Fykes about her single, upcoming projects and collaborators, and how Ragen first discovered Giant Step. Nothing like a shout out from two talented b girls!

Pick up Ragen’s 7″ single “Rhythm of the Drum” here on Record Breakin. Maybe you saw when we offered the record to Giant Step readers way back when?