For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein tells us about Blaze's 1990 shows for their debut album. What were some of your favorite Blaze tunes?
We started out the Groove Academy in June of 1990 with our main focus on shows highlighting older funk & soul artists, but the third show we did was with a new group called Blaze from New Jersey.
Representing the New Jersey underground house scene, they were heavily influenced by 70s soul, dance music, and gospel. Signed to Motown by Timmy Regisford, Blaze were pegged as the next generation of the label (in the spirit of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On").
We were really excited to work with them, especially with Blaze being a band that I was very keen on and the fact that Motown had really gotten behind them. Their tune “So Special” was a big hit in NY house music community.
The hit TV show Scandal has released a soundtrack called Songs From Scandal: Music For Gladiators and it's kind of the business. Featuring 12 tracks, the music spans that from the first two seasons of the show, including the work of Booker T and the MG's, Sly & The Family Stone, The Staple Singers, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, and KC and The Sunshine Band. Listen to a sampling below!
Her voice is sweet and her lyrics are filled with emotion. Her music digs deeper than the surface, and is crafted with precision. Her name is Sza and she is here to share her music and herself to the world. Take a glimpse inside her mind in this interview with Giant Step contributor, Andrea K. Castillo.
I first became familiar with your EP through Giant Step and I immediately downloaded, and I listened, and listened, and thought, “Wow, this is really great! Let me learn more about this girl.” So I read all your press stuff and decided to do an interview, so here it is. We’re in the time of Sza. Your EP, See Sza Run, has been out for a few weeks now, tell me a little bit about the process, I know you worked with a bunch of different producers, how was that experience?
Sza: Super. A lot of these happened by chance. You’d be surprised at how any people don’t give you beats or don’t give you permission for anything, so I pretty much stole three-quarters of my project. Once they [the producers] heard it, they weren’t as angry with me. It was definitely interesting, I was like “That sounds good, MINE!”, and just ran with it.
So it’s seven tracks, and when listening it is very atmospheric and I can see what you are talking about. It’s a little dark, but I like that, and your lyrics are very refined. How long have you been writing?
Sza: That’s a really good question. I’ve been a writer, prior to singing or anything, for a very long time. That was my strong suit. Even in high school I was in AP English…writing is my thing. I’m a serious reader and heavily into poetry, so before I even opened my mouth and thought “Maybe I should try to translate this into something, it’s crowded in here”, I had to find a way to get these thoughts out of my brain.
You paint a picture with your words, and in regards to your visuals, I noticed across the board there are a lot of flowers; the album artwork, the music videos. Can you tell us more about your choice to use floral imagery in your work?
Sza: My mom was somewhat of a botanist, so gardening, plant life, that’s all her sh*t, and my dad was super into science. I went to school for science, so I love plant life and wild life. Knowing a lot about flowers and what they represent and the energy they bring…I use a lot of tiger lilies in my work because they used to grow in my backyard all the time; those are my favorite, they’re so pretty.
Having played guitar and acted as backup-singer in Prince's band, Andy Allo is definitely already on the right track. Earlier this year, Prince charged up his efforts to introduce Andy to the world as a solo artist as she sets up to release her sophomore album, Superconductor. You may also already recognize Andy from the track she did with Blu called "Dreamland.". While her voice in "Dreamland" is smoother and sweeter, Andy's new solo style serves up a raspy down home soul from the gut.
Above, find a teaser from her upcoming super funky video for "People Pleaser" above. And below, catch Andy doing a live cover of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." Absolutely adorable she is.