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JAZZ N ROLLIt's a quiet storm that passes through the night. If you are fortunate enough to be awake for the lightning and the electricity that this particular storm stirrs, you are left with an overwhelming sense of love, excitement, connectedness and abandon, all at once. It's hard to put into words but ROCKWIRED has just described the sound of daysahead, which is brought to light by their debut CD TURNING POINT.
KIM LEACHMAN AND STEVE WRIGHT
TALK TO ROCKWIRED
FINDING EACH OTHER
MAKING MUSIC THAT MATTERS
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
daysahead is all about chemistry; that often times elusive element that makes everything come together. It is the combination of vocalist KIM LEACHMAN's impressive command of that indefinable voice that goes from gospel, to soul, to jazz and to rock in a seconds notice, and the dexterity of guitarist and partner-in-crime STEVE WRIGHT. How knew such sounds, textures, and imagination could come from just six strings.
TURNING POINT is just that. It's a point in time where the groaning, moaning, mid drifts and lip synchers of pop are turned dow in favor of melody, harmony and attitude to spare. Just give the track like YOU MOVE ME, FALLOING FLOWER, and DON'T FALL TOO FAST a listen. There's no neo-soul here. It's music to the ears, soul and mind.
STEV WRIGHT and KIM LEACHMAN spoke to ROCKWIRED over the phone from Atlanta on a Sunday afternoon. This is how it went.
The CD TURNING POINT has been out sonce September 2005 and from the looks of it people are saying great things about it. How does it feel?
STEVE: It feels good.
KIM: - To know that you're not by yourself and thinking that your music is pretty good.
How did daysahead begin?
STEVE: I cam up withthe name because I was trying to do music with staying power.For a long time, I had been a sideman for other artists for about 8 to 10 years. and I started to get a little buit tired of that. You can make a living at that but I always wanted to do my own music. We want to write and perform music that's going to be around for a while in "daysahead" so-to-speak.
How did the two of you meet?
STEVE: We met on another gig. I ws playing guitar and she was a background singer for an artistout of Los Angeles.
KIM: STEVE approached me and said that he could pick my voice out of all the other background singers and said that he's love to do some music with me. We got together to write songs, for other people. The first song we wrote was, YOU MOVE ME, which is the first song on the CD. When we finished this song, We both looked at each other and said "There's no way that we're giving this up. You want to start a band?" That was how it came about.
That song YOU MOVE ME, does kind of have that introductory feel. It's the perfect introduction to the CD and the perfect introduction to you guys as a band. From this CD, are there any other songs that stand out for you in particular?
KIM: All of the songs really are our favorites, but since we're forced to pick a favorite, DON'T FALL TO FAST is special to us and that's probably why it's 9 minutes long. We didn't want the song to end when we were recording it. All of our music, each song has different sections that can lead you somewhere else. And that's what we really like about our writing style together. DON'T FALL TOO FAST takes you through different genres in just one song.
Explain to me, if it's explainable, the creative process. What all goes into writing songs for you guys?
STEVE: There's no set way. Sometimes, we'll start out with a melody and then I'll just harmonize under neath the melody and put chord progressions to it Basically, it's all about what ever happens first. KIM and I do all of the writing for the group.
KIM: Sometimes, I may have some lyrics and maybe a simple melody worked out and STEVE will come in and put the music to or vice versa. We work well together and respect eachothers ability.
STEVE: It took us almost two years to record this album. We didn't want to rush it and that why we don;t really have a particular favorite. There's no filler.
I can tell that just by listening. I am assuming that your partnership is a romantic one as well as business one.
STEVE & KIM: Yes
How does that work? What are the challenges, if there are any?
STEVE: It's a good thing because being a musician and being in a relationship with someone who is not, they don't get it and the sacrifice that it takes to be an artist. If your in a group with somebody that you're in a relationship with, and you respect eachothers talent and time, it's a beautiful thing.
KIM: Yeah, my sentiments exactly. it's great to be in relationship with someone who gets it, and views music as a career and not a hobby. We as artists know how to seperate ourselves fromour music, so it makes the relationship that much more special. It's not all working sometimes, it's like "Let's go out on a date tonight." instead of "Lets go into the studio and record." It's like you live two different lives but not. Music is our life and because he knws that about himself and because I know that about myself, the relationship works and we have a good time together and our music reflects it.
How is the response to your live shows?
STEVE: Even better thanour CD because we get a lot more raw and we can stretch out from anywhere. We get a feeling and then we go with it.
KIM: A lot of folks have approached us about putting out a live album and I'm thinking that maybe that's something we'll do in the near future. We take our original songs and take them somewhere else further than the album could take you. And we also have a few cover tunes that we throw in and we toy with the arrangement to make it a daysahead tune.
KIM: SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS) by EURYTHMICS, HOPELESS by DIONNE FARRIS and FIRE AND RAIN by JAMES TAYLOR. We're an eclectic bunch. We're all over the board really and threre's no one genre that we fit in and we like it that way.
What drew you to music?
KIM: I don't think I ever had a choice against it. my mom has been playing as long as I can remember. She plays organ and piano and can sing like it's nobodies business. She plays for several churches back home in Baton Rouge Louisiana. I grew up singing in church and in church choirs and my first solo was when I was five years old. I sang in school choirs and I eventually got a scholarship for studying music at Southern University, but i eventually ended up getting a Bachelors in Rehabilitation Counseling and only minoring in music. Right now I've been in few graduate programs but it didn't work out for me. My heart was in music. I ended up moving to Atlanta and meeting STEVE. I had dome some work with other people and their projects and developing what skills I did have. I had sung and acted in a few plays as well around the city and travelled a bit but I always wanted to have my own band and do my own music. I never knew what direction inmusic was until I met STEVE. I knew that I wrote differently and I didn't want to be pigeon-holed as a gospel singer. I wanted to use a little bit of my classical training from school and now I'm studying jazz artists like ELLA FITZGERALD and DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER and guitarists like PAT METHENY. Music is my life and my joy and my passion and I could talk about it till whenever because it makes me happy. If you've got to work everyday, it might as well be doing some thing that you love. That's how I am where I am today.
By the way, I interviewed DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER, not to long ago.
KIM: I fell in love with her voice and her music a few years back when she came to Atlanta for oneof our Jazz Festivals here. When i heard her sing, it didn't make any sense to me how that sound could come out that woman and sound so bold with all of those different tones and textures. She captivated her audience brilliantly. I immediatel ran to her table to buy a CD and have her sign it for me and she seemed like such a down-to-earth woman.
How about you STEVE. What drew you to music?
STEVE: I come from a musical family as well. My grandmother was a concert pianist. Both of my uncles were in bands when they were teenagers and my older brother plays in the MINNESOTA SYMPHONY as the principal trombonist. I started playing when I was about twelve, so I've got about twenty years of guitar playing. I did a couple of years at the University of North texas around 1998 through 2000 and it had oneof the premiere jazz programs in the world. I was there until I ran out of money.I come from a little small town in Virginia called Hopewell. I'm sure you've never heard of it.
You're from Virginia? I was born there.
STEVE: You ever heard of Hopewell?
No I haven't.
STEVE: It's a small town of about a thousand people. My first goal was just to get out of there. There was nothing happening there unless you wanted to work in a factory. I moved down to Atlanta in the late nineties, to really get serious about music. I knew some people and they saw the potential in me so to speak and took me under their wing, and I really got serious about doing this for a living. I was able to be in an environment where i could do muisc for a living. That environment didn't exist where I was from.
As far as guitar players go, who influenced you? Just by looking at all of the write ups on you guys, PAT METHENY is a name that comes up over and over again.
STEVE: When I really got into guitar playing, it was JIMI HENDRIX, ERIC CLAPTON. PAT METHENY, for me didn't happen until I was in my late twenties. When I heard guitarists like METHENY play, it just broadened my horizons really. You don't need any opther instruments, if you can play like that. I made it a personal goal to be self sufficiient where I can provide both melody and harmony, solo and whatever the job calls for, from the guitar. A lot of people don't realize what the guitar can do. It can be just as strong as a keyboard player.
What do you want someone to walk away with after hearing your music?
KIM: The simple answer is, we want people to walk away feeling good and that they've had a great experience with great band that is very passionate. If somebody gets our music and gets our lyrics, i'd like for them to feel changed by it or to look at life from a different perspective. I'd like for our music to help people through the day or help them to find their purpose and their meaning. I'm real big on that. That's been my search and my life. WhenI see in people's eyes, seemingle getting it and after the concerts when they come up and talk to us about their experience, it makes it all worth it.
STEVE: the kind of responses we've gotten are people thanking us for bringing live music back; that we're brining the "band" sound back. There aren't too many bands out there doing what we do. At least not anymore. That makes me feel good because we put alot of work into doing a show. It's not 2 to 3 minute thing with a hook and then you're done.We give people a show in the truest sense of the word.