PLAY THE GAME
THE THRILL OF LIVE PERFORMANCE
BY BRIAN LUSH
Popular music is
filled with sister acts, but he current trend in music hasn’t seen or
anything like ROGUE. Hailing from Sylmar, California, ROGUE is
three sisters ERIKA, MELINA and KRYSTLE HICKS whose music combines jazz
R&B with a few alternative rock flourishes. Other than their
harmonies (which will immediately remind the nuanced music listener of
pre-space aged LA BELLE) it is their sense of storytelling and live
instrumentation that set them apart from the current trends in both
pop. One would call their sound neo-soul, but that it all too limiting
for an act so determined to knock down a few doors as well as walls.
released their latest CD PLAY THE GAME (The follow-up to 2002’s TOUCH
LINGER) on the internet and are looking forward to a series of live
performances in Los Angeles and abroad. These ladies were the first
to be featured on our weekly radio show, so it was great to catch up
is how the
How does it
feel to finally have the CD finished?
MELINA: Great! We’ve been working on it
for a while now and
it feels good to have finished product in our hands.
about 2 years hasn’t it?
we were rehearsing, writing an
gigging a lot and it
all found its way onto the CD.
changed since your first CD TOUCH AND LINGER?
ERIKA: On the first CD, people took
notice of and
appreciated our harmonies, and on this CD we’ve kept that but added a
beats and rhythms and some hooks that the listener can grab onto.
The CD’s also got a wider variety of music styles.
some the challenges in getting the CD made?
We spent a lot of time
perfecting this one and
focused more on making it sound exactly the way we wanted it to sound.
having been through the process of making our first album, we went into
project with a clearer idea on how to go about it so really there
challenge per se.
One challenge was getting in front of an
audience and playing live. We were doing that for a while and staying
the studio just to get audience reaction on the new material. From the
table to the studio, the songs would change before w e cut the CD and I
that the vibe we got from the audience had a lot to do with that.
How have the
live shows been going?
ERIKA: We haven’t done them in a
while. When we were on
hiatus from the studio the live shows were a lot of fun. It’s a lot of
its rewarding because there’s this immediate feedback. You know what
is appreciating and it gives you this adrenaline rush.
thing that’s fun about a live show is that you get out there and meet
You push your product forward and showcase your talent and that’s how
managed to move our career forward.
Our parents pushed us forward
when we were young to
sing in general. We grew up singing in the church and in musical
we were of age we decided to produce a different style of music that
ROGUE-esque. And that’s when we started writing our own songs.
Before we got together as ROGUE we produced a lot of music theater. We
lot of originals as wells as BROADWAY-type stuff and from that we knew
getting on stage and performing, but we hadn’t explored the aspect of
up there and just sing. Not only that but sing our own material. So
really how ROGUE came to be.
think influenced your sound the most?
MELINA: One thing
influenced us is our background in musical theater. A lot of our songs
lyrics have a strong storytelling aspect to them. As far as that
harmonies go, I think there’s that heavy jazz influence because that’s
father surrounded us with.
would you want the listener who listens to you CD or
the audiences member who sees you live to walk away with?
KRYSTLE: I would like the audience to
grab a deeper
understanding of the live performance and live music. A lot of people
straying away from live recordings and all of our recordings are live.
people walk away the feeling that good music is still alive, then
something I’d like for them to walk away with.
I’d like for them
to listen to the CD and want more and see our shows live and anticipate
we’re going to do next.
We’ve been told that our work is visual;
that it conjures up a lot of images. I’d like for people to come away
music with a sense of imagination and possibly encourage someone else’s
we’re on the subject of visuals, have you ladies
ever thought about making a video?
KRYSTLE: We’ve made a video and it’s
going to debut the same
day as the CD release (November 10, 2005) It’ll be streaming from our
everybody in ROGUE listening to these days?
KRYSTLE: Our CD! (Everybody laughs)
Let me tell
you something – I went to a cool show a couple days ago. Check this
was JILL SCOTT, ERIKA BHADDU, QUEEN LATIFAH and FLO-ETRY, Now that’s a
just a night, that’s a week!
ERIKA: Yeah, its so cool ‘cause here
we are saying that a
lot of people have gotten away from live performance and then you go
see people who are doing great music and it’s just really exciting. You
like you’re a part of something and those ladies that night put on a
hell of a
show! When JILL SCOTT just stood on stage and did nothing but sing and
everybody away, that was really something!
any new tracks on this new CD that stand out for
any of you particularly?
KRYSTLE: I’m excited because I’ve
written my first song for
this album. It’s called DANCE WITH ME. It was a real challenge for me
but I had
the support of my sisters and I’m really proud of the work. That’s the
that stands out for me.
proud of you too KRYSTLE!
MELINA: That song also stands out
because it’s a dance
track. We didn’t have any dance songs on our last CD and with this one
MELINA: I’m excited to perform the song
BECOME OF ME live
because the songs that I lead on are usually more lyrical and this one
BECOME OF ME became so huge. It grew and grew in
terms of the thickness of the piece which is really nice.
Is that a
song that you’re proud of too ERIKA, or is there something else?
ERIKA: Well, since everyone is
mentioning songs that they
are leading on, I’m going to say that I’m excited about ONE OF THESE
Since I’m also an actor, I like the ONE OF THESE DAYS is like a
There’s a lot of emotion behind it and it does have a lot of varied
have fun performing that one. What I like about BECOME OF ME are the
doing any acting at the moment or is ROGUE the main focus right now?
ERIKA: The last thing I did as an
actor was this play
called MISERY STREET. It was nominated four years in a row for the
THEATER AWARD and this year we actually won. We were honored on the
that LAURENCE FISHBURNE was given the lifetime achievement award. But
ROGUE is the primary focus for me.
the creative process to me.
MELINA: Some songs start with lyrics
and some songs will
start with a melody without words and we kind of go by feel. When
up with either a lyric or a melody line it goes to ERIKA and she lays
on piano and we come up with harmonies.
It’s kind of interesting.
At the moment we’re rehearsing back up singers for the CD release
we’ve been teaching them the notes, I realize how organic the whole
CD we allowed ourselves to go back and tweak things here and there. We
still changing things and making sure we got it right up to the last
back up singers?
MELINA: Three. Two girls and one guy.
When we brought in the
back up singers, we found that we still couldn’t fulfill all the back
we laid down on the CD.
pieces is you live band now?
KRYSTLE: We’ve got a piano, bass, drums,
guitar and three
back up singers.
your future plans?
MELINA: For live
created a show within
itself that we can take to other venues. We’re definitely going to tape
release show and shop it around in the hope that we can play at bigger
With the actual CD, we’re going to shop that around and hopefully get a
with an indie label.