5:00PM (PST)





 Popular music is filled with sister acts, but he current trend in music hasn’t seen or heard anything like ROGUE. Hailing from Sylmar, California, ROGUE is comprised the three sisters ERIKA, MELINA and KRYSTLE HICKS whose music combines jazz and R&B with a few alternative rock flourishes. Other than their stunning 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 R&B and pop. One would call their sound neo-soul, but that it all too limiting a label for an act so determined to knock down a few doors as well as walls.

ROGUE has just released their latest CD PLAY THE GAME (The follow-up to 2002’s TOUCH AND LINGER) on the internet and are looking forward to a series of live performances in Los Angeles and abroad. These ladies were the first live guests to be featured on our weekly radio show, so it was great to catch up with them once again.

Here is how the interview went.

 How does it feel to finally have the CD finished?
Great! We’ve been working on it for a while now and it feels good to have finished product in our hands.

 It’s been about 2 years hasn’t it?
we were rehearsing, writing an gigging a lot and it all found its way onto the CD.

 What has 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 few more beats and rhythms and some hooks that the listener can grab onto.

KRYSTLE: The CD’s also got a wider variety of music styles.

 What were 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. After having been through the process of making our first album, we went into this project with a clearer idea on how to go about it so really there wasn’t a challenge per se.

ERIKA: One challenge was getting in front of an audience and playing live. We were doing that for a while and staying out of the studio just to get audience reaction on the new material. From the writing table to the studio, the songs would change before w e cut the CD and I think that the vibe we got from the audience had a lot to do with that.

How have the live shows been going?
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 work but its rewarding because there’s this immediate feedback. You know what the crowd is appreciating and it gives you this adrenaline rush.

MELINA: Another thing that’s fun about a live show is that you get out there and meet people. You push your product forward and showcase your talent and that’s how we’ve managed to move our career forward.

How did ROGUE begin?
Our parents pushed us forward when we were young to sing in general. We grew up singing in the church and in musical theater. Once we were of age we decided to produce a different style of music that was ROGUE-esque. And that’s when we started writing our own songs.

ERIKA: Before we got together as ROGUE we produced a lot of music theater. We did a lot of originals as wells as BROADWAY-type stuff and from that we knew we loved getting on stage and performing, but we hadn’t explored the aspect of getting up there and just sing. Not only that but sing our own material. So that’s really how ROGUE came to be.

What do you think influenced your sound the most?
MELINA: One thing that’s influenced us is our background in musical theater. A lot of our songs and lyrics have a strong storytelling aspect to them. As far as that singing and harmonies go, I think there’s that heavy jazz influence because that’s what our father surrounded us with.

What 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 are straying away from live recordings and all of our recordings are live. If people walk away the feeling that good music is still alive, then that’s something I’d like for them to walk away with.

MELINA: I’d like for them to listen to the CD and want more and see our shows live and anticipate what we’re going to do next.

ERIKA: 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 from our music with a sense of imagination and possibly encourage someone else’s creativity.

While 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 website (www.roguetime.com)

What is everybody in ROGUE listening to these days?
Our CD! (Everybody laughs)

ERIKA: Let me tell you something – I went to a cool show a couple days ago. Check this out!!! It was JILL SCOTT, ERIKA BHADDU, QUEEN LATIFAH and FLO-ETRY, Now that’s a night!

That’s not just a night, that’s a week!
Yeah, its so cool ‘cause here we are saying that a lot of people have gotten away from live performance and then you go out and see people who are doing great music and it’s just really exciting. You feel 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 blow everybody away, that was really something!

 Are there 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 track that stands out for me.

 And I’m proud of you too KRYSTLE!
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 we do.

How about you 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 is grittier. 

ERIKA: And 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?
Well, since everyone is mentioning songs that they are leading on, I’m going to say that I’m excited about ONE OF THESE DAYS. Since I’m also an actor, I like the ONE OF THESE DAYS is like a monologue. There’s a lot of emotion behind it and it does have a lot of varied moments. I have fun performing that one. What I like about BECOME OF ME are the words.

 Are you 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 NAACP THEATER AWARD and this year we actually won. We were honored on the same day that LAURENCE FISHBURNE was given the lifetime achievement award. But right now ROGUE is the primary focus for me.

 Explain 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 someone comes up with either a lyric or a melody line it goes to ERIKA and she lays it down on piano and we come up with harmonies.

ERIKA: It’s kind of interesting. At the moment we’re rehearsing back up singers for the CD release party. As we’ve been teaching them the notes, I realize how organic the whole songwriting process is.

MELINA: And in making the CD we allowed ourselves to go back and tweak things here and there. We were still changing things and making sure we got it right up to the last minute.

 How many back up singers?
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 up parts we laid down on the CD.

 How many pieces is you live band now?
We’ve got a piano, bass, drums, guitar and three back up singers.

What are your future plans?
For live purposes, we’ve created a show within itself that we can take to other venues. We’re definitely going to tape the CD release show and shop it around in the hope that we can play at bigger venues. With the actual CD, we’re going to shop that around and hopefully get a deal with an indie label.