5:00PM (PST)




Needless to say, it was the bands names the lept out at me in the pile of e-mail inquiries for getting on the show. They were called SUGAR BITCH and going by that alone, I wanted to find more. I went to their official website to get an idea of who they were. Their biography page makes mention of guitarist MICHAEL JOST and vocalist NIA MONDY, a striking feminine vision, making a splash in Southern California with their improvisational mixture of Rock and Soul. Curious that this SUGAR BITCH was fronted by woman. Was there something about her that I wasn't aware of?

I got the bands CD HEAVEN 90291 in the mail and quickly put it in the stereo. SUGAR BITCH is a throwback to a time when there were possibilities both socially and musically. With it's themes of sexual liberation, alienation and revolt, it is all to easy to dismiss SUGAR BITCH as a nostalgia act. This is not the case. HEAVEN 90291 is collection of songs that enchant as well as disturb; energize as well as alienate. Kind of sounds like Los Angeles.

I got a chance to speak with NIA MONDY, MICHAEL JOST and CHRIS. This is how the interview went

How did SUGAR BITCH begin?
NIA: It began about almost six years ago . I was looking for a producer and I found Michael through an ad. When I walked into his studio, here in Venice, he knew that I didn't have the money to pay for a producer. (laughs) He asked me to do some vocal tracks for this CD he was putting together. When I heard the music, I immediately knew that this was the guy. I felt completely connected to it and it was instant and he knew that I was the singer for his band so it started from there-day one! 

MICHAEL: I remember when I asked her what kind of music she wanted to do, she said “I wanna rock!” and I said “All right! that sounds good!”

Is that a fact?
NIA: When I talked to him on the phone the first thing out of my mouth was “I wanna rock! I can't do any pop!” and after I said that he said “Can you get here tomorrow?” Before I met MICHAEL, I had met a bunch of other producers and I wasn't quite feeling it. Every time I would talk with one of them, they would immediately bring up a pop song. I saw Venice in Michael's ad and I knew that pop music was going to be out of the question. So that was a good thing.

Why the name SUGAR BITCH? Is it for the sake of standing out or is there a story to it?
NIA: We had been trying to find a name for a year. We didn't have one as a matter of fact. We just played around without one. Then, one day we were at the bass players apartment having some drinks and getting ready to go out and talking and I started to tell them this story of this man that I had dated in the past, and how I had financially taken care of him. After he and I had broken up, I felt like I was his bitch. Not only that, I felt like I was his SUGAR BITCH and they all started laughing. Afterwards, MICHAEL came up to me and said “That should be the name of our band, SUGAR BITCH.” and I thought “Oh No!” We sat on it for a couple of weeks and then we talked about it with our friend FREDDIE, we call him FANTASY FREDDIE because he's crazy. He's got this good strong Jewish background and he was like “The name's great! It's edgy! The times are so crazy now. If you can put murder and all kinds of crazy things on TV now, they can put SUGAR BITCH in the media. SUGAR BITCH is HUGE!” We just had a big laugh about it and eventually we just went with it.

Just to back track a little you said you felt this instant connection after getting acquainted with MICHAEL. Is that connection purely musical or is there a relationship in the band?
NIA: MICHAEL and I are best friends. The best in the world.

According to the liner notes of your CD HEAVEN 90291, It sounds like songwriting is kind of a collaborative thing with you guys. What do you think that each of you brings to the band?
NIA: Well, CHRIS brings this great sense of musical knowledge to the band. You can tell that he's been playing for a very long time. He's worked with FABIAN (The Cymbal Company) for many years and he's got a real thick groove. He's from New York. He's got a little bit of Italian in him so he's got a lot of soul. His influences are phenomenal. It's everything from STEVIE WONDER to ZEPPELIN to ETTA JAMES to JAMES BROWN. He likes music. MICHAEL brings this sort of rich earthy, rootsy, rock n roll sound thats very unique and it's almost a bit spiritually profound. There are many many sounds that come out of his guitar at once. They're phenomenal and a bit mind-blowing at times. It catches you off guard. As for myself, I sing. That's all I really know how to do and I do that better than anything. I can't really perfect anything else in my life. I lack a lot of things in my life but when it comes to singing, it's the only time a really feel like I'm at one with myself and at peace. 

MICHAEL: I've worked with many many singers and no one is like her.

Hey CHRIS, you're being quiet. What's it like to be in this band? Is everything NIA says true?
CHRIS:Absolutely, I come from an extensive background of R&B, soul, funk and rock. As soon as I walked into this band I fell in love with it.

Is SUGAR BITCH as much a democracy as the liner notes make it out to be or is one of you the task master. Does someone on the band have to get all of you going?
CHRIS: We get each other going actually. MICHAEL and me write most of the music but as as far as getting together and everything, we're all really excited about getting together. It comes together real easily because we don't really try. That's the funny thing about it. We're so into it that it just happens automatically. 

MICHAEL:Our bass player can't be here tonight is really excited about it too and happy to be part of it. Everyone's enjoying it. No ones really making any money in this music industry so you've really got to love it. We're all in this because we really love the music.

CHRIS, you're from New York. Do you miss it?
CHRIS: I miss some of the people but I don't miss the weather at all.

How about you NIA? Are you from Southern California?
NIA:I'm from Sacramento.

And Michael?
MICHAEL: I from Germany originally. I moved to the states a long time ago. I've lived here for twelve years already.
-from Frankfurt. He's a Frankfurter!!!

What got you into music MICHAEL?
MICHAEL: I grew up in Germany and studied classical guitar. By the time I was fifteen I got in to rock n roll and at one point, JIMI HENDRIX blew my mind. I'm quite happy with the way things went for me from growing up and getting this classical education to living in Venice for twelve years and meeting people like NIA, CHRIS and TINO. I could'nt have found a better group of people to work with. Now we can't wait to go play somewhere else. We love playing in LA and we love playing in Venice but we'd like to go other places too.

How about you CHRIS? What got you into music?
CHRIS: I started playing drums around the age of four. My mom always had music around the house so I was exposed to things like MOTOWN and rock stuff. As soon as I got out of high school, I didn't go to college I just started playing bars right out of high school. I've done a lot of live and session work so I love music both as a listener and a player.

How about you NIA?
NIA: Actually, I grew up around musicians. My dad played music in many bands. I grew up in church so I probably started singing in the choir when I was five up until I was a teenager so I was constantly surrounded by it. My brother, he's passed on now, he actually lived in Japan for a while and he had a studio and a following and a nightly gig there and wrote music and played piano. He started doing this from childhood as well. He pursued music because it was his dream. I just did it because it's my nature. I did it because it felt good and it was fun. After he had passed on, I had moved to LA and all of a sudden people I was acquainted with kept asking me to sing vocals with them or sing in their band and things like that. People kept coming to me and I wasn't looking to pursue music as a career. It just kind of happened and I just think that it's something that I supposed to be doing right now.

What has been the most rewarding experience in being in this band?
NIA: I feel very rich inside because of the music.
For me, it's been wonderful because I can express myself. They basically let me do what I want and because of that I get those creative juices flowing. I love the freedom to be able to do what I do and everyone accepts it. 

MICHAEL: I just like playing live with these guys. I work in the studio all o f the time so it's always a really special moment to be playing live . We play out at the beach a lot. There a lot of people that come by to see us: all kinds of races; all kinds of ages; all kinds of colors and everyone seems to enjoy it.

What kind of a scene are you surrounded by in Venice? Is it supportive or competitive?
NIA: Mostly supportive. We get a lot of support. We get a lot of love. We feel really fortunate. 

MICHAEL: There's always going to e someone who feels really sour about it.

NIA: You always get the vultures after you when they see how happy you are and how much support you're getting. They can beat us but they can't break us.

What kind of audience have you guys attracted?
NIA: We get old, young, black, white, blue, purple, green –

CHRIS: Homeless 

NIA: The crack heads love us! We get a lot of support, so the positive outweighs the negative.

The songs have this really improvised feel to them on you CD HEAVEN 90291. In live situations, do you take the improvisation a step further?
NIA: Live, we have a lot more dimensions in our music to show. We also have a lot more time to jam out. We have lot of freedom in the record which we love very much, but when we play live, it's like we have even more freedom. There aren't as many rules as there are in a recording studio.

Are there any track from HEAVEN 90291 that stand out for any of you?
NIA: Mine is the first song FREAK. don't know why but I like it a lot. There's something about the sounds that come out of it that make me feel at home. And I like the Hare Krishna sounds in the beginning.

How has the CD been received by people?
NIA: Fortunately, we've had a lot of positive responses and it's been quite motivating for us.

What's the biggest challenge to being in this band? Is there anything standing in your way at the moment?
MICHAEL: The biggest challenge is always money. Living expenses in LA are very high and with a little more money a band can do a lot more things like go on tour, which we'd love to do, but a lack of funds makes that difficult.

Is it easy to get discouraged in todays music world?
MICHAEL: I would say so. 

NIA: It can be. 

MICHAEL: If I didn't have this band and the music to believe in then I think I would be very discouraged.

What would you like to see happen with SUGAR BITCH. What's the plan?
NIA: Stadium after stadium after stadium, countries from Russia to the Orient. I just wanna tour for the next ten years and take a month off.(Laughs)

What do you want the listener to walk away after hearing your music?
NIA: I want their hearts to be warm and fuzzy. 

CHRIS: I'd like for them to be moved by the music and to walk away with a smile and be happy. 

MICHAEL: people have told us that they make love after our shows. I think that is the biggest compliment. I like that.