Steve Spacek: For The People

You know that chilled-out music that DJ’s play in the wee hours of the night at lounges? Often times, we’re too preoccupied or too stubborn to ask what it is. Steve Spacek’s solo debut Space Shift is that kind of album that you wish you had ask about. The Electronic-Soul fusion finds the front-man of […]

You know that chilled-out music that DJ’s play in the wee hours of the night at lounges? Often times, we’re too preoccupied or too stubborn to ask what it is. Steve Spacek’s solo debut Space Shift is that kind of album that you wish you had ask about. The Electronic-Soul fusion finds the front-man of the group, Spacek, touching on love, seduction, and even the economy.

Born in South London, living in Australia and working in Los Angeles offers Steve many inspirations. Sharing his art with ‘70s R&B legend Leon Ware and Hip-Hop super-producer Jay Dee, Steve Spacek wants Americans to hear what others already have. In a discussion with Alternatives, we address the audience, the craft, and some of the influences behind such a musical anomaly. Alternatives: ‘Sound In Color’ is such a great name for a company. We see the color in your logo too. What does that term/phrase mean to you?

Steve Spacek: My family is from Jamaica, that’s the colors. I was born in South London though. It’s more the Rasta colors. I always wanted to represent that in something.

AHHA: That said, what is the most colorful record ever made in your opinion?

Steve Spacek: That’s a difficult one for me. There’s quite a few, really. One would be Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing, the one that Sly & Robbie produced. That’s a wicked album, it’s got some Reggae, some Dub, but also a French accordion on there. It reminds me of movies, like James Bond, and all that stuff. It’s kinda epic.

AHHA: Electronic music is really driving the trends in other genres. Groups like Postal Service and Radiohead are making records that people wait for in the Pop/Rock community. Do you think the Soul genre can ever follow?

Steve Spacek: It’s funny that you say that, ‘cause I think it is already. I think it has been for many years. Maybe when people describe Electronic music, they’ve got to go in deeper. The time when I was really conscious of Soul music was obviously growing up in the 80’s. There was Jazz-Funk and Electro going on, and from that moment on, it was really Electronic. In the 70’s, it was live instruments with horn sections, orchestral. Today, there’s [not, with] people like myself, and Platinum Pied Pipers, Sa-Ra, we reside in part of it.

AHHA: Jay Dee will attract a lot of Hip-Hop heads to this record. “Dollar” might be my favorite thing he’s ever produced. That track just sounds like classic Curtis Mayfield made understandable for today’s folks. Tell me about what that record means to you…

Steve Spacek: You’re not the first person to [make the Curtis comment]. “Dollar” means a lot. Jay Dee’s groove just made sense to me when he played it for me. When I was sitting and writing, I wanted it to mean something. I’m not here to preach to anyone. That’s the one thing I never want to do with my music – tell people how they should be, ya know? Hearing the lyrics on the [sample] saying, “Let the dollar circulate,” I wanted to portray that in a positive way. There’s such a limited amount of people who have money, so it’s touchy. It’s about spreading, making sure everybody gets some.

AHHA: Going back to Curtis, his music thrived in depressing economic and social times. One could argue we’ve returned to that…

Steve Spacek: I think a lot of the world is in a lot of fear. People are trying to sweep it under the carpet. Recently, I’ve been living in Australia with my girl, ‘cause we just had a child whose eight-weeks-old now. When she was pregnant, I was like, “S**t, I have to take care of someone now, and think about bringing somebody in this world.”

AHHA: Did having your first child on the way inspire you differently with Space Shift?

Steve Spacek: I been on this tip for the last few years, even with my band [Spacek] too. I’m trying to put music across in a way that’s being honest to myself. At the same, I’m not leaving people out. A lot of music does that now. It screws a lot of people ‘cause it’s too cool and it’s too underground. Underground’s cool and all, but I’m making music so many people can listen to it. This whole period, and hopefully the stuff that comes in the future, there will be a commercial element to it. This is not just for the heads, this is for the heads and everyone else. Me having this child, has really made me like that a lot more. ‘Cause now, the fact of the matter is: we gotta got over, we gotta get paid. You gotta practice your art, but you’ve got to think on the mainstream tip as well.

AHHA: In talking about underground versus mainstream, do you think, in the States, the radio will respond to this record?

Steve Spacek: They’re gonna do whatever comes natural to them. You’ve got to get a certain number of sales, and appear in a certain number of magazines, and get a certain demographic, then it’ll kick in. It’s an interesting time, so it could go either way.

AHHA: What’s been your reaction in America with the Spacek group work?

Steve Spacek: It’s cool, but we really haven’t been out here that much. Only the second album [Vintage Hi-Tech] came out here, and that was really more geared for Europe. The first [Curvatia] didn’t, and the States would’ve liked that. To me, as a band, that’s the best thing we’ve done. It’s forward-thinking, but also really traditionally soulful. That’s what held us back most in this country. It’s about being visible and available.

AHHA: My friends and I were talking about R&B these days – and the stories in the music. R. Kelly’s “Trapped In The Closet” is really a story… it’s all talking, like a Chi-Lites record. I like the way you use shorter phrases, not simple by any means, but concise. Like “Rapid Rate”. Is this part of your “not preaching” philosophy?

Steve Spacek: When I’m making music and vocalizing, I feel like I’m exploring certain places. I don’t know where I’m actually going. I’m just trying to be original. Every time you listen to someone, they’re trying to go somewhere new. On this album, like you said, it’s concise. It’s almost like I’m on stepping-stones trying to move across different places. I’m never sure till I really stand on it.

AHHA: What was it like to work with the legendary Leon Ware? How did you determine that “Smoke” would be the right song to share with him?

Steve Spacek: I had a few tracks when he and I were hanging out one day. I left like two or three. Obviously, he’s doing so much with different things going on. I’d just leave him a few beats and see what he’d come up with. He might just play a keyboard or something. “Smoke” came from one evening hanging out, and he presented it to me. Then, we went back and forth making little changes over time. It’s a cool vibe, we had fun doing that. He’s got such a good spirit.

AHHA: To anyone who’s never heard of you prior to this interview, why do you think they should check for Space Shift?

Steve Spacek: If you’re into music with a soulful sensibility, this’ll definitely reach out to you. If it doesn’t, then that’s cool. It’s got something in there for a lot of people. Hip-Hop is the biggest music, but Soul’s bigger – ‘cause it encompasses Hip-Hop, R&B, Drum & Bass. This is just taking you on another journey.