A-Kube: Un-Kid-i-Fide Music For Grown Folks
“ Like a lot of singers back in the day, if you were not singing in the church, the street lights might have been your only moment of glitter and fame. Yes, it was hard but you adapt to the surroundings ”
Un-kid-i-fide music is music that sounds like today's music, but with the kid's focus and vibe removed; music to which the 28 to 65 or older crowd can relate. When so much music is geared to a younger market, and much of it contains objectionable, or border-line objectionable lyrics, Asure Akhi Amen, a.k.a. A-Kube has developed a sound that is geared to a more mature market, or a market that would appreciate a more mature sound.
The music of A-Kube is truly world music and "un-kid-ifide." His music flavor may include a vocal drawl, that some may compare as soulful and mellow as a Marvin Gaye or Sam Cook, with a soulful "like-Otis-Redding" twang. Good luck world, here comes A-Kube.
All About Jazz (AAJ): You have an approach to your music that is unique to popularly promoted music. What is "un-kid-ified" music?
A-Kube (AK): "Un-kid-i-fide" music is music that sounds like today's music, but with the kid's focus and vibe removed. A lot of music today has a backdrop of some kind. Like, how are you riding? What are you packing for self defense? What you want to do to your mate? How you want to kill your brother, or what's happening at school or on the play ground? Hell, for a lot of us baby boomers, the last time we were at the playground we had our grandkids with us, thus the birth of "un-kid-i-fide" music for the baby boomer. I think "un-kid-i-fide" music is music the 28 to 65 or older crowd can relate to
AAJ: Your earliest introduction to this more mature sound in music started as your older siblings introduced you to what they were enjoying musically. What was your earliest introduction to music? How large of a family did you come from? Was your family musical?
AK: My earliest intro to music was through my siblings who were actually my uncles and aunts and a teenage mother. There was always music and dancing. I can remember hearing my grandmother make beautiful sounds come from her mouth. She sang all day long while she did her chores. Gospel, of course. She even introduced me to the click sounds. Click sound are sounds you can make using the tongue and roof of your mouth to make it click or clock like the sounds that horses make when they walk. A lot of music from the African continent use the click sounds. One person I loved to hear do it was Mariam Makeba.
I must have been about five years old when I began to try to imitate the sounds I heard coming from her. I had two uncles, an aunt and my mother as siblings coming up in my family. One of my uncles sang in the school choir and my mother and her sister both sang in the church choir. I can't remember when growing up that music was not in my life. Even though no one played an accompanying instrument and we never gathered around to sing hymns, music was a very important factor in my family. Life was almost like the movies, meaning you can go through life each day and make all the necessary moves, but put some music in it and it suddenly comes alive.
AAJ : Your musical interest grew to include other performers of similar music. How were you introduced to these other performers? Do you consider them, or a combination of these and your earliest introductions your biggest early influences?
AK: My uncles and aunts were between 15 and 20 years older than me, and they kept the stereo going when they were all home together. Without a doubt all that music that was being played throughout the house, like Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions I could go on an on, influences my music today. Listening to them is how I formed my definition of music.
AAJ: How did you start singing?
AK: I started singing trying to imitate my grandmother. She had a magnificent voice. And when you went to our church back in the day, you sang, pretty much everybody sang in the services. That was part of it. The preacher had a very good, strong voice, of course, demanded that everyone open their mouth and sang. On many occasions there was not an organist or pianist. The church during those days had almost perfect rhythm. With the patter of the feet of what seemed liked the entire congregation, the rhythm time was kept. Man it sounded so beautiful. And that was just to much for my young fertile ears to resist. Those vibrations penetrated to my very soul where it affected me to this very day.
AAJ: Growing up as you did in Mobile, (Alabama) you had two options. You either sang in the church choir, or performed under the street lights. What are your earliest memories of singing?
AK: Funny I have never forgotten the little skit I used to do. One room, had a curtain that separated one room from another. All the rooms had curtains that separated them from the other rooms. So when my people would play music, I would come from behind the curtain as if I was on the Ed Sullivan Show. I still can remember that. [Laughs].
AAJ: At one point you almost lost your life. Was this while singing? What happened?
AK: I almost lost my life on the day job. I used to be a locomotive engineer several years ago. One night in 2001, my train and another train nearly collided. Besides during all I could do running as fast as hell and hoping the two trains wouldn't collide. I survived it though and after several back surgeries I am talking to you today. I was one scared ass that night. To this very day I don't do trains.
AAJ: How did an interest in woodworking and furniture building lead to your first discovery of electronic music? Woodworking and furniture building was something you did in the evenings, while you worked on the railroad during the day.
AK: One day in Dallas, Texas, around about the year 1992, while looking for a place of business that sold woodworking equipment, I stumbled across another place of business in the location of the shop I was looking for. The place of business turned out to be a company that sold pianos that were hooked up to the computer. Being fascinated by the personal computer, since its introduction to the public in the early 80s, and already being recognized for years among family and friends as being a pretty good singer, I was immediately drawn in to this new way, to me, of making music. And ever since that day I have been creating my music.
AAJ: You eventually sold off your woodworking equipment to raise money to buy your first electronic equipment. What was the first piece of electronic/musical equipment you bought?
AK: The first piece of equipment I bought was a mint condition Yamaha DX-7 that I wish I had today
AAJ: How long did it take you to master this equipment?
AK: Master, did you say Master...those are the kind of words I associate with Mr. Jones, Mr. Duke. No I am still learning and no way can I say I haven't mastered anything. This electronic and digital music thing is so revolutionize that I find it very difficult to say I have mastered something when there are so many versions to software. Hell, just about every year the major players in the digital music game come up with a new and improved version. Now, I will admit I am quite familiar with the technology and that is it. That is my final answer.
AAJ: It was almost a full 10 years before you started performing professionally. What was that first gig like?
AK: Actually there has not been a first gig. When I started the Un-Kid-i-fide Project. I honestly had no idea that the vibe would be so receptive. So thanks to my friends on the Net, we're beginning to look at things like distribution and touring much more aggressively.
AAJ: How long did it take you before you started experimenting with recording?
AK: In reality it was about the same time that I got into electronic music. See during those days there was only MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and thinking I could sing, I had to have my voice recorded. And that's when I discovered some pretty cool little tape recording gadgets. My first recorder was a 4-tracker, then I went to an 8-tracker. And that's just about when the capability of recording directly to the hard drive came out. At that point, as far as I was concerned, the 8-tracker was obsolete.
AAJ: Do you work with live musicians now?
AK: Actually, I do. My next project will consist of several musicians from Memphis and around the world. How about that?
AAJ: Do you have your own in-house recording studio now?
AK: Of, course. Hell, it's been rumored everyone in Memphis has one.
AAJ: How do you describe your sound today?
AK: Un-Kid-ifide. Today, my music will be like a lot of modern day blues and rhythm artist. But there is always an attempt to bring substance to my music. As an artist I feel it is my responsibility to record the times. Go to any point in history and listen to its music and it will tell you what the culture was like and what life was about. You might say we record time. In real time.
AAJ: Where can we catch you performing?
AK: Right now we're not sure. We have put our EPK out to do several festivals in 2008. If we're accepted at any of them, we will for sure be doing those venues. Besides that we (family) are also trying to work out a scheduling where I can still maintain things on the home front and still do this music thing as well.