"Stories" has an evocative 70s vibe with wah wah guitar, crisp horns and incisive keys. Add to the mix the soulful vocals of singer Esther Dee for a retro-flavored sister funk workout that is guaranteed to get your head nodding to the beat. Third studio album "Lowdown" sees Crowd Company take things to a new level with rich song-writing combined with catchy hooks, inventive vocal performances and tight grooves. Band leader Rob Fleming says: "We had an amazing time recording the album, heading over the pond to the studio of Alan Evans. We then got together with Eric and Ryan from Lettuce to add the horns to this tune and the rest of the album. We are so proud and can’t wait to get it out there”.
20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Rita Ray
1- How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?
?? Sorry, but I didn’t understand the question :/
2- Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?
I am in a really good place right now. I enjoy writing music and singing my own tunes. This is what I have dreamt of for a long time.
3- Which song (not necessarily yours) best sums you/the band up and why?
4- Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?
Definitely The Beatles. Their songwriting skills were just impeccable. Also, I would have to name Aretha Franklin. She was the singer in my life that I have envied for a long time.
5- Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?
At one point, I was listening a lot of “Gentle Giant”. They were an English progressive rock band active in 70s and 80s. I guess, it is not very “my style”.
6- What are you most proud of?
I am proud of being an estonian.
7- In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?
No. I have never been a fame-searching artist. And as a female singer, it sickens me how our society is pushing those who are most of the time wearing basically nothing. As an artist, I would like to be respected for my music and not for my looks.
8- What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?
I played one wedding and they wanted me to sing and play “Kalinka”. I was really sceptical but few moments later the whole crowd was on the dancefloor.
9- What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?
10- If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?
I would’ve loved to play on some Motown’s recording. Just to see how they got the sound and how the recording sessions were etc.
11- How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?
I don’t get tired of music. It is what I do on most of my days. There is always something to do and the work never ends. But personal responsibilities like house chores is a good way to unload.
12- In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?
Yes, definitely. And I also think since everyone has a chance to make a record these days, there is a lot of let’s say “interesting” music out there. I am not saying that I wish things could be like in the “old days” where labels signed artists and you had to be special and work hard, but a lot of good music came out back then. Can’t deny that.
13- Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band?
Not always. Success is also very subjective. But I have to admit, I feel happiest when I go on stage and sing my heart out.
14- DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?
I am not a DJ myself so I don’t know how much work they put into their careers.
15- To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?
It was definitely in “Sõru Jazz 2018” festival. I did a tribute to Etta James’s 80th birthday. For the last song “I’d Rather Go Blind”, estonian best jazz musicians gathered on stage as a surprise to do the song together. Kadri Voorand and Liina Saar sang backvocals for me. This was a gig I will never forget.
16- How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?
Of course I get nervous sometimes. Especially before some really big performance. But I breathe slowly and deeply and think happy thoughts. Nothing more special than that.
17- When did you last write something?
It was in the summer the day before the last recording session. I had booked a studio, but didn’t have the last two songs. So I had to fill the void in my album and wrote those last two. But I am taking a break right now. Although, after releasing my album, I will definitely start to work on a new one.
18- Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?
Nope, not that I remember. Mama didn’t raise a quitter haha!
19- What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instruments during recording?
We did everything in my album with live instruments. Horns, strings, original Hammond organ, original Wurlitzer etc. I think that is already saying how I feel about the topic.
20- Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?
It is a good way to look back and think stuff through. Was fun to answer!
Rita Ray, the young Estonian soul singer and songwriter, just released ‘Disco Stu’, her third single. Latest addition to Funk Embassy Records - Rita is destined to find her place next to the likes of Dojo Cuts, The Dip and Hannah Williams. Previous singles included a mid-60’s R&B reminiscent heart melter ‘Fool For Loving You’ and ‘Lover Man’ - a piano-led ballad that’s surely influenced by Amy Winehouse.
’Disco Stu’ sees Rita Ray flip the switch and reveal her upbeat and cheerful side. Although the artists blue-eyed Soul sensibilities are well present, the listener is treated to a disco thump that makes the feet tap. The crisp production includes a percussion and string section that tips the hat to the works of Alice Russell and Quantic.
Now available on Bandcamp and Spotify, this single whets the fans’ appetite for ‘Old Love Will Rust’, Rita Ray’s upcoming debut album. After being positively surprised by the high praises received for ‘Fool For Loving You’ and ‘Lover Man’, Rita Ray expects this one to show her fans another side of her compositions. ‘’Disco Stu’ makes the album a whole’ Rita reveals.
Who is Leon Dinero? From whence did he come? The soulful singer dropped his first single this past June, tearing up a ska version of Lee Fields & Sugarman 3's classic "Lover Like Me". Backed by The Frightnrs, and with Victor Axelrod in the producer's chair Leon returns with "If You Ask Me", a gorgeous piece of wax that draws inspiration from the deep vaults of Jamaican Rocksteady.
Originally penned for The Frightnrs' debut long player but never tracked as such, this version showcases Dinero's timeless vocal delivery - his voice etched with honey-dipped imperfections that call to mind the classic vocals of Alton Ellis and Hopeton Lewis. Gracing the flip-side is"Bandits", a lyrical takedown of the continuing gentrification of New York City that rides the A-Side's instrumental in pure Jamaican DJ style. Vocal duties for this stellar side are brought to you by Screechy Dan, who's often described as the glue that holds the NYC reggae community together.
Beyond his classic tunes like"Pose Off" and "Big Bills", Screechy has nurtured generations of young artists, sound systems and selectors, forging deep ties that bind Jamaica to New York and veteran artists to the new school. Victor Axelrod expertly handles the production by employing the rhythmic powerhouse that is The Frightnrs to help mine the sweetness of rock steady for the A-side whilst tempering it with the drum and bass toughness of classic rub-a-dub for the flip.