Artist Interview: Libertalia!
Tell us about yourself and your music
Libertalia writes, records and performs modern American dance music with significant elements of Jazz, Rock, Reggae and WorldBeat. All of our material is original which I write, arrange and produce with my confidante and associate producer vocalist/dancer/actress/fashion designer Joni Margaux. Bill Davidow is our recording, mixing and mastering engineer and we have recorded all of our tracks at Virlouise in Anaheim, California. I play the guitar, bass and keyboard parts. We use various friends on drums and horns. Joni and I do the singing. We do not use Auto-Tune or any other pitch correcting hardware or software.
Our initial project is a three CD trilogy. “Where Liberty Dwells” will feature material from our Funk/Rock/Fusion side; “Soiree at the Café Creole” from our Jazz/Blues/R&B side; and “A Rising Tide” from our Reggae and WorldBeat side. A little more than half of the trilogy is recorded, in the can, so to speak… about a quarter is in production and about a quarter is yet to be written.
Even though we are splitting up the repertoire into three basic subgenres, mostly for marketing reasons, there is continuity to the production. There is a Libertalia sound. Our music always features a strong bass line with a deep groove obvious from the first measure. We employ a horn section and/or Gospel-like backup vocals on many tunes. We have a number of tracks with guitar solos but I don’t take a solo on every tune.
Conceptually, we do, of course, promote the idea of a libertarian microstate in more or less the same mold as Monaco, San Marino, Andorra and Liberland but we don’t get too heavy handed with the lyrics. We are very serious about our music and our mission but we try to interject some humor into the material and not take ourselves too seriously.
Talk to us more about your latest release
Our latest release comes from our Jazz/Blues/R&B side and is called “Lil Jubie”. It has a bit of a retro feel in that it is built over a nearly unison bass and guitar line much like Peter Gunn, Pretty Woman or Day Tripper. There is a heavy horn line and counter melody which doesn’t come in until after the second verse/chorus but once it does, establishes a theme which we reprise at the vamp. We have a very funky organ breakdown following the horn “solo” which further takes the piece into a place where you almost have to envision a chase sequence from a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Lyrically, “Lil Jubie” is about an actual person, a great R&B singer and friend with whom I have worked with off and on for many years. It’s not really a love song per se – more of a tribute – but the descriptive portion of the lyrics is accurate. She’s a very unconventional girl and yes, she has heard the song and she does like it. The promotional art work is taken from a photo session that was shot ages ago, so again, retro.
What inspired you to write this release?
Lil Jubie doesn’t actually go by Lil Jubie but I heard someone call her that and I immediately thought, “That is a great name for a tune”. I had the guitar/bass line floating around in my head for some time and felt like it might be a good fit.
Any plans to release a video?
Joni and I are both fans of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and classic films in general and we both understand that our music is going nowhere without video. Like it or not, that is just the way it works now. So, yes, we are definitely going to produce videos for every single one of our tunes.
You can imagine the fun we could have with a retro tune like Lil Jubie but, for now, our strategy is to stay focused on our recording process and complete our three CD trilogy before undertaking the challenge of developing a cinematic process to complement our recording process.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, we are very much looking forward to performing our material live; however, again, we are staying focused on completing our three CD trilogy (which will give us over two hours of live original material) before putting together the live act.
Who have you been listening to lately?
I intentionally do not listen to much so-called popular music. I don’t want to be influenced by mediocrity. Instead, I program my subconscious with the best of Dave Grusin, David Sanborn, Henry Mancini, Joe Zawinul, Bernard Herrmann, Tchaikovsky, and so on, so that when I open my subconscious up to allow musical ideas to flow, I get great quality ideas. Garbage in = garbage out, right? Well, the corollary to that is: Quality in = quality out.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Randell!