Broken Angel was formed early in 2004 when multi-instrumentalist and producer Karl Clews auditioned singer/songwriter Joseph Yianna for a one-off studio project. Once in the studio, the two realized they shared many views and opinions on what constituted real 'soul music' and on the state of the modern music industry. Their shared respect for the 'classic' soul artists, people like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Aaron Neville, and their disillusionment with the sterile, soulless nature of much contemporary R&B, forged a strong bond between them and what had started off as a short-term project quickly blossomed into a full-blown album, which is scheduled for release on 12 November 2004.
The pair's simple philosophy is, although it's an overused cliché today, to 'keep it real' - to Karl and Joseph, this meant recording real performances by real musicians, and avoiding the common pitfall of processing the life and soul out of the music. This is where they found the band's name: 'Broken Angel' seemed to encompass neatly the idea of beauty in imperfection - both agreed that what brought real 'soul' to their musical heroes' performances were those moments where the singer's voice breaks, the tempo slips, where the musicians behind the music are revealed as fragile and vulnerable. And these moments have all but been eradicated from modern music in these days of auto-tuners and beat quantisation.
Don't get them wrong, the band aren't averse to using modern technology and modern recording methods: the whole of their debut album was recorded on a PC in Karl's home studio; but the performances are real, and the guys were careful to make sure the technology remained at the service of the music, rather than directing it.
The resulting music crosses genre boundaries: like their musical heroes, Broken Angel refuse to be pigeon-holed - while the music is clearly rooted in the 70s funk and soul tradition, with echoes of Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield, you can also hear traces of more contemporary artists such as Erykah Badu, Macy Gray, Lenny Kravitz and Finley Quaye, and dashes of rock and experimental electronica which bring Broken Angel closer to the maverick nature of such artists as Prince, Talking Heads and Lewis Taylor.
For the live shows, Joseph takes centre stage and Karl takes the role of musical director and bassist, while musical cohorts Gerard Blyth, Justin Mackey, Timur Djahit, Mark Mullin and the mighty DeMarvlest are drafted in on guitar, keys, drums, percussion/sax and rap vocals respectively.