Singer-songwriter Gene-Manuel describes his music in the following manner: “If you were to take a huge, imaginary blender, pour in some pop, rock, folk, alternative, lots of guitars, lots of vocal harmonies, some broken pieces of Kate Bush's The Dreaming CD and hit the PULVERIZE button, the resulting concoction would be the music found on Sophisticated Kink”
Working alongside musical partner Michael Morgan, the two went into the studio with one credo in mind: to make music they wanted to listen to, without the confines of any particular genre or any pre-conceived commercial agenda. This freed them to create music for the sake of creating. The resulting disc is a mélange that takes the listener through the thumping, guitar-driven soundscape of the title track, shoots them into orbit for the electronica-tinged and haunting “8 [Different Ways], then throws them into a mosh-pit for the rock-fueled “C’Mon [Fully Loaded] and ultimately settling them down nice and easy with the acoustic beauty of “Something I’ve Always Wanted”.
Along for the ride are the vestiges of Gene-Manuel’s musical muses such as Kate Bush, whose "Under The Ivy" is covered, Tori Amos, Paula Cole and Sophie B. Hawkins. Gene-Manuel now joins the rank of such independent artists that truly listen to their inner voice and lets that voice guide them through the creative process. Sophisticated Kink is full of music that not only moves the spirit but causes an involuntary bodily jerk every now and again, in a good way of course.
BEHIND THE SCENES
1. Sophisticated Kink - I decided to have "Sophisticated Kink" be the first song on the CD because it's so different from any other song on the disc. I had the vision of a huge club in the Red Light District when I wrote the lyrics and I wanted the song to have that club feel. But, Sophisticated Kink is not a dance record, therefore, guitars are prevalent on this track, giving it a harder edge.
The song's protagonist is the MC of this club - the Sophisticated Kink. All his friends are there. . . DJ Tabu on the turntable, Lady Nikki all in leather teasing the crowd, while Ms. Llima is there to capture it all on film. Centurri's performing "High Praise" while the crowd keeps reveling in a euphoric haze.
2. Countless Crowds - This is one of my favorite songs on this CD. It's one of the two songs that Michael wrote alone for the album and I wish I could take credit for it. There's a perfect balance in this song. It's a melancholy song but there's alot of hope within it and especially in the end when all the voices join in. "Tonight seems to be alright".
3. Gently - "Gently" started out as a lullaby to mothers and it basically still is. They say that a mother always sees their child as a child, no matter how old they get. "Gently" touches upon the fact that no matter how much you love your child, they will grow up, they will struggle and have to go out into the world on their own.
When it came time to record it, I added the ending which is actually the grown child responding - "I just won't wait anymore . . .".
4. Flicker - "Flicker" has been with us for quite a while. It basically wrote itself in a matter of minutes. Music and lyrics came together perfectly, which is more than can be said for the relationship in the actual song.
5. 8 [Different Ways] - Since 8 is my favorite number, I decided to write around it. "8 [Different Ways]" is another one of those songs that Michael and I have worked on for a few years and has gone through various incarnations. For Sophisticated Kink, it has turned into this hauntingly beautiful ballad.
In it's original form, I had also written it in spanish and wanted my mom, Regina, to sing on it with me. Well, that version just never worked and when we finally decided on this one, I wanted to find a way to get mom in on the act. It seemed as if it wasn't going to happen, but somehow, we got my mom's vocals recorded a couple of days before the cd went to mastering. The words she's singing came to me right before she stepped in front of the microphone and she gave a wonderful performance.
6. Reminded - Another song that has been with us for quite some time. Michael wrote it years ago and we performed it with Something Bliss. This new version really captures so much of the underlying pain in the song. We didn't want to dilute or sugarcoat it.
7. Forgotten - "Forgotten" was born in the midst of this nation's worst natural disaster - Katrina. Days upon days of seeing the horror that was happening in these united states of America. I watched so many people suffering, needlessly. And as I watched one of my favorite cities in the world, New Orleans, drown in not only water but misery and despair, "Forgotten" came to me.
It's a song that starts out angry but ends up strong and powerful and with a sense of hope and pride. I knew I wanted this song to be vocally powerful therefore I recruited some of my favorite people to join me. Nikki E. Walker, John Centurri and Nathan Gehan all gave of their valuable time and came into the studio to give incredible performances. They truly made the "Forgotten" that was in my head come to life and for that I will forever be grateful to them.
8. Perfectly Still, Violently Searching - Kate Bush is one of my biggest musical influences and The Dreaming is one of my all-time favorite records she's ever done. Therefore, I really wanted "Perfectly Still, Violently Searching" to have that Dreaming feeling. We weren't quite sure how we were going to go about doing that until we were in the actual recording studio for vocals.
The song took over and became what it needed to be with very little interference from either of us. Kate's vibe was definitely in the room when I recorded the background vocals at the very end of the song. I don't think I'll ever be able to duplicate them.
I'm not quite sure what the song is about or what type of person or thing sings it. Somehow I get the feeling that he's not quite human. Hmmmm. . .
9. C'Mon [Fully Loaded] - This is our short-little-ditty song. It was written in like 15 minutes and it's meant to be some good 'ole rock and roll fun.
Some have asked what "the other side" means and I always answer with, "it means whatever you want it to mean." I know what it means to me as well as what the hand-holding business is all about, but, I'd rather let each listener come up with their own interpretations. Remember, it's all in fun!
10. Something I've Always Wanted - I thought this was the perfect way to close the cd. It's not only the complete and total opposite of the title track but it's also just a nice and easy, calm way to end the SK experience. I wrote it in one of those moments of self-pity where I thought nobody understood me and blah blah blah.
11. Under The Ivy (Bonus Track) - Let me start by saying that there is absolutely no way that anybody, ANYBODY can improve on the original version of "Under The Ivy". The combination of Kate Bush and piano is a powerful one and if you don't believe me, please run out and get Hounds of Love (the new version with "Under The Ivy" on it) and definitely get her new CD Aerial for "A Coral Room".
But, aside from this fact, I wanted to do my own version of the song and I approached Michael to help me with it. So with Kate Bush Complete on hand and a copy of the original, we came up with this version. The one on the CD is different from the original one I had on the site last year. I felt that I needed to really get into character for this song and I wanted there to be a feeling of being in that garden; a rainy, wet garden. I hope people like it and take it in the spirit in which we did it which was as a tribute to Kate's brilliance.