Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1088

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Myles Sanko: Hookline &Sanko

Myles Sanko - COPYRIGHT: Michael Miller
Myles Sanko - COPYRIGHT: Michael Miller Myles Sanko - COPYRIGHT: Michael Miller Myles Sanko - COPYRIGHT: Michael Miller Myles Sanko - COPYRIGHT: Michael Miller

They say fortune favours the brave, which in layman's terms means, you'll have good luck if you carry out your plans boldly. Well here's a one time hip hop artist, think the career path of Aloe Blacc and Plan B, now turned soul artist, who is attempting to boldly go in a 'funky' fresh direction, his nameâ¦Myles Sanko.

I was lucky enough sit down for an engrossing chat with Myles Sanko at The Heights, in London's Regent Street, where debut album and his mission to find an authentic sound to run parallel with this release was high on the menu.

With influences which include most of the greats of soul; Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Otis Redding and Al Green etcâ¦and dubbed the 'Lovechild Of Soul Music'. WOOOOAHH! Hold on! Before I carry on the prelim, I'll let Mr Sanko explain the the 'Lovechild' moniker. "Well, if all my greats got together! Let's be a bit nasty here! (laughs) â¦and decided to have a child, I would be that child! I'm carrying on that message of all the greats that I love so much. He continuesâ¦"Most of the heroes that I admire are dead and gone and you're never going to see them on stage anymore. So why can't someone go out and still experience that kind of music and experience a performer perform just as⦠I'm not saying as good asâ¦I'm saying I will do my best to give a part of me the way they did. And if all my heroes get 'together', hopefully that would be me! (laughs).

While recording his impressive EP âBorn In Black & Whiteâ in 2013, Sanko invited his fans to not only crowd fund this effort, but bravely to also ask them to pick it's content. "I wrote loads of demos, vocal and guitar and then I decided that a great way to get my fans involved, because I love to get my fans involved, cos that's what it's all about - they put you were you are you know?" Adding. "I'm not the kinda person where I say '"I'm an artist and these are my fans. These are my minions or whatever!?' I like them to feel like they can get in touch with me, they can talk about my music with me, they can be part of my music and everything else. So I decided, ok, what I will do is⦠I will record some live acoustic videos, put them online and get the fans to pick their favourites. Then out of what they think is the best, I'd like to see what they sound like with a full band, I'll put that on an albumâ¦"

Happy with the results of this almost calculated risk, this African born 30 something, with French heritage and now living in Cambridgeshire started work on his now deft debut long player, "Forever Dreaming". Released on stalwart Germain soul/funk supporters Légère Records, Sanko explains the difference between the EP and this album when it came to material and approach. "The first album I wanted to be a bit more punchier, a little bit more harder. The second one I wanted to kinda go back and embrace the old techniques of recording, for example the Motown drum style, we put things on tape to get a softer sound. To really focus on the texture of the sounds, that's what I did on 'Forever Dreaming', and that's what 'Born In Black And White' didn't have. It was a question of what I love and what I wanted to do." Explaining further about his drive to get things just right. "I love soul music, I love all various enders, there's just something about the Motown drums. I dunnoâ¦there's something about that distorted sound, the way it's tuned. So I did a bit of research with the drummer and with the sound engineer, we tried different techniques, used the ribbon mic's, placed them in the right places to try and get 'that sound' - just to TRY and get that sound."

A little Motown inspired luck also had a hand in the recording proceedings. "I went away to Germany, worked with Mousse T (producer, "I'm Horny" fame) on some soul weekenders, we were working on some musicâ¦we're in a studio in Hamburg and he goes "Myles! Guess what? I've got some stems (sub-mixes) from Marvin Gaye! Actual original stems and I could give them to you." I said 'let me have it'. So I went home and I played it and you can just kinda hear that everything is not mastered, not compromised or whatever, just the raw sound. The drums just blew me away! Sanko compares his efforts. "Forever Dreaming" is very sort of Motowny in the way it was approached, the drum sound - everything about it is Motowny with elements of jazz. A progressionâ¦this album I created purely because this is what I love."

The reason for big move from hip hop to the soul genre for the one time high-end establishment chef. "When I decided to become a singer, that was the late '90s and hip hop and rap kinda took a turn - there was DMX, there was the 'gangster thing' and no one was saying anything positive. It just wasn't going anywhere! I was a little kid, just loving music and doing something in the music industry - if this is the industry I was going to be having a career in, it wasn't something I wanted to be in. Then a few of soul albums came outâ¦Musiq Soulchild released something around then, this was good, this was within the same sort of bracket, hip hop was 'black music', but there's something quite nice hereâ¦"

If something is worth doing, it's certainly worth doing well and by yourself. "I run a monthlyâ¦I used to run a live music night, first of all it was called 'Just Jazz', then it became 'The Music Kitchen' at a venue called La Raza. I tried to create some kind of live music scene that I wanted to see and hear in Cambridge." He continues "I had some following of fans, they like to know what I'm doing. You know? Where I am⦠So I put on bands from all round the UK, to come down from Londonâ¦anything I hear that I think is cool. To start off with it was to start off with local guys, the guys that were playing really nice, they were playing jazz. Then I opened it up a little more, got some funk into it, got some soul in there - a various mix."

Introducing the band which grew out of these events. "Rick Hudson on drums, there's something really nice about this guy. I could easily imagine putting him the studio and telling him how I wanted him to play⦠Do you know, I ended up hand picking a bunch of guys who recoded an album a couple of years ago, together! (laughs). The guitarist, Phil Stevenson, he does a little African stuff." Completing his band rundown. "It's soul played by Jazz musicians. There is that element of jazz, Tom O' Grady my keyboard player is a big jazz guy and when I give him something to play he just adds that regardless, that's what I love about it. My drummer is a jazz drummer, my bass player Thiago is a jazz⦠but in a way they are strong."

Composing the tunes. "The way the songs are composed is with rock composer Terry Laws, he's from Paris. I met him in Paris through an ex-manager from Cambridge, who I used to work with in my previous improvised funk band Bijoumiyo. We just stayed over and jammed one night in Paris and there was something really cool about what was going on, so we were like 'lets just scrap and start freshâ¦. Myles do you have some lyrics?' I was like, 'yeah I have some lyrics and have some ideas'. He goes, 'you bring your lyrics, let's spend a week and put this stuff together - I'll tell you how the songs should go.' The progression, how the songs start and end is Terry's composition. The lyrical content is mine.

The ethos of the new album and braking down some of the tracks from 'Forever Dreaming'. "I wanna make an album for people to listen to⦠I've learned the hard way. It's not about this track, it's not about that track, it's the whole thing. Every single track, there's a reason WHY I chose to put it on the album, it's because I love it! I want people to listen to my album and go 'this is ok'. Then play it again and go 'this isn't bad'. Then as they go they are discovering different elements of the musicâ¦first let the overall music get you in the right place, then to top it off what I'm actually saying is 'this will be the final closure of the journey.'"

To summarise his endeavours. "These are just stories my life⦠"Forever Dreaming", I'm always a dreamer. I'll keep dreaming regardless, whatever the situation is⦠"Light In My Hand", make sure you leave me some light so I can love again, that's from an earlier relationship⦠"Shooting Star", falling for someone, head over heels. I'm trying to evolve tastily and in the right way."

Where there's hope there's soul music, as Sanko signs in a decidingly defiant mood. "So yeah, we're the new generation and we're gonna make something cool out of it. There's a lot of love for soul music out there⦠we just gotta get the younger generation to realise 'it's not for my Grandad!'"

Sorry Myles, can you speak up?

The album "Forever Dreaming" is out now on Légère Recordings.

TWEET US: If you are 'Favourited' by B&S, we'll add your comments to our print issue @MylesSanko / @BluesandSoul

To read more from our interview with Myles Sankoâ¦pick up a copy of the latest Blues & Soul magazine with Myles on the cover at your local magazine retailer, inc; WH Smith, Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and a plethora of independents everywhere⦠if they don't stock it, ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will get it for you.

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