New York, November 2006: Silk’s new album, Always and Forever is proving to be a big success for the Soulful veterans. After the departure of a band member, this Atlanta-based quartet, known for their signature “love-making” sound, took a bold step by re-entering the music world with an album made entirely of previously-recorded hits, using . their timeless and sensual sound on such classics songs as “Secret Garden” and “Don’t Disturb This Groove”. The album demonstrates Silk’s ability to use classic greatness with flawless melodies.
Gina Marie Rayson: After seventeen years of performing together, you are still going strong; what enables the four of you to continue this strong bond?
Silk: Our idols are groups like the Temptations, the Dells, New Edition-- we look at groups like that and it inspires us; we respect each other’s time and space—physically and emotionally. We understand that the whole experience is not about the music—it’s about the person individually, first. As you get older, you have children and family; you have kids that you have to take care of and we respect that about each other. That’s what makes it possible for us to stick together.
GMR: Your manager, Louise, had introduced you to Keith Sweat by having you perform at a barbecue at her house about 14 years ago, which lead to him signing you as the first band on his then-new label. What did Keith teach you during your early years of recording and performing?
Silk: Yes, Louise discovered us and introduced us to Keith—that’s who she was working with at the time. He took a liking to the group and took us on. Keith taught us to stay true to your craft, whether it be business, music, education— whatever. He taught us to always follow through and never just stop midway and to always have a lawyer involved in everything to give you advice and help you learn as you go. It’s very important to always have legal advice!
GMR: Gary had said that he didn’t think that there was a church in Atlanta you didn’t sing at when you were first starting out—
Silk: Yeah, we were church boys.
GMR: What influence did these experiences have on your life and your performance style?
Silk: It allowed us to stay humble and appreciate the blessing that we have been given by God to be able to sing. We stay true to that and are fortunate that we can do this and be able to sell millions of records.
GMR: Is there a pattern that you follow when making an album in terms of production?
Silk: Our production team is part of the formula that we learned from Keith and that we have made our own. On our last two records we have been with our production team out of Dallas, Texas. They helped us create this great sound and really make it ours.
GMR: How do you find new technology to have helped or hurt your career as a band that has experienced such great relative longevity? Do you find that websites such as MySpace and iTunes are beneficial to you?
Silk: As far as the fans go, it helps us in a sense that for a while we haven’t felt that we have been a part of the mass media. MySpace gives people who are real Silk fans the opportunity to go on and interact with other Silk fans and to really see us and gives people who have never heard of us the opportunity to explore. Also, if you are talking to someone who is not familiar with Silk, you can refer them to the MySpace page. I think it’s great—it really helps us connect with fans and help let people know who Silk is.
GMR: How are you able to accommodate changing styles in music? Do you feel that your music has stayed the same or that you have made adjustments to accommodate the changes?
Silk: Well I think that one major change is that we lost a group member, going from five to four, so our core and our arrangement changed, but our style didn’t. People adopted us because we have an Isley Brothers, Barry White feel—we make “love-making music”—and we always try to stay true to it. That part hasn’t changed. People still love this music.
GMR: Your new album, “Always and Forever” is a compilation of covers of some amazing and legendary R&B songs— how did you choose, of the thousands of great soul and R&B songs, which you would record?
Silk: We just went with songs that we liked. We just did songs that we were familiar with and were fans of—whether we were fans of the song or of the band. We went about recording the songs and tried to make them feel like Silk but make them very true to the original.
GMR: What do you find to be the most difficult thing about covering legendary songs and how is it done successfully?
Silk: Trying to find a way to infuse yourself into the song as a group or individual but still be true to the original is the most difficult; you know it’s the standard by which you will be measured. If you jump into redoing a song and you don’t do it right, you will surely get a negative reaction. You have to make it feels as good as you can based on who you are. We knew we needed to put enough of ourselves in it for people to know which is the Silk version—if you play them side by side, they will sound similar—but still sounds great!
GMR: What has been your emotional response to this album? How have you measured its success?
Silk: I would say that it was a successful album. We set out to cover some songs that we like and to show the world that in the midst of this huge transition that we, as artists, are still great. We have a sound that is appealing to people and, thus far, all of the responses has been positive. If anything, I have heard a lot of “we want to hear original Silk music”, which was a little bit of a surprise that people were so eager to hear our old stuff. This album was just an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves safely to the music world. I think that what is important is to be able to go back; I listen to old music of ours and really enjoy it. When I do that, I listen as a fan and as a consumer and I really love it — if you can enjoy it, then you can believe that your fans can, too.