Ever since we first stumbled across SUM’s video for It’s Alright To Be Me back in August, we’ve been unable to stop spinning their infectious, soulful tunes.
Then, when they released their full-length album, the band continued to deliver their deeply addictive concoction of sounds. So we caught up with members Steve Belvilus and Patryce Williams for a track by track run-down of their new album.
With their incredible new album now being available in Australia, New York outfit SUM give us a track by track run down of each track.
Welcome To SUM
STEVE: This track is an introductory theme to the album. I wrote the lyrics of the beginning and Patryce wrote the poem at the end of the song. Musically speaking, this song touches a lot of genres in less than 3minutes. But everything sounds cohesive to me. I wanted to have a poem on this track. I was inspired by the track Jilltro that is on Jill Scott’s album.
PATRYCE: This poem is totally inspired by the opening number in the musical Cabaret, Willkommen. I can remember the feeling that I had of joy and liberation and that is what I had hoped to capture in our opening number.
PATRYCE: When Steve first presented the music to me, he said that he had wanted the lyrics to be in line with the SUM message. The music spoke to me and it just sounded epic to my ears. So I basically wrote the lyrics to encourage myself in the hopes that others would find encouragement as well.
Last Prayer for a change
STEVE: It’s the ballad on the album and the most jazzy tune on the record. It’s an ambivalent song because it is at the same time a request to God (or universe), whatever you choose to call it, for an ultimate change in your life. That was a time in my life I wanted an ultimate change, I wanted to go to the next level and I was pretty sure I had tried almost everything and I was tired. I cried and prayed for help then to ask for a change. This song has no lyrics because sometimes when you are desperate and have tried everything you are at loss of words. I thought about this song another way. When you are happy as well, you can be at loss of words, hence the ambivalence.
It’s Alright to be Me
STEVE: Like I said before, this track has really the quintessence of SUM. I wrote the lyrics to explain what the word means, and the music, background vocals that I wrote, arranged and produced shows my music influences.
Test the Waters.
STEVE: This song is the oldest tune on the record. I started working on it back in 2007. At that time, I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The original lyrics were written by Atiyya Abdur Rahman, a singer I used to work with. It talks about overcoming your fears I changed a bit the lyrics on this current version and the music. This version is quite different on the record. I also changed dramatically the way we do it live because I was not quite happy with my first arrangement whenever we played live.
Free Style (interlude)
STEVE: This is just a groove jam with a simple but efficient horns riff! I actually did not write this one personally. This tune was made up by the whole band: Francesco Beccaro (bass), Joel Desroches (Piano), Olivier Rambeloson (keys), Andrew Gould (sax) and Gil Defay (trumpet), and myself when we used to played in Harlem. We usually play this at the end of the show. It has a very nice vibe and perfectly fits that purpose.
PATRYCE: This, as it’s recorded, is it’s 3rd version of lyrics. Steve at first wrote the lyrics and called the song $150. We had tested it a few times with his lyrics. Finally one night he says his lyrics where horrible and for me to come up with something better. I completely threw out his concept and wrote the first version of Sinking Sand which originally had to do with my feelings on the state of the world. Steve didn’t like the reminder and asked me to rewrite it. I was personally attached to the title and so the lyrics to fit a failing relationship.
Funk Hip Nasty
PATRYCE: Steve told me that whatever I come up with, the lyrics had to include funk, hip and nasty. The rest was just inspired by me watching him every night at the piano coming up with ideas.
It’s Alright to be Me (reprise).
STEVE: This is actually the jam part, fun part of It’s Alright To Be Me. I just wanted people to have a taste of what’s happening live. But I thought it would be best to separate it from the single cause it would make the single way too long. Also at the end of the reprise, there is a snapshot of the kids rehearsing their part. I wanted to surprise the listeners with this snippet because it is unexpected for this type of album. I took this concept from Gospel Albums (Kirk Franklin etc…) I am sure it will make people smile!
S U M is available now at Red Eye Records in Sydney.