It’s no secret that the world we live in these days faces alarming divorce rates that are at an all time high. Money is usually the root of a lot of problems in marriages, and when you factor in the recession and economic downturn that the economy has faced in the United States, the rate at which couples have been ending their marriage hasn’t been declining. For that reason, I’ve always found the story of Kindred the Family Soul, a married couple who has been a group for around10 years, to be very inspirational. In fact, if you listen to their music, you can find comfort in the realness of the lyrics in that they go through the same problems and face the same issues as most couples do in a relationship. Even though the music business just like most industries has suffered with the economy, they are here to prove with their new album that when it comes to true love, “Love Has No Recession”. In this interview, we discuss what you can expect to hear on that new album, how they’ve grown together musically, if they ever considered doing solo projects, why we don’t see many man/woman group’s like theirs, how they were originally discovered by Jill Scott, if working together has ever put a strain on their relationship, and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s start with talking about the new album “Love Has No Recession” which is coming out later this month. What can we expect to hear on the album?
Kindred the Family Soul (Fatin): A lot of passion, a lot of soul, some stories about the different things that we experience as a family and in the world. We’re just thinking and speaking, not just talking about relationships but just things about what’s happening in the world in general. Over the past couple of years the world and the country has been feeling the pinch of the recession and I don’t think that’s a word that people are unfamiliar with at this time. Also love is what we stand for and what we always stood for, so hence the title “Love Has No Recession”. We’re just trying to bring two of those worlds together, we didn’t want people to feel that it was a damper or a downer in talking about these times, but at the same time there’s hope and uplifting things that can happen and that are happening that we also wanted to express in the music. But we also wanted to dig a little deeper in ourselves and express some other pertinent issues.
YKIGS: This being your fourth album, how would you say this compares to your previous albums?
KFS (Aja): This album I think we were just looking to create a certain experience in making it, so we are compelled to follow our vision from beginning to end. So that was one difference in this album, and the second we were just looking to incorporate a much larger number of collaborations. So those two things definitely make the album different than the previous ones.
YKIGS: Touch on some of the collaborations you have on this album and how they came together.
KFS (Fatin): We have a collaboration with Chuck Brown who’s the Godfather of Go-Go in the city of Washington, D.C. The collaboration came together pretty organically after we did a show together and agreed with should get together to do a record. So we got a record, it felt good, he got on it and the rest was history, and we have DJ Kool on that record as well just because he’s a party starter with a lot of energy. We have Raheem DeVaughn on here who is also a D.C. native and something kinda just called for some conscious soul. We didn’t have to look too far to find somebody who would fit on that page and thankfully Raheem came through on the song “We All Will Know”. Snoop Dogg is on the initial first single of the album “You Got Love” and that also came together through a mutual friend. The respect was mutual for each other’s work and accomplishments. Those worlds kinda came together and we feel that with the Snoop Dogg song, rather than us go to the hardcore gangster style that Snoop is originally popular for, but has kinda waned in the years, he kinda came to our world and that was really cool. Also, we have Bilal on the album, BJ the Chicago Kid, Lady Alma, Fred Yonnet, a bunch of spoken word artists are on the record that weave some of the tracks together. There’s a track called “Above Water” which features Ursula Rucker and Coco Brown. A few others and various great instrumentalists who helped to produce the record as well. It just was a contribution of a lot of great people really and every album is like that really. It’s cool that we have some names associated with the process to say such and such is on the album, but every one of our albums really in retrospect is helped put together by so many great people. This one in that regard is really no different in that there are names that people know that are also associated with the project. We are very happy with it and very pleased to release and hope that people genuinely appreciate it.
YKIGS: As I mentioned this is your fourth album working together, so just as couples tend to grow together in relationships, do you see yourselves growing together musically?
KFS (Aja): Definitely. Even recently I realized our synergy performing live and that we have a rhythm that I really feel has really come together in a good way after performing with each other for 10 years or more. We have really reached a certain apex with that. In terms of making albums, I definitely feel like we have a synergy as well, and this album was made in a way we didn’t make the other albums. So I feel like it was important for us to have grown as a creative couple and then went and do the album as we did. With us having such a big family, we spent a lot of time tag teaming in the studio, so we had some sessions where we were together, and other sessions where we weren’t together in the studio. So we had to have that ability to feel each other and respect what each other was doing because that’s how we made these songs. I really feel that energy was there and definitely comes across in the music.
KFS (Fatin): I always say it’s like a basketball team and playing together. Even though a team plays on the floor together, when one guy goes to the bench, that other team member is still playing with that same desire and passion to win as if that team member is still in the game because they are all on the team. It’s that same thing and that rhythm of playing with a guy for a long time and they just get a great repoire together that they just know each other so well. So that’s what I would attribute it to, it’s definitely like that.
YKIGS: Talk more about your creative process. I know that you guys can’t always be together when working on a song, and I know you guys are both writers, so do you have a set procedure for putting songs together?
KFS (Aja): I would say the closest thing to a method that we have, since we have written songs a bunch of different ways, but the closest thing to a method that we have we get music and whoever comes up with an idea first that we feel is pretty strong, we go with that vision. Usually that works for us, because the other person will come in and listen to what the other person has done and build on it or speak on it from their point of view. I think that always kinda maintains the conversational tone of our music and keep its feeling like it’s coming genuinely from us. So a lot of times though my husband may start a song in terms of he comes up with the hook, the subject matter, or the first verse, I’m then able to come in and put my stamp on it and say the things I want to say about that particular subject matter or vice versa.
YKIGS: Are there ever any conflicts in the studio between you guys over which direction to go on a particular song?
KFS (Fatin): I wouldn’t call it conflict. I mean of course we disagree on what would be best for the occasion, but for the most part I think it’s just what I talked about with that rhythm. It’s like when one guy takes the shot, and the other guy thinks that he could have made it too, again it’s for the team so you’re happy if the shot gets made and you can humble yourself to the fact that you feel confident in your teammates ability to make the shot too. So you relinquish that and I think that’s the same thing with writing songs; sometimes you just have to know what’s best even if it’s not what you came up with or what idea was initially yours and go with the idea that is the right idea. That just comes with a rhythm, with time, with experience, with trust and with believing with what one another is doing and I think that’s happened over the years. It wasn’t always that simple or that easy but I think over time it’s come more into play.
KFS (Aja): It can be a little bit challenging producing each other, like for vocals, that’s probably the only time that when we have conflict. As a singer, when you’re in a booth that’s the size of a fish bowl, it’s a very vulnerable place to be. So if someone is out there telling you “Sing that again, or give it to me this way”, it can get tough, but we both hate it equally. *Laughs* I don’t know if there’s anything that we can say is a pet peeve, but that part of it can be difficult.
YKIGS: Since you both started out as writers and solo artists, has there ever been a point where either of you has ever considered doing a solo project?
KFS (Aja): We’ve had people ask us about it, but I don’t think we have any intentions of doing solo records. We really want to take what Kindred does and really try to keep building an audience. Those are the people who really count on us to say the things that don’t get said so I think that as a group, it makes a big impact on the people that we’ve been able to reach in the past and those who we have yet to reach. One thing that someone had mentioned to us before that we might be open to is doing something like “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” type of deal. That might be cool. *Laughs* It would be called “Man/Woman”. You heard it here first!
YKIGS: These days in r&b, not only do we not see a lot of groups like yours, but we don’t see a lot of duets happening. Why do you guys think that’s the case?
KFS (Fatin): Actually right now it’s a really good time for duets and it seems that formula is kinda coming back if you really look at the music charts especially in terms of the type of music that we do. I understand what you’re saying about groups of a man and woman who are actually performing together on a consistent basis and that are their foundation and base. I think that we stand alone in that regard.
KFS (Aja): We enjoy the monopoly that we have on that type of thing. *Laughs*
KFS (Fatin): *Laughs* Yea we’ve got that market cornered. We just went with what felt good to us. When we got back into music together, we had no idea that it would speak volumes to people would find it that way. We weren’t trying to find a niche, we just were doing who we were and what we were. We definitely had our things to look to from the past that I guess we can be compared to or we can get inspiration from. But we’re just trying to make our own path and make our own mark and continue to do what we do and be consistent with it. Like Aja said we’ve got a lot of work to do in order to continue to lay that foundation and that framework so that people respect it as such. Now that we do see and realize that it is the case that it’s not many, we pride ourselves and strive to be the best at what we’re doing. I hope that we can continue to make music in this capacity.
KFS (Aja): One thing to remember as well, within the r&b landscape, it has been less en vogue to admit that you’re in a relationship period, as opposed to being married to or attached to your significant other within your business. Most artists are trying to appear single so that it makes them more appealing to the masses. That’s a big reason why there’s not a lot of male/female duet groups, and specifically not male/female duet groups that are admit they are in a relationship together or married.
YKIGS: I read that after you got married, you both sought careers outside of the music industry to focus on your family and provide a more stable income. What was the main factor that brought you back into music?
KFS (Fatin): Losing a job! *Laughs* Losing a job that I thought there was going to be some stability in like you said. When we got married, we got married pretty young, but we had both been doing music pretty much for awhile already. When you’re young, you’re taught that eventually you grow up and you get married and you get the white picket fence and you get some kids and you get a good job and all of that stuff. You could want to do music, but the chances are that you won’t make it, truth be told, that’s the truth. You’ve got to be really, really good, you’ve got to be really, really passionate, you’ve got to be really, really dedicated, and you’ve got to be blessed and you’ve got to be lucky! When we got married and we were about to have a baby, we didn’t think that singing was going to get us as a family to where we were trying to go. When you’re having a family, you need a job, and I got a job and I thought I was doing it and I was doing it for awhile, but I wasn’t dedicated to that the way I was dedicated to music. I didn’t have that desire and that passion for that job the way I had it for the music. I just needed to focus that energy and I think that’s a part of the reason why I lost that job outside of the mistakes I made that caused me to really lose the job. It was really always in the back of our minds even without really having that conversation, but it really pushed us to get into what we loved and do it differently because now our life has a different dynamic being married and having a baby. What we have to say is different than what we had to say before we got married and whatever we might have been talking about. So it just took on different meaning and the group was born out of a bad situation but it was born into making us what we’ve become. For that I guess I have to thank the job and the time I spent at the job, because in a way that was a reflection mode to get us ready and get us prepared for what we were going to be doing.
YKIGS: Share with me the story about how you guys were originally discovered and the circumstances that led to your signing? I believe you guys were discovered by Jill Scott. Talk about that.
KFS (Aja): We had been performing for over a year. We’d perform at the Black Lily where a lot of people knew was an event that happened weekly in Philadelphia which really kind of helped springboard quite a few careers or at least had something to do with exposing quite a few Philly artists to the audience. We were performing there for a year or so. We had connections to lots of the musical community here in the city because my husband whose history with a lot of these people goes back many years before the Black Lily, so we had connections with the Roots and different people connected to the old school sound of Philadelphia. A lot of people knew that we were performing regularly. Jill was one of those people who was able to break through at that time and got a record deal and was working on her album. She was already signed to Hidden Beach and her and her husband at the time were both very instrumental in really just bringing attention to us as a group and saying “These people are awesome. You need to check them out. They’re going to be what’s next. “ The President of the label came down to see us perform and really, not to be cliché, but the rest is history after that. It was pretty much that we were going to sign Hidden Beach after that.
YKIGS: You guys are a married couple and spend a lot of time together since you also share a career. Have you ever felt like working on the music together has ever put a strain on your relationship?
KFS (Fatin): Not really. I think in a lot of ways it has enhanced our relationship.
KFS (Aja): It influences us to communicate. A lot of married people get messed up when they can cut each other off.
KFS (Fatin): And if they’re going in two different directions. You work over there and I’ll work over here.
KFS (Aja): Being that our lives are intertwined, there is no room for a lot of foolishness. Even if foolishness is involved, we have to kill it, we’ve got to discuss it, deal with it, and move on. It’s not in the business of Kindred, it’s the business of our family. The ties of our families and the way that it functions, there’s not a lot of room for us to dwell on a bunch of extra stuff.
KFS (Fatin): What I was going to say before I was so rudely cut off. *Laughs* Because of what we do, it gives us the alone time together that a lot of couples don’t get. Along with the point that she made which was extremely important and even in saying it, it just brings in mind those two things, the communication and time to be close. When we’re close, we’re close like any couple. When you communicate and you’re close, you’re good. When you’re not communicating and you’re distant, that’s when you’re in trouble. Thankfully, we’ve been in that position and we’ve embraced it for the most part. Yes, it’s frustrating at times and we go through ups and downs just like anybody else.
KFS (Aja): Yeah we have a fantastic sex argument the other day *Laughs*
KFS (Fatin): It is real and we’re living what we’re speaking. We’re hoping people are relating because we see them living what we’re speaking and that’s what we’re trying to get out.
YKIGS: Anything you’d like to add?
KFS (Fatin): Just thank you very much, we appreciate your support. Of course the album will be out July 26th and hopefully everyone will get it. We love doing what we do, “Love Has No Recession”, and we appreciate everybody, thank you and God Bless.
KFS (Aja): Join the website KindredTheFamilySoul.com. Also join us on Twitter, @KindredTheFam and @KindredTheWife. Check us out on Facebook to keep up with what we’re doing.
KFS (Fatin): You can even go to my MySpace page from back in the day, I really don’t care how you find us. *Laughs*