"Slow Burn to me is the way anything good takes for it to work its way into your bones, like the honing of a skill or passion, the nurturing of a relationship...it's that quiet pause before action when everything is possible. These songs are musical embers that have been stoked for a few years,  keeping me warm at night. My slow burn." -Kirsty Rock

 

KIRSTY ROCK

Though not everyone knows the name, it would be a surprise if you've never heard her voice. Perhaps it was on a cruise ship or in an elevator , maybe on a bar swing by the ocean. Kirsty Rock, over the smooth  reggae rhythms of Easy Star All-Stars, has been heard worldwide. In 2003 Easy Star All-Stars released Dub Side of the Moon. This album went on to become one of the defining records of 21st century reggae, spending over 7 years straight on the Billboard charts and was the catalyst that brought the band to over 30 countries on 6 continents. Kirsty has performed at many major festivals throughout the world, including Rototom , the largest reggae festival in the world and an unprecedented three-day, three-stage stand at Glastonbury in 2009.

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"What do I hope people get out of this record? Well, I hope they hear me simply singing a song...and that it makes them feel something...hopefully positive and definitely sexy...haha. Each of these songs is a place that was created for them to crawl inside of and feel free interpret however they like. "

 

THE SOUND

When listening to Slow Burn, you will hear a lifetime of influences in this 5 song EP, but truly its own sound steeped in Reggae with hints of Dub, Pop, Soul and Electronica. If Sade and Bob Marley had a musical dub child who fell into the Brooklyn reggae scene of the late ‘90s and surfaced in the Green Mountains of Vermont years later, you’d expect to find Kirsty holding the golden mic. But cast aside your expectations and open your mind to a new experience . Kirsty's voice is unique to herself....Slow Burn as a whole is sexy. An invitation to dive into another world. The lyrics are borne of personal experiences but the melodies and the messages universal. The delivery intimate.

The title track, Slow Burn, starts with someone lighting up, breathing in and exhaling, so take a breath and allow the music to transport you to a different time and place. The regal horns enter and give way to the sultry, ethereal voice of Kirsty Rock. Her beckoning lyrics assuage any need for urgency. "You want a touch. No Rush, you're my slow burn". She guides you from city streets through intimate moments creating a breath that rises falls and even stops momentarily leaving room to savor the listening experience. The second track, L.E.O lures us from the pedestrian world to the stars, a beautiful backdrop for an intergalactic love story. With a heavy hitting kick drum and snapping drum accents, the intensity builds leading up the "interstellar kiss". A cappella harmonies escort one star back to the ground in She Glows. This melancholy, almost desperate song weaves the tale of a fallen star who "glows. only for a moment or so". The expressive guitar soloing of Shelton Garner seems to give voice to her turmoil as she slips "through the words of a song". A song that heavily weighted in kick and snare surrounded by sweeping keys and layered lush vocals. We dive into Like Water an acoustic refreshment of percussion, guitar and vocals. A song that lyrically turns loss and trepidation into an empowering mantra "No more fears. No more tears. And no more songs about you". And no matter what your trouble is, it's being left behind in Fly - an uplifting departure of quirky sounds and optimistic lyrics "Come on let's fly!"

Background

Though this is her first solo release, Kirsty has written, recorded and produced her own music on many projects including Trumystic, which she co-founded in 1998 with Dr. Israel and Soothsayer in Brooklyn, NY. Over the years she has recorded original music with Easy Star All-Stars, Mad Professor and Jdubular to name a few. After Trumystic dissolved amicably in 2012 Kirsty felt the need to keep creating. Her home when off the road in the Green Mountains of Vermont offered plenty of trees but not many musical collaborators, so she started to consider a solo project.

 

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"I've never had that desire to be a solo artist. Much of my joy in music is from collaboration and the sharing of a positive vision. My fondest memories with the people I’ve played with are rooted in bringing the music to our fans no matter what..."us against all obstacles". Will we make it to this gig in time regardless of personal issues, our countries politics, natural disasters...but we made it through as a crew. As someone who kinda felt like the outsider at times, that made me feel part of something really special and important. I think living in VT for the past few years, experiencing real solitude, literally digging deep into the earth, getting comfortable with silence, has turned me even more inward but not isolated. In fact I feel more connected than ever...and these songs are a reflection of that."

 

THE PROCESS

No stranger to recording, Kirsty Rock did almost all of her pre-production recording in The Attic, literally her attic at her cottage in Vermont. She then sent the songs out to her musicians where they were able to record in their own space at their leisure. Shelton Garner(Easy Star All-Stars) is an incredible guitar player who makes his guitar sing almost as sweetly as his singing voice. He also helped write the music for Like Water. Nate Edgar(John Browns Body, Nth Power) on heavy dubby bass on Slow Burn, L.E.O., Like Water, and She Glows. JP (John Browns Body)on keys graced Slow Burn with some classic reggae sounds. Elenna Canlas(Easy Star All-Stars, Sinkane) blazed keys and synths on Slow Burn and Fly. Matt Goodwin (John Browns Body, Giant Panda, Easy Star All-Stars) recorded keys for L.E.O. on the Easy Star tour bus. Ivan Katz(Easy Star All-Stars) on percussion. The horn section is comprised of Buford O'Sullivan(Easy Star All-Stars) who helped chart the horns and play trombone and Matt Bauder(Easy Star All-Stars) on saxophone. After Kirsty captured most of the playing, Elenna Canlas jumped in to co-produce the title track Slow Burn. She and Peter Matson(Underground System) recorded and produced the music for Fly with no influence from Rock other than a scratch vocal. L.E.O, She Glows and Like Water were co-produced with Rock’s old friend Matt Stein. They did overdubs and final lead vocals for 4 of the songs at Matt Stein's spot in Brooklyn called Swan7, but kept all the backing vocals, melodica  and the lead for Like Water that were recorded in The Attic to keep the essence of Kirsty singing to the creek outside her window.

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"I wanted to avoid that rushed feeling that can happen when you're on the clock at a big studio and you have to be aware of time and money. I lured in my favorite people to play with me, musicians that I've played and toured with for years. So there wasn't a lot of talking about what I "wanted". After hearing my rough tracks they instinctively knew what to do because they know me, which brought so much more to it than I ever could have imagined."

Influences

Kirsty grew up listening to a wide scope of music. As a first generation Scottish American, she was surrounded by Scottish folk music and family sing alongs. Both of her parents were drummers in Scottish pipe bands and Kirsty grew attending and dancing in Highland games and Robert Burns Suppers. She claims to come from a long line of whistlers that has been passed down for generations. She recalls wanting to be in ABBA prior to her big sisters steering her towards classic rock, and what became her true love, British pop and reggae influenced bands from the 80s including The Police, The English Beat, UB40 and female icons Annie Lennox, Sade. Her passion for music was shown when sneaking out of the house with her sister to get Cure tickets at 12yoa. In high school she was cast as the school’s Jazz band singer, starred in several school musicals and was in chorus and chamber singers. She is heavily influenced from choral work during this time and tries to apply it to her backing vocals. She attended New York University, TISH, focusing on experimental theater and voice. She explored her way into the dance music scene and arrived at drum and bass, ragga jungle, trip-hop, electronica and house. She began DJ-ing in small alternative rooms of large New York clubs including Limelight and the Tunnel where her eclectic sets spanned her diverse taste. She was simultaneously performing in live rock bands in dive clubs throughout the city. By 1997 she co-founded Trumystic Sound System, an eclectic crew of people making jungle, hip-hop, pop, reggae fusion, which was signed by Mutant Sound System Records/EFA and began touring throughout the U.S and Europe by 1998. In 2003 Kirsty was asked by Victor "Ticklah" Axelrod to sing Great Gig in the Sky on Dub Side of the Moon, Easy Star Records. She performed on the subsequent tributes and continues to tour with Easy Star All-Stars. Her current inspirations are her peers and label mates that are pushing the boundaries of reggae and some spectacular female artists doing original music including Lucius, St. Vincent, Rubblebucket, Joan as Police Woman, and the heavy sounds of Fat Freddy's Drop and Sinkane.

 All images by: reggieburrowshodges.com

All images by: reggieburrowshodges.com