Wednesday 7th February 2007
Transforming the hotness of their hometown Fort Lauderdale into smoking grooves seems to be rather easy for Florida natives Deep Side. Moreover, with the upcoming self-titled release of their major label debut the multitalented/multiracial R&B quartet is more than ready to share that same heat with the rest of the world.
They've been in the studio eight days a week, twenty-five hours a day perfecting their sound, jokes Sly (Pretti Sly), who along with Rudy (Rude Boi), Brent (Penny) and Mike (Mike Ezay) has been a member of Deep Side for the past seven years. There were many folks around them who stopped believing, so they had no option but to trust themselves. Indeed, the years of conviction can be heard in the music.
Formed when all the boys were still teenagers singing at local talent shows and performing at parties around the city, Deep Side is a kind of new jack throwback to the days when doo-wop kids harmonized on street corners and The Temptations spun in the neighborhood jukebox.
Some people think because of their different backgrounds they were put together by some management team, but they've known each other for years.
Deep Side makes no secret of their goal to combine the old and new together, claims Rude Boi. In addition to lacing the tracks with his honeyed voice, Rude Boi is also the team's primary producer. There hasn't been a vocal group in a long time that combines the two in the way that they do.
Discovered by their manager Jonathan Wright when Rude Boi, Mike Ezay, and Penny performed one night on stage at a high school variety show, Deep Side had the aura of superstars even then. He was just blown away by the quality of their raw talent, remembers Wright. Like something out of a movie, Wright offered them a development deal on the spot. When they introduced him to Pretti Sly (who attended a different school) the following day, he knew he had made the right choice. Not only were they talented, they were also level headed.
Named after the community where a few of them had grown-up, Deep Side spent two years in the lab honing their various performance skills including songwriting and choreography. It was like they had put themselves in boot camp, recalls Mike Ezay. In those early days it was rough, between cranking out music and dance rehearsal, but they stuck together through negative energy and hard times. Heck, their manager even sold his house so they wouldn't have to do without! After that money was gone, his friend, Dale Davis, the NBA All-Star, stepped in to help keep things moving forward.
It was during this period that Wright's long time friend and associate, Legendary Producer Tony Bongiovi, agreed to produce Deep Side. Bongiovi recognized their talent instantly. The result was Deep Side's smash independent single Shook, a booming song that would wet the public's taste for the group. It was their first step towards making their dreams come true.
Loading-up the van full of equipment, clothes and vinyl, Deep Side's manager trekked cross-country with the group for a mini-tour that became a major adventure. Sometimes they would show up at radio stations unannounced and perform for the jocks and program directors in the hallway, recalls Pretti Sly, who originally hails from South Africa . Their ability to perform always got them into the studio.
No stranger to having to prove themselves, whether in a radio station foyer or on a dingy stage in some random southern spot surrounded by cold-eyed gangsters, Deep Side always came out as winners. In fact, in an unusual achievement for an indie group, television producer Don Cornelius invited Deep Side to be guests on Soul Train . Without a doubt, that was one of the highlights of their trip, says Rude Boi. It's one thing to be home watching the show on television, and quite another to be performing in front of those cameras. For Deep Side, it was a real victory.
In addition to the rhythmic high of performing Shook for a national audience, the Deep Side boys also had the pleasure of opening for various high profile artists including Destiny's Child, Ashanti ,Ying Yang Twins and various others. Yet, it was one special performance that would take Deep Side from contenders to winners. Yeah, that would be the night they performed for R. Kelly's birthday party, Pretti Sly says. They had no idea that a few months later they would be label-mates.
Blown away by their dynamite skills, R. Kelly got on the horn to his windy city friend and Jive Records A&R Vice President Wayne Williams. The following month, sitting in a room with nine other folks, Wayne got a taste of Kelly's bliss. It didn't matter that there were only ten people in the room, because Deep Side performed like they were at Radio City Music Hall, Penny says. That was in a February and by the next month they were signing contracts.
Well aware that this was only the beginning, the boys retreated to the studio to begin work on the hypnotic tracks for their debut album . Though Wayne Williams had explained to Deep Side they should be expecting to record material from other songwriters and producers, once he heard what they were working on, the A&R man was happy to give them their freedom.
It's not like they're too arrogant to work with others, explains Pretti Sly, but in the beginning they only had themselves, so they're used to just doing for themselves. Citing various artists from Curtis Mayfield to El DeBarge to Lil John as aural influences, Deep Side worked from a paint palate of many colors to create the Deep Side's impressionistic soul.
Though Rude Boi does most of the production, all the group members contribute to the lyrics and vocal arrangements. They are their own worst critics, so have no problems trashing a song if it isn't up to par. Recording sixty songs in a matter of months, the depth of their material should make any naysayers just shut their mouths.
Coming on strong as dance floor macks, Deep Side's first single Let's Make Love takes the listener on a magical ride into the land of the good grooves. Featuring their soulful first major supporter R. Kelly, who seamlessly blends with the group like a fifth member, Let's Make Love has the appeal of a recently discovered Jackson Five track; between the big beat, Pretti Sly's own falsetto and R. Kelly's cameo, this song is a return to the power of real soul groups.
As one of the first songs to emerge from Deep Side's marathon sessions in their Miami based studio, Wet compares with the best of the Temptations or The Impressions. With Pretti Sly's liquid falsetto smooth as sweat running down some woman's back, Wet is sublime and beautiful. I don't even think Rude Boi realized how wonderful this song was until they'd finished with it, remembers Penny of the sexy song.
Sounding sweet as a 21 st century version of Teddy Riley's dope creations Guy and BlackStreet, these down south boys still manage to sound like Harlem street corner harmonizers on the buttery All For You. Opening with a striking piano intro, this is a pure baby making song. Making even the bitterest mama swoon with carnal delight, this is one of those tracks one could make love to all night. A quiet storm, indeed.
Teaming with current hip-hop hot boy Rick Ross, the dirty soul of I Ain't Neva is gritty as it is funny. Their hometown of Fort Lauderdale and Miami is known as party cities, says Penny. Of course we are romantics, but we also grew-up listening to Luke's booty music. Some of that flow was bound to be heard in our songs too. I Ain't Neva' is just a fun record.
As one of the most highly anticipated new R&B groups on the scene, without a doubt 2007 will be all about Deep Side.