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Freestyle Masters Reunite with New Sound!

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NAJM Dance Culture
TKA is the all male Freestyle group that defined a musical era of the 1980's. With a tremendous track record including six Billboard hits including "Maria", "Louder Than Love", and "Come Get My Love", TKA have reunited ten years later to revisit their common musical roots with a completely updated sound!
 

 

dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) NAJM:  It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from you guys, what have you been up to?
TKA:  Angel went off to work with an R&B group called “Good Fellas”. They had a hit single. I got more into the production side. There were a couple of acts that I was working with for some labels. I also took some time to concentrate on my other love, which is martial arts – I’m a 5th degree black belt and I opened up 3 schools.
NAJM:  So I don’t want to cross you in a back alley?
TKA:  (Laughs) I took that time to do my other love, although my first love is music.
NAJM:  What prompted to get back into the scene to see if the rhythm was still there?
TKA:  We didn’t have any doubt that the music would still be there for us, we’re all extremely musical. It was just a matter of being around the same kind of crowd. I’d go into clubs sometimes, and people would say, “K was here last night and he said you guys might do something”. It really didn’t matter to me how long we were apart from each other because to tell you the truth, it didn’t seem like 10 years had passed. We got into the recording studio and things came pretty easy.
NAJM:  Have you guys kept in touch with your fan base over the years or do you feel like your starting from the ground up all over again?
TKA:  Our fan base is there. We don’t take advantage of it. With this project, after 10 years, you have to try other formulas. We knew that we could in and do freestyle and pretty much make another “Louder Than Love” album, but what we wanted to do was to touch on other types of music. We would like people to understand that this album wasn’t about the format, but about letting our fans feel what we were expressing and experiencing these last 10 years. “TKA Forever” is the best written album we’ve done. K did a great job bringing forth our pain and struggles in the songs. We felt we needed to touch on a new format and that’s what we did.  
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we describe how to love, and what it’s like to be loved...

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NAJM:  With the exception of two track, I think all the new tracks on TKA Forever were written by all or at least a member of TKA. Where does the inspiration come from?
TKA:  It definitely comes from real life. We were born and raised in Spanish Harlem, New York City. We’ve learned, and grown as men and matured. We’re not afraid to express what we are feeling these days. In our past albums we’ve always talked about love. On “TKA Forever” we describe how to love, and what it’s like to be loved.
NAJM:  Sort of full circle?
  TKA:  Exactly. We said, “let’s just let it all out”.  
NAJM:  How would you compare dance music now, with this album as compared to back then?
TKA:  Back then it was a little bigger. The scene was huge. On any given weekend you could go to Heart Throb and see Jellybean hanging out, or party with Louie Vega. It was really out there. These days it’s grown to a small circle, but I think now with the progression of where we are going, there are a lot more acts. I’m sure there are new acts in the studio right now working on new projects. When I think of the old days it was more festive. Over the next couple of summers, it’s going to get to that point again.
NAJM:  “TKA Forever” is quite eclectic. Going into the project was there an underlying concept or  did you just do it on the fly?
TKA:  When we decided to get back together we were going to work with Joey Garner who we had worked with on our previous albums. Through the business side of it, things really didn’t work out. We were originally supposed to do a “greatest hits” CD, but that really wasn’t happening. The last thing we wanted to do was take 10 years to do a “hits” CD with a couple new songs. So when we saw it was going in that direction we decided we didn’t want to go that route. We cut our ties to Joey and went into the studio ourselves and started working with other producers who were pretty new to the game.
  NAJM: So you came up with an entirely new bunch of songs?  
  TKA: The concept was based on us coming up with new tracks. As soon as a track was done, K would just go to his corner and start writing. We didn’t sit there and say, this sounds too freestyle, or this sounds too house. We were really enjoying the process and having fun recording. K would come up with an idea for a great hook and we would lay it down. Before we knew it, we were done.  It took us about a month to record that album.  
 

putting it all together

 
NAJM:  Had you been playing together before heading into the studio?
  TKA:  We had been performing together for a year. The first show was just too see if it was still real and if we had the strength to pull it off. After a few months, we just decided to bust out the album. There was no pressure because we didn’t have the record label telling us what to do. It was just us in the studio having fun, recording, writing and that’s how it came about.  
  NAJM:  Is that the point where you shopped the album around?  
TKA:  When the album was done, we started doing the politics and business. Once we started getting some offers, that’s when the stress cam. Tommy Boy came into the picture.
  NAJM:  Did the label have much of an influence on the project?  
  TKA:  That’s what’s good about this project is that we were totally in control. If we sell 10 records the bottom line is that we put everything into it. We feel it’s much better.  
 

going home to tommy boy

 
NAJM:  You guys were released way back in the day on Tommy Boy, why did you decide to go back on Tommy Boy?
  TKA:  Just the way we felt. The labels who came to us all had a marketing concept based on Freestyle. Listening to the album, we knew that there were more songs on this album than just Freestyle. The other label’s marketing plans only went so far.  
NAJM:  So you were really limited?
  TKA:  They weren’t interested in going anywhere else. If we wanted that, we would have only done a freestyle album. We decided to go with someone who had a wider view. When Tom [Silverman] finally contacted us, he was like “if you’ve got some good songs on the album, maybe we’ll pick it up”. We got a copy over to him and the first thing he said was “you guys have obviously grown, this is an excellent album”. He perused us and we decided to go with him.  
NAJM:  The first single off the new album, “Feel The Music” is doing well. What’s the next single? Are there any other remixes coming off the album?
  TKA:  “Feel The Music” was the only song we didn’t record while were in the studio. Once we got signed with Tommy Boy, they came to us with “Feel The Music”. We went back in and did the song. “Feel The Music” was for us to get our feet wet. The next single will possibly be “When Will I See You Again” or “You Don’t Feel It”.  
NAJM:  “When Will I See You Again” is my favorite cut.
TKA:  Thank you.
 

great expectations

 
  NAJM:  Earlier you said, if you only sell 10 records you guys put your all into it, what are your expectations for the album?  
  TKA:  I honestly don’t know. It’s a little bit like a double-edged sword. One side on the industry is going out and doing the studio work. The other side is the promotion and the marketing, which the record label works with us on. We talk daily to Tommy Boy, which is something that we never did before. Prior to that, we’d been in Tommy Boy’s offices maybe 5 times back in the day. We speak to them so much, we talk with Tom [Silverman] and we let him know if we feel that there is something that they are not doing to the best of their ability. Tom let’s us know if we’re not doing our best too! I’m hoping that the teamwork will persevere and get the album where it should. I’m positive that it will, and the feedback we’re getting that this point is incredible. So it can’t get worse.  
NAJM:  Any plans for some club appearances?
  TKA:  We’ve been extremely busy. TKA is always busy when it comes to shows; we average four shows a week. We just did a couple shows down in Florida. Come the first of the year, we’re putting our backpacks on and hitting the road. People will be able to see us all over the place.  
NAJM:  Do you have any other projects that you’re working on?
TKA:  We have a full production staff. We’ve honed our skills; in fact, we’re working on some stuff for an R&B artist, so we continue to stay in the studio. That’s what we do.
NAJM:  What’s your take on attitude in this business?
  TKA:  Some people might say that TKA is really cocky. We’re the most normal guys that there are. Attitude is important in anything, what people need to work on is being more consistent.  
  NAJM:  In many respects you guys grew up in the music business, what things have you learned as artists?  
TKA:  We’ve learned many facets of the business like management, A&R, building relationships,  as well as production. We’ve learned how to record from A – Z and that’s important. There are a lot of artists out there who just sing. We have an incredible team who are behind us. I’ve learned to just trust others. I might not see the other TKA guys for an entire week, but I’ll see them 20 minutes before a show. It’s like we were never apart. We don’t second-guess. Things are just so natural now that our recording process is just getting better. But I can honestly say that if it took us this long to master what we do, then it was worth it.
       

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