Monday, February 8, 2010

The Foreign Exchange won’t rest on Grammy laurels

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge NO SLEEP TILL...: Phonte (left) and Nicolay worked hard for Grammy nod.
  • NO SLEEP TILL...: Phonte (left) and Nicolay worked hard for Grammy nod.

Say what you will about the commercial excess of the Grammy Awards, for an artist, there's nothing more validating than receiving a nomination. It means even more for independents with no major-label backing. So when Phonte Coleman's wife woke him up to tell him that his alt/soul group the Foreign Exchange had received a Best Urban/Alternative Performance nod for the song "Daykeeper," he reacted like any exuberant artist would – he fell back asleep.

"Honestly, I had been working so much, it didn't hit me until I completely woke up," he laughs.

His reaction was fitting, considering the life of an indie artist. Phonte and his partner, producer Nicolay (born Matthijs Rook), do everything themselves, from writing, producing and engineering, to fighting what Nicolay calls "David versus Goliath" business battles with iTunes. Add to that their tour schedule and extra projects like the recent formation of their label, the Foreign Exchange Music, and sleep has become a luxury.

"I have no personal life," Phonte says, adding that he and Nicolay are wrapping up soulstress Yahzarah's upcoming album, The Ballad of Ms. Purple St. James, due this spring. "There's no 'Phonte enjoys kayaking in his spare time.' It's nothing for [us] to work 24- to 36-hour stretches."

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(Photo by Jati Lindsay)

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