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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hitting Apache Café May 5, Sy Smith talks 'Nights'

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A little more than a month ago, California-based soul songstress Sy Smith released her latest CD: Fast and Curious. Since dropping the acclaimed album, she - along with her frequent collaborator musician/producer Zo! - has been on the road, performing tunes from the new project (and probably a few old ones as well) at venues across the nation. This weekend (May 5 to be exact) Smith and Zo are slated to bring the tour to Apache Café - and one track we're hoping she unleashes onstage is her version of Billy Ocean's 1981 dance classic "Nights (Feel Like Gettin' Down)."

Back in March, we actually chatted with Smith about her remake (a duet she does with Rahsaan Patterson, which can be found on Fast and Curious) of Ocean's dopest cut ever ... and here's what she had to say:

Creative Loafing: Listening to the new album, one song in particular I thought took a lot of balls to remake is "Nights" by Billy Ocean.

Sy Smith: Ha! Thank you! It did take a lot of balls, and I'm glad you recognized my balls!

It's just one of those songs that I love so much, and I wanted people to hear it. And I wanted to let Billy Ocean ... and Nigel Martinez, who wrote the song ... know: "This is a classic. I hope y'all know that."

Totally.

Rahsaan thankfully also wanted to do that same thing; we had both been talking about the song for a long time. And [Mark de Clive-Lowe, producer of Fast and Curious] had already done the track for me. Mark did the track twice, actually; he did it in the original key, and it was too low for me. But, yeah that song is so freaking killer.

Surprisingly, there are still tons of people who don't even know that it's Billy Ocean singing that song.

Yeah! And it was his first single, I believe. It's long before "Caribbean Queen" and all that stuff. The label probably thought it was a little too funky for what they were trying to do ... and then they went back and completely "popped" him out. But, yeah man, that song is a banger - musically and everything. It's such a great tune.

But you guys did a real good job with it. I mean, it's good that you brought Rahsaan on, and I think you even elevated a lot of elements of the music. It actually sounds "prettier."

Wow. Well, thank you. I can't reiterate how much I love that song!

Speaking of being "popped" out, throughout your career, you have avoided being infected by commercial-sounding music. Have you ever been tempted to make something really mainstream and radio-friendly?

You know, I just do what feels really good to me. And if that happens to be on the cutting edge, then that's what it is. I think probably what sounds mainstream doesn't sound good to me. I don't do things to be over anybody's head. I just do what feels good, and I think "cutting edge" probably happens because of that.

Check out Smith's version of nights at her website. And catch her live on May 5 at Apache Café (64 3rd St.). Tickets: $15-$18. More info at www.apachecafe.info.

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