A frenetic, photogenic supergroup, Lucy Pearl -- the synergistic combo of Raphael Saadiq, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Dawn Robinson -- just kinda happened to come together (as the best things often do), with a loose, funky, and extremely free spirit that sings out of its music.
Ex-members of three early '90s chart staples (Tony! Toni! Toné!, A Tribe Called Quest, and En Vogue, respectively) spanning three genres (soul, hip-hop, and R&B), Saadiq, Muhammad, and Robinson threw even more colors onto their respective musical palettes, painted outside the lines, and rocked things up a bit to craft a shiny, sinuous, and infectious self-titled debut that recalls everything from a sunny afternoon's worth of AOR radio in 1976 to the genre-defying work of such pioneering black rock acts as Sly And The Family Stone, Rotary Connection, and The Electric Flag.
MTV News' Elon Johnson sat down with the trio to talk about its origins, its intentions, and how they managed to record between lengthy stretches of eating, drinking, and playing video games. The three have gotten so close, they literally finish one another's sentences, as you'll soon find out...
MTV News: How the Lucy Pearl project came about?
Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Lucy Pearl was first kind of thought of when Raphael and I got set up in his studio in Sacramento and threw beats together, and those beats somehow never saw the light of day to the world. [We thought,] "We should do this for real this time and put it out." We needed a third person, and we came up with Dawn. "Oh, yeah, yeah, let's see if we can get her." Called Dawn up...
Dawn Robinson: ...and got me.
Shaheed: We got Dawn to be down with us, and that was that.
MTV: Why Dawn, as opposed to other female singers?
Raphael Saadiq: The reason we picked Dawn was 'cause she drank carrot juice, 'cause it's healthy for her to be in the group to keep us healthy. [Laughs] She had great vocal abilities, and the music that we were planning on producing, we planned on having it to be very strong and commercial and R&B and kind of rock-age. She brought the rock side to it. We wanted to play some heavy guitars in it, and her voice could support what we were trying to put out.
MTV: I heard someone say your video for "Dance Tonight" looked like one of the happiest videos of the year -- you guys looked like you were really having a good time, dancing and just really enjoying each other. What was it like, making that video?
Dawn: The making of the video and the making of the album was the same. We had a lot of fun, and there was no pressure. Sometimes we had to remind each other that we were actually making an album --
"We should get to work!" -- 'cause we had so much fun. [We're playing] video games, somebody's like, "You wanna eat?" We had beer. "You wanna eat?" "Yeah!" We all order food and [play] more video games. "Oh, by the way, we gotta go do music." "Oh yeah, yeah, we're doing an album," that kind of thing. It was just like what you see [in the video]. We had a blast.
MTV: You all have roles that overlap; some of you may write, produce, and do all these things. Throughout the making of the album, was there ever any tension? Did it ever become difficult to work with each other and make music?
Raphael: There was no tension. Sometimes we left Dawn to do certain things by herself, her and a friend of hers, and it was cool for us, 'cause we didn't want to be cooped up in the studio all day. It's like a box. We want to get out as much as possible.
Dawn: So I had to be cooped up in the studio.
Raphael: We spent 20, 24 hours, and sometimes I wouldn't go to sleep. I'd stay at the studio and wake up at the studio. Then some days I'll come in and she's singing, and I'll just peek in the door, and she's, like, real serious, and I'll just look at the other people and be [whispering] "All right, I'm out!" and cut. That was toward the end of the record, though. All the way up toward the end, we were all in the studio together, but towards the end, we tried to skate out and get some Cali sun -- as much as possible.
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