Catch A Groove: Detroit has such a musical heritage, how has it influenced you?
Inohs: Detroit is a very interesting place and there is no shortage of talent. My story is that I learned art, I’m a graphic artist by trade. I’ve sung in Choirs but I never took it seriously until the late nineties, it’s like a switch turned on and it was time to do music. I can loosely say that I’m inspired by the musicians in Detroit but that’s kind of how it is there. If you’re in to music, you’re either a connessuir or you play, there’s no in between. That’s the culture of Detroit.
Catch A Groove: My first exposure to you was from the “Detroit Beatdown 2” compilation. How did you hook up with Mike Huckaby and Mike “Agent X” Clark?
Inohs: I’ve been following Mike Clark for years; actually he’s a good friend of my best friend. We’ve been trying to collaborate for years. He calls me up one day and says “Hey, I got this opportunity for an artist to go on this EP, would you be interested? Do you have anything? I just so happen to have that track (Somewhere Else). I was working with another producer friend of mine and poet, Diamond Dancer, who’s also done some production work with various DJs internationally and he had just finished this track. So I said “Yeah I have something”. That was the only thing I had at the time. I said “Take a listen to it and let me know what you think”. Sure enough he said “Yeah, this is great!” So he was my connection to Greg McCreary of Third Ear. So he passed the track to McCreary and he loved it and he decided to put it on the EP, that’s how that came about.
Catch A Groove: That’s great because that’s a beautiful song and it’s so poetic. It’s like spoken word set to music. Is that what you had in mind?
Inohs: Yes and no, the groove was already established and I had laid some vocals down on it but we knew it was missing something. In order to justify a six minute track, so that was Diamond was over for a visit and we were in the studio just playing music and so we played that track and she said “Wait a minute, I got the perfect piece for it”. That was when she pulled it out, she recited it and decided, “That’s got to go on there”. That’s exactly how it came about, just in the flow of things of divine orderif you will.
Catch A Groove: Tell me a about "IS"?
Inohs: The first record was produced a few years after I started playing guitar. I’m self-taught and I was inspired, kind of depressed and I needed a creative outlet so I picked up this guitar, started playing and wrote some tunes. Out of that was born “IS”, that collection. It’s really been one thing after another, I really haven’t aggressively pursued my music career so I linked up with some awesome musicians and they brought those tunes to life, gave them color and texture and started gigging around town and developed a name for myself. “IS” is more about self-discovery, self-love and the way I approach my music is I treat it as a chronicle of my life. So “IS” was a time where I was a little off. I was coming into myself as a woman, understanding what that is, that’s what those tunes are about.
Catch A Groove: That brings us to “Changes”. Did you find that project easier to approach?
Inohs: I had to learn some things. As an independent artist you’re often left doing it yourself and I didn’t know anything about music production so I usually didn’t like the production quality of it. So I vowed that any record after that would have a better production quality. So that started my quest to understand engineering and production so I invested in computer software and so forth. So “Changes” three years later I did out of my home. I didn’t write all the music myself but I had a heavy hand in it. I also learned about collaborative writing and that was when I connected with my long time bass player Damon Warmack and La Shaun Phoenix Moore who is a local poet in Detroit who is stellar actually. So I gave them the idea and we began to craft these songs, using where I am in my life as the basis and one thing led to another and we came up with “Changes”. I was in New York trying to decide what direction to go with this new project and I was looking for musically described what New York taught to me. That was the birth of “Changes”. I had Garage Band on my laptop so I came up with this bass line and the Rhodes and that was the heart of it. Then I wrote the lyrics along with my best friend La Shaun Phoenix Moore with the help of a couple of bottles of wine. We stayed up until 3am in the morning. It was an amazing process. That was the birth of “Changes”. We used that as the starting point and wrapped tunes around it with this theme of love and relationships. I had just gotten married a year or two prior to “Changes” and it was also my introduction to NY. I always wanted to come and see what it was about but it wasn’t until I got married and started our relationship/family that I started coming to NY so that’s how “Changes” was born. It reflected the change of an amazing relationship and the changes that life brings and how you have to adapt in order to survive.
Catch A Groove: One of my favorite tracks is “Brown Eyed Susan”, tell me about that?
Inohs: That was written during the “IS” years and I didn’t know what direction I was going in. Muscially I didn’t know what I had because it was a poem originally. Then we transformed it into a song. The idea was that I always felt like a black sheep, an odd person, an outsider so the notion that you don’t have to look a certain way in order to be beautiful.So “Brown Eyed Susan” was an exploration of that, another self-affirming piece. Musically I was fooling around with Garage Band again and came up with the rhythm and the strings. After that I let it rest after a while and brought in Damon Warmack on bass and Kelvin, a native Detroiter who lives in Berlin now, he does a lot of collaborative work with Carl Craig. He added the finishing touches piano.
Catch A Groove: Another favorite of mine is “Never Known”
Inohs – That’s one of my favorites, that was composed by Damon Warmack. He also did the music and the hook, “I can show you things that you never known”.
Catch A Groove – Yes! Yes! I love that! I also have to point out the track “Serenade”.
Inohs – That was actually a prayer that I wrote. I had it for ten years and I wrote it for a man who is now my husband. We met in college and I loved him immediately. So one day I decided to write this prayer. I didn’t know that we would marry but we did and the song was the prayer I arranged.
Catch A Groove – Wonderful! So tell me about your record company, Sound Thought Recordings?
Inohs – I started my record company seven years ago thinking I was going to put out my own records. I had no knowledge of how to run a record company so it just sat until I learned enough and got enough heart to do something with it. So the last three years I’ve been working with artists. I have an administrative staff and I do most of the work. I have the musicians I want to work with and I decided that largely the music will be produced in house with a hand in production; we concern ourselves with lyrical content, quality of musicianship and studying the music. We have listening sessions. We talk about what makes a song and we try to emulate that in our own work. What makes a song compelling or fun. What do we want to say with our music and I say we because I do believe that it’s a collective effort, not just my music but our music. That’s the focus that we’re giving it. We believe in developing our own talent, iron sharpens iron. We’re largely critical of what we do, what we produce. That’s what Sound Thought is all about. Genre wise we’re focused on soul, rock and jazz. We will likely do a sub label for the electronic stuff, which I’m really passionate about. No one really knows that I love house music, no one really gets that.
Catch A Groove – If you’re from Detroit you’ve got love some house music.
Inohs – You gotta love it a little bit even if it’s ghetto tech, you gotta have something. I’m developing a group called Sound Circle, a three piece vocal act, two vocalists and a writer. We’re developing the music for them. I was originally going to release it on Sound Thought but this will probably be more in the direction of the electronic sound. I’ve got volumes of electronic music that I haven’t released, remixes and so forth. I have a remix of “Serenade”. I’ve worked on Damon Warmack's project and La Shaun Phoenix Moore’s project (Space between the Rain, available now).
Catch A Groove: That brings us to your brand new record. What’s the story behind “No Goodbyes”?
Inohs: "No Goodbyes" is a tribute album to my mother, Deborah Orr, who passed away from cancer in January 2010. Although every song is not specifically dedicated to her (there are two tunes written just for her), but all the tunes are inspired by the experience of caring for her during her last years. It's a very personal album. It's a chronicle of my love and respect for her; a chronicle of the life lessons learned during that very difficult time; and lastly, a resolution to live my days to the absolute fullest.
Catch A Groove: Is there a connection with the title and the record "Metamorphosis"?
Inohs: Absolutely. It is one of the two songs written just for my mom with he other being, "No Goodbyes," the title track. The record "Metamorphosis," includes an excerpt from my mother's eulogy, offered by Pastor Douglas Jones of Welcome Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac, MI. (I had to say all that) ;-) I often track a tune and title it based on the sentiment that inspired it and "Metamorphosis" was written shortly after I had gotten the news that my mother's cancer had spread. I understood that prognosis marked the beginning of her transition and I understood then, that I wanted to document it Somehow. It was divine that the church records all of their services. An MBC was gracious enough to give us (my family) that recording. "Metamorphosis" is one of my favs on the record.
Catch A Groove: "Gotta Be Good" is one of my favorites; it has a real feel good vibe to it. What is the inspiration behind it?
Inohs: "Gotta Be Good" is essentially about making good/healthy/meaningful life choices despite one's circumstances. It's about creating the best life for one's self. "GBG" was inspired by the last year of my mother's life. Though, in tremendous pain, she made a point to face each day with joy and passion; to connect with those she loved and to put her personal affairs in order. I witnessed her face her own death with courage and resolve. I try to follow that example and "live with no regrets."
Catch A Groove: "Deep" is another favorite, which also has two parts, what made you decide to record an alternate take on that record?
Inohs: Both versions of "Deep" are about escapism through music.Deep pt 1 is hard and edgy, while, Deep pt 2 is softer and more melodic. They each have the same melodic structure, just a different interpretation and function. I recorded two versions of it, because during my grieving process, music played two roles: 1) I needed to dance (I'm a house head) and, 2) I needed to reflect and cry. There is a third version I haven't released yet. I'll share that with you soon. It's the original, sung by myself and Naomi Daniel formerly of Carl Craig's Planet E Records.
Catch A Groove: Oh I know that’s gonna be fire. So are you planning to tour in support of this new record?
Inohs: Yes, I'm setting up dates as we speak. Right now I have regional dates set, Detroit, Indiana and Chicago. But more dates are to come for 2012. I'm working in partnership with a group called Nu-Soul Collective. It is a collection of artists, producers, DJs, promoters, soul bloggers, internet radio stations, etc., devoted to all things soul music. It is through this group that I'll be able to tour. I'll keep you posted.
Catch A Groove: That’s what’s up! I can’t wait for it and I feel that this is your strongest record to date, I wish you much success with it.
Inohs: Thanks, Reg! I appreciate you and Catch A Groove!