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Jimi Hendrix Band Interview

2 December 2011

Tom Hunter talks to the legendary Aleem twins in New York about their time with Jimi Hendrix and why it has taken 40 years to release the album they started recording with Hendrix, shortly before his tragic death in 1970.

Tom Hunter talks to the legendary Aleem twins in New York about their time with Jimi Hendrix and why it has taken 40 years to release the album they started recording with Hendrix, shortly before his tragic death in 1970.

London Calling: How did this last collaboration with Jimi first come about?
 
Tunde Ra: We were at Electric Lady Studios and had just completed a vocal session to one of Jimi’s songs titled, “Dolly Dagger”.  We decided to play Mojo Man for Jimi a track that we were developing for our Ghetto Fighter’s début album. The basic rhythm tracks were recorded previously at Fame recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama with a renowned rhythm section called, “The Swampers.” Jimi loved the track and thought the song would be great for our album. He insisted that we get the master tape to the studio right away so that he could record his guitar on it. 
 
LC: With the animations, urban street tales storytelling element and so forth, this seems very much a concept album. Is that an accurate way to think of the project, and what was the original inspiration for the project and how has it changed (if at all) since you first began work on it?
 
TaharQa: Jimi’s guitar playing inspired animation in our minds. We literally witnessed life, color and movement emanating from his music. Clea’art DMS became our way of interpreting what we were privy to experience while working and being with Hendrix. The Ghetto Fighters album represents traveling through time and gathering the best elements to help express our sacred journey. Each song is an episode, feelings and events in our lives in this time. Through our unique production concept, Clea’art DMS, (making art clear through digital music and storytelling), we can creatively celebrate our episodic experiences in life and artistically present them in the best light.
 
LC: What's changed that has meant you can release this material now?
 
Tunde Ra: Jimi’s death was very traumatic to us, and it took time for us to even want to re-visit the Ghetto Fighters project without him. Ultimately, we changed our identity and plunged into the world of music and into the music business with a burning desire to learn the All. We allowed the natural flow of life to dictate our course and our decisions. Now, here we are in the future with presents from the past. “Time Traveling”
 
LC: Do you have any special memories of the recording sessions?
 
Tunde Ra:Yes, especially the recording sessions when Jimi revealed to us what we now know to be the living manifestation of music in form. For us it was quite normal to hear Jimi discuss in detail the existence of the 7 worlds of music and the beings that inhabit those worlds. However, on several occasions while we were recording songs for “Cry of Love,” “Rainbow Bridge” and “War Heroes,” Jimi created sounds from his guitar that caused a tonal induced psychedelic vortex to open. This vortex exposed to us an ethereal world never witnessed prior to Hendrix revealing it. Jimi summoned and made visible entities from that mystical world of sound and music. Our animated Clea’art (DMS) entitled, ”Mojo Man,” is our artistic interpretation of that mystical experience with Jimi Hendrix.
 
LC: This isn't the first time you've worked with Jimi. Was this collaboration different from the previous albums you've worked on?
 
TaharQa: Yes, collaborating with Hendrix on the Ghetto Fighters project was in a way different because the Ghetto Fighters project was Jimi’s insightful way of helping us to grow as artists and producers. Through Ghetto Fighters, Hendrix forced us to use him as a tool for creating… whereas on his product, we acted as his tools for expression.
 
LC: You've also worked with other great musical artists over the years? Who have been   some of your favorites, and what advice would you give to young musicians who might find the opportunity to work with today's musical heroes a bit intimidating?
 
Tunde Ra: The word Great is an attribute of God. When great musical artists are in tune with their greatness, it is an honor to be around them. There are no favorites; you learn from the attribute, “Great”. The young musician needn’t feel intimidated, for that attribute also dwells within him or her. Chances are that is one of the many attributes that the young musician possesses that attracted him or her to his hero in the first place…
 
LC: There’s a strong visual element to project in terms of the animation. When did you first start to think of the project in these kinds of ways and do you think this will help the track appeal to a new generation of younger, Internet savvy fans?
 
TaharQa: We have always included visuals in our thoughts for this project. Seeing Jimi Hendrix was a true visual inspiration…. while most people heard Hendrix’s music, we saw it. The man and his music was an audio-visual experience for us. This was also one of major reason why so much time elapsed before its release. We need to learn more and gather the proper elements to express our experience with Hendrix. Some of those elements were not even in existence until now. Jake Hughes, a young animator who is now in the vanguard of motion comics and was director of the famed “Watchman” motion comic for Warner Bros./Marvel, was not yet born. His work offered our project the visual edge, youth and rawness that we were looking to incorporate in our Clea’art DMS productions to attract that new generation of younger, Internet savvy fans.
 
LC: The single comes out on the 27th, with the full album planned for 2012. Are you with a particular label at present for the release or this something that's still being worked on?
 
TaharQa: The music with an accompanying animated Clea’art (DMS) video will be made available globally on urbanstreettales.com, an independent label formed by my brother and me to bring this project and future episodes to market. We look forward to announcing our full distribution deal shortly.
 
LC: It's a great tribute that you're releasing the track on the anniversary of Jimi's birthday. What are your hopes in terms of how you'd like fans across the world to react to this new material?
 
TaharQa: We hope that the fans across the world will react to this new material as a new and innovative platform for artistic expression and continue to see Tunde Ra and TaharQa Aleem as conduits for the opulent Hendrix legacy. Our mission is to carry on with respect for creativity and music and to give what we feel is our best in the time allotted to us.
 

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