[By Sound Snitch, Writer & Interviewer]
Paris Toon’s “Baptism By Fire” record featuring Mothers Favorite Child has been getting global recognition since its first single “Brooklyn Baby” started getting radio play in the fall of 2011. To most who have heard “Baptism By Fire,” it is no surprise that it is getting critical acclaim, even in Japan. The “Baptism By Fire” cd will now be available as an import from Japan including previously un-released bonus tracks as well as the Ted B. remix of “Sweet Tooth for Chocolate.”
Already a top seller in one of the most respected online stores in the US and a multi music chart topper, this import is expected to bring some more excitement and energy to the Soul genre in a big way. I sat down and discussed just why Paris Toon decided to work with Sweet Soul Records in the Japan market, how he feels about it and what might be to come in the future.
SS: How does it feel to have your music so appreciated and successful in the Japan market?
PT: I found out years ago how hip Japan felt about Jazz, Funk and Soul music when Tomo Fujita, a guitarist from Boston, began playing with Mothers Favorite Child in the early stages. He would always tell me that if Mothers Favorite Child ever went to Japan or if Japan got a chance to hear MFC we would be very well received. Tomo is so respected in Japan and the US has such a great spirit about him it made me want to go to Japan right then and there. I look forward to playing in a market that truly respects our music and enjoys “Baptism By Fire” so much.
SS: You had other offers from other Japanese labels. What was the main reason you chose Sweet Soul Records?
PT: It was a no brainer. They distribute artists that are about true Soul & R&B. I looked at some of their roster and spoke with their chosen artists and found out about their positive relationships with DJs, stores etc. and knew it would be a good partnership for me, Mothers Favorite Child and the “Baptism By Fire” project. It also helped that I am producing Nik West’s new cd and Sweet Soul has done very well for her.
SS: Why do you think Japan is so into the Paris Toon and “Baptism By Fire” project?
PT: I think Japan just loves good original music, period. They truly appreciate originality and the culture of Soul, Jazz and even Hip-Hop for that matter. I think lyrically and musically, this cd is honest and there is something about “Baptism By Fire” that sticks out from most of the R&B out there and they sense that and seem to agree.
SS: Do you and Mothers Favorite Child have any plans to tour Japan?
PT: We are working on putting together dates for 2013 and 2014. I have always wanted MFC to play in Japan and as soon as we get all the” i’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed, hopefully we will be able to play in front of the fans in Japan that have been supporting us so greatly.
SS: The “Baptism By Fire” Import has some added tracks that are exclusive to Japan. Can you tell me why you chose to release them only on the import?
PT: I decided to add a few songs to the import that I had either left off the original or were not completed in time for mastering at the time the “Baptism By Fire” cd was released. They include “Baptism By Fire” (spoken word piece), “Baby It’s You,” “You Don’t Know” and at the last minute I threw on a funk remix of “Sweet Tooth for Chocolate.” I was brought up on the Prince “B-sides” and extended mixes and always wanted to be able to put out some “B-Sides” of my own and I felt this was the perfect opportunity. True Paris Toon and Mothers Favorite Child fans will dig these tracks. I wrote them during the Baptism recording about the same experiences I wrote most of the songs about at that time and I felt it would be cool to have them on the record as a bit of closure to “Baptism By Fire.” I needed to get as much of the disappointment of that toxic relationship and feelings from that situation out of my head and my music vault forever. Being able to release these songs was like a spiritual cleansing for me. [cont’d after video]
SS: Tell us a little about the previously unreleased tracks.
PT: “Baby It’s You,” is a funky groove with heavy bass and some d6 clavinet. I was in a relationship where I wanted the person to know just how she made me feel; the innocence of love again and the butterflies as well as the naivety of me thinking that one-way love could last. I would say it is a bit of Sly meets Stevie. “Baptism By Fire” was a poem I wrote over the sadness of rejection, depression and uncertainty of engaging in a re-birth to move forward from pain. We actually used my vocal performance, which is very rare as I never recite poetry to tape. Originally, it was going to be used in the “Baptism By Fire” film documentary but I decided to add it to the import instead. “Sweet Tooth for Chocolate” (The Ted B. Remix) was sped up for the bop your head, funk crowd. I wanted to do something that had an 80’s synth feel along with Prince side B. live instruments so Ted Belledin and I got together and laid it down. I wanted to turn around the vibe from melancholy to more of a “poking fun” at the loose tramp for being such a used fool and living for the dark and dreamy addicts. “You Don’t Know” has a slow, dirty, funky groove that is repetitive about the disappointment in a person not knowing how to be a good human being or seeing my worth or their own with any integrity. What I like about these previously unreleased tracks is that they are all different musically and I feel they fit the import perfectly as B sides or remixes.
SS: What plans do you have in 2012 for yourself and Mothers Favorite Child?
PT: I am currently mixing the Mothers Favorite Child album while producing for other artists like Nik West, Ti-et, iAm Jones, Milan Ring and Eddie Sanabria as well as recently released a remix for Lyric Jones featuring Esperanza Spalding. This year I am really concentrating on writing, producing and collaborating only with those who have great spirit, talent and work ethic.
SS: What would you like to leave your fans in Japan and all over the world with concerning the “Baptism By Fire” Import album?
PT: First I would like to thank all our fans for supporting our music and let them know that these previously unreleased tracks are not songs that I just threw on the album to create extra songs but songs that didn’t make the record because of deadlines. I think they are hip grooves and lyrically they went along the timeline of the “Baptism By Fire” record and what I was feeling at the time. I look forward to our fans hearing them because it helps close out the “Baptism By Fire” chapter for me while giving some new releases a chance for people to enjoy. I do not expect to ever have to write such a dark lyrical album like “Baptism By Fire” ever again. The new music will have more light, love and happiness with a little more “swag” because I am now surrounded by inspired musicians and people who give instead of take.