RS: I was reading about a new project you have, the Sunburst Band with guys from Jamiroquai and Incognito? Who's the third guy in that project and how did that come together?
Dave Lee: That's an album I've put out on my label, Z Records, which is a lot of the remixes I've done over the years. I've used the same session players, especially in the last five years. There's a guy called Tony Remmie who's one of the top guitarists in England, Julian Crampton who's the bass player from Incognito, and Michele Chiavarini who's a keyboard player. He's an Italian guy and he's got his own act called Nova Fronteira, but he also does keyboards for remixers.
It was a question I put, whether it would be nice to actually do some stuff from scratch as a band, rather than always play on other people's records. A lot of these guys know each other. I think it's good getting musicians in the studio--they play a bit better because they're playing together. I know when Tony's in with Julian and he got the brass section and whatever, they'll both play better because they're trying to impress each other, do you know what I mean? Whereas often if you just get the guitarist in and the next day get the bass player in, you might get a good performance, but not the best. It was that sort of an idea, doing it like a band instead of in dribs and drabs.
There's people like Taka Boom, Chaka Khan's sister, who sings on one of the tracks, and Linda Clifford, a disco diva who did "Runaway Love" and things like that in the 70's. Then there're some new British people like Peter Simpson who sings on a track called "Fly Away. It was a bit of a self-indulgent project for me because it was just me making a disco album, but making it as I'd want to hear it now. I find a lot of modern dance music can be a bit--I don't know. You tend to do the same things to make things club-friendly and DJ friendly, and I just decided for this album I was just going to make it sound how I wanted it to sound. I'd make the twelve inches DJ friendly, but for the actual CD version I didn't want drum intros on every track and every track at sort of 125 bpm so it's mixable with other records. When you do a remix you have to be realistic about what you've been commissioned to do the remix for, which is to get it club playable. I wasn't thinking about that with these tracks. It's nice to do those sorts of projects.
RS: Do you play any instruments on the album, or what's your role in it?
Dave Lee: I wrote or co-wrote most of the tracks, and I program the drums. I play keyboards to a degree, but I wouldn't limit myself to my own keyboarding abilities, if you know what I mean. I know producers who insist on playing keyboards on their own records. I think it lets their record down because they're limited in what they can do. I can play a few chords, but sometimes I'd rather just do some rap stuff and get a guy who can play properly rather than come up with something that sounds okay but not special. There are too many dance records played by people who can barely play. I'd rather have someone who can really play. It's why I wouldn't sing on my own record. I could sing in tune, but I'd rather have someone who can actually sing really well doing it.
So my role is producer, arranger--the concept is mine, so every track on there I started it off as a backing track and then wrote a song on there with somebody. There're a couple cover versions, like the title track "Until the End of Time". I think I first bought that record in 1979, and I always loved it, but the original version is really short. I always wanted to do a version which was a lot longer and stretched out and went in some different core progressions, like you hear with jazz standards done by different people. You know, you buy an Ella Fitzgerald album and she's doing songs other people have done, but she's doing her own take on it. It's nice sometimes to find an obscure record. Well, not necessarily obscure, but an old song that means something to you and you feel you could add something to it. I wouldn't do a cover version of something like "Expansions" by Lonnie Liston Smith, because I think Lonnie got that as right as you can get it when he did it. But if you can find something when you think you've got an angle on that, maybe if you could even have an angle on "Expansions," like a more electronic way. Then you have a valid new version rather than a note for note cover.
RS: Adding something as an artist to the record and not just regurgitating what's already been done.
Dave Lee: I think so, but obviously it's personal opinion, so some people might think it's exactly the same, but for me I want to add something that wasn't present in the original. Or maybe there's things in the original that aren't in your version. It's a different interpretation of the same song. Like any good cover, you can make your version a worthwhile new take on an old record.