I’ve been a long time fan of the hip, funky, and eclectic duo known as Supreme Beings of Leisure. Ramin Sakurai and Geri Soriano-Lightwood, the guiding forces behind the Supreme Beings of Leisure, the duo whose previous sophomore release came out in 2002, have grown wiser with age and experience. They mark a seductive and profoundly reflective return to the scene with their new album, 11i.
The lush flow of the album’s opening track, “The Light,” obscures a darker reality. The title alludes to morning, but also – quite explicitly – to a raging inferno: “The hills aflame behind me/As the ash seeps through my window.” Other songs expand on themes of self-realization and catharsis. “Swallow” builds slowly over Sakurai’s hypnotic layers of synthesized pulses, which drift by like smoke as a mid-tempo groove asserts itself and Soriano-Lightwood introduces the melody. An ambient R&B track, its lyrics swirl around someone who is too busy self-medicating to find themselves. “Take another swallow/lean back and disappear,” she sings. “One to fill the hollow/One to make you clear/One to hide the mess/And one to keep me running.” The richly textured soundscapes resonate with a sensual undertow that pulls you slowly beneath the surface – where there is much to discover.
I recently spoke with member Geri Soriano-Lightwood about their return to the music scene, the reason for the hiatus, and what’s up next.
It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from Supreme Beings of Leisure. What happened between 2002 and 2008?
Well we always knew that a third album was part of the plan, it was just a matter of taking some time off. I went through almost every type of life experience a person could have in that time. I got married, had kids, lost my parents—then the band went through a change.
There was a point after we finished touring for the second album “Divine Operating System,” where I just crawled into bed and stayed there for a year. Eventually I slowly got back into writing and that was good because there was no pressure and I was able to let it evolve naturally.
What was the first song you wrote for this album?
“Everywhere.” The whole album is sort of a psychological journey through my head. We knew that we didn’t want it to sound clubby at all. We wanted to take it back to our roots. A lot had happened in our lives. I realized that you can only be a party girl for so long and then you gotta grow up. These songs reflect that.
What’s behind the albums name 11i?
The disc has 11 tracks, of course – as does every Supreme Beings recording. Ramin and I were both born on ‘11’ days.
Where would you say Supreme Beings Leisure’s biggest fan base is?
Australia, Canada, and North America.
What’s been the secret behind the success of Supreme Beings of Leisure?
I think we got really lucky. We wouldn’t be here without the new technology that’s available to artists today. We were lucky enough to have a forward thinking record label, family members, and friends in the beginning that knew the value of having a website and being online before it was popular. From there our fans have kept it going.
Who are you listening to these days in your iPod?
Well I forced myself into a self-imposed music exile while working on the album, I didn’t want to be too influenced by anyone else’s style.
However, I am feeling Bat for Lashes, M.I.A., Amy Winehouse—despite everything you got to give it up to her, and Radiohead.
Well, we’re gearing up to go on tour. We’re putting together a live show and just completed the music video for “Mirror.” A fourth album is definitely in the works as well.
We try to reflect what we like and who we are and hopefully this is a byproduct. People turn to music for a transcendent experience. And depending on your mood, certain things will take you where you want to go. Musicians are modern-day shamans. For some of us, music is the only church we’ve got.
11i from Supreme Beings of Leisure is currently in stores now and available on iTunes.
They can be reached online at myspace.com/supremebeingsofleisure.
Geri Soriano-Lightwood spoke to me via phone from Los Angeles