With a little help from Finland, Myron & E bring sweet Bay Area soul to the vinyl grooves
If you type "Myron and E" into the search engine on YouTube.com, you'll likely find a simple video clip of a record player with one of the duo's 7-inch singles on the turntable. Play the video clip, and the turntable's needle will descend on the vinyl. And then some of the most wonderfully sweet grooves will pipe through your speakers.
Ba-ba-ba's fill the air, and the backbeat pops along like a Holland-Dozier-Holland gem, perhaps the Supremes' "Back in My Arms Again." The voice of Myron is ragged yet soulful and insistent. "This old heart of mine can't take much more of what it's been given," he sings, as E contributes "shoo-bee-doo-wah" ad libs. "And you showed no shame breaking my heart." The entire performance lasts just under three minutes, just like they used to make 'em.
The song, "It's A Shame," was released on Helsinki, Finland, imprint Timmion Records in January. It's one of four singles Myron & E has recorded with The Soul Investigators, a Finnish soul band whose members run Timmion. (L.A.-based major-indie powerhouse Stones Throw Records has licensed two of the singles, "Cold Game" and "It's A Shame," for U.S. distribution.) All of the singles sound like a lark, but that's part of their charm.
"It just came together," says Myron Glasper, snapping his fingers to illustrate, during an interview at Eric Cooke's apartment in the Lower Haight. Cooke, better known as DJ and producer E Da Boss, cohosts a club night at Oakland spot the Layover on Saturdays called "The 45 Session." His bedroom is filled with boxes of 7-inch records, including mint copies of Myron & E's latest jam with the Soul Investigators, "The Pot Club." As an ode to "Oaksterdam" and California's burgeoning cannabis industry, complete with midnight-hour "rapp" vocals from Myron, it's the duo's most contemporary-sounding effort to date. A full-length album, Going in Circles, is due for imminent release. E Da Boss thinks it'll drop by December, but early 2011 appears more likely.
The Myron & E thing happened by accident. A few years ago, E Da Boss was on a European tour with local producer Nick Andre; as E Da Boss and Nick Andre, the duo has released projects such as 2010's Robot Practice EP. Traveling through Helsinki, they met the Soul Investigators and sparked an impromptu jam session. E Da Boss grabbed a microphone and began singing. "They kept telling me, 'You sound good, you must sing.' I didn't really pay attention to it," he remembers. Later in 2008, E Da Boss was assembling a solo production showcase for Om Records, and reached out to The Soul Investigators for sounds he could chop up into hip-hop beats. (He says Om Records dismantled its hip-hop division before the album could drop. All that came from it was a 2007 single, "Go Left.")
When E Da Boss contacted The Soul Investigators, the group made a counter-offer: if they sent him some music, would he sing on it? E Da Boss thought of Myron; the two have been friends since touring around the world as part of Blackalicious' backing band. "When they sent the beat over, I called Myron and said, 'These guys want me to sing on some stuff. Come over here and help me write a song.'" Within an hour, they wrote an endearingly classic tune called "Cold Game."
Perhaps Myron and E Da Boss' years of experience in the music industry accounts for their effortless throwback soul. Originally from Los Angeles, Myron has worked as a dancer (he made a few appearances on the classic hip-hop sketch comedy In Living Color), an R&B singer (he has recorded sessions with Sir Jinx, Foster & McElroy and Dwayne Wiggins), and a backup vocalist (for CeCe Peniston, the Coup, and Lyrics Born). When gigs are few, he even drives a big-rig truck. "Real talk, I will jump in the rig if there ain't no work. Yeah, cuddy! Rrrr-rrr!" Myron says, eliciting peals of laughter as he trills a few lines from Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again."