C&C Music Factory
For more than a decade now, C&C Music Factory have taken their place as one of the groundbreaking groups in popular music. Since their debut, with their phenomenally successful album Gonna Make You Sweat, and their equally successful hits like "Gonna Make You Sweat," "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...," "Do You Wanna Get Funky" and now their latest, "I'll Always Be Around," C&C Music Factory have dominated the pop and dance music charts like no others with a string of undeniably funky and soulful songs, packed with passion, soul, and sweat.
And now, C&C Music Factory have returned with their self-titled MCA Records debut, C&C Music Factory, the much-awaited new album from a group who have earned an international reputation for music defined by the unmistakable blend of sexy, seductive R&B; raw, tribal dance rhythms and funky, irresistible grooves.
C&C Music Factory was produced, and primarily written by Clivilles, who is carrying on the legacy of C&C Music Factory after former partner David Cole's passing away. The album was entirely written, recorded and mixed at Clivilles' brand-new studio, C&C's House of Sound, in New York City, and features the vocal talents of Vic Black and the new female trio A.S.K. M.E. (April Allen, Sheree Hicks and Kera Trotter).
Vic Black (born Victor Latimer) is a 21-year-old native of East Brooklyn, New York, who credits the strength and guidance of God for keeping him out of trouble as a child. Black, who comes from a musical family (his father, Victor Latimer, Sr., is a Spanish gospel singer), was introduced to Clivilles by dancehall diva (and C&C veteran) Zelma Davis. Black says that, from the very beginning, he "liked the feel and the vibe with Robert," who finally gave Black "a chance to be heard, and to introduce myself with great talent like Robert and A.S.K. M.E." Black's many inspirations include such gospel greats as John P. Keat and Stanley Brown.
Clivilles first met Black earlier this year, when he began preparing to record C&C Music Factory. "With Victor," Clivilles says, "I was looking for a solo male artist, someone that women would look up to as a romantic singer and men would look up to as a male artist -- a singer/sex symbol/performer. Zelma said she had the perfect guy for me, but at the time he was tied up."
"Then about three months later, I asked Zelma again and she said what he was into didn't work out, and he was about to become a cop! He had taken the test and everything. I said 'Wait a minute you gotta call him up and let me have dinner with him!' So we had a meeting and I told him 'I believe in you. You sing your butt off. We can do this. We can be a team."'
A.S.K. M.E. stands for "April, Sheree and Kera Moving Everybody," and that's exactly what they do. The outspoken, friendly Chicago native April Allen has always believed she was destined to make it one day in the music industry. In 1990, April met Andrea Sheree Hicks, born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Chicago, whom she immediately recognized as someone special. The two began performing as a duo until, in June 1991, they hooked up with Chicago native Kera Trotter (whose family, the Trotters, were the featured gospel vocalists at Kera's church), and A.S.K. M.E. was born. Soon after, the trio met Christopher Williams, who got them a writing gig with the Good Girls, which led to the group signing with Def Jam, and, eventually, C&C. As Sheree explains, "April for the most part holds the melody, Kera puts her beautiful high voice at the top and I hold it down with a smooth bottom note." As for the group philosophy, Sheree says, "we want to move everybody, everything, and in every way."
"I met A.S.K. M.E. while we were working on Anything Goes," Clivilles remembers. "They were working on some music next door. As I was walking by, taking my break, I was listening to their harmonies and I thought, 'Wow, I wonder who's in there.' Their harmonies really caught my ear. They were in there for two or three weeks and we got to know each other. We hung out and I asked them if they would like to do some vocals on the album and they said, 'Sure. We're down.' So they came in and sang on the chorus to 'Do You Wanna Get Funky.' We kept in contact and about eight months later, in winter or spring of this year, I said 'Why don't we hook up and I'll be your production company, we'll produce records together,' because they're also great writers."
Unfortunately, the untimely death of David Cole cast a tragic shadow over the preparations for the new album. Within a few months, however, Clivilles found that he needed to continue, to create new music and carry on the spirit and tradition of C&C Music Factory. "David and I had been together for 13 years," Clivilles explains. "Throughout those 13 years, there were a lot of things that I've done on my own, and a lot of things David did on his own, and a lot of things we did together. As a company, we always called it Robert & David, because we're partners. A lot of people in the outside world don't really know that David and I taught each other. What he was weak in, I made him strong and what I was weak in, he made me stronger.
"When you work with someone that long, you already know what's going on. David could be in a room and know exactly what I didn't like in a song and change it without me going in there. And that's exactly what I would be doing when I'm sitting in a room today. I can sit back and think, 'What would he comment on, 'you know? We were partners and best friends."
"The part that's really missing," Clivilles continues, "is getting to hear him say 'Yeah, that's great,' or 'Maybe we should change this.' That's the part that I really miss a lot. But C&C has built a team here that's been together for that last 12 years. We have the same mix engineer that we've used for the last 12 years and the same programmer for the last five years, and we all keep each other in check. Of course, there's things missing, but I wouldn't say musically. When you hear 'I'll Always Be Around,' it almost sounds like David and I did it. People are going to hear David's inspirations in it, because, damn it, we'd been together for 13 years! It's a style we created. Now that I have to do this by myself, I think you're always going to hear a piece of David in it. That's just the way it is."
"About three weeks after we buried David," Clivilles recalls, "I spoke to Victor and A.S.K. M.E. and said that the first thing that I should do is a C&C Music Factory album, and I thought that they would work great on it. What I wanted to accomplish was to make everything new. Since David wasn't around, I wanted to use new artists. I wanted to use all new, fresh artists, people that I had discovered on my own. I want to start fresh with the talent, fresh with the music. I told them how I felt and said I wanted them to be down with C&C and they said 'Cool.' They understood where I was coming from."
C&C Music Factory features the first single, "I'll Always Be Around," featuring A.S.K. M.E. and Vic Black. The album also includes the tunes "What Can I Do (To Make You Stay)," featuring Vic Black; "Don't Stop the Music," featuring A.S.K. M.E., with special guests Greg Nice (of Nice N Smooth) and Charlie Brown (of Leaders of the Now School); "Loving You," featuring Vic Black and A.S.K. M.E.; "Searching," featuring A.S.K. M.E.; "Till the End of Time," featuring Vic Black; "I Wanna Blow Your Mind," featuring Vic Black and A.S.K. M.E.; "The Roof Is on Fire," featuring Greg Nice with special guest Phat Doug; and "It's So Easy to Love You," featuring Vic Black and A.S.K. M.E.
As an extra-special added bonus, C&C Music Factory includes the track "30 Minutes of Non-Stop House Music (Robi-Rob's Aerobics Mix)," featuring the cuts "Musica Es Mi Vida (Robi-Rob's Boriqua Anthem Part 11)," featuring Angel DeLeon, Martika, Wepaman and Ledesma; and "Latinos Del Mundo (Siguen Bailando)," featuring Wepaman, Angel DeLeon and Ledesma. The track is a follow-up of sorts to C&C's huge recent club hit, the original "Robi-Rob's Boriqua Anthem," which, despite the fact that it was never officially released as a single, became one of the most omnipresent grooves of the past year when DJs began burning up the dancefloor with it. The new track is one that Clivilles is especially proud of. He gleefully describes the song as "house-music-meets-Spanish-lyrics-meets-salsa/meringue, with an American tone. No one has really done anything like it."
One of the keys to C&C's success is Clivilles' determination to make music without boundaries -- C&C not only are the premiere dance group in the industry, but are also masters of such frequently pigeonholed musical genres as R&B, house and, especially, pop. As Clivilles explains, "To me, pop music is anything that everybody loves and buys and digs and can relate to. That's why I always try to keep my music both R&B and pop, where it has both simple hooks that people can sing but also has the funk and soul that people want to dance to. It goes way back to the Motown days when the music was very R&B but the hooks were very simple. Any Supremes hit, any Smokey Robinson hit -- they're very 'trancey.' That's what I work on hooks to be -- just keep it simple, but funky. Don't call it this, don't call it that, it's a variety of things in one."
Clivilles and Cole first hooked up when Cole played live keyboards and Clivilles spun records at New York's Better Days nightclub, and had been a production/songwriting team since 1987. Their first production, "Do lt Properly," was an instant underground club classic. Throughout their amazingly fruitful collaboration, the two produced and/or post-produced tracks for Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, James Brown, Donna Summer, Cover Girls, Natalie Cole, Grace Jones, Luther Vandross, Seduction, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M., Taylor Dayne, New Kids on the Block and many others. In addition to his music, Clivilles is also an accomplished visual artist. He co-directed all C&C's videos (including the trend-setting clips for "Gonna Make You Sweat' and "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...") and has directed the striking new video for C&C 's first single, "I'll Always Be Around."
Since its release in 1987, C&C Music Factory's debut album, Gonna Make You Sweat, has sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide. C&C Music Factory is the group's third LP, following their debut and their second album, Anything Goes. C&C Music Factory have earned a total of 35 music industry awards worldwide, including five Billboard Awards, five American Music Awards, two MTV Music Awards and one Grammy nomination (for Best New Artist). In addition to their own albums and production work, Clivilles and Cole also produced the highest-selling soundtrack of all time, The Bodyguard (over 33 million copies sold worldwide), which earned them a shared Producer of the Year honor from the Grammy Awards. Throughout the group's career, C&C has scored three top-5 Pop singles, three top R&B singles and four #1 Dance singles.
Needless to say, Clivilles is anxious to get back into the swing of things. His passion for the music has never faltered, and he believes that the new C&C Music Factory just might be the best ever. As Clivilles says proudly, "This is a multi-format group that has had success across the board. There is no boundary on any chart with this group. It has contributed success on pop, R&B and dance, and that's the way we feel C&C Music Factory works across the board simultaneously."