After a nearly five-year hiatus, the loungetronica band Supreme Beings of Leisure return with “11i.” A throwback to the group’s self-titled 1998 release, “11i” revisits the same ‘sexy sounds for sexy people’ aesthetic with a bit more introspection.
SBL frontwoman Geri Soriano-Lightwood shares some of her opinions with Variety about iPods, her crush on Anthony Bourdain and her new obsession with sake.
What does “11i” mean?
11i is a visual play on the Roman numeral 3, as in third album. 11 is also an important number for both Ramin and I. We were both born on 11 days, we always have 11 songs on our albums, and it seems to randomly pop up in other ways for us. It’s our magic number.
You took a couple years off after 2002’s “Divine Operating System.” What did you do during the hiatus? And what was it like going back into the studio?
We had to live up to the name. Actually, the truth is not that glamorous. Between 1997 and 2002, I had every major life experience thrown at me. I got married, bought two homes, had a kid, my mother died of brain cancer, and then my father died of an ailing (broken) heart. This was all while recording, promoting and touring the first two albums. By the time I came home from our second tour for “Divine Operating System,” I was fully exhausted and burnt out. I also saw that my daughter needed me to be more present for her. Ramin also had family health issues that came up, which he needed to attend to. We took it easy and slowly wrote the album during that time. We were lucky to have had that luxury.
How has the Internet affected the SBL mission? Has the Supreme Beings MySpace page had an impact on your added exposure?
SBL has always been an “Internet band.” We were very early adopters and innovators, producing some of the first Flash content (site and videos) for the Web, thanks to the help of my talented husband and my brother-in-law. We were dubbed the first band to break on the Internet back in 1998. It really was the perfect tool for us to brand ourselves and lent itself nicely to our image. This was all back in the day, however, when the Web was less-populated. These days, the amount of content out there is a bit overwhelming, and the novelty has worn off. People are less patient and just want the facts. MySpace works for that. I’m not sure that MySpace can compete with the impact our early sites had on our career, but it has been a good way to keep in touch with our fans. They certainly have made things a lot easier for us musicians.
What about performing live? Are there plans for a tour?
I love performing. Being on the road with our band (Sheldon Strickland, Tanq Graham and Machine Brandin) is the fun part. Meeting our fans and connecting with them fills us up; it’s why we do this. We have been kicking around some plans to tour — nothing firm yet, but since Ramin and I both have families now, the timing is proving to be a bit tricky. We’d love to and hopefully will be announcing some dates soon.
For now, those who live in L.A. can come check us out at the Echoplex on Sept. 12.
Who do you look to for inspiration – both artistically and personally?
Oh, gosh, that list is long. I’d say, my first inspiration, of course, is my family. I come from a family of many talented artists. My father’s father (German Soriano) was the poet laureate of the Dominican Republic back in the ’30s, my mother’s father was a violinist, my uncle (Jose Rincon Mora) is a renowned neo-expressionist painter in Europe. My mother was a classically trained singer, and my father, the doctor, also painted, played the cello and the tambora. Their impact on who I am is obviously profound.
As far as other artists, seeing Kate Bush on TV when I was young was that light bulb moment for me. Others that have inspired me: Mozart, Fellini, Thelonious Monk, Pink Floyd, ELO, Bomb the Bass, Brian Eno, Shirley Bassey, Modigliani, Daniel Pinchbeck, Massive Attack, Mario Bava, Grace Jones, Henri Cartier-Bresson, the Pretenders, Diamanda Galas, Dusty Springfield, Everything but the Girl, Astrud Gilberto, Celia Cruz, New Age Steppers. I could go on and on.
SBL is known for creating music that could easily provide the soundtrack to an evening at the martini lounge or any number of swanky, late night hot-spots. When you are hangin’ with your friends, what would be your elixir of choice?
Elixir of choice at the moment is a premium-chilled sake. Kubota Manju, if we’re feeling flush. My husband and I are so into it that our new dream is to open a sake boutique here in L.A. Sake is as varied and complex as wine. It’s a whole world in and of itself.
If I were to look at your iPod, what songs would show up under ‘most frequently played’?
My iPod on shuffle-mode has hosted many a fete. To illustrate, I will randomly go through and shuffle now:
‘Batucada’by Sabadabada Brazilian Collection
‘Oh, You Pretty Things’ by David Bowie
‘Feel Up’ by Grace Jones
‘Test Transmission’ by Kasabian
‘Digital’ by Joy Division
Theme to ‘A Man and a Woman’
‘Razz’ by Kings of Leon
‘Creation’ by Stereo MCs
‘Thunder and Lightning’ by Lee Scratch Perry and Mad Professor
‘Time’ by Alex Gopher
‘Unfinished Sympathy’ by Massive Attack
‘Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore’ by Dusty Springfield
‘Goldfinger’ by Shirley Bassey
‘Ghetto’ by Supreme Beings of Leisure
‘The Great Curve’ by Talking Heads
‘Prescilla’ by Bat for Lashes
Why should someone open up their iTunes store right now and buy ’11i’?
Because not only is this a sexy/great make-out album but it is a thought-provoking one as well. Body and soul are in there. You’ll impress your friends.
Who’s your celebrity crush – and why?
Well, I am a happily married woman, but my husband already knows, so I guess it’s OK to admit: I think Anthony Bourdain is sexy – he appeals to my epicurean side. I love the show and his prose; his perspective always speaks to me.
Out of the three Supreme Beings of Leisure albums, what song do you identify with most personally?
Well, that’s a hard one, since as the lyricist, the story in those songs is all mine. They all reflect me, of course, in one way or another, except “Golddigger'”- that’s pure tongue-in-cheek (I hope). But, I’d say, on a good day, “Never the Same;” on a bad day, “Calamity Jane,” and when I’m naughty, which is often, “Good.”
Your favorite personal vice?
Your least-favorite personal vice?
Reality TV. Ugh, I’m such a voyeur.
What’s next for the Supreme Beings of Leisure?
Love, laughter, tears, travel, sushi, sake, work and album number four.
Variety album review: Supreme Beings of Leisure ’11i’