And the 74 band that’s on the road with you now – they’re French musicians? To me she’s one of the most beautiful voices in France.
I caught Sly earlier this summer at the Montreal Jazz Festival – his fifth visit to the city (previous performances included a duo with French jazz trumpeter Erik Truffaz at the Franco Folies festival).The album opens with “Slaave 2” (borrowing from Grace Jones’ “Slave to the Rhythm”); Slum Village share lead vocals with Johnson, the track’s sparse, catchy beat enhanced by his signature beatboxing and scratches.“I’m Calling You,” reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On,” reflects Sly’s social consciousness: Ayo’s rich, enchanting vocals respond to Johnson’s heartfelt call, TM Stevens holding down the groove.The following day Sly and I sat down for an interview, shedding light on his early beginnings, his musical influences and future plans. My friend Ayo was one of the first people who told me, ‘Sly, you’re a very good MC, a very good beatboxer, but you’re not only that; you’re a singer.Let’s start with your name: I assume the shift from Sly The Mic Buddah to Sly Johnson symbolizes your transition from beatboxer to full-fledged vocalist. You were born to sing.’ I felt I was hiding behind the beatboxing, behind the ability to capture the voices of others and their individual nuances; now, there’s no more hiding. Your given name is Silvère – where did Sly come from?