Exclusive Interview with Nicky Braddy
Mar-One: Hello Nicky ! Firstly I’d really like to thank you for accepting the interview. Nicky, you’re one of the most talented producer of the 80s soul and funk scene. Would you tell us when and how you got involved in music? Who were your main influences and inspiration at that time?
What’s your feeling about that decade regarding soul and funk music? So many tracks you produced were issued by major labels at that time such as Solar, Sam or Atlantic just to name a few . How did you get in touch with those record companies? And how did you get to know artists who became icons of the 80s soul music such as Toney Lee, Empress or Mahogany?
Nicky Braddy: First of all let me say Thank you for allowing me to tell this story. I started out in the early 70s as a guitar player in a funk soul band called the Funk Machine with my friends from the neighborhood. I was raised in Jamaica,Queens, NY. which at that time had a vibrant musical community. Marcus Miller the great bassist, composer and all around musical genius was and still is a friend of mine. My musical influences at that time were the great bands like War, Earth Wind and Fire, Funkadelic Chicago, Motown and of course Hendrix and countless other musicians and styles. It was the late 70s that the band broke up and i wanted to get into songwriting. I made a very basic home demo of some songs i had written and sent them out to some Music Publishers here in NY.I got a call back from Ken Williams the fantastic songwriter of “Everybody Plays the Fool” and many other great songs. He told me about a new company that was looking for songwriters and that is where i met Richard Bassoff and Mark Liggett who went on to have a magnificent career with Shannon and countless others.
Mark and I went into the studio and recorded two of the songs i had on the tape , one was a song called “Feel Alright” which became Komiko and a ballad called “Going Thru the Motions” which was recorded by the lead singer of the Soul Pop Group Tavares.
Mar-One: Richard Bassof and you co-produced many floor fillers during the early 80s. How did you know each other? How long did this amazing collaboration last?
Nicky Braddy: Richard Bassoff and i started working on some songs together one of which became “Sure Shot” by Tracy Webber. Tracy was a very good friend of mine, she had sang in our band in queens before going out singing with Chaka Khan and Evelyn Champaign King. She called me when she got back into town and i told her i needed a singer for the track and that she would be perfect. Eric Matthews of Garys Gang heard the song and decided to produce and arrange the master. Ray Caviano who was at that time the top man in the dance scene in NY. and around the world heard the record and signed it to his label RFC Records and brought in the Legendary DJ and Remixer Larry Levan who put the final touches to it. I wish that were the end of the story, after all contracts were signed and the record was about to be released Tracy was killed in robbery in Harlem along with her cousin who was the intended target. Tracys family allowed the record to be released and it has gone on to international Success. Tracy Webber was a wonderful singer and friend of mine and it still breaks my heart that she did not get the chance to do more and that she never knew about the success of the record.
Mar-One: I really enjoyed reading you and all details about your former band Funk Machine and komiko’s “Feel Alright” which is one of my all time favorite…but what affected me much is definitely the story about tracy Weber! What happened to her is really sad! “Sure Shot” is an everlasting club anthem. What happened then? Tell us more about your cooperation with R. Bassoff and further early and mid 80’s projects…
Nicky Braddy: After the successes of Komiko and “Sure Shot” Richard and I started working on other projects. Most notably Mahogany “Ride on the Rhythm” on West End Records. Bernice Watkins who was a friend of Tracys was the featured vocalist. We also had a remake of “Ride on the Rhythm” by a group from England called Arizona on Virgin Records that went to #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart.We did a record called Teaser with Toney Lee of “Reach Up” fame that went to Top 50 on the Billboard R&B charts. Toney is a great friend of mine and i helped him get the deal for “Reach Up”. Richard and i continued to make records with C Lynda Mcconnell One Step At A Time for Atlantic Records.
Mar-One: Thanks Nicky. Indeed Mahogany signed at West End and Critique Records couple of blasting tracks then, so did Toney Lee. But How come “Let’s Call It Day” has only been released on Salsoul as a French press?
Nicky Braddy: Bernice is a fantastic singer who of course is the singer on “Let’s Call It A Day”. Salsoul Records at that time was known for top shelf disco and dance music, so i think our record was different for them to promote. I am very happy it has endured over the years. The 80s were a great time for dance music, there was a real community of guys making the music. Arthur Baker, Mark Liggett, Jellybean and the late Mark Kamins are just some of the guys we knew at the time. Radio would also play the records along with top clubs and DJs.
Mar-One: Yes exactly, during that decade radios, producers and singers showed fully inspired and delivered so many golden tracks and you’re part of them Nicky!! What about your recent works?
Nicky Braddy: I currently have my own record label with three other partners called SNMG Records distributed thru Sony/Red.We have a new record coming this Tues called Back Where We Started by 17yr.old Jennifer Ashley we are very excited about it. Its a very different business now than it was in the 80s.
But i still believe that if you make the best records that you can people will find out and support it.
Mar-One: Since the early 2000’s many producers, solo singers and bands of the 80s have been back on track bringing us unreleased materials from that decade such as H. Horne, The Cool Notes, and so on…what about you Nicky?
Nicky Braddy: Yes we have a few, I will talk to Richard and find out where they are. If we can find them and the quality is good enough i will send them to you.
Mar-One: Oh Nicky! It would be really kind from Richard and You! We’d like to put some samples on our website if you agree so we could go on promoting 80s soul!
All the boogie80.com crew would like to thank you so much Nicky, we’re really grateful for this interview. May all your goals be reached!