Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins are not the first couple to live and make music together, but their righteous output and candid outlook on life (especially the state of the music business) sets them apart. Today marks the release of their new collaborative album The Lighthouse, the latest of 12 releases on their SomeOthaShip Connect label. “It’s like a guide,” says Dudley, about the title of the new record, “so people can see through all this dark stuff that’s going on right now. Unfortunately, here in America, we mostly we praise the darkness.”
I recently made a mid-morning call to the couple at their home in Las Vegas, and on-speaker phone I could hear their kids running around. Mom and Dad sounded relaxed and laid-back amidst the little ones’ excitement. “Georgia didn’t go to sleep ‘til 5am making music and recording,” explains Dudley. “We are parents, we look after the children, but otherwise we are recording.” After some casual chat our conversation takes off with Dudley leading the charge. Occasionally he sounds like a streetwise preacher and Georgia chimes in with a well timed “ya’ know it” when he hits a high point. Between them they drop a mix of inspiring insights, and well-thought-out rants about corporate America, war, and people’s listening habits. For me it becomes a fascinating, entertaining, and surprisingly motivational call, that reflects the messages in their music.
If cookie cutter soul or hip hop is your thing then SomeOthaShip Connect releases will not float your boat. “People say we make weird music, but we speak common sense – we make real hood music,” says Dudley. In Interplanetary Peace Talks, a documentary released about Dudley last year, there’s a scene in which they’re at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. While his daughter is shopping for CDs, Dudley is calling out customers buying commercial hip hop: “get out of the dark section – they talk about you, they put you down…listen to something about compassion and good things,” he says. In the title track to Seeds, her fantastic, Madlib-produced, solo album released last year, Georgia sings, “Who’s going to look after the Seeds, We’ve taken more than we need.” From warfare to welfare, mother nature to raising children, their interests and subject matter run wide and deep. “It ain’t about poppin’ mollies, gold chains, runnin’ the streets and rollin’ up with 22s, it’s about oppression, welfare lines, rape, and abortion – that’s hood music. It’s not hard to speak on what you see, but people turn a blind eye.”
Dudley grew up with seven siblings, and was raised by his single mother in Oxnard, California. Hip hop became a major obsession in his life at a young age, but unfortunately he also got heavily involved in drugs, alcohol, and gangs. After high school, he went into the U.S. Navy serving during Desert Storm. He eventually left after realizing that the war was against his principles. Returning to the Los Angeles area he reconnected with childhood friends like Madlib, Oh No, DJ Romes, Kankick, and Wildchild. He was featured on the seminal Lootpack Soundpieces: Da Antidote album as an MC and also as illustrator of the album, which was released through Stones Throw Records. He went on to record for German hip hop label Good Vibe under the name Declaime, recorded solo soul records for Stones Throw, and made appearances on other labels.
Georgia was born in Los Angeles to a musical family. Her father was jazz musician Ronald Muldrow, a soul jazz and hard bop guitarist and a regular member of Eddie Harris’s band. Her mom, Rickie Byars-Beckwith, is leader of the Agape Choir and a noted spiritual teacher. Georgia left Los Angeles, to attend The New School’s jazz program in New York, where her fellow students included Blue Note artist Robert Glasper and singer Bilal. Eventually she would collaborate with up and coming producer Waajeed, appearing on his critically acclaimed Platinum Pied Pipers’ Triple P album. On 9/11 she was riding the NYC Subway underneath the World Trade Center and the events of that day led her to return to Los Angeles.
Dudley sought out Georgia after seeing her perform and asked her to feature on “Coming Home” from his 2006 release Expressions. They soon became a couple, and with Dudley’s encouragement Georgia became Stones Throw’s first female signee, releasing the soulful, wonderfully eccentric, and critically acclaimed Olesi: Fragments of an Earth album. Unfortunately subsequent struggles with alcoholism resulted in Dudley’s hospitalization, but the event became the catalyst for the couple to quit drinking, change their diets, and aim for a healthier lifestyle.
Keeping each other in check, building a family, and allowing room for each other to record, the two have become a powerful team. “We do this to have something of our own on this earth. Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins are a definitive brand, we’re the blueprint, you can only copy it,” says Dudley. “And that’s how we’re all supposed to be – a blueprint, an individual experience,” he adds.
They set up the SomeOthaShip Connect label in 2009 because they wanted to control their own music and masters, and had become fed-up with third-party label deals. “Sometimes you have no choice but to play with other labels to make a living. Some people look to blow-up and become famous right away with big label backing – and we’ve toyed with it, but it’s a crazy road to go down,” says Dudley. They signed a distribution deal with label manager Jay Devonish at Toronto-based eOne, and he aptly handles their day-to-day business. “I’m fascinated by them – musically and in general. They are two crazy creative cats who never cease to amaze me. They are smart and have amazing insight.”
While Jay watches the business, Georgia and Dudley have hit some high notes and bent listeners’ ears worldwide. They’ve played live in the Langa Township of Cape Town, South Africa. Georgia has collaborated and written for Erykah Badu. Mos Def was so inspired by her song “Roses” he licensed it to use on his benchmark Ecstatic album, and Georgia remixed Robert Glasper for his Grammy-winning Blue Note release last year. BBC DJ Gilles Peterson awarded Ocotea, recorded by Georgia under her Jyoti moniker, Jazz Album Of The Year and praised their “stinging originality in a world of musical predictability,” and Canadian artist The Weekend recently sampled “The Initiation” from “Olessi” for The Trilogy. “Every day there’s something new with Georgia and Dudley. Their output is inspiring, and their message is needed right now,” says Jay. “They get the power of the music they are making – they want to wake people up.” Despite these recent achievements, Jay thinks there is still room to grow and reach their potential. ”They’re not there yet, but we’re on the right track,” he says.
In addition to their own label they occasionally release music on Mello Music Group. But otherwise the plan is to build a roster and continue pushing their sound and message on SomeOthaShip Connect. “It’s not our choice to not be on a major label, but we speak on things that major labels probably do not allow. We could disrupt their whole system. Their music is tainted and plays at a lower vibration. It’s made to keep the gods inside of us asleep,” theorizes Dudley. “The music industry, like the food in grocery stores, is poisoned. People take these poisons willingly. Marketing will do that to you. Marketing will make you eat doo-doo, and doo-doo is what’s on the radio right now.”
If you’re in the U.S.A., you can catch Georgia and Dudley perform at the following:
NY @ Brooklyn Bowl May 21
And also on Boiler Room TV on June 25