Have you ever heard a song and thought, we gotta talk? That was me with Lesibu Grand’s “Mi Sueño” a couple of months ago. The email sat in my inbox, waiting. Finally, I reached out and wanted to know more about this duo that layers a hefty amount of soul on top of indie grooves. Their own Tyler-Simone Molton was nice enough to sit down to talk about how she and John Renaud came to be, what’s to come, and of course, the song that started my infatuation, “Mi Sueño.”
Kendra: It seems like we had very similar upbringings musically. Being into all types of genres and not leaning towards one or the other. For me, liking punk and emo bands and even the likes of Garth Brooks, I was often told I wasn’t “Black enough.” Did you experience that, and if so – did it ever bother you?
Tyler-Simone Molton: Fortunately, I have never been accused (to my face) of not being “black enough.” I feel like if I had it wouldn’t have bothered me much because I know that my blackness is measured in the fact that I am a black person so that’s all it takes to be black enough according to my standards. I think I never came across that experience because I grew up in a time period and neighborhood that was racially diverse and all of the folks I spent time with listened to a little of everything too. I know we as a country have a long way to go but, I think one good thing about our generation is that we don’t put people in a box based on their musical preferences. And yes it’s true that I listen to a lot of alternative music like Paramore, Panic! At the Disco, and Florence and the Machine and I sing in a rock band. However, I enjoy and have many playlists filled with Minnie Riperton, Erykah Badu, Beyonce, and Stevie Wonder too.
Kendra: In hindsight, your varied interests is what likely led to Lesibu Grand having this indie sound surrounded by bursts of soul. Of course, you have John too. What did each of you initially bring to the table when you two started getting creative together?
Tyler-Simone Molton: John has more experience with songwriting and being in rock bands, and he is really good at developing “the bones” of a song, meaning the chord structure. I write a lot of the lyrics and also add lots of subtleties with my voice. I’m also really detail-oriented so I play a big role in fixing or optimizing the song, improving transitions, and adding ear candy. Together I feel we make catchy music from the heart that connects with people.
Kendra: Do each of you wonder where you’d be if you hadn’t met that fateful night?
Tyler-Simone Molton: I think we would both be happy and would have potentially been doing our own things musically. But meeting each other gave us the ability to see music through each other’s eyes, and developed us into more expressive musicians than we would have been otherwise.
Kendra: Your latest single, “Mi Sueno,” is larger than the individual’s dreams. You’ve noted it was in part inspired by the lengthy history Black people in America have with dreams; MLK Jr’s iconic speech. With that, when people speak of the “American Dream” do you feel Black people in this country are chasing something more than picket fences and two kids in the front yard?
Tyler-Simone Molton: Yes, I believe that ideally people — and black people in particular — are chasing an American dream that includes a legacy. I think that a family legacy is important to African Americans in particular because many of us came from families who can only trace our family tree back a few generations. Since slavery eliminated a lot of potential documentation of African history, a lot of African Americans do not know the full depth of their heritage and can never find out. I believe that going forward, African Americans want to prevent that from happening again so leaving a legacy is a way we can ensure a footprint of our history is left behind when we pass.
Kendra: You just released ‘The Legend of Miranda’ last October, but with the recent stay at home orders have either of you found time to create any new songs or at least set the foundation for new material?
Tyler-Simone Molton: In mid-February, we finished recording our second record and will be hoping to release some time this year. With COVID-19 it has become difficult to have band rehearsals so those have been put on hold, but we’ve shifted our focus towards video ideas for the new tracks. We have a green screen set up in our garage so we are able to still record videos and add effects in post-production. We are also focusing on live streaming, and have adapted our set so that we can perform as a duo, thus reducing the number of people having to perform close to each other. We did that recently with a live streaming Facebook group based out of Atlanta called Kimono My House, and it was really fun.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Tyler-Simone Molton: We had a bunch of really cool shows planned for this Spring and of course they have all been canceled. We have a show scheduled at the famed Atlanta burlesque strip club, The Clermont Lounge, on May 25th, but I’m honestly not sure we’ll be out of this social distancing phase by then. So, in the meantime, I’ve been vibin’ hard to Daft Punk’s “Veridis Quo!”