LOCAL Houston | The City Guide May 2016 - Page 40

THE SUFFERS Kam Franklin interview by Lance Scott Walker | Photography by Daniel Jackson The musical boundaries that have been stretched, broken and blended by the Houston soul group The Suffers are tremendous on their own, but the reach of the music they have created since their inception in 2011 is truly unprecedented for an artist from The Bayou City. That isn’t just because they have made television appearances on David Letterman and The Daily Show, or because they just taped a live set for PBS, or because of their upcoming slot at the Afropunk festival in Paris. It’s unprecedented because they did all of those things as independent artists, releasing their records themselves and keeping their organization inhouse. I spoke with vocalist Kam Franklin while she was in the tour van with her nine band members on their way from Georgia to Tennessee – just another leg on the long journey the group has taken together. You’re working on a new album now. Are you going to stay independent? Right now, labels are sniffing around, but it’s not the first time it’s happened. I think a lot of the labels that have approached us are curious but not ready to jump onboard just yet. But we’re not gonna let it slow down any of our process by trying to impress or work around anybody that’s not ready to work with us. I think to be successful is to not wait for somebody to get comfortable with us. I think if we would have waited, we wouldn’t have really gotten anywhere, so it’s been a lot more exciting to just do what we wanted and then wait for everybody else to catch up. And the right ones, once the smoke clears, they’ll still be chasing you, and it’ll make sense and you’ll know them by then. Yeah! I always tell people that ask why we’ve done things the way we’ve done it or why we continue to do things the way we do as far as the people that we work with – for example, our booking agency is a really small company, and people always ask, “Why didn’t you guys switch over to a more major booking agency?” And for us, we’d rather be with a company that sees our relationship as a marriage rather than an optional thing that they can just walk away from. This isn’t a small thing for us. This is a pretty serious relationship. We’ve quit our lives to do this, so we don’t wanna fuck with anybody that’s afraid. And you grow together with your booking agency. They grow because you grow. Exactly, and it’s been such a wonderful union, just seeing all of us evolve from the small scene that everybody thought would just kind of go away after a few months. To be taken seriously not only by major booking companies and venues but the fans alike, and it’s been really, really great to see the efforts of our hard work paying off. www.thesuffers.com continued on page 73 40 L O C A L | may 16