The diverse sounds that have been brewing in the Caribbean island decades on end offer innovative new music with not only a distinct Jamaican flavor, but everything from gospel, to country, to contemporary R&B and hip-hop. And it's out of this fusion of styles (dancehall, R&B, and singer-songwriter soul) that sisters Nyanda and Nailah Thorbourne (otherwise known as Brick and Lace), have been born. No stranger to the music industry in both the and, the two in their Geffen debut, Love Is Wicked, features production from the likes of Akon (Universal Records recording artist), Raphael Saadiq (Mary J. Blige, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Bilal), Tony Kelly (Sean Paul, Shaggy, Lady Saw, Beenie Man), Full Force (Backstreet Boys, ), and Will.I.Am(Black Eyed Peas).
Raised in Kingston by a father who is a professional gospel musician and a mother who sang in the choir, the two always had music around them. "We were never religious musicians," explains Nyanda, "But the church is where we first started singing in front of an audience." From there the two began singing and recording together, working their way into the local dancehall scene as teens. In addition they sought gigs singing back up for more established acts. Their foray into that world lead to them eventually performing at Reggae Sunsplash and even opening for Roberta Flack. Later they were even invited by Lauryn Hill to sing back ups for her as well as perform on her forth-coming second album.
"Nyanda is the edgy one and Nailah is the more R&B one" says Nailah, laughing, "But you never know, on any given day it can change who's Brick and who's Lace." And it's this dichotomy that yields their superior songwriting. "We each have different experiences but we come together and collaborate," says Nailah, who actually plays guitar as well, and helped work with their producers on melodies. "The process of collaboration is really one of my favorite things, and we try to avoid having firm roles."
"We have so many influences," says Nyanda, in a thick, but sweet Jamaican accent. "We try and learn from them, their melodies and songwriting, to create something entirely new." And that's exactly what they do, infusing Jamaican rhythms and dancehall styling to R&B, and coupling it with a ride-or-die-chick aesthetic, the sisters concoct a delicious pop formula. Songs like "Get That Clear," their infectious Akon produced banger and first single, with it's syncopated handclaps, and modulated voice on the hook, and "Love Is Wicked" with it's tag-team of hard chanting and sensual singing, exemplify the mesmerizing style. But the girls are more than catchy hooks and sensual melodies, and no song demonstrates this better than "Why'd You Lie," their Full Force produced track which samples the Simon & Garfunkel classic, "The Boxer." "All of our songs are based on experiences that are true to us," says Nyanda, "We just take the situations that we've been through or that our friends have been through. Those things are universal and that's what makes records like 'Why'd You Lie' work."
The sisters got their break a little over a year ago when they signed with their current production company, 180 Music, who shopped their music around the states and eventually signed them to Geffen. "I think that the girls are incredibly talented, and that goes without saying," says their manager Marcus Grant, "Beyond the singing and the songwriting, both of which they do very well, Brick & Lace are stars and there is no ceiling to their potential."
And with an album full of radio-ready, songs that are both danceable and catchy, it seems there truly is no roof on the Thorbourne sisters.