Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, October 22, 1999

Reality a dream

NEOS Productions
'Reality' is Marja Apisaloma, left and Shivon Ines.

Local 'girl group' celebrates its
first anniversary with a second album
and a more sophisticated approach
to the music business

Review: It Won't Be Long, by Reality
with MP3 audio clips
By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


IT was almost exactly a year ago that Reality -- Marja Apisaloma and Shivon Ines -- were celebrating the success of their debut album, "Movin' On." And move on they have. The duo's second album, "It Won't Be Long" went on sale Wednesday, and it represents a step forward for one of Hawaii's foremost "girl groups."

There is a definite sense of continuity between the two albums, but Ines and Apisaloma say they were much more involved in technical side of things this time.

"On the first album we were just happy to have a first album and not really sensitive to the technicalities of recording. The second time around we knew better what we wanted it sound like," Apisaloma said.


Bullet When: 8 p.m., today
Bullet Where: Pier Bar, Aloha Tower Marketplace
Bullet Cover: $5
Bullet Also featuring: Norm, Lance Kalahiki, Daylan, and the Ka'ala Boys


Bullet When: 2 p.m., Sunday
Bullet Where: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall

Ines, who wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on the first album, added this time she had more input on the final arrangements. That too is part of the growing process.

"Most of the songs I wrote for the first album I had ballads in mind. This album we experimented more with the R&B and a harder reggae (sound)."

Their record label, Neos Productions, is launching the new album with a public concert party this evening at the Pier Bar.

Team work and "making our dreams into Reality" remain the duo's credo. Their time table is flexible, and they're keeping their "day jobs" for the moment. Ines, 18, has graduated from Campbell High School and is majoring in business and medical assisting at Heald College. Apisaloma, 21, works in the Pathology Department at Queen's Medical Center.

Apisaloma said they hope to reach a national audience and experimented with fresh material and new ideas on "It Won't Be Long."

"We're not necessarily moving away from local reggae, but we're not letting it be our focus. I think Shivon and I have a broad range of styles that we like so it's hard to just emphasize one style. All artists do that and we want to be different. It's possible for people to love all types of music and capitalize on all the types of music that they love. We want to do that."

Ines and Apisaloma wrote or co-wrote five new songs. They co-wrote "Come With Me" with input from Ines' boyfriend, THC guitarist Binghi T., 30. Female recording artists often find that guys who aren't involved in the music business can't handle a serious relationship with a woman who is. Binghi is in the business and also an "older man," but Ines says their common interests are more important than the difference in their ages.

"It could be difficult because I'm still in school and he's a full-time working musician, but we have the same goals and because we work together in our music it's easier than a lot of people think.

"He's been in the business longer than I have so he'll tell me what's going on here and there. We'll have disagreements about arrangements and things but we talk it out."

Both women said they prefer work-ing a crowd with a live band -- THC if possible -- to performing as a karaoke-style "tracks act" or singing for the equipment in the sterile environment of a recording studio.

"Notes I can hit with ease when we're performing I can't hit in the studio -- at least not the first time. We feed off the audience and if they're hot it inspires us to really get into it," Apisaloma says.

Reality was created 14 months ago after Bob St. John discovered Ines through the 1988 I-94 "Brown bags to Stardom" contest. He was planning on signing a "girl group" but Ines brought in Apisaloma as a backing vocalist. St. John heard them sing and Reality was born.

Looking back over the first year Ines said she was "the quiet one" on stage and has been working at doing more of the talking that keeps a show moving smoothly between songs. Although both women move with natural choreography, Apisaloma says she's learning to relax and "just go off" on stage.

"I'm expressive, but out first year I just held back a lot, but in the last few months I've decided to just be myself."



Bullet It Won't Be Long, by Reality (Neos Productions - V042)

Reality's 1998 debut album was the most promising local "girl group" project since Westside Harmony evolved into Tenderoni in 1996. Their second album is just as good. Imagination, diversity, and new ideas are key elements.

Instant highlights include "Insecurity" and "Love Gamble," written by Shivon Ines and Marja Apisaloma respectively. "Touchie Touchie" combines a catchy rhythm with clever word play and a fine semi-comic delivery.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Insecurity
Bullet Love Gamble
Bullet Touchie Touchie
Bullet Once In A Blue Moon
Quicktime | MPEG-3 info

"Once In A Blue Moon" is the most exciting. It isn't likely to get airplay on Hawaii's "island music" radio stations but shows Reality is ready and willing to grow beyond local reggae-beat pop and explore cosmopolitan rock as well.

Producer Bob St. John's take on "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" is interesting but unfinished. An opening riff based on Smokey Robinson's 1963 original hit doesn't connect with the rest of the song. A good remix could make this a hit.

The title song, by Justin Kawika Young, takes longer than necessary to say little. There's potential but it doesn't reach the critical mass necessary to be remarkable.

"Confusion," "Come With Me," and a hidden track remix of "Guava Jam," maintain the commercial light reggae sound of first album.

Neos Productions, phone (808) 625-5586

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