Turkuaz w/ Moon Hooch

Hi-Fi Music Hall Presents

Turkuaz w/ Moon Hooch

Moon Hooch

Tue · March 27, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Hi-Fi Music Hall

Advance Tickets: $18, Day of Show: $22

Off Sale

This event is 21 and over

Turkuaz
Turkuaz
Drip painting entails actively splashing myriad colors on canvas.

Popularized by Jackson Pollock, Janet Sobel, Max Ernst, and other 20th century luminaries, the artform itself relies on action and motion. In similar fashion, energetic splashes of funk, alternative, rock, R&B, and psychedelia color the music of Turkuaz. Balancing male-female harmonies, strutting guitars, wild horn arrangements, and interminable grooves, this spirit takes shape in the color donned by each respective member on stage nightly via larger-than-life performances.

The Brooklyn-based nonet—Dave Brandwein [guitar, vocals], Taylor Shell [bass], Craig Brodhead [guitar, keys], Michelangelo Carubba [drums], Chris Brouwers [trumpet, keys], Greg Sanderson [tenor sax], Josh Schwartz [baritone sax, vocals], Sammi Garett [vocals], and Shira Elias [vocals]—ignite an explosion of energy punctuated by neon hues, deft musicality, and show-stopping singalongs on their fifth full-length album, Life In The City.

“Turkuaz is made up of individuals, each their own shade of the color spectrum,” explains Dave. “Each person brings a signature style and embodies his or her own color. The respective auras come together to create our sound. The name itself implies that vibrancy, but it’s a different spin on turquoise. In the same way, we put a different spin on groove-oriented music by telling stories that you wouldn’t normally associate with funk.”

Since emerging in 2011 with their self-titled debut, the group have quietly animated a movement.

Touring incessantly in support of four full-length studio albums and three official live releases, they’ve lit up stages everywhere from Bonnaroo, Hulaween, Okeechobee, Electric Forest, and Mountain Jam to Telluride Jazz, High Sierra, and Lock’n, in between gracing stages at legendary spots such as Red Rocks, Terminal 5, and The Fillmore, to name a few. Among numerous critical plaudits, The New Yorker claimed, “This Brooklyn-based nine-piece delivers horn-filled funk incorporating elements of R&B, psychedelic pop, gospel, Afro-pop, New Wave, classic rock, and just about any genre that gets people dancing.”
Most recently, 2015’s Digitonium yielded fan favorites such as “Nightswimming” and “European Festivity Nightmare” and generated over 1 million-plus cumulative streams. When it came time to commence work on Life In The City, the musicians switched up the flow and took a different approach.

“We did Digitonium in a short period of time and created a concept based on The Sword in the Stone,” says Dave. “We sifted through a lot more material for Life In The City. We threw all of the paint on the canvas. There was more collaboration in the writing. Some members who hadn’t participated before brought ideas to the table. We didn’t have anything road-mapped. In that respect, it was exploratory as far as who we are sonically. The same goes for the lyrics. Beyond the turmoil in current events and the world, I was going through some difficult challenges in my personal life. So, Life In The City is more based in reality and the experience I’ve lived in the past few years than a fantasy like the last record. The city is representative of modern life and all of these distractions we face day to day.”
In order to capture that vision, they first recorded at More Sound in Upstate New York before moving to Dave’s own newly relocated Galaxy Smith Studios in Brooklyn. Avowed fans of the Stop Making Sense film, they tapped Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads to produce standalone single “On The Run” and album track “If I Ever Fall Asleep” at The Bunker Studios.

“I’m extremely hands-on, so it was a growth experience to see someone else’s take on the band,” adds Dave. “Overall, Jerry made us as a band think about things we wouldn’t have otherwise. It was really beneficial.”
The group officially introduce the album with the first single and title track “Life In The City.” Funkified guitars wrap around otherworldly synths and rapturous horns as the words “Blind in the spotlight” glare.

“That line stands out to me,” Dave continues. “There’s so much stimulus in the city and in modern life in general. So much is going on. Light is constantly shined on what we do, how we act, social media, and the urban hustle and bustle that we’re blind to what’s really going on underneath. That line sums up what the song is about. We’re not able to take a breath and experience the simplicity of reality anymore. We forget to be who we really are.”

A collaborative effort with several band members, the swaggering cry of “Lady Lovely” tells an intergalactic horror story disguised as cross-species romance, complete with “creature” giggles from the song’s vocalist Josh Schwartz. Schwartz also co-wrote “If I ever Fall Asleep,” portraying the “paranoid ramblings of an insomniac holed up in his apartment.”

Punctuated by robust horns, “Superstatic” illuminates another side of Turkuaz as it touts lyrics “about letting go and having fun for a minute.” Meanwhile, on the more personal side, upbeat delivery and synth squeals underscore a poignant admission for Dave on “The One and Lonely.”

“It’s about kicking a lot of habits and stepping away from vices,” he admits. “The song highlights the struggle I had with substances and alcohol as well as the process I went through trying to shed the struggle. Drinking and drug use is a huge part of the road for most bands. It got to a point where it was too much for me though. This album documents me taking a step back and saying, ‘I want to live for a long time. I want to stop and take in what’s actually happening to me—not just party all the time.’”

It’s that honesty that has reinvigorated how far down the line the band has its sights set. And even in the midst of serious subject matter creeping in on this album, the musicianship of all nine band members and the group’s upbeat, fun-loving sensibility still shines through to give Turkuaz fans the joyous sound they’ve come to know over the last several years.

“I would love for our music to be a bright spot in an otherwise dark world,” he leaves off. “You can come to our shows, let go, exist, and have a good time in spite of what may be going on outside. That’s what music does for us. We want to share that.”
Moon Hooch
Moon Hooch
I‘m realizing more and more every day that you can make anything happen for yourself if you really want to,” says Moon Hooch horn player Mike Wilbur. “You can change your existence by just going out and doing it, by taking simple actions every day.”

If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch. In just a few short years, the group—Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler—has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring with the likes of Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as selling out their own headline shows in major venues around the country. On ‘Red Sky,’ their third and most adventurous album to date, the band uses everything they’ve learned from their whirlwind journey to push their sound to new heights, bringing together the raw, transcendent energy of their live performances and the sleek sophistication of their studio work into a singular, intoxicating brew that blends elements of virtuosic jazz, groovy funk, and pulse-pounding electronic dance music.

“I think ‘Red Sky’ is more focused than any of our past albums,” reflects McGowen. “We practice meditation and yoga, and I think that we’re more evolved as people than we’ve ever been right now. That evolution expresses itself as focus, and through focus comes our energy.”

It was two years ago that the band released ‘This Is Cave Music,’ an exhilarating thrill ride that earned rave reviews from critics and fans alike. NPR hailed it as “unhinged” and “irresistible,” praising each musician’s “remarkable abilities” and naming their Tiny Desk Concert one of the best in the prestigious series’ history. The album followed their 2013 debut, which had Relix swooning for their “deep bass lines, catchy melodies and pounding rhythms,” while the Wall Street Journal celebrated their “electronic house music mixed with brawny saxophone riffs.” Though the band—whose members initially met as students at the New School—turned heads in the music industry as relative unknowns with a charismatic, unconventional sound (they play with unique tonguing techniques and utilize found objects like traffic cones attached to the bells of their horns to manipulate tone, for instance), they were already a familiar and beloved sight to straphangers in New York, who would react with such joy and fervor to their impromptu subway platform sets that the NYPD had to ban them from locations that couldn’t handle the crowds. NY Mag once referred to their sound as “Jay Gatsby on ecstasy,” while the NY Post fell for their “catchy melodic hooks and funky rhythms,” saying they had “the power to make you secretly wish that the short [subway] wait becomes an indefinite delay.”

While the band’s busking days are behind them now, the lessons they learned from all those platform parties helped guide their approach to recording ‘Red Sky.’

“What we discovered playing in the subway,” McGowen explains, “is that the more focus and the more energy you put into the music, and the more you listen to everything around you and integrate everything around you into your expression, the more the music becomes this captivating force for people.”

Recorded at The Bunker studio in Brooklyn, ‘Red Sky’ is nothing if not captivating. The album opens with the tribal urgency of the title track and proceeds, over the next 45 minutes, to utterly demolish any and every possible barrier that could stand between your ass and the dance floor. On ‘Shot,’ Wilbur sings a stream of consciousness vocal line over an airtight groove, while “Psychotubes” channels the apocalyptic fire and brimstone of death metal, and the staccato intro of “That’s What They Say” gives way to a gritty, late-night come-on of a saxophone line that’s far more suggestive than any whispered words ever could be.

Though the band is heavily inspired by electronic music, they made a conscious effort to use as little in the way of “studio tricks” as possible on ‘Red Sky,’ aiming instead to capture the sound of their live show, which has evolved significantly from their days underground.

“When we were playing in the subways, we were playing entirely acoustic,” explains Wilbur. “It was just two saxes and a drum set. Then Wenzl acquired a baritone sax and we all started getting into music production and incorporating electronic music into our live shows.”

At their performances, the band now plays through what they call a Reverse DJ setup, in which the live sound from their horns runs through Ableton software on their laptops to process recorded effects onto the output. In addition, to flesh out their sound on the road, the band began utilizing Moog synthesizers, an EWI (an electronic wind instrument that responds to breath in addition to touch), and other more traditional instruments like clarinets. Wilbur added vocals to his repertoire on some tracks (something the subway never allowed him to do), and Muschler, meanwhile, traveled halfway around the world to expand his percussion skills.

“I went to India, and the first morning I woke up, it was like 5am, and I followed this music along the banks of the Ganges,” he remembers. “I eventually ended up finding this amazing tabla player, and after his performance, I asked him for lessons. He agreed, and I went for daily lessons with him and another guy for the next two weeks. After that, I took a train to Calcutta, where I met with the guru that I’d studied with in New York, and I did morning lessons with him and practiced throughout the day. It was an incredible musical immersion experience.”

The band members all speak reverently of meditation and consciousness and the role it plays in their music (McGowen believes his introduction to it, spurred on in part by Wilbur and Muschler, saved his life), but equally close to their hearts are the environmental causes they champion. Moon Hooch tries to live up to their green ideals while traveling as much as possible, playing benefit shows, supporting local farmers and co-ops, participating in river cleanups, filming informative videos for their fans, and more. The band even runs a food blog, Cooking In The Cave, in which they highlight the healthy, sustainable, organic recipes they utilize with their mobile kitchen setup on tour.

For the members of Moon Hooch, commitments to consciousness and environmentalism and veganism and philosophy and peace aren’t separate from their commitment to music, but actually integral parts of it. It’s all tied into that same core approach that led to their discovery on the subway platform: try, even if it’s just a little bit every day, even if it’s just with the power of your mind, to make the world less like it is and more like you wish it could be.

“I’d say all of our songs express the essence of that kind of energy,” concludes McGowen, “because before you can even think any thoughts, there exists the energy that drives those thoughts, and that energy is intention. I feel like we’re putting the intention of positive change constantly into our music. While we’re playing, I often see the future emerging: skyscrapers getting covered in plants, frowns turning into smiles, fistfights into hugs. I can see the energy of love and collaboration and trust replace the energy of fear, hatred and violence.”

It’s an ambitious vision, to be sure, but considering the band’s track record at turning their thoughts and dreams into action and reality, perhaps it’s only a matter of time.
Venue Information:
Hi-Fi Music Hall
44 E. 7th Ave
Eugene, OR, 97401
http://hifimusichall.com/