“From day one. it was always the vision to have this exact band that we have, this setup,” says Dave Brandwine, guitarist and lead vocalist of Turkuaz. “We’re just fortunate enough that we’re not only a band of nine people but we’re a band of nine really close friends, like a family. Everyone intuitively knows what their role is. It’s great musically and it’s also great just interpersonally on the road. We hang out even when we’re not on the road,” he laughs. “It’s such a pleasure to make good music with people that you really love.” At nine members strong, Turkuaz is a force to be reckoned with, and on September 28th, the Brooklyn-based purveyors of intergalactic funk n’ roll unleashed their latest album, Life In The City.
Brandwine describes the creative process as a collaborative one; while some would think that making an album with the input of nine band members would be a daunting task, Turkuaz has it down to a science. “We just do it often in smaller groups,” says Brandwine. “The genesis of a song when it’s created will often be a demo that’s made by just one or two of us. I’ll often do a lot of writing over it, but even the writing is more of a collaborative process now in terms of the vocal and lyrical stuff. Once the demo has gotten a little farther along in its life with lyrics and melodies and stuff, we’ll bring it into a rehearsal or sometimes even just the sound check because we’re touring so much. We’ll work out an arrangement and just start playing the song,” he adds. “It happens in stages, it comes in waves, and that makes it more manageable,
Along with nine band members comes nine different sets of influences, which explains the sonic depth and unique richness of the signature Turkuaz sound. “That’s valuable to us, we’re drawing from so many different places that by the time it hits your ears, it doesn’t sound like everything else, it sounds unique and different,” he explains. “We do have our own spin certainly, but it’s helpful that it gets drawn from so many different places.” At the group’s inception, Sly and The Family Stone was on heavy rotation, and that, coupled with Brandwine’s self-described obsession with the Talking Heads’ live concert film Stop Making Sense, set the foundation for what was to come. “That film changed my life,” Brandon reveals. “It just blew by my mind, I was like ‘that is what I want to do. I want to figure out how to do something like this.’”
And now, things have come full circle in a way, because one of the songs on their new album Life In The City was co-produced by Talking Heads keys player and guitarist Jerry Harrison. “It was hilarious that we got to be in the studio with him and ET Thorngren who was the engineer that mixed Stop Making Sense with Jerry,” Brandwine recalls. “He has a relaxed and thoughtful way about him, whereas I have a lot of ideas moving really fast; although I produce a lot of music and I produce other bands, when it comes to my own band, I think sometimes I have a little bit less focus than I do when I play that role for someone else. It was helpful for me to have someone else come in and fill a bit of a producer role. It offered me a lot of perspective that I think was valuable and obviously, we just respect the work that he’s done so much. It’s really eye-opening to just get these little glimpses here and there when he makes you think a little bit differently about a vocal or something that’s not coming across quite the way that you thought it was,” he continues. “That’s a really valuable thing for us as a band and a part of our growth process.
The creative process for Life In The City was much different than what Turkuaz had done before; their previous studio record, 2015’s Digitonium, was inspired by The Sword In The Stone, which they expanded to create a character-based fantasy realm. “On this new one, we really boiled it down,” Brandwine says. “It was a very different process from day one, and in the writing, I found that I needed to dig in a little bit to what was actually going on both around me and within me. I took a long, deep look inside and made some big changes, which inevitably started to come out in the music. This band is a party, you know, it’s fun, it’s uplifting music, but I found it cool to incorporate some more introspective lyrics with that style of music,” he explains. “I think that’s a unique blend that you don’t hear very often. If you don’t look too deeply into it, it just sounds like another really fun upbeat record, but there is another layer there if people want to dig in,” he continues. “It explores the existential dangers of a fast-paced modern life when not balanced with the discipline to take a deep breath and keep a mindful awareness of who we are inside. It explores a number of themes throughout, ranging from kicking bad habits, to delusions involving demons and space aliens,” he adds. “It was an unusual process putting more honest and sobering lyrical content over such fun and energetic music, but I think it proved to be a unique and successful juxtaposition.”
Turkuaz is currently bringing their dance-worthy sound to stages across the country, and they will make a stop to perform at Nashville’s Exit/In on October 25th. “We have the first leg of a huge tour booked, a ton of shows with super excited to come back to Nashville,” he says. “We’re gonna be on the road for a while to celebrate of this new album.”
[Click HERE for tickets and show information.]