BADBADNOTGOOD Talk To Us About Who They Want To Work With Next

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Toronto’s BADBADNOTGOOD are best known for their interpretations and collaborations in the realm of modern hip-hop. The four piece post-hop and jazz improv group first came together in 2010 at Humber College’s jazz program over their love of MF Doom and Odd Future. Founding members Matthew A. Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinksi (drums) actually released their “Odd Future Sessions Part 1” on YouTube after their jazz instructors were unimpressed with the project. Ironically, it grabbed the attention of Tyler, The Creator himself and went viral. Since then, Leland Whitney (saxophone) has joined the mix, and together the quartet have worked with Tyler, Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, Ghostface Killah, Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Mick Jenkins, Kaytranada, and more. The band are currently touring on their fifth studio album, aptly titled 'IV,' which BBC Radio 6 Music called the #1 album of 2016. This weekend, BADBADNOTGOOD play Denver’s Gothic Friday (01/13), and will take Boulder’s Fox Theatre stage with Sur Ellz Saturday (01/14). Grab tickets while you can here, and in the meantime, check out our chat with this crazy talented crew:

You guys had quite the international tour recently. Any spots along the way you’re really hoping to get back to in 2017?

We went to a lot of new countries we’d never seen before last year- Japan, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico- they would all be amazing to visit again but we have a great time everywhere!

BBC Radio 6 Music picked 'IV' as their album of the year for 2016. What was your initial reaction to hearing that?

Very, very surprised to be honest. There were so many incredible albums we loved on that list and we didn’t feel like ours was a serious contender! We’re extremely happy about the recognition IV has gained. We’re also eternally grateful to our friends in the UK like Gilles Peterson, and all the other DJs at the BBC and otherwise for all the support they’ve shown us over the years!

What were some of your favorite albums dropped in 2016?

Solange’s A Seat at the Table, Kaytranada’s 99.9%, Anderson.Paak’s Malibu, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, A Tribe Called Quest’s We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, and Andy Shauf’s The Party, among many others!

BADBADNOTGOOD.

BADBADNOTGOOD.

Festival lineup announcements have begun. Anything you can hint at about your summer plans?

Sure! We’re going to be playing some incredible festivals across the world- Bonnaroo and Primavera to name a couple that have been announced. We’ll be around Europe, North America, and a few other trips are in the works. We’re also going to have a lot of time at home this year to record and get into some different projects! Peace and love for 2017.

Over the past couple of years, your collaborations with various hip-hop artists have been incredibly impressive. Who is next on your short list of peeps you’re hoping to work with?

We’d love to get a concise project together with Kaytranada. We’ve got so much work in the vault that has yet to come out, and he’s a great friend who’s a pleasure to work with. That’s probably top of the list right now. There are a bunch of other friends in Toronto who we’re stoked to record with too!

Give IV a listen:

>

When are you headed back in the studio?

Pretty soon probably! No idea what we’re going to work on, or what it’s going to sound like though.

If you had to tell us in one word what it was like working with Ghostface Killah on an entire album ('Sour Soul'), what would it be?

Wow one word... Challenging but also rewarding and amazing!

Make sure to catch BBNG at their Colorado shows this weekend; keep up with BADBADNOTGOOD here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Envy Alo: A Danceable Fusion

By: Will Baumgartner

"It never ceases to amaze me what three people can do with a guitar, drums and a Hammond organ. I recently got the opportunity to master Envy Alo's new EP and I was excited to hear so many great rock, funk, and hip hop influences, all wrapped up into their own unique sound. I can't wait to see what these cats come up with next and really hope I can be a part of it!"

-Alan Evans, Soulive

There you have it from the mouth of Alan Evans, the drummer of Soulive, one of the most popular jazz/funk fusion bands on the planet: Envy Alo, a trio of young Front Range musicians, are already well on their way to a bright future after only eight months of existence as a group. While their instrumentation is the same as Soulive, and they obviously share a lot of the same influences and tastes, these boys definitely have their own distinctive thing going on: a stew of jazz, funk, rock that is not only technically impressive, but tremendously exciting and infectious, and definitely dance-friendly. I couldn’t stop moving the last time I saw them live!

In anticipation for Envy Alo’s upcoming performance in The Pamlico Sound’s latest Funkstravaganza (five funk bands in one night at Cervantes’ Other Side this Saturday, June 18th), I recently spoke with keyboardist Aaron Pettine and guitarist/vocalist Kevin Hinder to get some insights into their process, progress, and plans. Check it out:

You guys have been around for less than a year and are already making pretty big noise on the local scene. How did your group come together, and what do you think were the key elements in your rapid rise?

Aaron: Kevin and I knew each other from attending James Madison University in Virginia for our undergrad studies. After we both relocated to Boulder, we met Tyler Gwynn (drummer) through mutual friends. After a few jam sessions with him, we knew we had a unique sound and chemistry and decided to move forward as a band.

Tyler and I both had been playing in other Front Range bands for a while now (Booster and Tenth Mountain Division respectively), so that helped us attract some of the fans from those bands to see this new project. We had developed great relationships with many of the local venues too, who were gracious enough to offer Envy Alo opening slots and gigs within our first few months of being a band.

Kevin: Another key element was just the initial drive that we wanted to do something different. A lot of bands in the area have that typical “jam band” sound, and we really wanted to create something unique. We had the tools already in place individually to do something new, and so far it seems like people enjoy it!

Kevin Hinder.

Kevin Hinder.

With your unusual and rather sparse lineup- keyboards, guitar and, drums- you create a very full, rich sound. How do you accomplish this?

Aaron: It’s simple really: add a synth bass line, swirling organ chords, furiously fast, yet tasteful jazz-rock guitar licks, and a danceable funky drum groove, and boom, that’s our sound!

Speaking of sound, I hear echoes of a lot of familiar sounds and styles within Envy Alo. The obvious comparison would be to the great funk-jazz trio Soulive, but not all your influences seem to be so contemporary. Some of the “organ trio” groups of the 60’s come to mind, as well as the solid classic groove of Booker T. & the MG’s. Who have some of your main influences been, both compositionally and in your individual styles as players?

Aaron: As a keyboard player, it's legends like Jimmy Smith, Booker T., Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder. I also got a lot of my influences from current players like Neal Evans (Soulive/Lettuce), and Beau Sasser (Kung Fu) as well. I’d say my biggest influence is John Medeski from Medeski Martin & Wood, who I was lucky enough to study under in 2015.

Kevin: When I was a kid, I went through a heavy Hendrix phase, and was into heavier rock and the blues. But as I got a little older I started listening to bands like Phish and Widespread Panic, Derek Trucks, and Umphrey's McGee. I would say Jimmy Herring is probably my favorite guitar player out there, but when I really started studying music, my focus shifted to jazz with players like Pat Metheny and John Scofield (probably #2 to Jimmy Herring for me).

Aaron Pettine. 

Aaron Pettine. 

Your music is rewarding on both an intellectual level and a visceral one. Musicians get plenty to appreciate in terms of skill and complexity, while your average concertgoer gets a solid dose of dance music. Has this been a conscious thing? How do you approach creating music like this?

Aaron: [It has] absolutely been a conscious thing. We want to challenge ourselves in the music we write, but we also want it to be accessible and fun for the listener and concertgoer. Finding that happy medium can sometimes be the toughest part but it's one of the great joys of writing our own music.

One of the things that keeps your music interesting and exciting is while your primary focus is clearly on the funk/jazz side of the spectrum, there are also occasional flavors of rock. Where does this varietal spice come from?

Kevin: I think listening to an extremely wide range of styles helps us to draw on those influences and place some of that into our own sounds. Whether it’s conscious or not, it definitely comes through in all of our playing and writing. A Tribe Called Quest is a big influence in that regard, since they mold hip-hop with jazz, funk, rock, and more all into their sound.

Tyler Gwynn.

Tyler Gwynn.

Yet another thing that sets Envy Alo apart is the fact that not all of your stuff is strictly instrumental; you have some actual songs with well-written and interesting lyrics. What songwriters have influenced you?

Kevin: I’ve been listening to Jim Croce a good bit lately, and his lyrics are so well developed, funny, and his flow is so good. The obvious ones come to mind [too]: Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards. I also love Jerry Joseph. The imagery in his writing is so strong and deep, you can tell he has really been through some shit and has a lot of demons and skeletons in his closet, so pulling on his writing is big for me.

Do your compositions come completely realized from individual band members, or are they more often group efforts?

Aaron: It’s a little bit of everything. A lot of earlier tunes came to be through us just jamming, liking something, and putting some structure to it. Recently, Kevin and I have been doing a lot of writing on our own, either chord structures or lyrics or both, and then we get together and finish it up with Tyler.

Listen to Envy Alo's debut EP One Time

I’m very excited for your performance at The Pamlico Sound’s Funkstravaganza show this Saturday. Can the audience expect any special treats from y’all at that performance?

Aaron: Yes! We will have some special treats in store. We are very excited to play our first show as Envy Alo at Cervantes’- it’s one of our favorite Denver venues!

What the hell does “Envy Alo” mean, anyway?

Aaron: It’s a play off of the Spanish word “envialo” which means “ship it”. It’s a term we use when we need to spur one of us to really rock something.

Kevin: Basically, we just replace every verb related to doing anything with “ship it”.

Watch Envy Alo's live performance of "Manic Depression":

I never could have figure that one out on my own! So what’s on the horizon for Envy Alo? Where do you see yourselves a year from now? Anything our readers should know about in advance?

Kevin: We have a summer full of dates we’re ready to announce soon, and we will be playing some of the bigger local venues too, so we’re pretty jazzed about that. We were just booked to play at a music festival in Taos, NM in September, which will be our first festival. Sometime in the fall, we plan on recording a full length album. We’ve been talking to Al Evans from Soulive about recording in his studio out East, so we have some pretty lofty goals. We’re ready to dive in headfirst and become the best and most unique band we can be!

So make sure to “ship it” with Envy Alo and all of the great funk bands on the Funkstravaganza lineup this Saturday at Cervantes! Keep up with Envy Alo on Facebook.

-Will

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Big Wild Is The Next Big Name In Electronic Music

By: Annie Kane

This summer, Big Wild will be one of the most talked about names in electronic music, and we got to talk to him about what that feels like.

Jackson Stell, the DJ, engineer, producer and composer behind the name Big Wild, is making waves by bringing an unconventional approach to his music. With hip-hop beats and instrumentals initially pushing him into the production side of music in high school, combined with the outdoorsy lifestyle Stell has recently adopted in California, Big Wild’s sound is very much a testament to its own name. Stell has toured recently with Odesza and GRiZ, and has currently sold out 13 of the 23 US shows on his spring tour. We got to catch up with this emerging young voice, and find out what has led him to where he is today and where he plans on going. Keep reading and check out the audio of the interview below!

What sort of music did you grow up listening to? I read in an interview that your dad played guitar on one of your songs, so I was wondering what sort of environment you were in.

It was very much kind of me just finding whatever music I was into. I was into a lot of random things, like movie soundtracks. When I was a little kid, I used to be really into surf music and I used to be really into funk music too; it was kind of just whatever kept me really interested. And then when I got into middle school and high school, I really got into hip-hop and that’s why I started to make instrumentals and stuff from there.

Big Wild. 

Big Wild. 

Why did you choose to go down the electronic path?

That kind of happened when I got into college. Electronic music was becoming more popular and it was like a whole genre of music. I started to really appreciate and enjoy a lot of the aspects of it, and I wanted to take my hip-hop background and make it a little more experimental and interesting, and basically just try a lot of new things. With electronic music becoming bigger, I kind of grew to like it more and I decided [that was] where I wanted to go with music.

Listen to Big Wild’s track Aftergold (feat. Tove Styrke):

When did you realize your passion for music could turn into a real career?

I knew I wanted to do music for a long time. After producing for a couple of years, I started to sell instrumentals to rappers. I was running a little business and DJing, and I was really enjoying it too. I realized that this is what I wanna do. I never knew for sure if I would actually be able to make a living off of it, but I knew I would try my best to make it happen.

You toured with Odesza- can you talk a little about that experience?

Yeah! Those guys were really helpful in kind of getting things going for me in terms of live shows, opportunities for songs, and releasing [music] through Foreign Family Collective. Touring with them was a really good experience. A lot of the ideas that I have now for my live shows kind of came from learning from those guys. They were super helpful and they’re definitely super good friends of mine now. We stay in touch and talk about music all the time.

So they helped you adjust to the touring life?

Yeah, definitely. [They helped] in terms of my show and also how to go about running a tour and making sure to have a good time and explore the places you’re going to and to, you know, make the the most of it.

Check out Big Wild’s CHVRCHES “Empty Threat” remix:

You talked a little earlier about your interest in hip-hop music. With Phife Dawg’s recent passing have you gone back to any of A Tribe Called Quest’s music as as far as inspiration?

A Tribe Called Quest was definitely one of my earlier hip-hop influences, and like love for hip-hop, but that kind of came later. [For me], it was local producers in the beginning who kind of influenced me. That being said, I was super into A Tribe Called Quest when I got into high school. I think [Phife Dawg] and A Tribe Called Quest’s contributions to hip-hop in general are really significant. I definitely did go back to A Tribe Called Quest and looked through their catalog [after Dawg’s passing] and that brought back a lot of memories from high school.

How do you find new music?

I explore random things on SoundCloud and see what people I’m following are liking or reposting. It’s kind of the way I find out about lesser or smaller known artists. I’ve been getting really into Spotify lately, too. I’ve always had an account, but I find [Spotify] is getting better at [allowing users to] discover new stuff. And also just word of mouth. I kind of have a really good group of friends whose musical opinion I really like. So if they recommend me any new music, I’ll check it out, and I try and reciprocate by showing them what I’m listening to. I find that actually is the most effective way to find music- through your friends whose music tastes you really vibe with.

Definitely. So who are you currently listening to?

Well I’ve been listening to them for a while, but I’ve been listening to Tame Impala and their new album Currents. But also, let’s see, I’ve been really into a lot of vocalists with interesting voices lately because I think that’s also where I’m trying to go with my production too. There’s a band called Reptar that I’m really into, a singer named Rationale in the UK, and I’ve just been listening to a lot more vocal music and figuring out how I’m going to incorporate that stuff into my own production.

So when you start making new music, how do you get over I guess the “writer’s block” so to speak when you get stuck?

That one’s tough. Sometimes I can actually get over a writer’s block if I just keep working every day on music and really just forcing myself to continue and keep pushing until I finally come up with something that really clicks with me, or I just hear something. But there [are] also times where I get out of a writer’s block just by hearing a new song or a new artist that’s made something that is totally different from whatever I’ve [recently] heard and I really like it, and then I’ll be like “Oh sh*t! Maybe that’s how I can combine, or maybe that’s how I can get over this hump, is if I use some of the ideas from this song or what that guy did with the vocals and the effects and stuff”. Just little inspirations like that really help. [Other times], it’s just taking a break for a week or two, and when you come back to it you feel really refreshed. If you keep trying to do the same thing over again, that’s when you start to get really stuck.

Are there any other artists or hobbies outside of music that influence you?

I grew up in a small town, and at the same time we’d always drive to go hiking and do a bunch of outdoor activities. When I was a kid, I wasn’t super into it, but at my age now, I reference those times just being outside. I think that really helps me, that really influences me to. I think it has really influenced my sound and the sounds I choose, too. I’ve just recently picked up surfing and I really, really suck at it, but I really enjoy it too. So it’s a good way to kind of take my mind out of the studio, and just go and relax and do something totally different. I also really like to cook, too.

Watch Big Wild's Spring Tour 2016 Video:

Are there any collaborations or projects that we can look forward to hearing from you in the future?

Yeah! There’s a new song I’ve been playing with a singer named iDA HAWK, who GRiZ actually did a couple of tracks with. I’m really stoked about how it’s coming out, and I’m kind of hoping for it to be the next single. I have a track with a singer named Nina that’s really cool too. I’m gonna be releasing stuff this summer and fall and a couple of more remixes as well that I’m really excited about.

Is there anybody that you’d to collaborate with in the future or any artists that you sort of have your eye set on?

Definitely that singer Rationale; I’ve been into his music for a super long time. Anderson Paak is definitely getting a lot more attention [now] which is very well deserved and I would love to make a track with that guy. He has such a cool sound.

He definitely does. I guess my last question would be, do you have any advice for those aspiring to make music?

Challenge yourself to make something different all the time and have your own, because that’s one of the most valuable things you can do in terms of learning how to produce, and learning to appreciate other styles, and to stick out from the crowd and have your own sound. If you make the same thing everybody else makes, it’s gonna be really tough for you. People wanna hear something that’s unique to you. You have to learn that. That’s the biggest advice I’d give to a producer.

Be sure to catch Big Wild in a city near you before he sells out!

Listen to my chat with Big Wild:

-Annie

Connect with me on twitter and instagram.

All photos per the author; embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.