Brass tracks

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 17 January 2019

Josh Holcomb, a member of Lucky Chops, New York-based brass funk band which is performing in the city tonight, talks about their love for Indian music and culture, cross cultural collaborations and the popularity of brass instruments

New York-based jazz brass band Lucky Chops is touring India for a three day concert in collaboration with Johnnie Walker The Journey. 

Johnnie Walker The Journey is an effort to bring to light various talents from across the world who have been on a journey to achieve their dreams. As part of the event, Lucky Chops is starting their tour from Pune today (Jan 18) followed by Kolkata on Saturday and Hyderabad on Sunday.

Lucky Chops began as a group of high school students at LaGuardia High, playing in the streets and subways of New York City. The band’s energy is fuelled by their desire to share the healing and inspirational power of music with others. Some of their well-known albums include  NYC, Virtue and Vice Sessions Vol1, Walter- EP, Danza 2016, Eye of the Tiger etc. The band members are deeply fascinated by Indians and their love of music. They sometimes perform the song Tumhi Dekho Na in one of their mashups with other songs. Josh Holcomb, one of the band members, tells us more: 

- Is there awareness about brass music today? How would you describe your music?
Brass music is in the midst of an awesome resurgence throughout the world. The advent of the internet age has brought musical cultures closer, including brass traditions in countries spanning almost all continents. I think the unique sonic power of brass instruments stands out before people as an alternative to electronic music which can sometimes lack that ‘live’ quality. Also, the fact that brass band music is generally all instrumental in nature leads to more of a global following, since everyone can understand the language.

- What are your feelings about performing in India and how do such musical tours enrich you as artists?
An artist’s art is the sum of their experiences, so culturally enriching experiences like this are everything to us. It’s a dream come true. We’ve always wanted to go to India, so when we were invited to come play, we jumped at the opportunity! 

Johnnie Walker The Journey is a festival of inspiration. Every note and every beat you experience here at the concert, is envisioned to encourage you to keep walking in your quest for personal success and we couldn’t be more happier associating with that. It’s truly amazing. Growing up in New York City, we were exposed to music from across the world, including Indian music. We’ve even performed at Indian weddings and at Holi festivals in NYC early on in our career. We’ve been lucky enough to have played across several continents and we always try to learn about local customs/music from each country we visit. All of those experiences are added to our musical soup and help to shape our sound.

- India and America have such diverse cultures and traditions, however the love for music remains common. Do you find any similarities between Indian music and brass funk music?
We’re big fans of brass band music played at Indian wedding baraats. It’s a rich tradition that fuses traditional Indian melodies with British military brass band instruments. Such a great sound! There are tons of YouTube videos of these great bands out there and we want to help raise awareness of this great musical style. 

Indian music to me has a way of taking melodies to beautiful and unexpected places. I can’t help but smile every time I hear an Indian melody. Besides that, I think there are similarities in the rhythms of both Indian and American music. The drum grooves of both cultures, while played on different instruments, often speak a similar language. It’s very meaningful to relate rhythmically to other cultures.

- What are your thoughts on cross cultural musical collaborations? Are you planning to collaborate with any Indian musicians?
Since we’ve announced our Indian tour, we’ve actually received many collaboration requests from Indian musicians! We are hopeful to make some of them happen, stay tuned. I think cross cultural musical collaborations are the future of music and a beautiful thing. We all have something beautiful to learn from one another!

- You have been quoted as saying that you play a lot of neglected instruments. What made you say so?
We can only speak as Americans, but in our country the instruments we play are very hard to come by in popular music. We’re hoping to remind people how beautiful and how much fun these instruments can be. Beyond that, playing instruments gave us the opportunity to live our dreams and travel across the world. We want to expose the next generation to the joys of playing instruments in the hope that they too can then live out their dreams.

- With the advent of internet and YouTube, how has the trend of recording albums changed?
While recording albums still remains a very artistic experience for creators and listeners, the trend has definitely shifted focus to singles from albums. It’s rare to listen to albums straight through any more and YouTube/Spotify etc are designed on a singles-centric model. 

This is not necessarily a bad thing as singles are generally less of a time/financial investment than albums are, meaning artists can create more and grow their careers at a faster pace than traditional album cycles.

- Apart from the Indian music, what is it about this country that attracts you?
I grew up in a Sikh neighbourhood in New York City, so spicy Punjabi food runs in my veins. We are excited to try all the food we can. Also, being in Mumbai over the last few days, I have to say I am blown away by how friendly people are here. It is very beautiful and inspiring.

ST READER SERVICE
Lucky Chops is performing tonight at Playboy Beer Garden, Pyramid Complex, North Main Road, Koregoan Park, 8 pm onwards. Tickets available on www.bookmyshow.com

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