Photo By Connor Olthuis
Since forming in 2010, Toronto-based jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD have released three albums, played international festival stages, helped score RZA’s kung fu flick The Man With the Iron Fists, and served as the weekend band-in-residence at Coachella.
And yet, even with their robust CV, the band—Matthew Tavares (keys/synth), Alexander Sowinski (drums) and Chester Hansen (bass), who met as college classmates studying jazz—has only just begun to reveal the breadth of their talent. Their third studio album III, released in May, shows the group’s progression from the loose, energetic Gucci Mane and Odd Future covers that helped launched their career to a more polished yet experimental sound.
“The first two albums, we kind of just jammed and didn’t think anyone would listen to them,” says Tavares. “We just made it and put it on the Internet. With this being original music, we had a rough idea that people would be listening to it, so we had to make it as good as possible. Also, we had the luxury of more time and resources to do it, so that made us put way more effort into writing and every part of the process.”
The result finds BBNG’s talented players going further off the cuff, retaining cohesion while bringing a range of soul, funk and psychedelic music influences into their sonic palette. All those and more will come to bear on the next album, a collaboration with Ghostface Killah called Sour Soul, set for release in February.
“The album is inspired by classic soul music,” says Alex, referencing Serge Gainsbourg, The Beatles, and Marvin Gaye as inspirations for the LP’s “lush, moody vibe.” “I think we just kind of started thinking about soul songs and how we could do other ideas, like shoegaze or psychedelic soul, as it came further along. We wanted to make it feel really rich, with vibraphones and string arrangements and horn sections and all this kind of stuff. Really make it feel like its own piece.”
That last part is extra important, considering Ghostface will have released two albums accompanied by two different instrumental outfits (Adrian Younge and The Revelations) by the time Sour Soul is released. Yet the group sounds confident their own project will stand out; after all, they still have so much more to show.
“Having heard the Adrian Younge album and the stuff that we’ve done, I think we are kind of proud of the outcome,” says Tavares. “All the other producers and arrangers working with Ghostface is incredible. We are just three people trying to create our own ideas and with different feelings. I hope it all stands and speaks for itself.”
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