Brooklyn nine-piece power-funk outfit Turkuaz has been blowing up on the scene in the past few years—and if you’ve ever seen their live show, you know that “blowing up” is not much of an exaggeration. The group bring the energy to every stage, with a classic-funk presence consisting of impressive musicianship paired with subtle choreographed dance moves and not-so-subtle color-coordinated flair. After forming at school in Boston and honing their craft following a move to New York, the band embarked on a heavy touring schedule that has helped them further sharpen their spectacular stage offering.
You guys have gained a lot of traction over the last, I would say, couple years. Can you talk about how that’s affected your crowd, or the places and shows you’ve played?
Dave Brandwein: For us, since the beginning, slow and steady, which I personally really enjoy. It’s like one person at a time tells someone they know, and they come back, and they bring more people and that’s kind of what it’s about. It’s nothing overnight, and it’s just hard work.
Chris Brouwers: Build real fans.
DB: Exactly, lifetime fans.
Greg Sanderson: That’s how you have a career in music.
ChB: And they come to every show they are available to come to, and it’s great.
DB: A lot of people traveling to multiple shows and following us around and stuff, which is cool to see. Of course we like moving up to bigger and better venues…
Craig Brodhead: But it’s very gradual—I think it’s very different from the outside when you’re looking in. But when you’re doing it, it just seems like the same thing. Sometimes you look around and like “Oh! This is better!” [Laughs] I think that it’s been good for us that the trajectory has been [gradual]. Every time, we’ve been adequately prepared for when we had challenges, and if we would have had certain opportunities earlier, we wouldn’t have done as well. I think that being gradual has helped us to rise to the occasion on those situations, so I just want to keep doing that and hopefully just continuing.
GS: Eventually we’ll get to the top most of the top most.
So you guys are Brooklyn based. Are you individually from Brooklyn?
DB: From all over. We met in Boston, most of us, at school, but then very shortly after we formed, we did move to New York—about six months later or something like that. Not the exact lineup. At the end of school, we moved to New York for a couple years and kind of incubated, just played local shows and solidified our lineup and then in 2012 finally started touring steadily all the time. We’re both [motions to Garett] from Long Island, actually, then Cleveland [Brodhead], Truckee, CA [Brouwers], San Francisco, CA [Shell], Connecticut [Sanderson].
CrB: Got one Canadian in the mix [Shira Elias].
DB: That’s so weird that she’s Canadian. Like, really? You’re from another country ? She’s from Vancouver, she’s a—whatever—a Vancouverian.
CrB: We’re all from the north, though. We’re all over, East, West, but we’re all northern.
DB: We’re a yankee band! Bunch of yankees.
You have a very theatrical show, which I think adds to how great your live show is. Was that something that came in early?
DB: That was the very first show. Yeah, we all wore white suit jackets and did dance moves at our very first show!
ChB: Well the horn section had black button-ups and gold bowties.
SG: You guys had capes…
ChB: I have my bowtie, I think I have two or three bowties.
SG: Let’s take it back! Old-school Turkuaz!
DB: Yeah I think between Stop Making Sense, the Talking Heads film, being a big influence, and that really rare Ohio State video of Sly & the Family Stone—some combination of those two things—from the beginning it was like, “This is definitely gonna be it.”
GS: That’s the way we want to present ourselves!
DB: A visual spectacle as much as audio.
SG: We like to hit all the senses.
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