Q & A: Turkuaz
It’s hard not to notice Turkuaz. Their colorful outfits, choreographed dance performances, and energetic stage presence is part of the equation. Nine performers on stage who have grown together in vans, busses, green rooms, and studios is another. A lot is going on when Turkauz performs, but it doesn’t come off as gimmicky. It comes off as a cohesive collective that knows how to stay out of each other way musically, communicates effectively, and throws a wildly dynamic and full sound through the speakers.
Think of 9 people juggling while doing figure eights on a unicycle in a confined space. Now imagine those people not only keeping the balls in the air but passing them back and forth to each other winking and smiling without skipping a beat. That’s what it’s like to have that many musicians on stage. Turkuaz makes it look effortless. When about half the members of Turkuaz first came together as a band at Berklee College of Music, they had raw, punk rock energy at first. Once the group moved to the Burroughs of New York City and added the rest of the lineup, their sound blossomed and matured, flowering into a dense nugget of dome-denting funk-flavored power rock. Harsh environments create some of the most robust organisms, and Turkuaz had to push hard to sprout through the concrete of the city streets.
Check out the Q&A between Brian Turk of GrassRoots Gazette and Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz:
BT: How does funk fit into your sound?
DB: We pull from the dramatic side of funk. It's a very, lively, active, and busy sound. We have a lot going on. Since the start, we wanted our shows and recordings to be really vibrant. We have explored theme albums, and our lyrics sometimes have other-worldly themes. We are not funk purists.
BT: How do you create an organized sound from 9 musicians?
DB: We are always striving to get better at communicating. Our earliest stuff is the most chaotic. We were exploring without being held to any rules. In the years following we have tried to hone our craft more and utilize the arrangement pieces and all the instrumentalists in the band - in to do some more intentional and synergetic things. I am happy with our evolution. It has taken a lot of work, but the foundation is we are a group of players that really gel well together.
BT: How has New York City inspired your sound?
DB: From a writing perspective, it provides chaos and drama. A lot is going on here in NYC (as sirens wail in the background). There is a lot of input in the city, and if you absorb that, it affects the output. Our dramatic sound is inspired by the city. We formed in this environment, where there are a lot of bands, so we have always existed in a situation where we needed to stand out and be different. That was an essential factor in our original conceptualization of this band.
BT: How has the festival scene impacted your band?
DB: We naturally fell into the festival scene, and we built our following by playing festivals. The festival scene is one of the last real communities...it’s also another environment where you have to stand out. People are watching 10 sets a day. What are they going to remember? At the same time, you don’t want to come off as a gimmick. Our antics are the music. Sure, we incorporate entertaining aspects like our brightly colored wardrobe and a little choreography, but that's as far as we go. We are constantly interacting with other bands on the festival scene, and we are evolving by watching each other.
Turkuaz’s synchronicity onstage shows just how far this band has come. And their intentions are clear. Turkuaz wants to make you dance. They also want to stand out while doing it. You will be able to witness the sheer force of this hard-hitting funky 9 piece at Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance on Sunday, May 5 at 6:30pm on the Meadow Stage. Lace up your dancing shoes and prepared to get rocked!!