Hangtown Halloween Ball: Turkuaz has flavor of the Gap Band, Rick James, George Clinton

Turkuaz bigFor a festival that is built around dressing up in colorful costumes to dance and jam out with friends, Hangtown Halloween Ball Music Festival couldn’t have picked a more perfect band to hold down Saturday afternoon than Brooklyn funk army Turkuaz.

Hangtown Halloween schedule: LINK

With nine people in its ranks, Turkuaz is built to bring a barrage of deep funk that hits you from all angles. On its latest album “Digitonium,” the band utilized its many moving parts to create a dense sound that was layered in horns, synths, guitars and moved with the daring energy of a whirlwind night through the neon grime of New York City.

“We wanted to do something different. This record is a slight departure from our previous sound and our previous records. A lot of those are us playing into our soul and classic funk roots. So this next album, “Digitonium,” we wanted to kind of move forward with that. New sounds, new songs. It’s just kind of the next step for us,” said trumpet and keyboard player Chris Brouwers to Tahoe Onstage over the phone.

The popping bass and squirming synths on the album harks back to the digital frontier that funk music was exploring in the late 1970s and early 1980s. You can hear the natural correlation between Turkuaz and bands such as Parliament/Funkadelic, The Gap Band and Rick James, who helped to program that kind of digitized funk. Brouwers acknowledged the influences and said the band was listening to more ’80s-style, synthesized music that they all loved growing up while they were recording the album.

Not only were Brouwers and the rest of Turkuaz drawing on those funk influences to help shape their sound, but they also wanted to play with the same instruments. Brouwers said the band used a lot of different analog synthesizers to help create these sonic soundscapes in the studio the band could explore. Pushing themselves musically with this new equipment, not everything made in onto the record. However, the album is littered with small snippets of grooves the band took from the cutting room floor that connect all the songs into a cohesive world of sound.

“A lot of different people brought in little things that maybe we didn’t turn into an entire song where we wrote out lyrics to them, but it was some kind of groove or progression we really liked and we’d think about how to try and get this in and how can we use this on a transition. We put a lot of effort with transitions between songs. Like I mentioned, soundscapes — having continuity flowing throughout the album from one song to another. Those little musical interludes were a really cool way to do that we thought,” Brouwers said.

With most of the album written in the studio the band is eager to play these songs live. Turkuazis quite the force on stage and Brouwers, who grew up in Truckee, said the band is all about bringing that surging energy from the stage to the audience and making sure there is a party wherever its goes. Festivals are one of the places that nurture that spirit and Turkaz is always excited to play them. Brouwers mentioned the playing at this year’s All Good Music Festival in Ohio with the Everyone Orchestra was a festival highlight.

So how does Turkuaz intend to spend this year’s Halloween at Hangtown? Brouwers said the band is excited to be playing a festival such as Hangtown where the concertgoers love to dress up as much as the band does, and hopes to try and keep with the costume theme of the day.

“We’re a very colorful group and we always love incorporating stuff like that. We’ll definitely have to see what we can do. I know we did a Halloween event a couple years ago and we did the zombie thing. That was quite the mess with the fake blood and everything we had, so it was a lot of fun,” Brouwers said.

Hangtown Halloween

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Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.

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