LowDown Brass Band (LDB) deftly synthesizes the gritty sounds of Chicago with the high energy, second-line street beat of the Crescent City. LDB brandishes a powerful brass frontline of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, and a funky backline of drums and sousaphone.
Combining the poetic ferocity of Billa Camp with stellar vocal harmonies, adventurous improvisation, movement and grooves, LDB creates an infectious and diverse sound that has something for every listener.
Since their appearance at the 2017 Chicago Jazz Festival, LowDown has maintained a constant performing and touring schedule throughout North America. In 2015, LDB released an ambitious project titled LowDown Sounds that included a critically acclaimed cameo by Roy Ayers on the track Everybody Loves The Sunshine.
LowDown Brass is now set to begin its next chapter with the release of their fifth self-produced full-length studio album, LowDown Breaks. This new offering steps deeper into refining their unique sound, combining the hip hop sound with multiple world music and jazz styles.
N’DIGO recently spoke with the band to talk about their new project and how they keep the momentum going.
N’DIGO: Who were your musical influences? Who were the artists that made you want to pursue music?
It’s really all over the map with us. Being such a large group that has a pretty varied repertoire, we’re drawing on influences from all over the world – from early indigenous tribal music to European classical to modern EDM and right on to hip hop.
When listed, it seems almost schizophrenic, but somehow there’s a thread that ties it all together. Three of the first cassettes owned by the band were Beastie Boys’ License to Ill, Run DMC’s Raising Hell, and The Cars’ Shake It Up, so maybe it all started there.
How did you guys come together to form the band?
Chicago is a hub for “cats” from all over. Amongst the jazz scene, misfits generally gravitate towards each other and this situation was no different. What brought us together was not only a fierce love of New Orleans music (and beer) but also the urge to compose and create our own sound, our own voice. Since Billa Camp arrived a few years ago, the game has really changed.
What are three songs in your entire discography that you’d recommend to anyone who’s never heard your music before?
Believe it or not, all three are all off the new record. I like the stuff we’ve done in the past, but this album really captures our spirit and where we’re headed.
1. 2nd Line Hop – The opening is a direct tribute to the intro of the Midnight Marauders album by A Tribe Called Quest. There’s literally a definition and explanation of the album and what to expect. The tune is a mash-up of 2nd Line and hip hop. It’s all there.
2. Cold Shoulder – Crisp flow and tight horn riffs. It’s a real head-bopper featuring Billa Camp and Chicago hip hop legend Ang 13.
3. Dividends – Featuring the vocal talent of Shane Jonas. We like to think of it as a glimpse of LowDown’s pop sensibility.
What can listeners expect from the new album, LowDown Breaks?
A real album, not just a collection of songs. Really good production, done in house by Laelo (sousaphone) and evil collaborators. Great vocal and lyrical performances over solid songwriting. We’re really proud of this one.
Do you have a specific formula that you use or routine you follow as far as creating music?
Not at all. Maybe we used to…kinda…but not really…but that’s changing, sooo…definitely no.
How do you guys manage so many personalities, whether in studio or out on tour?
“Personalities” is a nice way to say egos. We’ve got eight to 10 Type A’s waiting to pop-off at any given moment. We try to keep the ones who are particularly surly or dehydrated tied up in the back of the van when traveling. While recording, we multi-track in five different locations to ensure personnel separation, which increases the overall recording budget by 400 percent, but we think it’s worth it. Seriously though…we just smoke weed!
What’s something people would be surprised to know about the band?
We actually have a Christmas album out there.
Best advice for young artists?
Write your own stuff. There are a lot of really exceptionally great and amazing cover bands out there that nobody’s heard of. Be a spectacular failure. Take a chance and stick your neck out there in a big f—–g way. Set goals and work really hard. Really, really hard. Find out what that means and how to do that.
Favorite quote or affirmation?
“I have all my needs coming with speed.” – KRS-One
What’s next for LowDown Brass Band?
A new video for Dividends, which should be out any day now, spring and summer travel, a new 45 this summer, another full-length in 2019, and who knows what else! We’ve been working in lockstep with our stellar publicist Fiona Bloom of The Bloom Effect and she’s really upped the ante for us and our exposure. We really just hope to continue on this trajectory and in the meantime, hunker down and do the work. “No rest for the wicked,” as they say.
(LowDown Brass Band played downtown Chicago’s Untitled Supper Club at 111 West Kinzie back in January in support of their album, LowDown Breaks. For more information on the band, visit www.lowdownbrassband.com and follow them on all social media platforms at @lowdownbrassband.)