Sometime around their non-Cali debut in Austin for SXSW, Rehes sat down with another Bay Area group on the rise: Grillade and even brought us an album sampler for download.
Grillade [gree-YAHD] presents the very delicious mixture of Bay Area based rhythm section The Park, San Francisco dwelling producer Keelay, and Portland bred songbird Ragen Fykes. Some of my favorite artists from the west coast have joined and I just about can’t hold it together any longer.
The group blends soul, hip-hop, and funk with The Park’s trade live band groove that leaves you yearning for more. And more, and more, and…yeah.
Talent abounds. Ragen’s voice, while sweet and soothing, still carries a control that lets you know she can be bad as she wanna be. The Park approaches music with a very natural and communal ideology, making you feel like it’s everyone on stage having a party. Keelay’s humble genius provides the backbone with tight production that just makes you want to clap your hands, even if it’s Wednesday.
Also, just in knowing these folks as down to Earth as hell and extremely eager to create and grow, I already see the beginnings of an incredible chemistry brewing.
This same chemistry left Ragen feeling herself and raging at one SXSW performance so hard that she might have forgotten who she was for a little second. Or a long second. We forgot who we were too – shit. Homegirl got it in. I haven’t seen The Park or Keelay get lost in the music like that before either – and I’ve seen those fools hella times. Explosive.
So how’d these folkers get started anyway? Like, who? What? Where in the frick did they come from and how do they even EXIST?
Answers and MP3 After the Jump
Well, Keelay’s aaactually from Idaho or Utah. Yeah, Utah. Mormons and stuff. And he basically got started in the music thing wanting to be a DJ, bought a bunch of records, then changed his mind and decided he wanted to make his own shit and play mad instruments. How we doing there, pal? Piano and guitar and drums and what, you said?
Josh (bass) and Derek (drums) of The Park have been playing together since the tender yet awkward age of twelve back in Sacramento. What’s even more awkward is that Derek used to take tap dance lessons; at least that’s what led him to playing drums, though. Anyway, after growing up into big burly men (not really), Josh and Derek met this Canadian named Ben (keys) while in college at SF State. This is also when they made acquaintance with young (but manly) Kee.
Mother to possibly the wittiest little dude ever, wearer of the most inventive tattoo I’ve seen (I’ll let you figure it out yourself), and a true sentimental, Ragen finally decided to listen to the music ‘placed inside her heart’ a few years ago by dropping the 9-to-5 paper chase. I think she might have actually taken Derek’s heart when he tripped and fell onto the stage in the middle of her Holoscene performance with Ohmega Watts in early 2009. Ragen and Keelay previously virtually “worked” together on track with Donwill from Tanya Morgan, but shyly only admired each other from afar (nerds). Derek made the intro and a little chit chatter later, Grillade was born.
“The dynamic of the group is AWESOME mixed with a little bit more of AWESOME,” says Ragen. Now we ain’t so shy, eh? Mmmh.
“The concept has been pretty simple, honestly: ‘let’s make what we feel,’” explains Keelay. “Wherever the music takes us,” adds Ragen. Straight natural west coast hippie vibin’ with it – just like I said earlier. I’m the boss. Or psychic.
The organic approach has not surprisingly yielded “a wide range of emotions and sounds,” notes Keelay. Getting together the ‘ten-ish’ songs for the debut album should be an interesting process no doubt. Indie to the core (aka no budget), Grillade is counting on the innanets and iChat conferences to help with some of the heavy lifting.
While silly and all about fun times, Grillade is serious about its work and creating solid tunes for the world to wiggle to. From a production standpoint, Keelay poses the timeless challenge of being “musical and digestable” at the same time for himself. “I really want to just make stuff that people respect yet at the same time understand,” he shares, citing Ryan Leslie, Timbaland, and the Neptunes as successful models he looks up to.
The group debuted its work to a non-local audience for the first time this year at Austin’s SXSW. Many memories were brought home.
For Kyle, his highlight was the Karma Lounge showcase (the one I mentioned earlier). “That was the one time the whole trip we were really able to showcase what we are about as a group… the one show [where] we had a full set and were able do what we had came there to do,” he recalls.
Ragen remembers pitbulls on 6th Street at midnight, the Wallpaper show with free Taco Bell (okay, word), and that “freaking DJ Quik” was “EP.IC.” FYI.
The Park was totally stoked about the mansion from the 1800’s they all stayed in. They also mentioned a fancypants BBQ turned accidental-takes-the-cake-showcase-that-everyone-Tweeted-about-and-that-I-wasn’t-at aka the Petermann’s BBQ.
So yeah, in case you were ever worried about Grillade going too hard and passing out – fret not; Derek ensures the boho left coast hydration of all bandmates by slyly converting them all to kombucha addicts.
P.S. Ragen kindly requests of the universe that in all this very serious music-ness, she not go crazy and can pay her rent. Thanks in advance. Also, Keelay said something about gas masks that I don’t really understand. But for good measure: gas masks, gas masks, gas masks. Hi.
Grillade MP3 Sampler Mix: [MP3]
1. Grillade - Dream Of You
2. M64 X Grillade - In The Pocket Remix
Rehes is Seher Sikandar, a Bay Area-based photographer and writer who covers music, art, and lifestyle events. Check out her work at rehescreative.com.
We Bay We Boogie is a regular Giant Step column featuring artist interviews and profiles by Seher Sikandar.