Exclusive Interview: Brand New Heavies Move ‘Forward’


by Jennifer Parker

Famed London acid jazz group the Brand New Heavies are set to make heads turn with their latest studio record in almost seven years, Forward, which drops tomorrow. Jan Kincaid, Simon Bartholomew and Andrew Levy, as well as original vocal contributor N’Dea Davenport and Dawn Joseph, a new vocalist, create a high energy funk and soul groove with a twist of disco. If anything, BNH is indefatigable – they’re constantly touring and always on the road. Check out what Jan Kincaid had to say:

On getting back in the recording game after an almost seven-year hiatus:

We were really motivated by a sense of frustration. We had been on the road for a long time and were reinventing our business, changing management, and many of us were starting families. So we were extremely productive. We have a live album but a studio record was long, long overdue. We were more than ready to go forward, but our frustration was the motivating factor. The title of the album is a reflection on moving forward into the new millennium. We’re the same band, but this album is a fresh outlook. And it’s uplifting.

On people’s different reactions to funk music:

You can see a lot of new people coming into funk, especially a lot of young people. It seems there’s a lot of interest in NY, especially in the Afrobeat scene. But it’s mainly young people interested in the music – it’s accessible, dynamic, exciting, and people can feel it. If you look at today’s pop music and alternative, funk is the antithesis of that. As much as people want to plug into the matrix and be a part of the machine, there’s a lot of people who want something more real.

On the new record:

On every record we do, we’re refining our sound. I feel this is the best record we made since Shelter in ’96. I think that was our last really strong album. Don’t get me wrong – we’ve had releases with strong records and singles, but this is the strongest thing we’ve done in years, and we’re really proud of that. There are things on there that sound like they were made back in the day; some things that sound slightly changed. We also have Dawn Joseph who delivers old material in great way, too. Jan Kincaid sings on two cuts, as does Simon Bartholomew. And there are loads of instrumentals. There’s something on here for old fans and new ones, too.

On aspirations for the upcoming year:

Our goal is to tour this year, and keep putting our music out there. The new stuff’s being well received wherever we’re going. So for the indefinite future, we’ll just continue to tour and continue to put to put out albums. We’ve all got little projects on the go, but ultimately we make music. This is our day job.