'Prepare For Lift Off!'
Four80East is En Route with native language debut!
This past April 24th, 2007, Four80East released En Route, the
band's first new CD in over four years. Titled En Route for its constant flow of groove and momentum, the duo's highly anticipated Native Language Music debut puts a fresh, jazzy, and ambient spin on the eclectic textures of their past work to create a collection that's all at once spirited, sensual, and remarkably cinematic.
Four80East is the brainchild of Toronto-based remix producers Tony
Grace and Rob DeBoer (collectively known as Boomtang). Inspired by the acid
jazz/groove movement that was flourishing in the United Kingdom, they
launched their Four80East concept in the late '90s as a cool, creative
side project geared towards a loose, improvisational dance vibe. Over the
last decade, as chill music established itself as a genre of its own, their
jazz-inflected urban trance music-first dubbed "trip-jazz," now known as
"Nu Jazz"-became a global phenomenon. With En Route, Grace and DeBoer
continue on that path.
En Route opens with a moody ambience and slight blues sway on the soulful electronica of "Five By Five." After the funky dive into "Noodle Soup," Four80East heads into the trippy, film score darkness of "The Drop," which blends avant-garde jazz guitar and trippy sound effects over a sensual groove. "Double Down" takes a plugged in, postmodern view of the traditional jazz quartet, with cool and chaotic high hat and drums mixing with Jon Stewart's smoky tenor; Stewart also adds a punchy solo to the soul-influenced "Been Too Long." "Closer" serves as a late night seduction song, with sexy wordless vocals drifting over dreamy synth textures.
The groove picks up on the next two tracks: the energetic jazz/pop
fusion-flavored title track and the spacey electronica/jazz gem "51
Division," before the chill takes over again on "Don't Look Back" (with
DeBoer's crisp guitar lines circling Bryden Baird's silky trumpet tones)
and the haunting, shadowy "Easy Come, Easy Go." Grace and DeBoer wrap En
Route with the Eastern-flavored, electric guitar-driven number "Waterline."
The first single from En Route is the thumping and hypnotic "Noodle Soup," which is fashioned as a hybrid dance, trip, and jazz track. Four80East's old school soul and jazz influences are front and center with DeBoer's remarkable jazzy guitar and piano riffs jangling playfully over Grace's irrepressible beats. "Noodle Soup" has already earned a nod for Best Original Song at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, scheduled for April 2007.
Four80East is also nominated in two other categories, Best Group Or Duo and Best Keyboardist. With the release of En Route, Four80East is also planning an extended live tour for the first time. The longtime studio act has received strong accolades for its handful of live performances over the past few years, at the Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival, the Uptown Jazz Festival in Toronto, and the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, among others. For dates and more information, visit www.four80east.com
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences
growing up and how many still factor into your music today? Tony Grace - "I starting playing drums when I was around 11 years old and the guys I played with tried to play a wide range of stuff from Dylan to prog-rock greats Genesis and Yes. In those early days, music was less about personal choice and more about just learning the drum parts. As I moved into my teens I started listening to my older brother's (Paul)
records. He's 10 years older than me and his collection was really eclectic. He also was getting into DJing so he had all that disco and new wave stuff as well."
"That's when I discovered artists like Ian Drury and the Blockheads, Nick Lowe, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson, and all that great stuff out of the UK from the late seventies and eighties. On the jazz/experimental/fusion/hiphop side of things it was Weather Report, Deodato , Chuck D, George Benson, early Kool and the Gang, Steve Reich, and so on. I only really got into the jazz heavy weights in my 20's. I think that's because I had just started taking formal drum lessons and began to hear the music differently. I began to realize how and why these cats were so great."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your impressive debut native language CD, how would you yourself
describe your sound? "It's two parts funk, 3 parts jazz , all layered on top of coarsely ground bed of groove. No. I'm just kidding. I have no idea really. I used to just call it contemporary jazz but
soon realized that doesn't really capture it either because Four80East has a much stronger electronica/dance element to it than what is being called contemporary jazz. Now I like to call it nu-jazz because it sets up the listener's attitude better. I mean they aren't quite sure what to expect with a title like that. They go into the experience with fewer
Your album title 'En Route' is an interesting
choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for
you? Is there a theme to it, perhaps? "We originally had the name "fourthcoming" as a title but it just sounded a bit
awkward. En Route became the other all-purpose response to our fans who were wondering when the new record would be finished."
Also, please reveal to us just where the bands name originates from? "It came from the address of our old studio at 480 Richmond Street
East. We wanted it to sound more universal so we removed the "Richmond Street" part."
How easy (or hard) is it to constantly create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? <>"It can be tough if you start thinking about it that way - that you're
trying to surpass something or trying to "better" the last effort. Rob and I learned early on in our careers to avoid that self imposed pressure. Otherwise you'll be second guessing everything you do.
So just focus on the artform and have enough faith in your abilities and
artistic sensibility and just let it flow."
As a duo, where exactly did the nickname "Boomtang" come from?! "The name originally came from a short story my brother Paul wrote.
There was a character in the story with the name Boomtang. I liked it because it reminded me of the kick/snare sound "boom-tang". Also, boom was a word for "cool" or "hip" and tang was short for "thing" so it had the
possible second meaning of "cool thing". And it looked great as a word logo. So we called the label Boomtang Records and when we got into the thick of remixing, clients began referring to us as "The Boomtang Boys"."
Knowing that you've been nominated in three categories at the upcoming Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards this month, I'm wondering what you think your chances are of a clean sweep?! "I've lost money in the past trying to predict the future so I'll stay away from that one. I will say however that, if I had money, I'd put it on Rob for best keyboardist. Go Rob!"
If asked for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "Except for the charity part, we did exactly that back in 1998 with our
first Boomtang Boys release on Virgin. We covered Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself", Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now", T Rex's "Bang a Gong", Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time", and Vince Clarke's (Yazoo) "Only You" . The other half of the record was originals."
Lastly, and throwing in a comedic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Working in today's music industry, Rob and I often feel like those mighty penguins, huddled in the cold, windy darkness waiting for a break in the weather. Penguins have the
strongest backbone in the world. We love 'em !"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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