Credible bios are supposed to be objective and not full of superlatives and hyperbole, but it’s hard to avoid gushing when the subject is a funk army of multi-instrumentals and singers that is part freight train and part tyrannosaurus rex, who—even on an off night—can blow away a room on the basis of sheer physics alone. That’s one way to describe Turkuaz, but it doesn’t address the music. In this regard, as with any band, influences are everything. One cannot escape them as one seeks to carve out a unique sound for themselves. Still, there are so many benefits to having Sly & The Family Stone, Rick James, Parliament and Bohannon in your record collection. With this as the basis for a recipe, Turkuaz adds healthy doses of jittery, world-pop-power groove—reminiscent of Remain In Light era Talking Heads—and a passion for Motown and R&B, resulting in a refreshing twist on the funk idiom.
Turkuaz certainly does have sheer size in their favor, but when broken down into the basic components, each stands out on their own. Founders Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell had the cream of the crop to choose from at Berklee, but making it happen as a large touring ensemble takes more than chops: it takes the right blend of personalities. When Turkuaz takes the stage, the chemistry is clear. The special combination of elements—singers in sequined dresses, guys in tails (or sometimes all of them in jumpsuits or other complimentary outfits) horns, keys, guitars, amps and drums and smiles all around… well, it’s easy to get caught up in the explosive auditory and visual circus and find oneself dancing. Despite all of the gear and people on stage, it becomes clear that it is not the size that matters here: it is the performance.
They call our city Nap because it’s the most slept-on city in America.
This is Native Sun’s answer to the question of how Indianapolis came to be nicknamed Nap Town. All too often, Indy locals lose faith in the spirit of their city and insist it’s named so because it’s a sleepy metropolis in the Midwest with nothing to do or see. This cultural crippling has subdued the drive to create in much of the city’s talent by bogging down artists with despair and leaving them with little hope for a chance to gain national recognition.
But the native sons of Native Sun have a different outlook on their city of Nap. It is their belief that Indianapolis harbors a wealth of talent, particularly in the vein of hip hop. Leading by example, the band envisions that traditional hip hop elements (compelling lyricism, dusty samples, dope beats) paired with the versatility of live instrumentation has the potential to create music that sounds like nothing before it.
Leveraging more than 20 years of combined experience as professional musicians and performers, B Meeks (bass), Sleepy (drums) and B Young (emcee) began to intertwine their musical backgrounds within the context of hip hop when Native Sun formed in 2008. The resourceful musicians draw from their familiarity in gospel, rock, electronic, jazz and soul, creating music that sounds much bigger than what one would expect from a 3 piece act. It is this solid foundation in live music (as compared to produced beats) that sets Native Sun apart from other hip hop groups.
Through their vision to be an example of success to artists in Indianapolis and similar places, Native Sun has earned a reputation as a first call backing band in the Indianapolis hip hop scene. They’ve had the honor of performing with Elzhi of Slum Village and DJ Logic, as well as opening for Foreign Exchange, Musiq Soulchild, Mayer Hawthorne, Black Milk and Muhsinah. After putting in more than 30 hours of grinding in the studio, Native Sun released its full-length debut album, Step Into The Light in August of 2012. Continuing to further push their creative limits, the band looks forward to releasing, The Undeniable EP and subsequent tour to follow in the Spring and Summer of 2014.