‘We are like DJs, just with live instruments’

By Oojal Kour Dhanjal - June 5, 2018

‘We are like DJs, just with live instruments’

Dutch brass band Broken Brass Ensemble on their music and how they hold a crowd without vocals.

They don’t make ’em brass bands anymore. At least not like this. Come June 9, Bangalore, India​ will witness Broken Brass Ensemble​, a Dutch brass brand performing in the city in association with Johnnie Walker – The Journey​.

Ask the eight-member band to describe themselves and they promptly reply, “Brass music 2.0 / 8-headed brass monster”. To have an indication of the range of music they listen to, here’s a round-up: grindcore metal, heavy funk and hardcore hip-hop. But they share a common love for brass and jazz.

Ask them what they look forward to doing while here, they say they’d like to try out “the tasty Indian food”. They love to travel and Japan is one country they’d love to visit sometime soon. Here are excerpts from a short Q&A.

Introduce your lineup.
Hendrik, the sousaphone player, is the steady bass(is) of the band, with PK, the drummer next to him being the happy-go-lucky guy with machine-like grooves. Percussion player Reinaldo is always happy and energetic and turned out to be a good rapper too! Trumpet players Luc and Joel are different as day and night and not only in posture and energy. Luc is all over the place, jumping and running, where Joel is laidback and steady. Sax player Nick won’t shut up. Ever. So that’s makes him the perfect guy to do the talking. And he’s an incredible sax-player. Trombone players Arjen and Sjors like to lay down the heavy brass. On stage, they are the swinging backbone of the band.

We noticed that your track Captain Gaia has two official music videos. What gives?
We can tell you an awesome story, but it’s nothing more than having two videos to choose from and just deciding: we’ll release two videos! The more the better.

Any pre-concert routine?
Not really. Just joking around, drink a beer or water, getting ready to play the best show possible. The drummer and percussionist get their arms ready by playing on a drumpad. One thing every horn player does, is warm-up the lips to be able to play for 1-2 hours.

The biggest problem you face on stage is…
Getting the right mix of playing a energetic, hyped up show with playing the right notes. To play a brass instrument it requires ‘good’ breathing to play in tune and when you’re all over the stage that’s more difficult. But with 500 shows under our belt in 5 ½ years, we know how to get this done.

It’s rare that musicians hold a crowd only with music and no words or vocals. You tend to attract a niche audience. According to you, what are you doing right?
We’re there for the crowd, for the people. We want the crowd to have a good time and our main goal at every show, even after 500 shows, is to have the audience go wild. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have vocals. DJs do it every night, our method is not different, only difference is we do it with live instruments. By the way: we play more pop-festivals than jazz-oriented festivals, on the bigger stages, and the music and performance always get the crowd going.

What’s your setlist going to include?
All the crowd favourites, the hits, the hip-shaking tracks, the love songs, the songs for the girls, the songs for the boys. And that’s only half of it.

Your dream collaborationss would be with?
A track with Kendrick Lamar​, Beyoncé​, Snarky Puppy​, Trombone Shorty and Max Cavalera​.

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