Self-described Afro-Funkers, Ikebe Shakedown, have the groove of a seasoned ensemble, though they’ve only known each other for about a year. Yet, in such a short period of time the band has performed in New York countless times and is currently hard at work on their new EP, “Hard Steppin.” What’s next? A California tour is just around the corner but before their West Coast excursion Ikebe Shakedown will perform with Wes favorite, Buru Style, in Westco Café this Saturday.
Via e-mail, the Argus chatted with trombonist, Nadav Nirenberg about the band’s formation, jamming with a large on ensemble, and performing for drunk Brooklynites.
Argus: Why and how did you decide to form Ikebe Shakedown?
Nadav Nirenberg: It was mostly through the efforts of Vince, our bassist. Most of our rhythm section met at Bard College, where they played in tons of different projects together, including an early version of Ikebe. After they graduated, they made the move to Brooklyn and I started jamming with them. Hearing the dopeness, I recruited the other horns (Morgan and Jason), and Ikebe was up and running.
Argus: What genre if any does Ikebe Shakedown fall into? How would you describe your music?
NN: We like to call our music "Hard-Hitting Afro-Funk"; music that makes you dance, whether you want to or not. We're focused on the sound/aesthetic of 70's African Funk and 60's American Soul, but always keep things noticeably Ikebe, as we define our sound.
Argus: How do you go about writing songs, lyrically and melodically?
NN: Our songwriting process tends to change from tune to tune. Sometimes one of us will bring in a fully formed idea, and we'll all read it down and make it our own. Other times it'll start with a groove, a bassline, a horn lick, etc. and we'll jam out some melodies. As far as lyrics, we're strictly instrumental as of now, though we're starting to add some simple chants to new tunes..
Argus: What have you been working on in the past year?
NN: A year ago we hadn't even met! Since then we've played a ton of shows all over Brooklyn/Manhattan, and have made a serious dent in the scene. Now we're starting to branch out, playing nearby colleges, doing some touring, etc.
Argus: Describe the experience of being in a large ensemble. How does a diverse group of instruments add to your music?
NN: We're lucky that all of our members leave their ego's at the door. We're all committed to playing the perfect groove, and take the art of songwriting very seriously (it doesn't hurt that we all have experience in large ensembles). Having such a large group also gives us more possibilities in our sound, like a painter using 8 colors instead of 4.
Argus: Who are your biggest influences?
NN: Always a tough question, but i'd say Fela Kuti, James Brown and the classic Motown/Stax recordings are the biggest influences in our music. We also listen to a lot of modern soul/afrobeat, sounds coming out of Daptone Records, Ubiquity Records, etc.
Argus: What has been your favorite performance so far?
NN: Rubulad! Rubulad is a huge underground party in Brooklyn with 3 floors of madness, including an amazing roof. Nothing like seeing a room full of drunk people deal with their fears of being busted by the cops by dancing as hard as they can.