The Urban Renewal Project
KICKING us through the week...
is The Urban Renewal Project. With the track, Shake Those Hips, out into the world, I was eager to learn how the song started life and what comes next; how they found one another and what sort of sounds inspire them – they highlight a couple of artists worth looking out for.
I wanted to know whether there are gigs coming up and whether the U.S. band will head to the U.K. at some point; how important Los Angeles is to the guys and if they get time to relax away from music – they end the interview by choosing a pretty cool track.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Really good, thanks. We're shooting a music video this week. It's been hectic, but fun.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
The Urban Renewal Project is a sixteen-piece band that plays an original blend of Hip-Hop, Soul and Jazz music; featuring a singer (Alex Nester), two rappers (Elmer Demond and Slim da Reazon) and a Big-Band horn section.
Shake Those Hips is your new track. Can you explain its origins and story?
After our previous release (21st Century Ghost, 2017), we were talking about the fact that all of the music we listen to, recreationally, has huge bass and drum sounds that really slap on a proper stereo system…and decided we wanted to make some music like that, which is a bit of a departure from the more Indie-Jazz production style of our previous recordings. Our band leader (R.W. Enoch) came up with this instrumental and we all agreed it sounded like a party track. We wrote some lyrics to match and the rest you can see for yourself in the music video.
How did The Urban Renewal Project get together? Was it a gradual formation?
It definitely took some time. The seed for the idea came from a genre-busting Jazz/Big-Band that R.W. had put together for his high-school talent show. Then R.W. met Elmer about ten years ago and they started working on songs together and putting Rap lyrics over this monster band. Since then, it's been a steady upward climb; slowly bringing in new people that fell in love with the idea.
How would you describe your sound? Which artists are influential to all of you?
Brass, bars and beats. The list of artists that could be considered influential to all sixteen of us is pretty small, but we've spoken a lot about the sound that A Tribe Called Quest achieved in sampling Jazz records for their Hip-Hop tracks and how Gorillaz has had a stream of number-one albums without having a clearly defined genre or personnel line-up.
You are based out of Los Angeles. How important is the city and its varied sounds regarding your music and creativity?
The effects of living in L.A. can't be overstated. It's even reflected in our name: The Urban Renewal Project. The idea being that we are taking these people and elements and combine them into something fun and unique. I think both L.A. and the band are greater than the sum of their parts.
Is there going to be more material coming from you down the line?
Definitely. We just dropped another single, Red Eye, inspired by the international tour life that we've experienced over the last year (available on all platforms) and we have quite a few more tracks that we're working on for later this year. We're working towards releasing an E.P. called Love. Glory. Duty. Death.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Our trip to Jakarta to perform at the Java Jazz Festival was definitely a highlight. We've also had some really good times at SXSW in Austin, Texas the past two years.
Which albums from all of music mean the most to the band (and why)?
Man, now we're narrowing it down from artists to individual albums!? Probably the only thing we could all agree on is Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
We should tour with Wu-Tang and roll in about a dozen luxury coach buses just to accommodate all the people.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Keep your axe to the grind and never give up. A game-changer could be right around the corner.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
We have a bunch of dates on the West Coast of the U.S. this summer.
Saturday, June 8 – Pasadena Block Party (Pasadena, CA)
Friday, June 21 – Tooth & Nail Winery (Paso Robles, CA)
Friday, July 19 – TGIF Concerts in the Park (Carlsbad, CA)
Friday, August 9 – San Jose Jazz Summer Fest - Main Stage (San Jose, CA)
Saturday, August 10 – Neck of the Woods (San Francisco, CA)
Sunday, August 11 – Carson City Jazz & Beyond Festival (Carson City, NV)
What is life like on the road for a sixteen-piece band?! Does it bring you all closer together?
Total chaos but, yeah, we have some great times on the bus and hanging out in the places we get to visit.
Might you come to the U.K. and play some time?
It's high on the wishlist!
IN THIS PHOTO: The Magnettes
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Two bands we've met on the road that we really liked are Hyberbella and The Magnettes.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Unfortunately, not really! We all have incredibly busy freelance or solo careers outside the band that we barely have time to sleep. But we're all really into cinema.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
King Geedorah – Take Me to Your Leader
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