By Matt Wickstrom
Turkuaz is led by front-man Dave Brandwein on lead guitar, who shares the stage with bassist Taylor Shell, guitarist and synth-master Craig Brodhead, saxophonists Greg Sanderson and Joshua Schwartz, Michelangelo Carubba on drums, Chris Brouwers on trumpet and keyboard, Sammi Garett on tambourines, and Shira Elias on vocals. Brandwein, Schwartz, Garett and Elias sing in the group.
Turkuaz formed while most of the group’s members were attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. Soon after co-founder Brandwein’s graduation in 2008, the group relocated to Brooklyn.
“If you can craft your show to the point where people in New York want to see it, then it’s something that people most places would probably like to see,” Brandwein said.
In the years since moving to the Big Apple, the group has taken off, playing more than 150 shows a year and selling out venues across the country. Elements from Brooklyn’s rich culture and music scene, most notably funk, have also manifested themselves in Turkuaz’ sound.
“There’s a big emphasis on analog recording, vintage instruments, and old-school, dirtier kinds of sounds in Brooklyn’s indie rock and funk/soul scenes, which crept its way into our sound as well, even though we didn’t have a focus on it early on,” Brandwein said. “Our last record (Digitonium) was more of a shift away from that and into the modern, synthy, digital sound, but it’s been cool to explore those different colors and add them to our music over time.”
The group’s latest release “Digitonium” is a monstrous 24 tracks of raw funk, blended with disco and afro-pop influences. Surprisingly, most of the material for the album was newly written and recorded exclusively for “Digitonium,” according to Brandwein, with only six tracks having been already written, and only four having been performed live before.
“It made for an interesting process of learning to play our own album, because we’d done most of it in the studio and never performed it live,” Brandwein said. “It provided us with an opportunity to do a lot of experimenting on the fly in studio, taking parts that worked well and piecing them together. It made for our favorite album thus far.”
With spring and music festival season just around the corner, Turkuaz is beginning to unveil some of its festival destinations. In recent days, the band announced it will be performing at the Peach Music Festival, as well as the Werk Out Music Festival from Aug. 4 to 6 in Thornville, Ohio, alongside several other bands that have brought their talents to Lexington in recent months.
Those aforementioned groups include The Werks, Dopapod, The Mantras, SassafraZ, and Mister F, which will be back in town Feb. 23 at Cosmic Charlie’s with Aqueous and Broccoli Samurai.
Turkuaz will also return to the bluegrass state with Ghost Note next Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Madison Theater in Covington.
As for what Turkuaz’s plans are when festival season comes to a conclusion, Brandwein said the group is already anxious to jump back into the studio.
“We’ve already begun writing new material, we’re just deciding on when the right time is to release something,” Brandwein said. “We may try to get another live record out sooner rather than later. Hopefully sometime this summer. We’d also like to get back to working on another full-length album. We’ll probably get back in the studio this fall to work on that to be due out sometime in 2017.”
Check out Turkuaz’ set list from Wednesday night below.