Sunday, August 23, 2009

LA/OC band Retreaux Parish: Putting the soul in SoulCal

Retreaux Parish is a (relatively new) four-piece soul/funk band whose members inhabit both Orange County and LA. The members of the band give their thoughts about what to expect at one of its shows, who they would like to write and perform with, and what they might be doing if they weren't making music.

Give me the bumper sticker version (25 words or fewer) of Retreaux Parish's sound.

NICK: Step into the parish and you'll instantly feel the deep grooves that have grown out of Louisiana's rich musical soil.
MICHELLE: "We're About to Funk You Up"
ALEX: Building a funk oasis in a funk desert: Putting the soul back in SoulCal, dig?
JEFF: 1/4 cup of rock, 1/8 cup of blues, splash of jazz and a heap of funk. Shake well and hold on tight.

I'm a fan attending my first Retreaux Parish show. What can I expect?

NICK: When you find yourself at a Retreaux Parish show, you can always expect a high-quality performance that will pull you out of your seat and move your feet from the first beat to the final chord.
MICHELLE: You like Jambalaya? We got a crazy mix of different things goin on here, all simmered and sauced up, like a party in your mouth... but not in your mouth, in your ear?
ALEX: At the very least tappin' your foot and falling into the groove, at most to bust a dance move to impress some piece of ass; either way, you're having the time of your life and can't help but be in pocket with the scene.
JEFF: The unexpected. Leave your inhibitions at the door and get ready to go on a fantastic voyage. We've got a little somethin for everyone.

What is your pitch to get me to buy your music?

NICK: All of our music is available for free at this point, but we're planning to record a full album within the next year. The music should speak for itself based on the quality of writing and performance. Once you get your first taste of Retreaux Parish, you'll find yourself singing the tunes in the car and dancing in the office until you feel unavoidably compelled to purchase our CDs, party with us live, and hire us to perform at your special events.
MICHELLE: I don't believe in pitching the sale; if it makes you smile, we think you should show the love and support.
ALEX: Pitching is for baseball and doin' it in the backdoor (not that there's anything wrong with either). If you need a reason to buy our music, just listen...we got you.
JEFF: Includes free 1/2-hour lesson on how to access the Groove Spot! Seriously, just listen, mon ami.

What are some bands you enjoy performing with?

NICK: We are brand new on the SoCal scene, but we currently have plans to perform with Mad Jones. In the future, we'd love to play on the same bill with amazing artists as Soulive, Charlie Hunter, or, if we really manage to make a name for ourselves, legends like Sly Stone, George Clinton, and Stevie Wonder.
MICHELLE: n/a as of yet... put something about how we've been talking to, and are excited to play with Mad Jones and whoever else we've been myspace flirting with...
ALEX: Hypothetically, some local groups like Breakestra and Mad Jones, some bigger acts like Soulive and John Scofield if they'd have us once we get rolling properly. Also, prospects of more hip-hop and fusion oriented shows sound promising because we like to party.
JEFF: In the future, hopefully bands that are mindful of the music they create, and aren't just out to make a quick buck or feed the scene kids.

If you could write and perform a song with one artist, who would it be? Why?

MICHELLE: We're all gonna have different answers here. Nick is gonna say James Brown, may he rest in peace. Obviously you guys know how I feel about Janis, may she also rest in peace. I'm pretty sure it's safe to say "Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the charts..." I want Aretha. Or Patti. Or J.Hud.
JEFF: Prince. A little unconventional to say the least, but an extremely talented artist. Mad creativity.
NICK: I have to agree with Jeff and say that it would be amazing to write and perform with Prince. He has an amazing ability to create a seemingly endless stream of musically compelling compositions that appeal to audiences all over the world.
ALEX: It would have to be a funk ballad with Mr. George Porter Jr. (bassist of The Meters) in which we shake the people and ressurrect the deep funk, long forgotten.

What is one thing the band hopes to accomplish?

NICK: Like I said before, this is a relatively new project, so our short term goal is to develop a large body of exciting, original music that is fun for both the audience and the performers, allowing us to make a living purely as working musicians. We are working toward developing a reputation as a unique and appealing group of performers, exposing as many people as possible to our music, and establishing our name as a brand that we can use for merchandising.
MICHELLE: Make Music Not War.
ALEX: To play fun, authenticly good-feeling music that appeals to people from myriad walks of life; to produce grooves that make booty go bump bump bump.
JEFF: To bring a little flavor to the socal music scene. Not that it's completely bland, but a little Chachere's never hurt nobody

What would you be doing if you weren't making music?

NICK: All of the members of the band have always had music in their lives, so it's unlikely that any one of us would ever be in a position where we would stop making music in one way or another. However, we do have other skill and interests. If I weren't attempting to make a living as a musician, I would probable still work in the music world in some capacity, perhaps as a recording engineer or the owner of a performance venue. Alex has a background in science and medicine, and he is actually still in school working toward becoming a medical professional who can help provide health care to impoverished populations in other countries. Jeff already works in research and development for Toyota. Michelle studied theater at NYU who can still be see in local theater productions, and given her incredible talent and natural good looks, she would undoubtedly be performing and entertaining people in the theater or on camera.

MICHELLE: It's like that Friends episode... I think it was called "The One that Could Have Been"... Alex would be a Biochemist, discovering the secrets of coldfusion, Jeff would own a used car lot in Jersey making more money than God but living in the grossest state ever, Nick would be a Frank Zappa impersonator at Universal Studios, Maybe Vegas during the peak seasons, and I'd be archiving my blogs by day--making the next Sex and the City-esque series pitch--and masquerading as a she-caped crusader at night.

ALEX: Doesn't matter what I seem to get wrapped up in, music remains the only constant part of my life. Although, our alter-egos would likely be thus:
Nick -- After making a veritable fortune in online adult film market, invested profits in chain of rehersal studios/coffee shops in the greater Los Angeles area that are doing well.
Michelle -- Becomes a staple of the NYC theatre scene whilst engaging in aloof flings with various celebrities. Lives in the Village, obviously.
Jeff -- Develops the first production-viable electric car for Toyota, and in doing so solves carbon emissions single-handedly...unfortunately, he tricked out one of the cars and was last seen doing 205 mph in the Mojave Desert two weeks ago.
Alex -- Graduates medical school in the Caribbean, only to return to California to conduct the first government-sanctioned testing on marijuana's effects; it is legalized shortly thereafter.

JEFF: Nick -- Replaces Simon Cowell.
Michelle -- LGBT talent agency.
Jeff -- Tech support. Nuff said.
Alex -- Africa. Ganja.

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