Q&A: TURKUAZ DISCUSS ALL THINGS BROOKLYN AHEAD OF THEIR THREE-NIGHT RUN AT BROOKLYN BOWL

Brooklyn’s Turkuaz — Dave Brandwein (guitar and vocals), Taylor Shell(bass), Craig Brodhead (guitar and synths), Michelangelo Carubba (drums),Greg Sanderson (sax), Josh Schwartz (sax and vocals), Chris Brouwers(trumpet and keys), Sammi Garett (vocals and tambourine), and Shira Elias(vocals) — released their second full-length, Digitonium, last fall to a fair amount of love from critics and fans alike. And the fun-loving funk army keeps it local this week with three shows at Brooklyn Bowl on Thursday,Friday, and Saturday. Ahead of their arrival, the band checked in withKnockdown Alley about all things Brooklyn.

You’ve got a three-night run coming up at Brooklyn Bowl. What are some highlights of playing here in the past?
Dave Brandwein: We’ve had some really special shows at Brooklyn Bowl. We opened for the Funky Meters there years ago. And since then, we’ve done two monthly residencies. At the end of one of them we did Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen with our friends from Dopapod. That was a good night!

Josh Schwartz: I mean, Joe Cocker’s Woodstock performance of “With a Little Help From My Friends” changed the course of my life through the television screen when I was a wee lad. Getting to channel his soul for a whole set at my favorite venue was a dream come true for me.

And what are you most looking forward to upon returning?

Josh:
 Getting set up and comfortable Thursday afternoon and then not having to load in or out until Saturday night.
Shira Elias: Hometown plays are the best. All your friends come, you know the lay of the land, and it just feels like … home (obviously).
Sammi Garett: And most of our friends and family haven’t seen our new Digitionium stuff, so I am excited for them to hear it live.
Dave: We’re also doing a tribute to the Band on Friday.

Michelangelo Carubba: And the special sit-ins we have planned are really exciting, looking forward to making some funky decisions onstage.

What’s your favorite thing to eat at Brooklyn Bowl?
Shira: Hm … the fried chicken would be a bit predictable, wouldn’t it? I had these dope fried artichokes last time with a super yummy aioli.
Sammi: But man, those knishes!!
Josh: The knish is absurd.
Dave: Knish
Michelangelo: Whiskey

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Turkuaz

Credible bios are supposed to be objective and not full of superlatives and hyperbole, but it’s hard to avoid gushing when the subject is a funk army of multi-instrumentals and singers that is part freight train and part tyrannosaurus rex, who—even on an off night—can blow away a room on the basis of sheer physics alone. That’s one way to describe Turkuaz, but it doesn’t address the music. In this regard, as with any band, influences are everything. One cannot escape them as one seeks to carve out a unique sound for themselves. Still, there are so many benefits to having Sly & The Family Stone, Rick James, Parliament and Bohannon in your record collection. With this as the basis for a recipe, Turkuaz adds healthy doses of jittery, world-pop-power groove—reminiscent of Remain In Light era Talking Heads—and a passion for Motown and R&B, resulting in a refreshing twist on the funk idiom. Turkuaz certainly does have sheer size in their favor, but when broken down into the basic components, each stands out on their own. Founders Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell had the cream of the crop to choose from at Berklee, but making it happen as a large touring ensemble takes more than chops: it takes the right blend of personalities. When Turkuaz takes the stage, the chemistry is clear. The special combination of elements—singers in sequined dresses, guys in tails (or sometimes all of them in jumpsuits or other complimentary outfits) horns, keys, guitars, amps and drums and smiles all around… well, it’s easy to get caught up in the explosive auditory and visual circus and find oneself dancing. Despite all of the gear and people on stage, it becomes clear that it is not the size that matters here: it is the performance.