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When last we caught up with ‘Nuf Said, the talented five (+) piece band currently based in New York City, they were gearing up for the release of their second album under Ropeadope Records, “Rise.”
The group plays a mix of Funk, Neo Soul, Jazz arrangements, and original compositions. Their impressive raw talent, combined with an honest love of experimentation and playfulness, imbues their music with an irresistible charm. “Rise,” which drops today, simultaneously showcases both their mastery of classic rhythms and grooves, as well as their willingness to explore the space beyond them.
If you’re in the New York City area (or even if you’re not, because they are worth the trip) you can check them out live at their album release show at Blue Note on Saturday, February 27th.
BTRtoday caught up with Ioana Vintu (vocals) and Andrew Gould (saxophone) to chat about the evolution of the album, a song off of it that resonates especially well with them, and fanning each other with cardboard.
BTRtoday (BTR): So your new album “Rise” just dropped today, congratulations! Tell me about preparation leading up to this point? Are you guys just super super excited?
Andrew Gould (AG): We are so excited about it! It’s kind of funny because I had booked the recording session for this album originally just as a way to set a goal for myself to write a couple of new tunes. I thought we would maybe get two or three new songs done, and it would be a demo recording and we would have some new material to expand on, or change up for sets. As time went on, I reached out to Louis Marks over at Ropeadope Records, and he really liked the band and was interested in a record deal. So this little recording I planned ended up becoming a deadline to record a whole new album. We spent the next few months leading up to the recording enthusiastically composing, arranging, and getting everything ready to go.
BTR: What was your favorite part about the making of this album?
AG: The process of getting the music together as a band was my favorite part. I think we all learned a ton. We would each come into rehearsal with a pile of ideas of how this tune should be, or what to do on this section or that… and somehow we had to find a way to agree on everything. It was rewarding to go through that process and hear it all at the end.
Ioana Vintu (IV): Also working with such an incredible visual artist like Jose Berrío was an awesome experience. We basically just sent him the music and some of our lyrics and asked him to go for it. He really listened to our music and came up with the perfect design. We call it “the burning baby” but I think it really reflects the spirit of the album in such a creative way.
BTR: Was there a particular vibe you were going for?
AG: I think we naturally gravitate towards r&b, jazz, soul and hip-hop, and that’s definitely the direction this album went. The vibe of the music has been evolving a lot over the past few years of touring and playing in NYC. When we finally took time to record this music we just went for what felt best, hoping it would all somehow come together.
IV: I think the music we recorded for this album really developed over the past two years. We have played so many different shows in so many different settings! We went on two European tours, we played in Canada and we played a lot in NYC, and I think that is definitely something you can hear in these songs.
BTR: Are there any songs that, for whatever reason, resonate especially with you? If so, why?
IV: I feel like these songs are a reflection of life through different kinds of relationships: friendship, love, spirituality. The lyrics are all inspired by real stories, feelings and fears. Living in NYC can be tough at times, so we have a lot to talk about.
The title track “Rise” has a special place for me. It was inspired by the tragic life of Amy Winehouse. When I moved to New York eight years ago, I started playing shows and some of the first songs we arranged were songs from her first album, “Frank.” It’s foolish to say, but I always had the feeling I would get to talk to her someday. I never thought her life would be cut short so soon. I really wanted to express that in our music video, so it makes most sense to include Amy in this project. The amazing animator/illustrator Miguel Rueda from Aguijonfilms is currently working on this awesome animated music video for “Rise.” I cannot wait to share it with the world!
BTR: How do you feel like your sound is evolving as you guys work together more and more?
IV: We are all part of different projects, the guys in the band are all running their own groups and writing and playing original music with so many various artists here in New York and in other parts of the world. I think that we are continuously learning from all these experiences and we get to draw from all of that when we get onstage with ‘Nuf Said.
BTR: We chatted last time about how you guys all met during friendly jam sessions — how do you guys translate that kind of feeling to your live shows? Is a lot of it improvised?
AG: A lot is definitely improvised. I think because we’ve been playing a ton, we know how to push each other and instigate new things to happen. We might make changes on the fly within the arrangements of the tunes and also when we stretch out for solos. It makes every show have some extra magic since no song is played the same twice.
BTR: I really love the video for “Nearness!” Tell me about the creative process and shooting for it. What was that like?
AG: Thank you! Well our buddy Simon Yu did a super amazing job not only filming but directing the video. He had so much creative input, and a great sense for how we could piece it together and make the most out of what we shot. Some of the “fake wind” that we used to make Ioana’s hair move in the video was actually me waving a giant piece of cardboard just off screen… a pretty hilarious and very tiring method [laughs]. Especially when I’m waving it for several takes right after one another and the song is over 5 minutes long! I think it looked a bit more authentic than the steadiness of a fan, and it came out awesome.
IV: We were also super thrilled to have an awesome dancer Patricia Nefertauri Carby play such an important part of the video. I have known Patricia for a few years now and I saw her one woman show in NYC about a year ago. I was so impressed that such a young and gifted dancer has ventured and put together her own show in the Big Apple. Having to organize tours and booking shows myself, I know how much work is involved and it was just refreshing and inspiring to see Patricia do the same thing with dance. I knew she would be perfect for the video.
BTR: You guys are going to do an album release tour this summer with gigs all over the world! Is there anywhere in particular you’re looking forward to playing most?
IV: We are still working on the schedule, but I have quite a few shows I am excited about. First off playing at The Blue Note for our CD release is a dream come true for me. I am also excited to see Japan for the first time. I think that will definitely be an adventure for us.