Ikebe Shakedown sounds like the soundtrack to the best 70s cult disco movie you’ve never seen. Their incredible blend of funky, cinematic disco soul will sway you down into a groove so fast you wont even notice your body moving to the beat. On their new album The Way Home, dropping October 20th on Colemine Records, the NYC-based septet deliver an upbeat, contagious, strictly instrumental escape into another world, and we’re stoked to premiere the entire thing right here for your thirsty ears. So listen up, and read our interview with the band below. It’s the perfect afternoon jam to cruise you through the week. –Maya Eslami
WHAT YOUTH: Hi guys. What are you all doing right now?
IKEBE SHAKEDOWN: Right now, as a band, we’re getting ready for the new release — finalizing videos, tightening up setlists for release shows. But we’re also working on new material for our next album. Nothing’s more inspiring than putting something out, and people’s responses to The Way Home have given us a little extra push to keep making new music. Plus, two of our members just opened their own studio, Hive Mind Recording, so we’re in a better position to put out new material more quickly than ever before.
Tell me about the studio! Why did you guys decide to go your own way on that?
Vince has had a passion for recording for as long as any of us have known him — stockpiling gear, researching acoustics, learning how to float floors — all of it. So starting a studio was a natural move for him, particularly doing it with Mike, who’s been around so much music, and their other partner, Billy, who played with Vince in the Charles Bradley backing band, The Extraordinaires.
The choice to make it an analog studio was never really in doubt. As Vince puts it: “Analog recording offers two unique benefits. The sonic imprint of tape is exciting because it introduces subtle saturation and compression into the record. Just as the graininess and contrast of film in the ‘70s could perfectly match the vibe of a crime thriller, so can the medium a record is made on today. Secondly, I strongly prefer a workflow in which there is an emphasis placed on hearing sound and not seeing it. When I turn off the computer, and eliminate the distraction of looking at waveforms, there’s a greater focus on performance and character.”
Who is all in the band?
There are seven of us: Barnaby Alter (drums), Dave Bourla (percussion), Mike Buckley (baritone and tenor saxophones) Vince Chiarito (bass), Jason Colby (trumpet), Nadav Nirenberg (trombone), and Robin Schmidt (guitar).
How did you guys all meet and start playing together?
Vince, Robin, and Barnaby all played soul, jazz, and instrumental groove music together at Bard. Right before they graduated, they decided to keep it going, and they linked up with Dave, who came up from NYC to play with them in a barn somewhere in Annandale on Hudson. A few months later, after everyone moved to NYC, Vince and Dave were playing in another group doing boogaloo music with Nadav, and thought he’d fit well with the the sound the rhythm section was putting together. Nadav knew Jason, and Mike came aboard after being part of another band with Vince.
Tell me about the new album, The Way Home. Was there any inspiration going into it?
Well, we were trying to write as much as we could. Since releasing Stone by Stone in 2014, we’ve all been through some personal changes: three of us had kids, a bunch of us were on the road backing other singers and bands. It’s the type of life stuff that a lot of bands go through, but doing it in the crucible of New York City has added a level of toughness and grittiness to us as a band, as we push towards a decade together.
So, every time we got together, we’d find ourselves writing a new tune. Sometimes, it’d be just a groove, and the melody would get written while walking down the street. Sometimes, it’d be the rhythm section writing using just guitar, having to make it work for horns later. But often the best material was stuff we were writing as a whole group, spontaneously, just letting our days wash over us as we made demo after demo. We’d refine over time, but these tunes carried all the joy, the pressure, the hustle, and the striving of living in NYC that we felt ourselves and as a group.
What was the recording process like?
For the first few albums, we’d gone into big name studios and tracked with engineers we really respected. All that time, Vince was learning how to engineer sessions, and we were all learning production techniques. So, this time, we went to a few smaller studios, including one Vince set up on his own, and engineered and produced the sessions ourselves. It’s exhilarating, but it can get overwhelming if you think about the fact that what’s put on tape lasts forever. So, we tried to get out of that mindset as much as possible and just have fun making music. And since we’ve been doing it together for so long, that was pretty easy.
What other musicians do you listen to on the regular?
One of the great things about being in a big band is that everyone’s listening to different things all the time, so we’re getting hit from all sides with stuff we wouldn’t find on our own. We all listen to plenty of late 60s/early 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, and Stax stuff. But if we’re in the bus, you’re as likely to hear the Phil Ochs coming from Barnaby as a Michael Kiwanuka or Margot Price record from Vince. Dave’s libel to throw on anything from Donald Byrd’s Street Lady to the new Vulfpeck album, and Nadav’s deep into Anderson Paak right now. There are also acts coming into record at Hive Mind constantly, so their own sounds and their influences are hitting our ears daily.
And if you could be the soundtrack to anything (film, event, anything), what would it be?
Probably some “Master of None” episode that delves into five different people each having a different culinary day in NYC. Some just going to their regular spots, some trying something new, some girl who’s trying to eat ramen when a dude is flirting with her relentlessly and she just kicks his ass with some incredible barb, or some dude drinking matcha on the subway during his commute, and he has to deal with rude comments from someone who’s making fun of his matcha, and he just decides that looking out the window at that mural you get on the Northbound Q leaving Dekalb—the Masstransiscope—is more rewarding. Damn. Really hope that show has a Season 3.