If you’re in a band with nine members — like, say, the Brooklyn funk band Turkuaz heading to Music on Main this Thursday — you have to set yourself apart somehow.
Each member of Turkuaz addresses that issue in live performances by adhering to his or her own monochromatic color scheme. You can easily spot the leader — vocalist and guitarist Dave Brandwein — because he’ll always be wearing blue. And he has amassed quite the collection of blue items over the years, even wearing blue-tinted prescription glasses.
When Turkuaz released its old-school punk EP “Stereochrome” in 2015, band members felt it was fitting to dress in a black-and-white sartorial palette. But when they revisited their feel-good funk sound on “Digitonium,” they reverted to full color. They haven’t turned back since.
“The colors have been a useful tool in highlighting each band member for their individual contribution amongst the rainbow of the band’s sound,” Brandwein said. “It’s easy to lose track of what each person is doing, and I think that really stark visual representation helps the audience to decipher and delineate between the things going on.”
The vibrancy of Turkuaz’s aesthetic goes hand in hand with the band’s sounds, which are always experimental and energetic.
Brandwein is joined onstage by his bandmates Taylor Shell on bass, Craig Brodhead on guitar and keys, Chris Brouwers on trumpet and keys, Greg Sanderson on tenor sax, Josh Schwartz on baritone sax and vocals, Sammi Garett and Shira Elias on vocals and Michelangelo Carubba on drums.
“I’m always looking for opportunities where each person can shine in the studio, and I’m co-writing with a lot of band members, too,” Brandwein said. “So different people kind of come in and out at different times in the recording process.”
Brandwein described Turkuaz’s sound, succinctly, as “power funk.”
But it’s more than that, with dashes of R&B, psychedelia, New Wave and classic rock, along with contrasting male-female harmonies anchoring the melodies throughout. The guitars dance around with the funky horn arrangements and ’80s-inspired synths.
While band members were making Turkuaz’s most recent full-length record, “Life in the City,” they tried to embrace their capacity for sonic grandeur. In the end only nine out of 20 songs they wrote made it onto the record.
But Brandwein said they just couldn’t bear to let the unfinished tracks disappear into the void of obscurity, so they didn’t. They’ve been reworking them since, and the first batch was released in the form of their “Afterlife Vol. 1” EP earlier this year. The second will see the light of day on “Afterlife Vol. 2” which will be released in July.
“It’s an eclectic mix of songs, so much so that I thought that this sort of catch-all bonus track EP was the best place for these songs to live,” Brandwein said. “It’s really good to get these out and let people hear them.”
Brandwein said that, as a large band, Turkuaz draws from a range of influences — Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelic, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Genesis and Prince, to name some.
“It’s really quite a quite a mix of things going on,” he said.
But one of the most seminal influences for the band is the Talking Heads, whose keyboardist and guitarist, Jerry Harrison, worked with Brandwein on “Life in the City.”
Working with such a large group makes it hard to ignore Turkuaz’s infectious stage presence at the band’s live shows. Those headed to the free concert at Victor (Idaho) City Park on Thursday can expect to dance.
“It’s a high-energy show,” Brandwein said. “It’s loud and fast-paced, and it’s exciting. It’s definitely a party atmosphere.” ￼