Maybe it’s because lead vocalist Kacey can sing– or saaang, as they say. Maybe it’s because the band is comprised of incredibly talented musicians that play big and play hard. Maybe because as a whole they have exciting musical chemistry and look like they have a lot of fun. Whatever it is, Black Alley is the first soul/R&B outfit to capture my attention in quite a while.
Calling their music “Soul Garage,” the seven member band merges jazz, rock, funk and soul to create a sexy and electrifying sound. And live, they look like one of the most dynamic bands on the scene—check out their YouTube channel!
As they prepare for their first Toronto show at this year’s NXNE, Black Alley spoke to the Winehouse about all things music! Check them out. Chaka V.
Q: How did the band come together?
Animal (Drummer): Everyone was handpicked to be in the band by our manager Omar [Kashif ] and myself. We had a vision for the look, sound and brand of Black Alley, and everyone–individually–had such a dope vibe, and are all dynamic musicians that collectively they brought the vision to reality.
Q: What influences, styles, or eras does Black Alley draw from musically?
Hope (Keys): We are influenced by so many of the eras that had great timeless music, which is pretty much from the ‘70s to now. Artists that influence us include Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, Nirvana, Aaliyah, Outkast…there’s just too many to name.
Mack (Keys): Yeah, exactly! To put it plain, our musical influences come from pop, rock, hip hop and go go (Washington, D.C. music culture). We package all those genres into a format that works for Black Alley–we call it soul garage.
Q: For those who are not familiar with the Black Alley’s sound, describe it for them?
Josh (Bass): I like to define our sound as THE SHIT!!! [Laughs]. It’s all around feel good music. When you listen to us you will feel free. We welcome everyone to our world! All shapes, sizes, colors, and hoods! Everyone comes together and rocks! Like Mack said, we call our music soul garage…best way to explain it, is hood rock meets underground pop.
Q: Who writes Black Alley’s original music?
Kacey (lead vocalist): Everyone is involved in creating our music–from band members to our creative director. We also like to keep things fresh by taking advantage of the opportunity to work with some amazing songwriters outside [of] our band. All together the ideas, concept and vision from the band is what’s important when creating our music.
Q: The band has said that “The band is one, each musician surrendering to the union of sounds.” What is the key ingredient to maintaining this collective?
Kacey: Collaboration! We bounce ideas off of one another often. It’s necessary! We have to make sure that everyone is comfortable with what we present as a band and that we hear and try all ideas.
Hope: Also, knowing each other’s strengths and building around them for the greater good of the music.
Q: What has been Black Alley’s career highlight thus far?
Josh: Damn that’s a hard one…there’s so many. For me it would have to be opening up for Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, and Raheem DeVaughn at the Summer Spirit festival 2013. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD!! Fifteen thousand people rocking with us at one time! I will never forget how that felt.
Animal: Yep…agreed. That was a dope show.
Hope: For me, I think the highlight would be performing with hip hop legends like Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte, Talib Kweli and many others at the [DC] Emancipation Day concert. The energy from the audience was very captivating and inspiring.
Q: What is Black Alley’s dream venue to perform in?
Josh: Madison Square Garden!!!
Kacey: Any sold out arena. We want to play for the masses.
Hope: My vote–Madison Square Garden.
Danny: MSG [Madison Square Garden] for sure. And also the White House.
Q: Has the band performed in Toronto before?
All Band Members: Nope!!
Kacey: But we are ecstatic about the opportunity. Shout out to NXNE!
Q: What should Toronto music fans be prepared for at BA’s show?
Ant (Lead Guitarist): Toronto music fans can expect a unique mix of powerful vocals, percussive grooves, rock guitars, and lush keyboards. Add a dash of something special from DC, a ton of passion, and you have a Black Alley performance.
Animal: Just be prepared for a cranking energetic good time. Bring your dancing shoes and get well acquainted with BA because we’ll be around a long time. Don’t wear any socks because we are gonna rock them joints off.