Trains and Moonlight Destinies
Late-Night Heat: Black Masala’s Brassy Midnight Party Grooves from NoLa to Punjab on Trains and Moonlight Destinies
You want to have a good time? You need brass.
This is what DC’s Black Masala blasts to the world, harnessing all the good times sunk in the Romany, second-line, bhangra, and funk horn parts that have gotten huge swaths of the planet up and dancing. With rock drive and a willingness to be as weird and wonderful as the party demands, Black Masala woos fans and new listeners with Trains and Moonlight Destinies, a tribute to the ins and outs of love, fate, and wanderlust.
The band evolved from a duo project in drummer and vocalist Mike Ounallah’s basement. “I got together with a trombonist friend of mine because we were both obsessed with gypsy brass music from Romania and Serbia,” he recalls. They studied the repertoire, one that reminded Ounallah of his childhood listening to his father’s Arabic pop records.
It just got crazier from there. The duo expanded rapidly, finally finding a stable roster of skilled players and the instrumentation that captured the full energy of the music they loved. Along the way, they recruited versatile, gutsy vocalist Kirsten Long and everything from a tuba player to an electric guitarist.
They kept at the Balkan and Romany music, as “Chaje Shukaje” testifies, a cover of rousing number by Macedonian musical icon Esma Redzepova. They also expanded into new sounds, exploring other styles with brass at their core. “Once we got a full horn section, we could really dive into other genres,” explains Ounallah. “It’s a hodge-podge of influences, but our emphasis is really on the songwriting and an all-out dance party at shows.” Black Masala’s originals hit both elements head on, telling stories of powerful women, rascally dudes, raucous nights, and life on the road that are tinged with a hint of the fantastical, as the video for the title track reveals.
Pushing these tales forward are the horns, arranged by Ounallah and trombonist Kirsten Warfield. The horns add a slinky, strong, driving presence on our songs and play an upfront role in the songwriting,” Ounallah explains. “To play horns in Black Masala, you have to have your foot in a number of styles. We draw from anything that comes to mind so we’re fairly limitless in our approach.”
The stylistic openness can be heard all over Trains and Midnight Destinies. “Midnight Bhangra” takes cues from Punjabi-infused South Asian pop with a hearty dose of club music and synthwave, like Red Baraat jamming with Trent Reznor or Lazerhawk. “That’s my favorite track on the record,” laughs Ounallah. “We tracked each drum separately, working fast and just doing one take, each for a few minutes. We didn’t want any fills. Then we put the track together in an hour and added these spacey vocals,” over the bhangra bounce.
Sometimes, however, you need to slow it down to keep the party going. Channeling that universal poignancy of unrequited love, “Tell Me Again” plays that crucial role, a bittersweet answer to the slow dance. “We sat down at the piano in our rehearsal studio and came up with new harmonies and melodies, while we were playing around,” Long says. “It’s more melancholy, about missing someone and unrequited love. It’s downtempo but really driving with a groove.” Long, her voice always soulful, really digs in.
The whole band brings everything to their live shows, which have gained a bit of a reputation for their fever-pitched intensity. “We come out into the crowd, with horns surrounding everyone. We make the live show as interactive and entertaining as possible,” Long notes. “We’re always playing around with our songs, remixing them and working in covers,” everything from The Band to Gogol Bordello, “that we make our own. There’s something for everyone. Maybe you vibe with second line or funk or bhangra, but we try to make sure you can enjoy it all.”
“I love going to a show and being excited about it,” exclaims Ounallah. “I can’t wait for our shows, when we can get up there and just go wild.
I Love You Madly Remixed Volume 1
Washington, DC based Black Masala returns with the first Volume in their new remix release series. Volume One features DJ Inko, Omegaman, Lazarus Soundsystem, and Los Chicos Altos on Black Masala originals from their I Love You Madly LP. The EP cuts between deep bass lines, chopped up breakbeats, dance floor Balkan vibes, and hyper upbeat grooves to get you moving.
I Love You Madly Remixed Volume One:
Bhangra Ramo (DJ Inko Remix) Bhangra Ramo (Omegaman Remix) I Love You Madly (Lazarus Soundsystem Remix) Cool Breeze (Los Chicos Altos Remix)
I Love You Madly Remixed Volume 2
Black Masala enlisted the help of some great producers from around the globe to remix their recent album I Love You Madly. The band's multi-genre approach and wide array of musical influences provide a rich bed of sounds to rework the tracks and the results are seriously booty shaking.
Oh No What Can I Do has been one of the most popular and exciting new songs in the Black Masala live show and it gets two different remixes for this release. First up is New Zealand born producer and DJ Sammy Senior, and the result is a booming transition track which starts with ghetto funk beats and breaks and morphs into a drum'n'bass stomper by the end. Sao Paulo native and Royal Soul Records label boss Trotter has taken Oh No What Can I Do in a different direction, a laid-back ride full of funky horns, guitar skanks and dubbed out drums.
Rounding out the EP is some hometown love from Thievery Corporation's drummer Congo Sanchez and his reinterpretation of Sounds Of The Underground. Coming in at nearly eight full minutes, Congo Sanchez takes the listener on a sonic journey, which starts with some distorted basslines and heavy dub beats. About halfway through the track the tempo picks up, the horns kick in and the gypsy punk vibe of the original shines through, yet the twisted EDM synths and stabs keep the mystery going until the end.
The second volume of remixes from I Love You Madly offer a good mix of genres, sounds and moods – perfect for djs and music lovers alike. Black Masala has had a great time collaborating with all these great artists around the word to reinterpret our music and add their own influences. Coming soon will be I love You Madly Remixed Volume 3 with three more new remixes.
I Love You Madly Remixed Volume 3
Always innovating and exploring new musical frontiers has been the hallmark of Black Masala as they have made their mark in the last few years. Never afraid to draw upon new influences and genres, the band has also reached out to some amazing producers around the world to rework and remix their original songs. The I Love You Madly Remixed Volume 3 release showcases the eclectic and unorthodox sounds which Black Masala have become known for.
First up is Dutch producer Solo Moderna, himself known for pushing musical boundaries, and his remix of Haute Cultura. Drawing heavily upon the horns, percussion and guitar Solo Moderna has crafted a bizarre ride, and if close your eyes you can just imagine yourself in a bazaar full of colors and exotic scents. The remix will do well on the dancefloor, with its relentless Balkumbia driving beats and fun, playful mood.
Hailing from Victoria, BC is Canadian producer Palletz who recently dropped sick remixes of Fort Knox Five and See-I, among others. He has stripped down “Too Hot To Wait” and built it back up again, and the result is firing on all pistons! Nothing is off limits on Palletz' remix, and the beats and vocals get a full trap style reworking, with some funky breaks and builds throughout. The result is a high energy, bass-heavy banger which will do heavy damage in the clubs, such a fun remix.
Closing out the third and final volume of I Love You Madly Remixes is Spark Arrester, our good friend, promoter and DJ from Blacksburg, VA. Spark Arrester also remixed “Too Hot To Wait”, but took the track in a different direction altogether. This remix keeps the same Gypsy vibe of the original, boosting it up with additional drums, bass and effects. The horns of the original are featured throughout and this is a very smooth tune with a very laid back funk vibe.
Black Masala are excited to share these reinterpretations of their music with the world, taking their sound in new directions and incorporating a variety of styles. The third and final installment of the remix series includes genres as varied as Breaks, Funk, Trap and Balkumbia. This is the globalization of music and its a lot of fun, so enjoy the music and get down to these beats.
I Love You Madly
CD + Download Download
With great anticipation and excitement, Black Masala is ready to take their fans on the next musical adventure with their second full length album, “I Love You Madly,” Due out October 30, 2015! The title track “I Love You Madly” is the perfect track to kick off the new album, it’s hard to sit still while listening to this gypsy punk anthem. A fun and upbeat tune about unrequited love, “I Love You Madly” features the driving horns section that is a key part of the Black Masala sound. The band is known for igniting an irresistible dance party at their shows, and “Too Hot to Wait” captures this funky spirit. Featuring the sultry vocals of Kristen Long, “Too Hot to Wait” is full of deep grooves that spill out onto the street from the show and keep the party going. Always the cultural omnivores, the Bhangra brass grooves on “Bhangra Ramo” highlight Black Masala’s ability to absorb diverse traditions and work them into a brass heavy funk jam. One of the band’s real gems is trumpeter Steven C. who gets to shine on “Cool Breeze,” an Afrofunk track straight from the space age. Grab your drink and a dance partner for the blue collar vibes and irreverent swing of “Sounds of The Underground,” a fresh new sound reminiscent of the Prohibition era. Seeing Black Masala live in concert is the ultimate experience, and Kristen Long’s lead vocals on “Devil Sunset” have rapidly become a highlight of the live show. Her vocals and the amazing horn section weave together perfectly in this spaced out funk song that will keep you bouncing. While the band has branched out to include many new influences, the unstoppable Balkan brass energy of instrumental track “Haute Cultura” harkens back to the sound that put Black Masala on the map. The album finishes with a fun ode to the Big Easy; “Oh No What Can I Do?” is a funky love song about a cheating heart that feels like a New Orleans tent revival. On their second album it is clear that Black Masala are having a lot of fun incorporating various musical influences into their go anywhere Brass sound. Ranging from Gypsy punk, Balkan brass and New Orleans funk, to Bhangra and bounce, this is an album for the multicultural music listener. The heavy horns and danceable rhythms tie “I Love You Madly” together and create an album that can be played for a wide range of audiences.
All Songs written and recorded by Black Masala except *Bhangra Ramo - Black Masala and SLOBODAN ILIĆ BOBAN Recorded and Produced by : Scott Thomas Robinson at The Buzzlounge
Album Photo by: John Shore Artwork: Paul Elliott, Eightlimbs artwork Published by Black Masala Music Copyright 2015- Black Masala Music All Rights Reserved Contact: www.blackmasala.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Masala is: Mike Ounallah (Drums, Vocals, Percussion) Kristen Long (Vocal, Percussion) Duff Davis (Guitars) Yannick LePage (Accordion) Monty Montgomery (Sousaphone) Kirsten Warfield (Trombone) Steven Cunningham (Trumpet) Matt Rippetoe (Tenor and Bari Sax) Tomas Drgon (Guitars)
One of the hottest new bands to emerge from the Nation’s Capital, Black Masala,, release their self titled debut album! Pulsating Balkan rhythms blend with funky New Orleans horns, creating an original, soulful gypsy party. The vibe is infectious as the Tuba player roams the floor looking for dance partners, dancers on stage back bending to ska beats, while other bandmates are up on tables and chairs calling the crowd into the party!
The 7-track album represents Black Masala's coming out party to the world! Each member adds their own influence to the mix with vocal duties shared by Mike Ounallah and Kristen Long. The fiery horns are Matt Hotez, Kirsten Warfield, and Frank Mitchell Jr. of Thievery Corporation fame. The Tuba low end is none other than Monty Montgomery and the rhythm section is rounded out by Duff Davis on Guitar, Yannick LePage on Accordion, and Mike Ounallah on Drums.
In just over a year’s time, Black Masala have been busy hitting the road, bringing the sweaty dance party to the East Coast as well as to their home base of Washington, DC. All of these great shows are the inspiration for this album, which captures the live sound and feel of the shows.
"Feels the Same" is a ska flavored, horn-rich, upbeat song that leads into the soulful "Knockin’" featuring the funky vocals of singer Kristen Long. "One Last Drink" pops in next with pulsing Tuba and driving drums that sing of that “one last drink” that could carry you down. The vibe takes a little turn with "Bhangra V" seeing the band explore one of their instrumental compositions inspired by their love of Indian Bhangra music. The musical chairs continue with Black Masala's unique take on the famous Gypsy tune "Mesecina." The horn players shine brightly and the track ends with that sort of POP! you'd expect from 300 people getting sweaty in a small club. The somewhat meditative "Round and Around" closes out the record with a dreamy commentary leading into a complete guitar arsenal to take the listener off into another time and place. "Circus / Jeni Jol” follows as a bonus track of yet another original instrumental composition showing the band's effortless fusion of Punk, Gypsy, and Balkan music.
"Reflecting its members diverse musical backgrounds, the unholy love child that is Black Masala is at times equally raw, funky, and sensual as well as menacing and mournful. Whether you get your kicks from tearing it up at the club or throwing it down in the pit, the band refuses to disappoint."
For Fans of: Balkan Beat Box, Beats Antique, Gogol Bordello, Leningrad, Slavic Soul Party, DeVotchKa, Beirut, Red Baraat, and Luminescent Orchestrii credits released 04 March 2014
Produced by Scott Robinson and Black Masala.
Black Masala- The Remixes
Since releasing their self-titled debut album earlier this year, Black Masala has been busy performing, touring and recording new music. The group won two Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE awards for Best World Music Recording and overall Best New Artist of the year. Black Masala has quickly made a name for themselves with their eclectic and funky brass-heavy sound, performing at shows up and down the East Coast.
Three tracks from Black Masala’s self-titled debut album received remix treatment by some of the world’s most exciting and in demand remix artists. First up is Dutch producer Solo Moderna’s funky Balkumbia remix of “Mesecina”, a high-energy stepper to get the dance floor going. DJ Clairvo, from Budapest, takes the deep southern Soul of “Knockin” and drops the bottom out, adding funky beats and dj scratches. NYC based K Sabroso also reworked “Knockin”, pushing and pulling the track through a range of effects, creating a bass heavy moombahsoul monster! Popular tune “Bhangra V” received five different remixes, the first by Los Chicos Altos from Barcelona, Spain. Los Chicos Altos maximize the heavy horns of Bhangra V with a swinging beat and deep bass line to maximum effect. Sydney, Australia’s Omegaman has added his signature chopped up breakbeats and other effects to create a party rocking and DJ friendly jam. Originally from Bulgaria and now based in Cologne, Germany is Kosta Kostov, who has warped and twisted “Bhangra V” into a heavy, dance floor Balkan smash; be careful with this one! Miami’s Kinky Electric Noise originally hails from Colombia and that comes through in his remix, with an upbeat tempo, heavy bass boom and some killer percussion. Closing out this release is the deep, tribal house remix of “Bhangra V” by German producer Samuel Tegaro, a refreshing and surprising take on this great tune.
Black Masala is known for their music gumbo, a live and enchanting mixture of funk, Balkan, soul, brass, Gypsy, Appalachia and more thrown together. These remixes capture the essence of Black Masala, taking the band’s music into new and different directions like house, breakbeat, moombah-soul, Balkumbia and more. Music knows no borders and neither does the irresistible vibe of Black Masala. credits released 26 August 2014
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