Four piece band, Aabaraki, from Brooklyn, New York, describe their music as, “Reduction. Stutter. Funk. Reducing the music to its bare essentials, deconstructing each facet, till it is but a dull and throbbing shell of its former self”. The band has been playing together for two years and has an EP with a variety of tracks that they enjoy playing at gigs in New York City.
Guitarist Brian Forbes is a co-owner of Brooklyn’s The Gallery Recording Studio, and has toured with hip-hop rock band The Nillaz, playing on Warped Tour 2005 and at Madison Square Garden. Akie Bermiss, a self- taught jazz keyboardist has opened for George Clinton. Aaron Steele, drummer, has toured Europe opening for Jamiroquai and bassist Ari Folman-Cohen comes from a jazz heavy background and has shared the stage with Avante Jazz great Bobby Previte and opened for Patti Smith.
We talked to Aabaraki and learned more about their music, how they became musicians, and how they deal with stress.
First of all, how did you guys get your band name?
Well, the very first time we all met and played music together happened to be at a recording studio our guitarist Brian Forbes owns in Bushwick. It was very informal and we literally were improvising songs on the spot... and it was AMAZING!! We started documenting it right there and then and the way Brian had been labeling recording sessions at his place was by an amalgamation of the names of the people playing. Our names Akie, Ari, Brian and Aaron became Aabaraki...and it stuck.
How have you persevered to get where you are today as musicians? What struggles have you faced?
There are definitely a lot of obstacles to overcome when you commit to a life of music and try to really get your sounds out to the public. It can be the financial strain of getting a project really out into the public via tours PR photos and albums or the simple fact that on tour you WILL need to drive for hours upon hours upon hours to get to where you need to go for the next show. Also, there can be the strain on personal relationships that sometimes comes from knowing you have to prioritize music most times over basically anything else that’s going on in your life to get what you are working on to the next level...That being said it’s really hard to view anything related to what we do as an obstacle as music is such a labor of love. I mean, we spend our lives traveling and hopefully getting people to get down and have a good time! I can't think of a more fulfilling way to spend your time than that.
You have a unique funk / soul genre. What have been some of your major musical influences?
As a band we definitely run the gamut as far as influence and as we write all the music in a process that includes everybody equally we think it comes across!! I would say the backbone of where we all come from is Soul music, both older and modern Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, D'angelo ETC...From there though we listen to bands and music as diverse as Tears for Fears, Busta Ryhymes, Screamo music, Steely Dan and Experimental jazz...That's a pretty basic playlist of a regular day in the tour van. Naturally this music seeps into the music we write and out comes what we like to call Alt-Soul.
I see that your band is based in New York. How has big city life influenced your music? What’s your favorite venue?
Half of the band was born and raised in New York, Brooklyn and the Bronx respectively, so the New York life is deeply entrenched in the vibe, energy and sound of the band. Maybe the biggest influence is the eclecticism of New York, where you can see and play the best examples of the styles of music just listed in the above question...you can't help but be changed by living in a city like that. As far as favorite venue Rockwood Music Hall has been really great to us as a band and is one the finest places to see, hear and be around music in New York City.
I understand that you enjoy touring and playing shows. What are your favorite ways to de-stress while on tour?
Just being able to goof around in the van and seeing the sights of whatever city you are in is a good way to chill out on tour.You have to make sure you balance the road hardships with an equal amount of downtime and fun, like it’s a half vacation half work experience..Sometimes it goes a little too much in one of those directions and you gotta reign it back in!
What is the craziest thing you’ve had happen at one of your shows?
One time we were playing a Residency we have every year in the Caribbean, it’s a great time for us to chill out play music and really write a bunch of new songs. People tend to get a little rowdy at the venue we play at and the time there was an older woman REALLY having a good time, dancing up a storm and stone cold drunk. She was getting down with everybody she could on the dance floor. About halfway through one of our songs she decides to do some crazy dance move that literally picks her up into the air and plants her face into Akie’s keyboard... knocking over the whole thing as well as the microphone stand and leaving the bar quiet and confused. Akie quickly picks up his keyboard and starts making up a song on the spot about what happened...That song turned into our newest single DanceShee!
Do you have any good luck rituals you do before a show? If so, what are they?
Hmmm... we just chill out, put together a set list and get ready to hit!!
What’s one random fun fact about each of you?
Each one of us could school basically anybody on Star Trek, Star Wars or any Sci-fi trivia... Shhhh, don't tell anyone, they'll think we're nerds!!! ... Probably because we are... haha.