Friday 11 November 2016

My Trippin' Mojo: "From Edda's Garden to the World" [Interview]

Following the runaway success of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ album in 2006 there was a huge number of artists and bands who embraced the “retro soul” aesthetic: Raphael Saadiq and Mayer Hawthorne scored big with their respective projects (‘The Way I See It’ and ‘A Strange Arrangement’) but there was also the rise of bands like Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (the architects of the revival), Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators, Dojo Cuts, amongst many others.

What many of these bands have cottoned on to is that continuing in this tradition of soul music isn’t about replicating styles from the 1960s and 1970s with the benefit of digital touch-ups – as Daptone Records’s Gabriel Roth once put it to Sound On Sound: “sometimes mistakes are what make a track sound great. Music should not be perfect or correct. When we play and when we record, we're looking to find what makes us feel good.”

And now adding to this legacy of authentic and “feel good” soul music, we head to Leipzig, Germany, and the sounds of My Trippin’ Mojo.  Formed in 2014, this relatively young band have already delivered an exceptional debut album that is on par to seeing them positioned with the aforementioned names and torch-bearers for contemporary soul music.  Inspired by the achievements of the current crop of soul sensations like Sharon Jones, Lee Fields and Charles Bradley, ‘Edda’s Garden’ draws its passion from late-60s and early-70s funk and soul with an incredible vocal talent in Sabrina Bormann that breathes the full range of tenderness and fire into the band’s brilliant soundscapes.

So many of the songs boast super rich sweet mid-tempo grooves like ‘Unconditional Love’, ‘Think Twice’ and the first single ‘Make ‘Em Pass’ while songs like the instrumental ‘Nice Girls With Cool Cars’ and ‘Desire’ features the band practically oozing their funk-filled swagga all over the record.  This isn’t just a good record, it’s a great record and in a year with a lot to choose from this is definitely an album you should own.

We were thrilled to catch up with My Trippin' Mojo bass player, Johannes Riedel, to discuss the new album, the significance of the album's 'Edda's Garden' title and the influences that brought them to the dance.

IMRAN MIRZA: How did the members of the band come together to form 'My Trippin Mojo'?
JOHANNES RIEDEL: Marcus [Unger, saxophone and rhodes], Christoph [Mengel, guitar], Manuel [Loschner, trumpet] and I played some years together in the freestyle combo Mengoolious Funk. As I started to build up my studio, we started focusing on writing songs and spent a year searching for a voice. Luckily we met Sabrina [Bornmann, vocalist], so we kept on fine-tuning the songs and the sound became what it is now.

Which artists would you cite as having the biggest influence on the band's overall sound?
We are all big fans of Charles Bradley and, personally, I am addicted to the old, raw tape sound. That's how I came to Daptone [Records] and especially Gabriel Roth’s idea of doing recordings in that kind of way. One day I found that article how to do a rough 45“ record written by Roth and his phrase "shitty is pretty" became a mantra for me. So I would say beside all vinyl records, and very inspirational artists out there this might be one of the biggest influences on our sound.

Is there any significance behind the album's title?
Yeah there is. We spent two marvelous weeks at Edda’s garden house – she is the grandma of our saxophonist Marcus. It’s a very nice spot, surrounded by nothing but woods and almost nobody around. That’s where we collected the songs and worked on them in a very focused atmosphere. It was also a good set-up to tighten the band and to get on point. It was the best workspace we could imagine.

How would you say the creative process of writing, producing and recording new music usually works for the band?
There are certain ways how this works in our band. Most of the songs come from Marcus or myself and we produce a sketch of it. Then Sabrina chooses from those sketches and adds the melody and lyrics, so we can put things together, arrange and rearrange. However sometimes we might just have a session and some ideas start to become a real song and we are almost done. Most of the time this happens in the studio, where we can record the sketches and work them out till the song finds its final form. Since we are done with practicing we play the songs on tape two or three times and choose the best take for Sabrina. Sometimes there might be more over-dubs of some additional instruments like percussion, strings or for a big pack of horns.

How was the video for 'Make em Pass' to shoot and what made you decide on that song for the lead single?
Actually we had chosen ‘Unconditional love’ as the lead single but changed our mind as ‘Make 'Em Pass’ is the tightest song on the album, we think. So we needed something to catch the vibe of the song and didn’t want to make a story of it but something with a deep impression. Our man on the cam, Rene, knew this location in our hometown and it perfectly fit into our vision.

Who would be a dream artist for you to collaborate with in the studio or on stage?
Actually this could be any dope artist presenting good music to the world. In the studio, I would really love to spend a day with Shawn Lee or the Rufolo Brothers but also Gabriel Roth would be a big deal! I guess a dream on stage would be someone like Lee Fields, Marta Ren or Charles Bradley.

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