Ketchy Shuby on New Album and Miami Soul: "Grind and Hustle With Integrity and Heart"
Ketchy Shuby might be a lot of things, but a flash in the pan is definitely not one of them. Even in an arid Miami indie music scene that doesn't offer its artists a hell of a lot of opportunity, the band has stuck it out together for over six years, honing their unique homegrown sound and garnering a loyal following.
"I think being friends for as long as we have, and the magic we share when we play, holds it together," Ketchy Shuby frontman and singer, Jason Hernandez-Rodriguez, tells Cossfade. "We're a family, you know? We love each other and love what we do together."
The band's studio output has also been decidedly prolific, with a sizable discography under its belt that includes the albums Tiny Vices, Downtown Soul Record Singles Club (a collection of cover songs) and the brand new Still Making It Look Easy, which just dropped this week.
Ketchy Shuby's sound reeks of familiarity -- reference points as archetypal as James Brown and '60s rhythm and blues in the Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones sense of the term. But the band has long described its sound as distinctly Miami soul.
"Miami soul means soul music from the bottom of the South," offers Jay. "It's the bright lights, with the grind and hustle mentality, with integrity and heart. Miami has a huge chunk of history that without it, hip-hop, R&B and soul music would be greatly affected by it."
And as it turns out, Jay is absolutely right. Dig deep enough into Miami's music history, and you'll find that our city did in fact spawn a bona fide homegrown soul music scene in the late '60s. Long-forgotten but seminal artists with names like Johnny K. Killens & The Dynamites and Frank William & The Rocketeers, and labels like Deep City Records (launched by Henry Stone before his T.K. Records disco heyday.) Dig up some of those old records, and it's clear that Ketchy Shuby are stylistic heirs.
But the Still Making It Look Easy LP sees the band take their Miami soul sound in a more whimsical, freewheeling, psychedelic direction. It's almost like they went through their own 1967 Summer of Love, but in 2013 Miami -- that homegrown '60s soul growing a sort of hippie sensibility.
"Before we recorded [the album], we had our minds set on just writing solely soul-inspired music," Jay explains. "But after experimenting for a whole summer, we grew out our hair and beards, and started writing these weird sounds in a house surrounded by trees, peacocks, and nature," he laughs.
"[It] was supposed to start as a double album, with soul music and psychedelic tunes all mixed in one project -- think Baby Huey and the Temptations' 'Psychedelic Shack,'" Jay adds. But as the writing process started to thicken, we thought to just collect the psychedelic ones and put them together, and noticed that when we put them together they created this childlike concept, so we rolled with that."
"As it turns out, it's kind of a children's album," he laughs. "It has genuine humor, laughter and sorrow. The lyrics kinda came in that summer and writing through the eyes of a child and a man -- that's what the story is about."
Get your copy of Ketchy Shuby's Still Making It Look Easy LP on iTunes. Then go catch the band itself doing it live for the album release party at Blackbird Ordinary tonight.
Ketchy Shuby's Still Making It Look Easy Release Party. Friday, September 27. Blackbird Ordinary, 729 SW First Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-671-3307 or visit blackbirdordinary.com.