Andy Suzuki & The Method
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
While touring the world over the past few years -- and captivating crowds with his stunning looping power as a one-man-band act -- the Norwegian retro-soul singer/multi-instrumentalist, Bernhoft found his music taking on a whole new level of meaning. "On the last tour it was very strange for me to come from a country that's incredibly well-off and unaffected by the recession, and then perform in places where a whole generation is out of work and there's a real feeling of hopelessness," says Bernhoft. "I felt like I was trying to reach out and lift people's spirits, but at the same time I was always aware that I was very much in a separate place from them." On his new album "Islander," Bernhoft explores that disconnect by amping up his groove-laced soul elements with frenetic tension captured through deeper and richer sonic textures. His guitar riffs, piano chords, and lyrics on Islander, embrace both heartbreaking raw emotion of reality and soulful positivity. Escapist yet challenging, "Islander" emerges as an album that dares to reimagine what's possible in pop music.
To record the follow-up to his critically-lauded sophomore album, "Solidarity Breaks," Bernhoft took to another island locale; England's Isle of Wight, home to the legendary music festival of the same name. "Isle of Wight is just a magical place, almost like a time machine that brings you back about 30 years," says the singer, noting that the island's distance from electronic-centric London culture helped to foster "Islander"'s warm, organic feel. Working at Chale Abbey Studios (a vintage-equipment-packed facility converted from a former monastery), Bernhoft teamed up with producer Paul Butler -- a member of beloved alt-rock band The Bees whose past production work includes releases by Michael Kiwanuka and Devendra Banhart.
Inspired by everything from Swedish pop to the trailblazing soul of Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone and the intricate folk-rock of Carole King, "Islander" begins by elegantly flaunting Bernhoft's sweet, yet masterful, vocals on the lead single "Come Around." "That song came to me while I was driving from San Francisco to L.A. and blasting the radio and just being reminded of what music can do to you, how much it can affect you," says Bernhoft. From there the collection brings smooth, feel-good numbers like "Wind You Up" (a song whose kaleidoscope of rhythms includes Bernhoft's deft beatboxing), "Everything Will Be Alright" (a funk masterpiece driven by slinky guitar riffs and vocal-group harmonies), "One Way Track" (a blissed-out dance track that blends disco beats and razor-sharp storytelling) and "No Us, No Them" (Bernhoft's smoldering love-song duet with GRAMMY Award-winning R&B artist Jill Scott). "Islander" pushes deeper into emotional territory with the beautiful slow burn of "Don't Let Me Go" (a guitar-drenched soul ballad) and the album-closing "I Believe in All the Things You Don't" (a quietly stirring epic that warns against jaded cynicism with lines like "You cut your arms off at the elbows thinking all was lost/You couldn't be more wrong").
Describing himself as "still basking in a '60s and '70s sort of soundscape," Bernhoft notes that he took a decidedly old-school approach to the recording of his new album. "We just went to the studio and belted it out for a solid month," he says. "The vibe and the chemistry were so great that we just kept at it for long hours, which I think gave the songs a really cool intensity." To that end, Bernhoft also snubbed in-studio perfectionism for a looser, rawer approach to performance. "There are lot of tools and technology that we chose not to use so that we'd have to limit ourselves to natural musicianship and musicality," Bernhoft says. "Paul and I were very much in agreement that we'd much rather use a whole take and end up with a beautiful mistake than try to be perfect all the time."
In 2008 Bernhoft made his solo debut with "Ceramik City Chronicles" (a love/hate homage to his native city of Oslo) and -- in touring in support of the album -- quickly garnered a reputation as a must-see live performer, ultimately scoring an opening slot for blues-rock legend Joe Cocker. In early 2011 he released "Solidarity Breaks," featuring the beatbox-infused, acoustic-guitar-laced single "C'mon Talk" (whose video has earned more than 7.3 million views). The following year, Bernhoft continued his breakout success by nabbing the Best Artist and Best Male Artist of the Year awards at the 2012 Spellemannprisen (Norway's equivalent of the Grammy Awards). And in 2013, the singer broke through in the U.S. by flooring audiences at SXSW, appearing on NPR's "Weekend Edition," and making his late-night-television debut on "CONAN." Soon after his new found American success, Bernhoft signed with Paradigm Agency's label Big Picnic Records here in the States.
"Solidarity Breaks" has now racked up more than a quarter-million sales worldwide, a feat largely accomplished on the strength of Bernhoft's awe-inspiring live show. With Bernhoft wielding his loop station to weave in lush layers of harmony and magically reproducing the sound, feel, and energy of a complete band, his live performances proves to be both stunningly complex and beautifully simple in its emphasis on pure-hearted vocal performance. In building such an intensely intimate atmosphere onstage, Bernhoft envelopes his audiences in the same joyful mood that imbues the soul of "Islander." "As I was writing for Islander a lot of the lyrics had references to boats and water and bridges," says Bernhoft. "It's almost like I was saying, 'Hey, come on board, I'm gonna take you for a ride, and hopefully for the next hour you can forget about your troubles.' That's the kind of album I most want to make; one where the songs are in good spirits, and maybe they can help give you a new sense of hope."
Andy Suzuki & The Method
Brooklyn's Andy Suzuki and Kozza Olatunji-Babumba (of Andy Suzuki & The Method) have been making music together for nearly a decade, but now with their third full-length album, The Glass Hour, a creative friendship has flowered into a formidable musical force. The pair first garnered wider attention with their buoyant, organic folk-pop album, Born out of Mischief, and soon found themselves opening for names as large as Ringo Starr, Eric Hutchinson, Joshua Radin, Marc Broussard, Delta Rae, and Tyrone Wells. Fans fell hard for their combination of a "velvet voice" (NPR) and their “deadly way with melody" (TimeOut New York). Their sinuous songwriting, which curves into eddies and unexpected shapes at every measure, is steadied by Andy's impossibly dulcet vocals, that carry us gently through as the songs toss and heave. The Glass Hour keeps all these curves and fleecy vocals, but no longer wants the limits of the folkpop label. Instead, Andy and Kozza are aiming for nearly every place on your radio dial. There's tinseled RnB ballades like Shelter and Overtime, burning-rubber country rock like Digging My Way Out, adamant life-anthems like Fight and Fire, and the verifiably ready-to-drop pop of I Need You More. To pull off this kind of range, Andy and Kozza enlisted the production talents of LA-based Juny Mag, and also brought in big guns Dominic Fallacaro, Will Hensley, Chris Gehringer— all Grammy winners— for recording, mixing and mastering a project of its stylistic breadth.
Half-Jewish, half-Japanese, Andy hails from an eclectic background. He fell in love with music early, singing in both English and Japanese and soaking up influences from every possible direction. It wasn’t until high school, however, when he was stuck with a solo that no one else wanted to sing, that Andy leapt into developing his talent— a talent that, to this day, he hopes to never stop developing. "With us, there's always a ton of trial and error, experimentation and breakthroughs– and we want this struggle to really come through in the music. We love it when nobody, including us, knows what to expect from the next album, or even the next song." Kozza descends from musical legacy. His grandfather was Babatunde Olatunji, a Grammy-winning percussionist admired by John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, Max Roach— and naturally Kozza himself. He became a hand-percussionist at a young age, but pursued other interests at Brown University until his musical passions were rekindled in his senior year through the overtures of a clear-eyed and particularly dogged freshman by the name of Andy. After fumbling through a few of Andy's early tunes in their first session, the two suddenly, inexplicably, magically, came into sync, "Our first time playing together didn't go very well, until Kozza played these two drum hits: immediately we both knew this had potential," recalls Suzuki.
The Glass Hour opens half-reminiscent of their previous folk-pop, but quickly shifts to stranger things, into a near-future pop that sounds like it's beaming in from the year 2019. The rhythmic intricacies still reflect the hand-percussionist half of their writing team, only with Juny Mag scaling everything up to stadium-sized dimensions. Its sensibilities hover somewhere between Jack Garratt and Michael Jackson, and nowhere is this clearer than on I Can't Live, Overtime, and— unmistakably— on I Need You More, which could easily double as a movie soundtrack to an impromptu street dancing scene. Then, with another flick of the radio dial, we coast through stretches of soul and blues that would be the envy of Amos Lee, and hear great cloudbursts of gospel choir breaking through on Shelter and Fire. With another flick, we run from unapologetically earnest love songs like Searching and Mama Told Me to power-numbers like Fight, Digging My Way Out and Come Forward, then back again to the stripped-down, unplugged rawness of Hold You and the soul-searching bittersweetness of Forgiven. Throughout, Andy and Kozza are more than performers or songwriters; they're our tourguides through a fresh musical landscape, with unknown terrain that they themselves are clearly still giddy to discover.
What we do know is that they've only begun, with 2017 already booked full with a headlining tour, a prominent spot on the Rockboat line-up, and a new name-making album in hand. The near-future has never sounded better.
Pre-Show (7pm-8pm) & Post-Show Happy Hour in the Lower Level Lounge