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Published: 2013/11/01
by Joe Lopergalo

Karl Denson Enlists Zach Deputy for a Soul Spectacular

Speaking of that, I’ve heard that you’re going back to the studio soon.

My record is being mixed right now, the record is done. Twelve tracks are done and I’ll probably actually be going back into the studio in November-December when I get home because I’m so hyped on my new drummer that, you know, tunes are falling out of my butt right now (laughs).

When you go back in, in November-December when you get the chance to do that, are you planning on doing all originals? You know, you mentioned “Hit the Road Jack.” How is that going to fit into the mix? How have you tweaked that?

I mean, the thing about it is if we can find a way to do it where it’s original enough, then we’ll definitely lay that down. That’s gonna be the trick, is making it our own. The new record we have now is probably 50-50, originals to covers and, you know, even though only a couple of the covers – a few of them – people will actually know. So the next record I want to be completely original and really kind of showcase what we’re learning as a unit.

Are you the sole songwriter when you go into this process or is it more of a democracy within the band as far as how parts get written out and how they get performed on the record?

That’s something we’ve really been working on. We’ve been writing together a lot more this year and these last couple years. So on the record there’s a couple of my tunes, there’s a couple of D.J. Williams’ – well there’s one D.J. Williams tune and one he kind of inspired that we wrote together with Chris Stillwell, the bass player. We’re trying to really get to that “band” sound and settle into that.

Do you feel like you have a little more freedom than you did maybe in past bands with, like, Greyboy Allstars or when you played with Slightly Stoopid or is it kind of the same atmosphere?

Well yeah, of course, it’s my band so I can call the shots. That’s been the trick. The trick is to figure out how to allow everybody to have the freedom to express themselves and to want to express themselves inside of our little thing.

I know you have a lot of touring going on and now you’re going back into the studio so you obviously have a lot on your plate. So one thing I was really impressed with about you is that you’re so active in the social media scene right now as far as being active on Twitter and your blog on your website and everything like that. How do you find time to engage yourself in that?

That’s another part where we’re really collaborative. A lot of what gets out there is me and a lot of what gets out there is my band, because they take pictures and they tweet and they Facebook and stuff like that, just because it’s fun.

And it turns on a whole new audience to you. That’s why I was really impressed with it; that you take the time to do something so personal to connect with fans and maybe to connect with people who aren’t necessarily fans yet. But this is a good way for them to be introduced to your music because they’re all over social media sites and they’re tweeting and re-tweeting things. So this is a good way for them to find out about Tiny Universe and Karl Denson and everything that you guys are doing.

Right. You know, for us, the best part of it is when it’s fun. And we’ve kind of grown into a place where it’s fun. You know, like I’ll Facebook or blog about what movies I like. You know, things that are actually interesting to me. So that’s what makes it cool, when you’re not just doing it to let people know what’s going on but also to let them know what you like and what you’re up to.

I think that’s great. So how do you think that affects the industry right now, that you’re able to tweet things like tour dates, or where you’re gonna be, or when you’re going into the studio directly to fans? Now fans kind of have an inside view of that as opposed to, say, fifteen years ago when you were recording with Lenny Kravitz and you really couldn’t do that very personal interaction with fans. How do you think that affects what you do now, as far as people getting into your music and being able to follow you?

Well I think an artist like myself, doing the kind of odd mixed music that I do…There’s no way that I could have made an impact like I’m making twenty years ago without the internet. So it’s kind of great for me in terms of how I feel about that. It’s an awesome tool.

You mentioned the kind of music that you play being definitely an eclectic mix. And it’s definitely an older sound but you’ve got such a new twist on it that I feel like especially nowadays when we’re in such a revivalist period where everyone is listening to these older records, do you feel like you’re kind of bringing this boogaloo back? That people can really start to get into this more now?

For sure. I mean that was kind of the idea behind the Greyboy Allstars, you know, twenty-something years ago. You know, the boogaloo idea; the boogaloo revival. And it goes in waves and I think the fact that we’ve been able to survive speaks to the quality of what we’re doing. And we’re just kind of trying to continue on with everything else that’s going on around us, you know, to pick up influences as we go and just be aware of what’s going on in the world musically and reflect that in a new way.

I definitely look forward to hearing new things out of that. I also wanted to ask you, as far as that goes…I obviously hear a lot of New Orleans funk and brass in what you guys are doing and what you’ve always done, really. And I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about how you really first got into that style of music. You know, from the outside, not being raised in New Orleans but just being able to hear that music. Was that always something that was playing in your house? You know, boogaloo and jazz and brass music?

Being a jazz guy and playing saxophone I grew up listening to those artists like Betty Harris and Yusef Lateef and John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. You know, like Horace Silver and all that kind of jazzy stuff and I never was…I didn’t get the smooth jazz thing. So you know, I kind of waited my turn until I heard it come back around. You know in the early 90’s when bands like De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest and stuff like that – and Wu Tang Clan hit the band waves – I was aware of the stuff that they were sampling. So it was like, “Okay, this could be my time to do this.”And then meeting DJ Greyboy who kind of was doing the same thing was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time and being aware of what time it was.

So just to ask a few more questions…when do you think this new album will be out? Do you have a release date yet?

We have a release date…I’m not really sure exactly when it is but it’s in January, though. And it’s coming out on Stoopid Records.

Do you have any guests on that record or is it all Tiny Universe?

You know what, man, we just sent a track off to Nicki Bluhm yesterday and she’s gonna do a little duet with me. And then the great Mike Dillon is all over it. And I’ve got Anthony Smith – a good friend of mine – playing vibes on a track. DeLa from Slightly Stoopid is playing bari on the record…

Alright well thanks for the time and I hope you have a spectacular time on the Soul Spectacular Tour.

Thanks brother, I’ll see you out there on the road.

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