MUSIC: World Roots Band ‘Brown Rice Family’ Plants Positive Vibe
A few months ago on Earth Day, I met some of the coolest cats in a band properly representing World Roots music. No denying the world could use more healing, so hats off to the Brown Rice Family, whose sound has been described as similar to Fela Kuti’s, “but if Bob Marley and Antonio Carlos wanted to get on board for a gig, they would.” One of the members, singer Len “Sticky Rice” Maxwell, shed light on the message in their music during a Q&A with Tania Fuentez Media, and shared some of the excitement building as Brown Rice Family prepares to compete in the “Ultimate” Battle of the Boroughs on June 29 at the Greene Space on 44 Charlton Street in Manhattan.
TFM: Tell me how the band came together and how the group’s name is a uniquely perfect match.
BRF: The band was conceived from an idea hatched between the two initial members Joe Jang and Yuichi Iida shortly after they met during a music class they were both enrolled in at the City College of New York. Other members got on board via a natural vibration that shaped BRF’s physical expansion. Our group’s name BRF is serving as a symbol … significant purely in terms of our lifestyle being represented. During the creation of BRF, Yuichi and former member Joe Jang, discovered the nutritional values and health benefits that come with the consumption of brown rice … to make this connection between healthy living and music, they decided to name the band Brown Rice Family.
TFM: What is the underlying message your music conveys? How are fans responding at your shows?
BRF: Our music is much influenced by our individual experiences on Life’s journey, so the underlying message we would say depicts the pleasant and unpleasant social happenings among the global human family. On the positive side, our goal is to see all people unite ( in one love, one heart, one aim, one destiny) and live a healthy life, simple. Well, our fans or “Ninjahz” like we refer to them, seem to genuinely love the vibration we emit whenever we perform for them musically. They often say, “I, or we, love how your players of instruments fuse multiple sounds in making your songs, and the lyrics are uplifting … BRF, Keep on decorating your music with the same ingredients.”
TFM: How has the band evolved since the beginning? Where do you see Brown Rice Family a year from now?
BRF: Evolution? Well … we have grown in size, eight members at present; mentally and spiritually we have been evolving, as well. It’s a never-ending process for as the seasons, nights and days present themselves we too are influenced by them all. Also, spending time together has enabled us to understand each member more in-depth, individually we contribute different ingredients based on our musical and cultural background (Haiti, USA, South Africa, Nigeria, Japan and Jamaica). BRF’s members’ musical and cultural differences play an integral part in the crafting of BRF’s world roots music. Hahaaaa! We see BRF out in the field feeding the masses “dancycally”and musically … This music is a precious gift given to us by past generations, so wherever we shall go in the future musically it’s this world roots music that’s gonna take us there. “Music is gonna take us hoooome … home away from home!” utterance by BRF.
TFM: Are you excited about possibly winning the upcoming “Battle of the Bands” contest. Describe what it is all about and what your members hope to accomplish.
BRF: Yes! Happy, Happy, plenty happy we would be … Well,”The Battle” is in its third consecutive year. WNYC radio and partners designed this platform to showcase emerging talents germinating here in metropolitan N.Y. To be part of the battle one has to submit his or her biography and the same goes for groups. Artist bio must be accompanied by a video, after info is submitted to in-house crew, a panel of judges select the bands or solo performers they think should represent each borough at the initial stages of the competition.
On the day of the initial battles immediately after the last performing acts representing each borough, an in-house audience, online and phone texting/popular voting process begins. Voters are given a one-hour window to cast their votes online at www.thegreenespace.org and by mobile phone text using their band of choice code. The bands with the most votes enter in a second phase of voting, lasting for two weeks and so the band with the most popular votes go on to represent its borough in the Ultimate Battle of the Boroughs.
As for accomplishments, BRF would love to reach a broader and more diverse audience musically and, most importantly, it would be much joy for us to see the youths gravitating to healthier ways of (eating, thinking, interacting, etc.) living.
TFM: Next big project in the works?
BRF: We would love to do a second album.
TFM: Favorite place to perform so far and why?
BRF: We strongly felt the vibe at Brooklyn Museum:Target First Saturday … it was electric! We all enjoyed the people, gender and age diversity there … and the children along with the other people were dancing and singing, including those who had never seen or heard our music before! Good vibes …
Brown Rice Family: http://brownricefamily.com/
The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space ‘Battle of the Boroughs-Ultimate Battle’: http://www.thegreenespace.org/events/thegreenespace/2012/jun/29/battle-boroughs-ultimate-battle/