'Taking Root Within The Industry'
'Quest' is Brazz Tree's debut record-capturing the essence of the act's innovative sound and powerful live show. Inspired by traditional Eastern & Western compositions, the duo's musical vision is a fusing of guitarist Brad Hammonds' folk-inspired, percussive riff-based guitar lines coupled with traditional folk and fiddle tunes underneath Mazz's conscious lyrics which are sung with soulful originality.
The eclectic duo's influences are apparent on their outside collaborations, as well. Since dropping out of Juilliard after three years, Mazz has accompanied on stage and collaborated in the studio with the likes of, Kanye West, Moby, Jay-Z, Perry Farrell, Vernon Reid and DJ Logic.
In just a little over a year, Brazz Tree has built a strong New York fan base from their mesmerizing shows and etheric string sounds playing clubs throughout NYC. They were selected to perform at the 2006 SXSW Music Festival in Austin, 2006 CMEAS Tour in Holland, the 2006 NACA National Convention in Boston, 2006 NXNE Festival in Toronto, the Temecula Valley Film Festival, and the Dewey Beach Music Festival in Dewey DE.
Chatting recently with both Mazz and Brad, and noting that it had been stated in their press that Mazz had been a Julliard drop-out, I wondered that with hindsight if it would have benefited her more to have completed the Julliard school program? "I dropped out of Juilliard because of a lack of emphasis on creativity in the school. I really enjoyed the classes and loved playing in the orchestras and participating in chamber music; so I still sort of miss that, but basically as a solo artist I found the attitude very rigid and close-minded. plus, I was very interested in Jazz at the time and there was no program for that, so I left in order to learn how to improvise... sometimes I wish I could have that school environment again (where the focus is just practice what you love: not do the crap gig to make the money, you know?), but no, I do not regret leaving school. it probably saved my life. it certainly saved my love of music and the violin (and oddly enough classical music!)"
Being that Brazz Tree blends Western and Eastern influences, I was wondering just how such a passion for such musical diversity first came about for you both? Brad - "I grew up outside of Afghanistan in small town called Delaware and developed a taste for different sounds and time signatures. Most of our music is rooted in American folk and rock but we stay away from most conventional approaches...In college I began to listen to bands like Shakti, Rah Bass and other bands who were fusing musical styles which really influenced my playing ("cause I'm not internationally know, but I'm know to rock the microphone"..you know?)," he laughs. "I guess for me it was really about finding all the different cultures and types of music that incorporate the violin."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying the new CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? Brad - "World Fusion - Alternative Folk."
Your debut album title 'Quest' is an interesting choice, but is it born of a more personal nature for you, perhaps? Mazz - "Well, actually the title is "...Quest..." I know that sounds crazy but I felt the dots were important because it's just a piece of the journey that is represented in the material that is on the CD. The "Quest" is also known as the Now, and I like to acknowledge that Past and Future are inherent in the quest."If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated Brazz Tree at their musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? Mazz - "'Anthem' (track 9)"
OK, so just where did the bands name originate ... and what else could it so easily have been?! Brad - "Brazz is the name of a pillar in Greece where Mazz and I first danced our first dance (we are both experienced ballroom dancers!) and met there on our yearly pilgramage...we started playing music together shortly after."
Mazz - "Brazz Trio was what we originally had thought of but since there was just 2 of us we reduced it to Tree, which had a nice ring to it."
Please tell us more about the cover art to the new CD and what it attempts to signify? Mazz - "Well, basically we found an artist we really liked (Kelly Mudge) and the 3 of us brainstormed about how to incorporate the Tree from our name and the organic feel we are trying to represent."
If you could cover any '80s (possibly cheesy!) pop song, which one would it be ... and why?! Mazz - "'99 Red Ballooms,' 'cause we like birthdays!"
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! Mazz - "YES! Especially the Penguin Cafe Orchestra!"
Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the
best for the future "Thanks so much for "having us"! It's been a pleasure to answer your questions, Russell!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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