Laid-back band mixes reggae, jazz and funk

StillSoul plays upbeat yet comfortable set tonight at 29 Park

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

StillSoul

I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE...ANOTHER "ARTISTIC" BAND WITH "ARTISTIC" PHOTOS. StillSoul plays at 29 Park tonight, doors are at 9 p.m. Hopefully this multi-faceted band will perform better than this cutline.

“All of our songs come from the soul and from our different influences, so we’re ‘StillSoul,’” says StillSoul vocalist/guitarist and Western student Jeff Lurie.

“We crafted something that’s basically an amalgamation of different types of music. It’s a little bit of reggae and a little bit of jazz, but we’re not a reggae band and we’re not a jazz band.”

Formed in 2005, StillSoul " Lurie, bassist Dave Clarke, percussionist Chris Reineck and vocalist Jonathan Malen " toured casually for a year before heading to the recording studio. In just five days, StillSoul produced a three-track demo exemplifying its contemporary eclectic sound.

With its blues-inspired guitar, exuberant melodies and understated funk sound, the band’s music is comparable to popular Canadian acts like Bedouin Soundclash and illScarlett.

“The comforting thing... is that now there are bands like Bedouin Soundclash,” Lurie says. “Yes, they’re paving the ground, but that means that more people will be ready to listen to that type of music.”

Lurie says StillSoul’s “Erin’s Song” is perhaps its most “single worthy” song and represents a milestone in the band’s songwriting.

“‘Erin’s Song’ is about relationships,” Malen says. “Well, more about friendships, and how friendship is more important than having a one-night stand with somebody.”

The group’s songwriting process is fluid, with all four members bringing their unique tastes to the table. For example, Lurie says “Erin’s Song,” originally included a slow breakdown but, after playing several shows, he suggested replacing it with a reggae piece, which evolved the song into its current, catchier form.

“Sometimes we consciously say, ‘OK, this is cool, but maybe we need to get a different effect,’” Lurie says. “So we’ll try to make it a little more hip-hoppy, we’ll try to make it a little more funky.”

Though “Erin’s Song” may be “single-worthy,” Malen says the band isn’t single-oriented in its writing.

“Luckily, we don’t know the first thing about what record labels want,” Malen says with a laugh. “If we have 20 songs, maybe zero of them are singles.

“In our minds, we think 15 of them could be singles, obviously. I don’t think we’re that single-conscious... I think we’re just trying to put good music out there.”

For Malen, creating good music is just one aspect of his artistic life. When he’s not writing and playing with StillSoul, Malen is appearing in films like Antonio Banderas’ Take The Lead.

Lurie says StillSoul’s live shows are energetic, comfortable experiences.

“The interesting thing about our concerts is we try to stay as down to Earth as possible,” Lurie says. “When I play, I wish everyone was in my living room, just having a good time.

“We love people dancing and if they know some of our chorus and they sing it. It’s a thrilling experience.”

After playing shows with a few screamo bands, the group was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming spectators were.

“A lot of people have told us after the show that we’re just playing different music than other people,” Lurie says. “They’ve come up to us and said, ‘You know what, even though I don’t listen to your type of music, I like you.’

“That’s the most humbling thing that someone’s ever told me. That’s what I ideally want from anyone coming to a StillSoul concert.”

StillSoul plays tonight at 29 Park. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5.

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