About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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July 2010 - January 2013
Artist Of The Week - Breakestra
Monday, August 31, 2009

Funk, jazz, soul, Hip-Hop… Breakestra is all of these things and more. Over the past decade the Los Angeles based group's distinct funky/soulful sound has garnered them both an incredible buzz and a hardcore following and in September they’ll be releasing Dusk Till Dawn, the long awaited follow up to their 2005 effort Hit The Floor. According to Miles Tackett, who is the man behind Breakestra (pictured third from the left), the four year wait between albums was due to two years of touring and his own admitted perfectionism when it comes to song creation. Breakestra, in actuality, is less a group and more a musical collective. “It's not a set group of folks,” Tackett explains, “never has been for more than a year due to conflicting schedules, but when we tour I am lucky to have a large roster of talented funkateers ready and able to put it down live.” This week I caught up with the leader of those funkateers and asked Tackett about Breakestra’s history, how their sound developed, and the power of positive music.

Adam Bernard: For the uninitiated, describe what a Breakestra listening experience is like. What are people in store for when they either put in one of your CDs, or attend one of your live shows?
Miles Tackett: It depends. If they're checking out the new recording, Dusk Till Dawn, or the previous, Hit The Floor, they will hear a variety of funk/soul/jazz instrumental and vocal tracks. If they're hearing The Live Mix Part 2, that's a live, in-studio, non-stop mix of deeper, in the cut, funk/breaks covers done in a seamless flow inspired by the original 70's Bronx Hip-Hop art of DJing one jam into the next. If you see Breakestra live you’re gonna get the best of both worlds, new original tracks mixed in with deep, hard, funk and soul jazz classics in the same style as The Live Mix Part 2 recording.

Adam Bernard: What kind of audience do you find Breakestra attracting? If I were to show up at one of your shows who would I be rubbing shoulders and moving my feet with?
Miles Tackett: Deep funk music enthusiasts, authentic Hip-Hop fans, casual funky soul-jazz music listeners, b-boys and girls, emcees and even neo-hippie music appreciators who love to do their dance.

Adam Bernard: Sounds good to me. Now, for those who don’t know the history of Breakestra, hit people with how you guys got started.
Miles Tackett: In 1997, after my previous band, Inclined, which I’d played guitar and sang in, had disbanded after a long run I was in need of a musical outlet and change, so I organized a weekly funk/classic soul/jazz/Hip-Hop breaks jam that soon became what was known as The BREAKS at a small coffeehouse in LA. Having heard party DJs like Cut Chemist and Mixmaster Wolf years earlier planted the seed. Todd Simon, later of the Daptone/Quantic/Keystones family, and Carlos Guaico of The Rebirth were among the first musicians to be involved on a regular basis and we had a number of other rotating cats. Since there were too many guitarists and not enough bass players in town I picked up the electric bass and upright cello. A large cast of musicians, emcees, b-boys and DJs would roll through weekly including Cut Chemist, Mix Master Wolf and future Hip-Hop groups like People Under The Stairs. The jam sessions were based on breaks/groves that I had grown familiar with from the samples in late 80’s/early 90’s Hip-Hop tracks. At first I would just change up bass lines and see what the other cats would do, but soon after I started making tapes of the tracks I wanted to hear and they would learn the melodies or the specific drum breaks. I would have a list of breaks written down and I’d call out the name and hope they'd follow. After a while I started putting together a specific set with exact segues worked out in The Live Mix style. We would also have freestyle sessions with emcees.

Adam Bernard: Why do you think those BREAKS jam sessions created so much buzz?
Miles Tackett: At that time, in 2000, there was barely anyone keeping those sounds alive and definitely no one else connecting the dots between OG Bronx Hip-Hop culture and the original funk/soul/jazz musical legacy. Also the very first Breakestra release, "Getcho Soul Togetha" (on 45 single) was the most authentic raw sounding new funk recording to be released since The Poets of Rhythm had rediscovered the gritty funk alchemy back in 1991.

Adam Bernard: In 2007 you lost a member of your group, DJ Dusk, to a traffic accident. How important was it for you to make sure his track with Chali 2na, “’Posed To Be,” made it onto Dusk Till Dawn and what feelings does it bring up when you listen to it?
Miles Tackett: My soul brother Dusk (Tarek Captan) was and is part of my Root Down Sound System DJ crew, in spirit now, but I had heard his skills as an emcee behind the scenes when only a few were paying attention. I encouraged him to start taking it to the next level. On the last record I had him kick a verse on "Family Rap," which was cool and funky, but due to the length of the track and there being so many emcees I ended up only using his intro rap. The version with his verse will see the light of day soon. When it came time for the lyrics to be written for "Posed To Be" I had asked Chali 2na and Wolf to try and incorporate some element of Dusk’s memory, or inspiration. While the rhymes and flows they came up with were some good shit, something was missing. Then I remembered that I had a whole 'nother beat with him rhyming on it for around 80 bars that was recorded about five months before he passed on. I found a perfect verse from his rhymes that fit the style and spirit of the new song and thankfully there was a section open in the track so it worked au natural. Whenever I hear any recording of him it is, of course, a bittersweet mix of feelings, but I more so feel absolutely proud of his spirit and the talent he used to share that soulful spirit with folks.

Adam Bernard: That’s an amazing way to keep his memory alive. I like the way you keep things positive, so let’s close out the interview by staying in that lane. With so much of your music being uplifting, what do you feel is the power of positive music?
Miles Tackett: To me music is the international language and its transcendent power can affect people’s lives in ways that are long term. It can get one's head and heart opened to other cultures from having heard the universal humanity in those foreign sounds. It can also give us immediate emotional/spiritual happiness. I don't feel all music has to be positive, since I believe that catharsis is also helpful for both the performer and the listener, but when I express a hopeful, joyful, strongly and sincerely felt emotion I believe it can have a positive reverberating effect on open ears and hearts and that will add some good fuel to the balance of our humanity’s seemingly inevitable seesaw condition.

Related Links

Website: breakestra.com
MySpace: myspace.com/breakestra
Facebook: facebook.com/breakestra
The Root Down: rootdownclub.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:12 AM  
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