Interview with Marco Benevento
Marco Benevento is a talented keyboardist from the New York jazz avant-groove scene. He's at ease on almost every existing genre (classy melodies, heavy psychedelic and electric sets in the manner of Miles Davis' electric period, pop, groove, funk, etc.) or keyboards' type. This brilliant improvisator is involved in a great variety of exciting projects and he co-founded the excellent Royal Potato Family label, that houses his highly eclectic and striking new album, 'TigerFace'. We publish a juicy retrospective mix of Marco's works (downloadable here) to get along with the following interview.
(Interview by Nicolas Ragonneau - November 2012)
01. I usually start my interviews with an etymology question. Where does this Tigerface title come? I thought that Shawn Lee had a monopoly on Tiger representations…
My friend had a band called Tigerface and did an amazing stencil for it that I always wanted to use. His name is Baptiste Ibar (baptisteibar.com). I always liked the name and thought it would be a good name for a record.
02. Tigerface is quite different from your last release, but there's at least one thing very similar: it's a very eclectic album. Do you intend to play with genres in a same LP or this is just how it goes?
That's just how it goes. Really, it's true! Maybe that's why some people don't know what to make of the record or maybe because it's so variational some people are drawn towards it, I'm still trying to figure out that secret ingredient for a concise record that has a compositional consistency.
03. You've added vocals for the first time on 2 tracks and this was a big surprise.
It was. Actually I laughed out loud in my studio upon listening back to our first take after adding lyrics and vocals to "This Is How It Goes". I totally surprised myself. I'm glad I opened that door and that Kal (Rubblebucket) was down to do it! And consequently we recorded "Limbs Of A Pine", we made a video and our bands are co-billing for a New Years Eve tour in Burlington, VT so we get along musically too.
04. Can you imagine doing a whole albums with vocals next?
Maybe??? I'd be up for it!!
05. Do you think you could also sing?
I can definitely sing - I love singing. I'm drawn to our band playing instrumental music. Sometimes I sing on our gigs, but it's more in a joking manner.
06. You play a wild range of keys on the album. On what instrument do you practice daily?
Piano. Although on "Tigerface" I was able to use one my favorite keyboards ever. It's called the EMS VCS3. John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake) had one at his studio and we used that for the intro of "Limbs Of A Pine." I do love to play synths in my studio to get different sounds that eventually inspire composition.
07. There's something very romantic or even elegiac in your music. A track like Eagle Rock flirts with classical in a way.
That's funny you mention that because a friend of mine said that "Fireworks" sounded very much like a classical Neapolitan song. I do like classical music, I listen to it on the radio a lot.
08. A word on the prestigious guest musicians for TigerFace.
It was a pleasure to work with John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake). He has an incredible studio in Chicago called Soma. We spent two days together recording the song "Soma" and the sounds that we were able to create in his studio we really different than anything I have been able to achieve.
Matt Chamberlain (Jon Brion, Brad Mehldau) is an incredible musician to play with in the studio. His energy and creativity seems endless. And of course he gets the best sound out of any drum you give him.
Mike Gordon (Phish) played some incredible fretless fuzz bass on "Escape Horse." I showed him the tune and 10 minutes later we were done. He's such a genius and has a unique way of approaching the bass.
09. Do you think you'll be able to set a TigerFace tour in Europe?
I would love to. Paris DJs should present us in PARIS!
10. A Paris DJs self-centered question: you've recorded a Nostalgia 77 remix with Grant Phabao (downloadable here). How did that happen?
Ha ! - it was freakin so much fun! I was on tour in Europe and I had some time off in Paris. We just hooked up through mutual friends and before I knew it I was having a dinner and wine with some nice folks that I had just met. One thing led to another and I wound up at there office where we recorded and talked music all night! I had a blast!
11. Tell us about The Royal Potato Family you created with Kevin Calabro a few years ago. There's a very special spirit and philosophy behind the label.
We started the label because we felt like we were ready to take the challenge on. Kevin seemed to have a good vision of how we could run the label and I was tired of dealing with a middle man, so we just decided to give it a try. I'm glad we did because we now have over 10 bands on our label and it's got a great buzz here in the U.S.
12. What comes next? Any new exciting projects with Garage à Trois or other of the bands you play with?
I'm mainly touring with my own band - Dave Driewitz (Ween) on bass and Andy Borger (Norah Jones, Tom Waits) on drums.
13. I know you love cooking. Can you unveil your fav italian recipe?
No way - - - - that's some secret shit! - If you want to know you gotta come visit !!!
Marco Benevento : official | bandcamp | discogs | facebook | myspace | soundcloud | twitter | youtube
The Royal Potato Family : official | facebook | myspace | soundcloud | twitter | youtube
DOWNLOAD THE MIX HERE :