New York City-based jazz/funk/pop/rock fusion band Gideon King & City Blog, founded and led by experimental jazz musician Gideon King, is set to release its new album, Upscale Madhouse, on August 10th. King graciously took some time out of his busy schedule to give details about the hybrid LP, recent single Fake It On Facebook, and plans for the future.
Hello Gideon! It’s wonderful to have the chance to chat with you about your topical new single, “Fake It On Facebook” and upcoming album Upscale Madhouse. Where are you the moment and what are the vibes like?
Well, we are excited to be playing the new music live and releasing work that took years to write and produce. The vibe is great, honestly. Feels good to finally give birth to the music.
When did Gideon King & City Blog start and you the sole founder?
I am the sole founder, yes. The concept has been brewing in my so-called brain for decades, but in 2013 and 2014 I started to write and produce formally. It was around then that I initiated a turbulent love affair with the process of studio production. The love affair continues although I am practicing infidelity on the studio by playing live now.
Who are the main players in the outfit besides yourself?
Well there is the live outfit and the studio outfit and they are both replete with talented folks. Upscale Madhouse has great players on it. I play guitar and am joined by some killer singers and musicians. People like Grace Weber, Marc Broussard, Conrad Sewell, Elliott Skinner, Sonny Step, Kate Kay-ES, and Carolyn Leonhart are singing on it. John Scofield (guitar), Seamus Blake (sax), James Genus (bass), Donny Mccaslin (sax), Gregoire Maret (harmonica), Nate Smith (drums), Jake Goldbas (drums), Kevin Hays (piano), and many more are featured on the CD.
The live outfit features amazing keys man Bryan Reeder, killer drummer Cory Cox, versatile bassist Nathan Peck, and vocalists Liam Budge, Carolyn Leonhart, and Sonny Step. Others join and will join the live act. That will be part of the fun.
Please spill some details about Upscale Madhouse. Does the title refer to living in NYC? What type of themes run through the LP? Do you lean towards more pop, rock, jazz, or funk on the album, or does it depend on the song?
Well, I was thinking about whether insane is more insane for insane rich people or insane people in lower socioeconomic strata, and I decided for some reason that madness juxtaposed with the stillness of wealth is the greatest madness of all. Whatever – That’s my answer for now as to why I named the CD Upscale Madhouse. Not sure why I even think about these things. Pointless shit really.
Yeah, the title kinda refers to all the madness in NYC. It’s a nutty place. Opposites coexist in extraordinary volume. Amazing everybody doesn’t kill each other. Many themes drive the tunes and the lyrics. New York stories and tales and characters are always my primary inspiration, but other things drive my writing as well. Moving through different stages of life. Elemental differences between New York and Los Angeles. Differences between the fatalism of Europeans and the idea that Americans have that they can affect their own future. The absurd epidemic of solipsism catalyzed by social media. Desperation. Irony. Funny stuff we all do. The album is not an album of love songs or some deep exploration of me finding myself or learning to accept myself or others. It’s not social commentary, really. I leave that to all the deep-thinking, real artists.
Each song has a little different vibe, and perhaps genre bent. Some of the tunes are Steely Dan-like fusion… The tune I am thinking of is Broken and Beautiful. I’m not comparing myself to them. They are and were amazing. Other stuff is a weird mixture of almost hip-hop beats and easy listening and sharp lyrics. I don’t really know what it all is. Rock/Jazz? Fusion? Pop fusion? Not sure. All I know is I need musicians who are better than I am to make my compositions work; hence, I am always working with this panoply of talented people. I really try and write in different genres.
From what I understand, you’ll be playing more shows in support of this album. Will you be touring now to build up the buzz for the LP or once it’s released in August?
Yeah we have been playing shows in the NYC area and will continue to do so. Touring is a possibility, but my back hurts if I travel too much, I hate public bathrooms, and I am told alcoholism sets in something quick when faced with the rigors of constant movement.
You have a rich and accomplished history in the NYC jazz scene. Did you play/are you playing unadulterated vintage-inspired original jazz music or jazz mixed with other stylistic influences?
I don’t think of myself as being an accomplished jazz musician, although the definition of what jazz is has changed dramatically. Really accomplished jazz musicians can do many things that I can’t do, to be honest. For sure, the stuff I write and play aint “straight ahead jazz.” Those true jazzheads are something very different and special. I think of myself as a fusion musician/guitarist at heart that writes chord progressions that are jazz-influenced and lyrics that pop singers can sing without all the pretentious affectations that jazz singers visit upon unsuspecting listeners.
Your recent single “Fake It On Facebook” is an interesting fusion of low-key funk and piano pop. How and/or why did you decide to combine these two very different styles?
I like that. “Low Key Funk.” Has a nice ring to it. In fact forget all my bullshit from before about my style. I play “low key funk.” Yup, that’s what I do. Okay let’s get serious now and answer the question. Fake It On Facebook just evolved in the studio into the mixture you allude to. I like the way it came out because the lyrics are about a nasty reality in NYC set against a bouncy rhythmic vibe. We used real drums and a drum track that I programmed on that tune. Jake Goldbas did a killer job drumming. That guy is a badass. Also, Bryan Reeder played an interesting and cool solo on his synth.
What do you have brewing between now and the album release?
Well, I am hoping to become really famous with one of the singles, then be socially insufferable due to an inflated ego, and then have some type of a nervous breakdown before the album actually drops, all in the service of getting as many likes on social media as possible. Then my life will be spiritually complete and I can confidently deliver a TED talk.
Actually, the band is playing and rehearsing the new stuff and the old stuff so that we actually sound pretty decent and don’t break any windows when we play live. More importantly Jen, thanks for interviewing me. I really appreciate the indulgence.
Written by: Jen Dan
Keep up with Gideon King & City Blog – http://gideonkingcityblog.com/