Like any lifelong Bay Area native, I struggle with many stereotypically “Bay Area” problems; a terrible sense of geography (what's east of Nevada...?), a debilitating sensitivity to climate (70 degrees and mild only, please), and a particular attachment to the words "hella," "dude," and "yeah man." My high school days were defined by E-40 and Mac Dre, I remember what Adams Point was like before the Whole Foods was built, and I regularly find myself saying "Oh yeah. That used to be a great music venue before they turned it into a gastropub.
When we started a funk band (Trace Repeat) here in Oakland, in a lot of ways it was about more than just music. It was about using the band as an opportunity to seek out the Oakland communities that were quietly making the music scene here tick. We set up funk night residencies in breweries all around the city, sought out to collaborate with videographers and artists all around Oakland, and setup home base at the Oakland based recording studio Watershed Sound. Everytime we hit a wall in our search for community, we dug our heels in and made one for ourselves.
We called our new record “The Oaktown Sound” (our subtle reference to the Detroit “Motown Sound”) because I wanted the album to be a representation of the version of Oakland that I knew to be true, the one that I see overshadowed by tech buildings and fancy bars every day. It was about creating a sound that was bold as the buskers in 19th Street BART. As vintage as my apartment building built in the 1930s, and as wild as the art walks I used to watch on First Fridays. The old school funk and soul that you hear on this record is more than just our best attempt to honor the memories of our forefathers, James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Prince. It’s about honoring the music and arts communities here in Oakland that I know is still going strong, even though the Uber buildings and the First Fridays now sponsored by Coca-Cola.
When you listen to this record, I won’t be as presumptuous to say that we’ve captured the “sound” of Oakland in our little nine-song record. The best that I can hope for is that it gives you a 31-minute glimpse into the Oakland music communities that we’ve found for ourselves, for Trace Repeat.
Follow Trace Repeat: