It’s not often an unsigned, emerging band has such a successful crowdfunding campaign. However when Oakland funk band Trace Repeat launched their IndieGoGo earlier this year, they received an overwhelming amount of support that led to the funding (and then some!) of their project in less than a week. Now 7 months later, the band is ready to debut that album. To celebrate, they partnered with Kill the Music for an exclusive track-by-track breakdown of 'The Oaktown Sound,' an album that by the band's own description is "a funky throwback album that challenges Asian American stereotypes."
Check it out and grab a copy here.
Got 2 B Funky
Got 2 B Funky was likely one of the most complicated tracks we recorded for the album, just because we really had no idea how to approach a sound collage like this. I always thought it would be cool to kick off a record with a tiny bit of something non-musical, but I’d really never done anything like it. The “skit” is a reference to a bit of sassiness that I caught in a James Brown tune from the Big Payback album, if you can spot it…!
Old School Funk
Old School Funk is the kind of high-energy funk that you can only capture three and a half minutes at a time. It’s easily the sweatiest tune in our set every night, and I’m fairly certain it’s the song that two of our band members have split their pants on while playing.
Between U 2
Between U 2 is one of the tunes on this record that’s really all about the call and responses. The choruses just nail a really great trade-off with the vocal and horn melodies that get me every time. It’s so funky in the back and forth, I never get tired of playing this tune. The title is a grammatical homage to Prince, if you know your musicology.
Just As Simple
Just As Simple was one of the earliest tunes that Zach brought up when we started the band. It was the kind of tune where as soon as he started playing it, I had a million different ideas to build on top of it. Like “what if we do a James Jamerson bassline, with a Stevie Wonder shuffle, and cowbell and clavinet and etc etc etc...” Producing the song was really an exercise in minimalism and restraint, just because the song inspired so many different sounds and ideas in all of us.
Morning Love was one of the last songs we added to the record, and I’m really glad we did. I think it’s thematically a stretch for us, just because it’s such a quiet song (and we’re not really a quiet band). When Zach brought it up I said to him “what if you sang the whole thing in falsetto, and then doubled it in an octave…?” He kind of gave me this “uh, I dunno man…” look, and then we didn’t really talk about it again. Then when we came into the studio to track it, he just absolutely nailed the octaves, I think in no more than one or two takes. It was definitely one of those magic studio “ah ha!” moments.
Breakfast was one of the tracks on the record that was kind of opportunistic, really. I had been really into the Marvin album “Live at the Palladium,” and really obsessed with the way “Got to Give it Up” just stretches on for about nine or ten minutes of straight grooving. The studio in Oakland that we tracked it at (Watershed Sound) happened to have a kitchen immediately adjacent to the tracking room, so I thought “what if we just hung out on the groove for an extra four minutes, and overdubbed breakfast sounds…?” No one stopped to tell me that this is a ridiculous idea, so now there are four minutes of frying bacon on our album. True story.
Groovin’ was simultaneously a frustrating track to record in the studio that ended up being one of the most interesting sounding tunes on the album, just because so much thought went into literally every bit of sound that you hear on the song. We must have tracked a dozen or more different instruments that we ultimately ended up taking back out, just because it wasn’t really quite right. I think what’s left is the kind of song where every bit of music that you hear is its own really cool and interesting hook.
I Do is the kind of song that really lives in the third verse. Where everything you’re taking in and listening to up until that point is really just preparing you for that moment, “everybody’s got somewhere else to be.” Even musically, the horn and string dynamics is really just building you up for that moment. I also knew it had to be the last song on the record, because it’s the kind of song that only works if you have the patience to get through the 25 minutes that precede it, first.
Greatest Hits was our little way of compromising on all of the songs that didn’t make the record. All of the songs we cut from the album, everything we never finished demoing, and so on. We didn’t particularly have recordings of most of those songs though, so the collage you hear in this track is made up mostly from our early demos and iPhone recordings.