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FKAjazz Embodies Team Growth In New Exclusive, Talks Collaborators, New Music & More

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FKAjazz Embodies Team Growth In New Exclusive, Talks Collaborators, New Music & More.   FKAjazz has been in the spotlight ever since the release of ‘Nothing At All

FKAjazz Embodies Team Growth In New Exclusive, Talks Collaborators, New Music & More.

FKAjazz has been in the spotlight ever since the release of ‘Nothing At All‘ featuring native Brooklynite Leo Coltrane along side Unkle Nephew and Noah MacNeil. Today he holds nothing back as he talks team growth, musical influences and his long time collaborators Unkle and Noah.

Although it will take some time before he blesses us with a full length project, FKAjazz has teased a new single which will be hitting streaming platforms October 23rd. We also got the chance to speak to Leo Coltrane, Unkle Nephew and Noah MacNeil. Take a look at the full discussion below.

Since we featured your latest single “Nothing At All” with Unkle Nephew, Leo Coltrane & Noah
MacNeil we have noticed the popularity growing even on a couple of playlists from friends of ours.
In your opinion, why do you think “Nothing At All” has resonated?

Well, I hope it’s because I’m getting better at my craft but I’m sure it’s more than that. Also, my team is
getting better. The musicians that I’ve been developing with have gotten better. We’re all growing as
individuals and also collectively. As it’s said, it’s more powerful for 100 people to take one step forward
than 1 person taking 100 steps.

Your musical direction which is directly a combination of Jazz & HipHop stands out
Why did you decide to make a 3part single?

So I actually talked about this in depth on my blog “The Undenyable Trewth” (@ trewculture.com). But the
short answer is, it’s a format that I’ve always used and you will continue to see with my releases. With
Lineage that’s just a double single with 2 songs in 3 parts. Understood, 2 tracks but if you’re really
listening, you see there are 3 parts. I was never really fond of just putting out singles. I like telling stories
and it’s more fun to tell stories in sections or parts; to stretch out a story long enough for you to really
have an experience. It’s all about creating an experience.

How many instruments do you play?

Mainly I just play saxophone (all four types: soprano, tenor, alto & baritone) and piano which was my first
instrument before learning saxophone. I also grew up playing violin but gave that up around 16 after I
finally convinced my mom to let me focus on saxophone. I play a little clarinet as well but not often
enough to be good at it, LOL.

Who has influenced you as a producer?

Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Nile Rodgers, J Dilla, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, DJ Screw (gotta rep HTown),
Timbaland, the list goes on!

Why did you choose to collaborate specifically with Leo Coltrane, Unkle Nephew and Noah
MacNeil on this song? Please share what you were looking for from each artist.

So, Unkle Nephew & Noah MacNeil are my main guys. Yoshiki Yamada as well who is my regular bass
player but I chose to do synth bass on this joint. Pretty much every song I produce has Noah & Unk on it
with a few occasions where I decide to create my own drum loop or don’t use acoustic piano. I always
play my own synth & rhodes stems but if I want real piano, I call my guy Noah.
Leo was a new addition to the fold. I’d never worked with Leo prior to this record but we’ve slowly become
friends over the past year. We did a gig together back in 2020 (when the world was normal-ish) and from

there I was waiting for the right moment and vibe to feature him on a track. I love Leo’s approach. It’s
funny that he has the name “Coltrane” because the way he flows, it reminds me of a horn player.

Who are your personal musical influences both past and present?

In the past, I had so many influences, from Herbie Hancock to Miles Davis, to DJ Premier & Rakim.
Honestly, now I’m more focused on the people around me and are more influenced by how we work
together than any outside influences. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy a lot of the music being
produced today, from HER and Robert Glasper to Nas’ latest joints, it’s all amazing. But it doesn’t
“influence” me. It inspires me. I’ve worked hard to create my own sound, my own lane, so I’m not really
seeking that type of influence anymore. Now, I’m more influenced by things outside of music, like the
current situations we’re dealing with, writers and activists and filmmakers like Spike.

What 5 songs are you listening to now that you are not featured on?

“The Blacker The Berry” by Kendrick Lamar, “Borderline” by Brandy, “Black Kennedy” by August Greene,
& “The Look of Love” by Slum Village & “Pressure” by BD3.

What is next for FKAjazz? Is there a new EP or Full Length coming?
My next release is October 23rd. Another extended single (3 part single) featuring Brooke D. I’m rocking
“extended singles” for a while. Not even sure I want to do a full length album anymore because I enjoy
focusing my energy on one vibe at a time. Who knows, by the time this is published I might’ve changed
my mind.

For FKAjazz, growth is all about team development so its only fair that we those he considers relevant to his growth as an artist.

Meet Leo Coltrane

Leo Coltrane
Leo Coltrane

In your words why did your parents decide to name you after the icon John Coltrane and the
composer Leo Ferre?

My parents gifted this name to me before I was born. They were both artists, my mom: an actor, painter
and poet and my dad: a photographer and jazz pianist. Long before they met each other, they had
already chosen the names of their favorite artists to name a future son. Lucky me.

The chemistry between you, FKAJazz, Unkle Nephew and Noah MacNeil is undeniable, are there
future plans for more collaborations with this foursome?

Absolutely. Definitely. The connection was effortless from the beginning. Last summer, I caught one of
their shows and FKAJazz gave me a timely “Wanna hop on the mic?” head nod. So I wrapped some new
lyrics around a bouncy rhythm they were building. That happened a few more times at different shows
until we decided to record “Nothing At All” earlier this year. I think we knew early on that this wasn’t a
one-off, but we have been talking about cooking up some new material. And just like with our respective
shows, it’s never the same magic trick twice, so I’m looking forward to the next version of “us”.

Who are your main personal musical influences both past and present?

My first musical influence was my dad, an ultra innovative musician. Whenever I look at my studio I know
whose son I am. My earliest lyrical influence was the storytelling king Slick Rick. He was the first artist I
heard rap back and forth with himself. That was my intro to recording techniques. Souls of Mischief and

Natural Elements impressed me with their complex rhyme patterns. Yasiin Bey [Mos Def] and Black
Thought are different types of wordsmiths, but their technical lyricism feels effortless. And Jon Brion. As a
mad scientist / multi-instrumentalist, he made me reimagine how I could perform.

Which artists would like to collab with that you have not already?

So many artists reached out to me for collaborations this year. I’ve recorded verses for 4 or 5 artists so far
and the experience has been great every time. There aren’t any specific artists on my radar, but as a
believer of serendipity and unexpected discoveries, I know more collaborations with musicians will
happen in the future.

What 5 songs are you listening to now that you are not featured on?

Thelonius Monk’s “Monk’s Dream”. It reminds me of my dad’s all-day piano playing. That’s what I love
about music. It belongs to both the present and to memories. The last 35 seconds of Fiona Apple’s “Sleep
to Dream” have piano chords that are intense and uplifting. The unexpectedly philosophical “Do you
Realize?” by The Flaming Lips. The haunting and mesmerizing “The Homeless Wanderer”, an epic,
7-minute Ethiopian blues piano solo by Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou. Homeboy Sandman’s “Trauma” for his
vulnerable sharing of childhood exposure to sex and violence.

What is next for Leo Coltrane?

S-C-H-O-C-K-I-N-G : Nigerian Pastor Sucks Breasts Of Kenyan Women

I’m preparing my next album, which will be produced by Cru Drums. I’m also working on a few more
songs with Jefferson Jackson; I have an ongoing series called 8 To Leo, where people submit 8 words
that I incorporate into a verse and video. Uncutt Art and Hannibal Buress participated and were fan
favorites. So what’s next is making more music and living life.

How has this pandemic impacted you personally and professionally?

The pandemic impacted all of our lives. It brought death, isolation, unemployment, misery… As an artist, I
believe the only way we can fight it is to remain healthy and productive and to create, which is what I did
during my self-confinement. I’m also signed by a talent agency that represents voice-over artists and I’ve
worked a lot in that field. My band and I kicked off this year with a sold-out show at Bowery Electric and
mid-September, we rocked an outdoor show for the first time since the NYC lockdown. We’ll have to live
with this pandemic for a while. We’ll adapt. We’ll keep creating and performing in any way we can. We’re
artists. That’s what we do.

Meet Noah MacNeil

Noah MacNeil
Noah MacNeil

Your keyboard work on “Nothing At All” really stands out. I am very curious as to how long have
you been playing and which keyboard players first influenced you?

Taking classical piano lessons is one of my very earliest memories. I must have been around four when I
first started, but according to my mother, I kept getting off the bench and trying to run around the room, so
she decided to wait until I got a little older to start me on regular lessons. That frenetic energy and
uncontrollable desire to explore has stayed with me to this day, although I hope I am slightly better at
focusing now than I was then. As far as keyboardists go, my first influences were my older sister’s friends
at the Manhattan School, Miro Sprague and Fabian Almazan. I also loved (and still do) Oscar Peterson,
Herbie, Bill Evans, Kenny Kirkland, to name a few.

Do you play any other instruments?

Not well enough to say “yes”.

When did and what was it about Hip Hop that initially got your attention?

Like many other people born in the U.S. in the late 80’s, hip hop was a big part of the musical fabric of my
youth. Growing up outside of Boston, I used to listen to the local hip hop radio station where they would
occasionally feature instrumentals by new producers in the area, and listeners would vote on which beat
they liked the most. Hearing great music made by “regular people”, not just big-name producers, was
definitely an inspiring experience and likely influenced my direction later on.

One of our sources told us that you also direct animated music videos. Could you elaborate on this?

Visual art has always been a passion of mine, and I initially thought about going to art school before
deciding to pursue music. About a year ago I started doing art gigs professionally, designing album/single
covers, doing logos, etc. and that led to making animated music videos. There are some really cool
videos coming up, but I can’t talk about them yet! I’ve been noticing countless similarities between the
artistic, visual thought process and the musical thought process, and in regards to animation, I find it
particularly interesting how we perceive the rhythm of moving images in a similar way to how we perceive
rhythms made by notes.

The same source told us you have another artistic talent in addition to keyboard work and video
direction. Again please elaborate.

I studied computer science for two years before transferring to Berklee, so I seem to find myself in that
world from time to time. Most recently, I built a portable sound module that has the sample banks set up
in the way I wished they would be on my keyboards.

What 5 songs are you listening to now that you are not featured on?

Ahmad Jamal – But Not For Me (from Live At The Pershing), Felix Da Housecat – Silver Screen Shower
Scene, Gerald Clayton – If I Were A Bell, Arai Yumi – Anata Dake No Mono, BIGYUKI – Belong

What is next for Noah MacNeil?

I’m working on creating some audiovisual mayhem at the moment. Trying to find some new ways of
combining sounds and images. Also, I just started a company called Sohatsu Media, which is a
production house for art, music and technology.

Meet Unkle Nephew

Unkle Nephew
Unkle Nephew

We have to ask why are you newly named “UnKle Nephew” it is a catchy name?

Over the years a lot of my homies have called me “uncle” because of the way I act, the music I listen to
and my overall knowledge of black culture. That name ”Unkle Nephew” was given to me by a homie I

used to tour with. He’s at least 15 years older than me so I called him “Uncle”. After being around each
other regularly he picked up on my old man tendencies and gave me the name “Unkle Nephew”.

How long have you been playing drums and who are your favorite drummers?

I’ve been playing since I was three years old and started lessons around 5 up until high school. My
favorite drummers are Dennis Chambers, Stanley Randolph, Daru Jones, Ricky Lawson, Sput Searight,
and Taron Lockett to name a few.

At what point did you realize that you wanted to pursue a musical career?

Music had been a hobby up until I was 15. Playing the drums was just always something I knew how to
do. I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the gifts I had. I actually wanted to be a baseball player growing
up until I was hit in the face with a bat. That was my wakeup call! I’ve been playing everyday since.
I understand that you have some production projects coming out very soon, please elaborate
I just released two singles with BD3 from our upcoming EP “Sunnydale”. The full EP will be available on
October 9th!

Which current producers do you like?

If i’m being honest, there aren’t too many current producers that i’m feeling. Two that immediately come to
mind are Terrace Martin and Hitboy.

What are your thoughts on trap music? Do you feel it has peaked?

Interesting question… I think there’s a time and place for everything. I like trap music but in moderation.
I’d never just throw it on and listen to it. It’s not for me. I hope it’s peaked. People are longing for feel good
music. Good music in general. I’ve personally had enough of the low vibration, dark, no substance
nonsense we’re being force fed.

How has this pandemic impacted you personally and professionally?

At this point, all I can say is, I’m blessed. I’ve been able to get a lot done professionally.This pandemic
has given me the opportunity and push I needed to continue to grow as a musician and engineer.
Personally, I’ve been up and down. Mostly because I haven’t been able to gig.

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