Howard Ivans is really the musical vehicle for singer-songwriter Ivan Howard’s creative impulses. Howard is no stranger to the modern indie rock landscape being a integral member of The Rosebuds and GAYNGS.
We have been looking intently at the modern pop scene for some time now, hoping and praying that somewhere out there, there is an artist who is able to take the musical elements of the past and make it sound modern, and pointing the way to the future. Well, finally we think we have – and his name is Gabriel Garzón-Montano!
Tim De Cotta (Bass/ Vocals), Audrey Tengkey (Piano, Keys and Synth) and Teo Jia Rong (Drums) make up TAJ, bringing forth an exciting new venture, and great contribution to Singapore’s contemporary jazz scene.
Now the above (from the Darker Than Wax press release) sums it up pretty well. 70s jazz fusion lovers (with emphasis on ‘fusion’) will dig TAJ’s debut EP – The Astral Journey – for its grooves, virtuosity and attitude. Followers of old school soul-R&B-funk will thrill to the authentic spirit behind songs like “Taj Yo’self” and “Old Town MOFO”, not to mention the dreamy title track that demonstrates so much emotional resonance, it’s hard not to fall in love with Audrey Tengkey’s fingers… and the sultry vocoder-ized vox on “Daydream”. Too much sexy. Something for everybody here! Get in!! Now!!!
But of course, we wanted to know more about the folk behind the awesome music and so I present to you… TAJ, in their own words…
How did the band get together?
We got together by chance actually. It was 2012 when Tim and Audrey went with the Singapore contingent to MIDEM in Cannes, and through rehearsals for this showcase Audrey and Tim got to know and like their musical styles in their respective bands. So when they came back Audrey invited Tim to an open jam session at LaSalle with other young musicians and students. It was a shed session to just have fun and also to try new things. Drummers, keyboardists, bassists and turntablists even. So JR was one of the drummers there and as the jam went on, it was clear that the chemistry between the 3 of us whenever we were on our instruments together was really strong! We didn’t just jam the songs per se but we moved and evolved them in a matter of minutes. So eventually, we started meeting more and more often, till it became just exclusive to the 3 of us, jamming covers and then eventually writing our own music. It happened very naturally and faster than usual, also because we became great friends. TAJ was born and on 1 Oct 2013, we released our single “The Astral Journey”.
Aysha Amani, the frontperson of infectious Aussie funk-soul-hiphop combo The Amani Consort was so easy and fun to talk to as she (together with keyboards player Gordon Cant) answered my questions about the band – past, present and future. Listen to the audio for the full details! (Sound quality is a little rough but I hope you get the gist of what was going on – lots of laughter!)
We promise to be back with a review of The Amani Consort’s Better Way EP pretty soon! In the meantime, connect with the band over at its Facebook page.
It’s funky & groovy in a understated way. To these ears, there are elements of Prince & Mayer Hawthorne embedded in this slab of coolness. Oh yeah, it’s Dru Chen’s latest single “Turnaround” now available from Bandcamp. Go. Get!