An Interview with Mitch Sigurdson of Black Market Brass

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Black Market Brass | Discography | Discogs

2020 was a pretty messed up year. That said, we still saw a ton of totally ace music released. One of my albums of the year was definitely Undying Thirst by Black Market Brass. A dizzying array of horns, percussion and guitars all jammed into one insane torrent of Funk-laden grooviness. I loved it from the moment I heard it. It actually came out before the pandemic set in, which seems so long ago now. This last year is hard to recount; there was that brief moment before COVID-19, and then the dumpster fire thereafter. So, I’ll call this my pre-COVID album of the year. Haha. Anyway, I’ve got a great talk with leader and founder of Black Market Brass, Mitch Sigurdson. It was cool to learn more about the band and what makes them tick. If you want to learn more about Black Market Brass, or pick up their record, Undying Thirst, head over to their Bandcamp here, or Colemine Records’ site here. Dig in. Cheers.

Andrew:
Mitch, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a weird year. What have you been doing to pass the time?

Mitch:
It’s been a very strange year indeed. We started out the year with the release of our sophomore album Undying Thirst on Colemine Records back in February, with a two-night release show and some tour dates following in March which were of course canceled. No in-person rehearsals because of quarantine, but we have been distance-writing tunes for our 3rd album and Zooming together.

Andrew:
Black Market Brass was founded in 2012, right? Tell us how the band got its start.

Mitch:
It started with a Craigslist ad I made for a Funk/Soul/Afrobeat group. I had a bassist and a drummer respond and we started jamming on Meters and Fela grooves. I saw another guitarist posted a similar ad, and they had a trumpet and trombone, so we combined forces. We kept on posting ads for more instrumentation and eventually got response from a conga player. From there, we started working on covers and played our first show a couple months later. Then added a few more members once we got on the scene playing some more shows.

Andrew:
Black Market Brass is a beautiful combination of Jazz, Funk, Soul, Afrobeat, Latin and more. How did you guys develop your signature sound? Who are your biggest influences?

Mitch:
We all have different influences we bring to the table. Some are more upfront than others: Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo, Fela of course, Ray Barretto, Antibalas are what comes to mind first, but also super into Psych/Improv/Krautrock records, ranging from like CAN to Sun Ra…this unbelievable Chicago/Ann Arbor band Nomo. We started with covering K Frimpong, Ebo Taylor, Michael Liggins & The Super Souls, Poets of Rhythm. All real gritty kinda Lo-Fi, and we really wanted to be true to that raw non-perfectionism. Then more Psych sounds and Polyrhythmic stuff has been recent, a lot from our percussionist David Tullis.

Black Market Brass - Flannigan Photography

Andrew:
In February of this year, Black Market Brass released what I feel is one of the albums of the year in Undying Thirst. Seriously, that album slays. Tell about the recording of the album.

Mitch:
Thank you very much for the kind words! We recorded ‘War Room/Into the Thick’ as a 45rpm first at Colemine HQ in Loveland, Ohio. Then went into Future Condo Studios in Minneapolis to record the rest of the album after the 45 came out. We recorded the full album live over a weekend with very few overdubs. We had played these songs out in our live show and they kept developing through that, which made it easy to go into the studio and put it all on tape.

Andrew:
If my memory serves right, you guys are from the Minneapolis area, right? What’s the music scene like out there?

Mitch:
It’s changed some since I moved here in 2010, but it’s still a small town in a big city vibe. Everyone knows everyone, through the Hip-Hop scene to the Punk scene to the Jazz scene. There’s a foot in every door for musicians here and all are encouraging to one another.

Andrew:
Your debut album, Cheat and Start a Fight was amazing as well. How do you feel you’ve progressed between your first album, and Undying Thirst?


Mitch:
I think our first album was still figuring out our sound and carrying more of a straight ahead Afrobeat style. But songs like “Moon King” and “Half a Cig'” on that album were what we wanted to lean towards more for Undying Thirst.  

Mill City Museum on Twitter: "Black Market Brass kicks off the 13th season  of Mill City Live. Music until 8:00, gallery open until 9:00.… "

Andrew:
Undying Thirst was released with Colemine Records. What a wonderful label they are. They really do it right. What’s your experience been like working with them?

Keith:
We’re ecstatic to be working with Colemine. They aim to do it right and haven’t come up short on any of their releases. Every vibe has to be right with each artist on the roster. Terry is very funny and easy to work with. Right off the bat, you can tell he’s very passionate with what he’s doing. He does a lot of the artwork and mixing for the artists along with running the label.

Andrew:
I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing you live- yet, but I’ve seen footage of your live performances, and it seem as if you guys are truly in your element in the live setting. Would you agree? What is it about performing live that you enjoy the most?


Mitch:
Live shows is where it all comes together. It’s all energy from the crowd. We try to take that and capture that in our albums.

Andrew:
Are you into records? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? If so, where do you like to shop for music?


Mitch:
We all collect records and stream. Me and our bassist, Charlie have the most filthy habit with record buying and collecting. I DJ around Minneapolis and have a monthly dance night called “Worldwide Discotheque” that focuses on Tropical sounds from around the globe. So, I focus on African, Tropicalia, Latin records. Discogs/eBay and whatever I can find at record shops.

Black Market Brass Live at Bauhaus Brew Labs on 2018-05-19 : Free Download,  Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Andrew:
2020 has been a weird year, but we’ve still seen some fantastic music released. What are some of your must have albums of 2020?

Mitch:
For me, Surprise Chef out of Melbourne Australia has been my new find for the year. Meridian Brothers’ new album Cumbia Siglo XXI which by the way has a fantastic cumbia cover of ‘Son of a Preacher Man.’ Analog Africa’s Ranil y su Conjunto, real gritty Chicha.

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 calms down (if it ever does) what’s next for Black Market Brass? What lasting effects do you think this all will have on the industry?

Mitch:
We’re just trying to write more and record in the coming months. It’s hard to say. There’s no light in sight yet. We’re in the dark and may lose some really great venues here in Minneapolis. I think people will still keep collecting records and purchasing music in any way they can like they always have, but live music & touring is still totally in the dark, which is what a lot of bands pay their livelihood on. Maybe Applebee’s & Olive Garden will be the only venues to play after this. Which I really hope not.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice do you have for bands just starting out?


Mitch:
I would say this is the craziest time to start a band, but if you do start one, you have a good deal of time on your hands to practice and create. As for BMB, we have a couple 45s on the docket and new material in the works.

Black Market Brass - Into The Thick | The Current

Interested in learned more about the music of Black Market Brass? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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