Clicking through the average playlist of today’s youth, one would not expect to find any jazz songs to be featured. The modern non-relevance of a genre that used to be a leading creative force in the 1920s is a fact that bothers Matt Tavares, Alex Sowinski and Chester Hansen. The three 20-year-old Toronto natives, that first met at Humber College’s jazz program, are able to identify themselves with a pulsating music style that has transcended social and generational barriers among society decades ago, but has since been absent from popular music charts. However, the absence of jazz through the headphones of their generation is something they find rather hard to explain, especially since they share the same passion and affection for modern day favorites like rap music, indie or electronica. United by taste, the trio first merged their musical talents to form BADBADNOTGOOD that started with basement jam sessions. We now bring you the start to our in-depth interview with the young adults that tells a little of how they came to be, their success, and the current relevance of jazz. Be sure to pick up a copy of our inaugural issue, still out, for the full feature.
How long have you guys been playing together?
CHESTER: We were all in school last year. Me and Alex met randomly through some other music projects that we were involved with at that time. We immediately started to bond as we shared the same passion for hip-hop which is rather rare
among students in jazz school. He was the one who introduced me to Odd Future’s music. We used to hang out all the time and eventually started to do jam sessions together. We really liked the sound that resulted from our sessions, and started to experiment and flipped some hip-hop instrumentals. The rest is pretty much history (laughs).
What moment would you consider to be your big break?
MATT: It is really hard to define a big break. But if there is one moment that comes to my mind, it would have to be our first video. It basically captured us jamming together. I remember when Tyler, the Creator found out about it somehow, which was weird since we did not spread it around Twitter. We simply just recorded and were amazed to receive feedback from him. ALEx: Tyler tweeted it and us being big fans, we actually were beyond happy. Coincidentally, we had tickets for his first New York show that very same week. So it was just a great moment for us individually but also as a group obviously.
What is your personal interpretation of jazz as a genre and where do you see its relevance in today’s music industry?
ALEX: This question is not easy to answer. Jazz has definitely died down compared to other genres nowadays. Back in the 1920s, it used to be more prominent, a rather expanding movement that resulted in sub-genres like fusion jazz bebop that kept it being progressive. Apart from those that are really into it of course, it died down in terms of relevance for people of all ages, especially for the kids. If you look around, there is no jazz festival that is bigger than current electronica festivals.
MATT: Jazz is definitely in a weird spot right now. Nowadays, nobody is going online to download a John Coltrane discography and listen to his album. In my opinion, jazz has become a lot about technicality and less about musicality.
ALEX: To us, it is really hard to speak on that. It is not like jazz currently sucks or anything. There is simply not the same level of awareness compared to other music genres nowadays. The unfortunate reality is if you ask kids what would be your favorite jazz artist, they would not even be familiar with the term. Adding to this rather complicated situation for the genre comes the fact that there are still lots of artists that are struggling to push it for the culture. Back in the days, Miles Davis was a celebrity and a legend in the making. There are no jazz superstars today. It is about hip-hop, rock and electronica.