What is your name and role within Dat Brass?
M: I’m Michael, the MD and sousa player.
L: I’m Lewis, failed trumpeter and MC.
How did you start?
M: We all met playing jazz at uni, and then entered battle of the bands, up against loads of guitar guys.
L: When we clinched that third place, I knew we were destined for great things.
Where are you based?
M: London, but all over, with a studio right at the end of the Northern Line.
L: Recently moved to Falmouth, Cornwall – and let me tell you, the hip hop scene is incredible.
Please give an example of your music writing process?
M: I record loads of little riffs or snippets of things I hear on my phone, and most of them eventually make it into a song. I write it all out in midi and ping it off to Lewis to bless it with some words.
L: Back in London I started most of my songs on my bike, then finished them later on if they were good enough to remember (sometimes in the half hour before recording!). Now I take the midis from Rudds and fit lyrics to them, but inspiration comes from all over – all sorts of songs, books, conversations with strangers, dank memes etc.
What are you working on right now?
M: We’ve just released album no. 1 and are now working on bringing it to as many people as possible over festival season
L: I’m working on learning all my lyrics from the album! And we’re always writing new stuff, keeping it fresh with new arrangements and rap/solo set ups.
What is your gear setup?
M: Drums, percussion, sousaphone with a load of FX pedals on it, trombones, saxes, trumpets, MC, then occasionally any number of extra people – more horns, extra percussion, scratch DJ, guest vocalists, even more horns. Basically a lot of shiny things being hit or blown.
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
L: I’m a zoologist, and I do a lot of birding and wildlife photography. I’m always sneaking latin names and biology jokes into my raps.
M: Outside of music I do a lot of science outreach, which is essentially just a different type of performance. I’m headed to Glastonbury this year to talk about quantum biology, which is gonna be a surefire hit with the punters who have gone to see Ed Sheeran.
How would you describe your music genre?
L: Like a three way split of hip-hop, jazz and punk. It’s all about energy and improvisation and fun.
Do you know any music theory?
M: Got grade 5 in year 8 mate.
L: I attended the conservatoire of life.
What are your plans for the future?
L: I just want to get our sound out to as many people as possible. I love that look of surprise when people catch one of our gigs by accident.
How did you get into music?
M: A man came into primary school with a hosepipe with a mouthpiece on it and was like ‘you guys should play brass’ and so I did.
L: Holy shit, me too dude.
What are you listening to at the moment?
M: Trombone Shorty, Miles Mosley, Gorillaz, Royal Blood
L: Silicon Teens, Discovery, Samsa. Also about to go check out the Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
M: For me, gotta give shout out to the OGs, Youngblood Brass Band. They definitely ignited the hype in this scene. Ian Dury for his arguments of why all his songs were in 4/4, and then Snarky Puppy for sheer effortless musicianship.
L: Ian Dury has been huge for me too, but lyrically. I always want to emulate that really verbose, but still funny and lighthearted style. MC-wise: MF Doom, Andre 3000, Watsky and Milo were all really formative for me.
When are you playing next?
M: 22nd July, Reading Futures World and Ally Pally!
L: Yes Dude!