concert shenanigans: NAUGHTY PROFESSOR & BASSEL AND THE SUPERNATURALS @ Taste of Randolph

reppin: np - new orleans, usa // 2011 - present //  b&ts - chicago, usa // 2008 - present

sounds like: np - a monster truck gracefully crashing into something. You can appreciate the beauty of it

b&ts - we are the movie Wet Hot American Summer on repeat. Constant trolling and very animated bunch. Good times and good vibes

last/upcoming album drop: np - identity (june 2017) // b&ts - elements (feb 2017)

 naughty professor | taste of randolph, chicago | 6.17.17 | @thefaakehipster

naughty professor | taste of randolph, chicago | 6.17.17 | @thefaakehipster

featuring: np - ian // (tenor sax) // john (trumpet) // bill (guitar) // nick (alto and baritone sax) // sam (drums) // noah (bass) 

b&ts - bassel // brandon // philip // stevenson //  mason // caleb // thomas // corbin //  sean // juan // leslie

Taste of Randolph - Chicago

What they say about summertime Chi is true, it really does not get much better in this country. The beach (there is even a freaking festival on the beach now), street festivals, music everywhere, big festivals and more. A staple has landed right at the beginning of the summer madness and they call it, The Taste of Randolph. Located in the heart of the West Loop, it was first known as the place to flock towards to get the best eats in the city….all of those glorious tacos and sausages. Now, it has become clear that music is the leading force of this ginormous street fest, gathering some musically talented bands and acts from across the states. A clear winner and up there with West Fest, Green Fest, Wicker Park and DoDivision...let’s not forget Logan Square Arts Festival as well.

The year 2017 featured the likes of rock/almost jam band Moon Taxi, Here Come The Mummies (a collection of talented studio musicians who yes, dress as mummies), electronic bossman Robert DeLong, the chill of the chilliest Slow Magic and dance kings !!! (Chk Chk Chk) as well as some smaller known acts. I got to kick it with two in particular: Soulfunk act, Bassel and the Supernaturals as well as jazzy “future-funk” outfit, Naughty Professor. Ladies and gentleman, these are two ridiculously musically technical acts that make jaws drop as you stand in place just observing the ear awesomeness. No, you will not hear them in the latest top 40 rotation, but they are the types of bands needed to progress and push out the borders of music. First up, Ohio born, Chicago living and Syrian raised, Mr. Bassel:

Bassel and the Supernaturals

Lets first focus on your unique sound and vibes that Bassel and Supernaturals is. What past experiences in music brought you to create this soulful funky sound?

 bassel & the supernaturals | taste of randolph, chicago | 6.16.17 | @thefaakehipster

bassel & the supernaturals | taste of randolph, chicago | 6.16.17 | @thefaakehipster

We play like a neo-soul type of music. I was a drummer, playing violin in the indie rock music scene in Ohio. I was into a lot of forms of indie rocks. Denali, Mile Marker, a lot of early Death Cab for Cutie. I moved to Chicago seven years ago and that is where I started getting into more of the soul music. I got really deep into Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens beforehand and when I got to Chicago and it was a really good time to reflect on what I thought what made music timeless and what resonated with me. It all came back to that soulful connection to the music. I got really hooked on Otis Reading in particular and that led me down a whole path: Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, you name it. What all these artists have in common is that emotional connection to the music and their ability to tell a story doing it. Their music, tone, lyrics, everything, you just feel so connected to it. And it was very powerful for me. It taught me to find an emotional element to everything I was doing. It was less about writing soul music, but writing music from the soul. It is also just a ton of fun to play as well.

A lot of bands are always striving to be unique - live show, sound, promo, etc. You guys have a positive twist on it. I take it you are from Syria...which i think turns heads given the political climate now. What do you want to teach your fans about why you do what you do?

More than anything it is about people getting really nervous confronting the issues in Syria, being all political. What is so powerful about music is that ability for music to break down that wall and make that connection to those types of issues. The personal connection that we have to this issue has been unbelievably powerful. Beyond just festivals and clubs we play colleges and cultural centers, churches that are more focused on creating a conversation around this. And what is a common thread in so many of these spaces is that so many people have cared about this issues but they feel nervous about how little they know or don’t know different organizations. By creating a space where we can be open about that and not force any issues down anyone’s throat and just tell a story and talk about the organizations that who are doing good work and find that connection and personalize it. Not as a far away distance issues and it is something that affects us all.

The lyrics...real life situations, love, losing those close to you. How do you want your fans to take in your words and react to them?

We get a lot of questions if lyrics are specific to a person or friend or whatever. It is about emotions that connect to different experiences, that is how I enjoy writing. Love or loss...loss of a friend, dear item, that emotion that brings those experiences together. Being able to personalize those emotions and you feel the colors and the songs and you can interpret that with your own environment and who you are.

Y’all are about to go hit the stage on a nice summer day. What is the mission of your live set. When you make eye contact with a fan or are trying to make new fans...what do you want the audience to get out of it?

It’s creating an infectious energy on the stage, more than anything it starts there. I mean, it is great when you make eye contact with somebody and you know they are feeling it. I love to just energize my band. The more fun we are having on stage, the more fun everyone will have. I’ve learned to spend more time doing that and less time focusing on this person and that person. It has to translate to the audience

I always use funny metaphors to describe bands and artists i write about, what would you use?

We are the movie Wet Hot American Summer on repeat. Constant trolling and very animated bunch. Good times and good vibes.

Naughty Professor

How did you guys land on your sound, being a larger group with some diverse personalities?

So, we all met in music school in New Orleans and at a time when we were all checking a lot of different music out and growing as musicians...currently we are all between 25-28. So, we all met around 7 years ago. Over the course of the first year or two, we kind of landed on this sound...pretty bombastic and aggressive and still somewhat dynamic with some jazz sensibilities. We def leave space for every member to take a solo and guide the band one way or another.

So live, do you all do a lot of interpretation on your set?

Most of what we do is planned out, but we do leave space for a solo section so we can change it up a bit.

 naughty professor | taste of randolph, chicago | 6.17.17 | @thefaakehipster

naughty professor | taste of randolph, chicago | 6.17.17 | @thefaakehipster

Me: That is refreshing to hear, being away from the mainstream genres, but you all aren’t afraid to be different among the general audience.

There are some lyrics involved, are there any stories and personal experiences involved with that? Or is more about the music and the solos you want fans to engage with?

So the band has usually been instrumental until this new album we are putting out next week actually. We decided to recruit seven singers and have five instrumental tracks. Until recently we never performed with a vocalist. Now, we have lyrics, but we did not actually write any of the lyrics. We sent the tracks to vocalists we liked and asked them to pick songs they like and write their take on it. It is a collaborative process, which I like, but none of us in the band are really singers or strong lyrical writers. We let the professionals write that.

While lyrics a central component for you, I’m sure the live show is where you focus on gaining those new fans. When you play live, what is your goal at the end of the day.

That’s a good question. Some things that set us apart from other groups are the amount of energy we have performing and just how much fun we are having on stage. There is some room to improvise our sets so it makes it a bit more free flowing, interact with one another. People have told me that they don’t really pay attention to the genre of music we play, but because of how we are on-stage, they are now believers. It really brings it home for them. I know there are some people that are jazz nerds like us and those nerding out...then there is the common music fan, and this is the perfect place to play.

I always use funny metaphors to describe bands and artists i write about, what would you use?

Ahhhh put me on the spot a little bit haha. I would hope we sound like a monster truck gracefully crashing into something. You can appreciate the beauty of it.

np // spotify // fb // twitter // ig // sc

b&ts // spotify // fb // twitter // ig // sc