Astonishing musicianship, pristine production and top-tier song writing, MF Robots immediately call to mind those iconic American rhythm sections of the 1970s and 1980s. The music is energising, uplifting and the potent result of a highly accomplished musical partnership maturing, growing and hitting their stride together in lock-step.
Jan Kincaid and Dawn Joseph met as members of the Brand New Heavies, one of the UK’s most successful Acid Jazz bands, and one which influenced artists such as Mark Ronson, D’Angelo, Jamiroquai, Erykah Badu and The Roots to name a few. Founding the Brand New Heavies was an important chapter for Jan, but once he plus vocalist and songwriting partner Dawn began working together, the chemistry was instant and irresistible. It was time to turn the page, and soon MF Robots was born.
Ahead of their northern concerts, I spoke to Jan about the band.
Why did you choose the name MF Robots?
Basically, we were poking fun at the generic sound of many of the bands and artists that all sound the same. The name is entirely a tongue-in-cheek reference really as a lot of signwriting these days lacks a lot of individuality and personality. We wanted to create strong soulful music with a timeless classic feel, drawing from a lot of diverse influences that make you feel good, so maybe you can lose yourself for a little while.
Who are your influences?
We have so many influences such as right back to Ella Fitzgerald, in the 1970s with bands such as Earth, Wind and Fire, Luther Vandross, Kool and the Gang – the list goes on.
The new single Make The Call has some brilliant new mixes – whose idea was that?
I have always been a big fan of Louie Vega and Josh Milan who work together as Soul Fusion. Louie understands the music that we play – we speak the same language as far as music is concerned. We sent the album over to Louie and asked him which track he would like to have a go at remixing and he said Make The Call. He has speeded up the track a little but it sounds really soulful and we are very pleased with the mix, he said that he thought the song reminded him of a roller-skating track – if you see the video or the song you will see that we have included his thoughts into the video.
Why did you leave the Brand New Heavies?
A few things really – the best way to describe it was it was becoming like a bad marriage. A lot of energy that the band originally had, had been lost, Dawn had already decided to leave before I had made the decision.
Do you still play any of the Brand New Heavies songs?
No, the concerts will be MF Robots songs all the way. We have a great group who have missed playing live due to the lockdown. We have not been to the north for a long time so getting back up to Manchester will be exciting and we are looking forward to playing Hoochie Coochie in Newcastle – it is a great club that has had some of the big names playing there such as Incognito, Dave Lee and Mario Biondi. I have known the management there for a long time, it is a very well-run club.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I really like Khruangbin – they are an American three-piece act from Texas who play mostly instrumentals. You would not hear their music on mainstream radio, there is so much good new music out there – you just have to go out and find it.
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