In Remembrance of Turk Gaines: An Interview
It's with a heavy heart and thoughtful reflection, that I release this exclusive review with Turk Gaines of D.C. Funk band, Suga Grits. In a tragic turn of events, Turk unfortunately passed away before I could get this out and I want to extend my sincerest well wishes to Turks relatives and the Suga Grits family as a whole. I have decided to publish this review, as is, with the hopes that Turks words shine through and his love for music is clearly evident. I feel fortunate and blessed to have been in contact with Turk even for a short time. Thanks go out to Ragin' Randy for setting this interview up, I wish Turk were here today to read this. While the future of Suga Grits is up in the air, I want to also share their recent album release. Here is where I think Turks voice truly comes out.
Suga Grits sound is filled with Funk, Hip-Hop and Rock Elements, all meshing together to form some high-powered elastic jams. I have been digging these Street Funk volumes the past month and am glad that these recordings will always be available and the voice of Turk lives on within. https://sugagrits.bandcamp.com/album/street-funk-vol-2
Interview with Turk Gaines from Suga Grits:
JBP: Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this out. There are so many things happening in the music world! How and when, did you form Suga Grits and get that interesting name?
Turk Gaines: First, thank you for taking the time to interview me. I am humbled and inspired that you would like to get to know the guys and me. The name comes from an equation we consider to be: (1 part sweet) + (1 part Grit) = Funk. When we were deciding on a name, we were transitioning from another band so, it was easy to agree upon because we sound like the name itself. And we all like grits but some of us don’t like sugar in our grits.
JBP: Are you a native to the D.C. Area?
Turk Gaines: Yes, I am a D.C. native and I attended St. Gabriel’s Catholic school and Holy Comforter St. Cyprian (K-8), as well as, Duke Ellington School of the Arts. (9-12)
JBP: What kinds of music do you take influence from?
Turk Gaines: I am influenced by Funk, Jazz, Go-Go, House, World Beat, and Reggae. I listen to a lot of music. Music has always been an important part of my life. To be able to create something of importance that brings happiness has always been my attraction to music. My influences come from all music that moves me when I hear it, digest it and understand it. If I had to individualize my influences they would be George Duke, Stevie Wonder, J. Dilla, Robert Grasper, and of my band mates, just to name a few. We actually learn a lot from each other.
JBP: You seem to have a lot of Hip-Hop and R&B influence, how has this affected working with real musicians and instruments or how does it translate differently?
Turk Gaines: My Hip-Hop and R & B experience is actually one of my strongest suits. It hasn’t affected working with musicians in a negative way at all and it has actually made musicians gravitate towards me. It helps me become an anchor in the sound, as a whole.
JBP: Do you prefer to play live shows or work within a studio setting?
Turk Gaines: I prefer the stage however I have found a new love for recording. We have taken a rogue approach to completing our music and it’s helping us find our sound. It’s helping us learn how to communicate appropriately with producers and engineers so; we know what we want when we decide to work with other people. A lot of bands don’t take the time to find out who they are whether it’s onstage or in the studio but I love to perform live.
JBP: Is it a collective environment when writing new songs?
Turk Gaines: Some songs are collective and some are pseudo-collective. My chemistry with James and David is different than my chemistry with Dev and David. Different combinations within the band influence the writing itself. It’s amazing because our writing formulas are so varied we haven’t even discovered them all. So hold on to your seats because our song catalogue is going to be epic!
JBP: What are your plans for further endeavors? Taking over the world?
Turk Gaines: We are releasing a single every month this year. We are also releasing 4 videos at the end of summer and beginning of fall. 2 live videos, recorded properly and 2 produced videos, which we are stoked about. We are planning some incredible East Coast and Southern tour runs for winter and spring. We are also writing and recording constantly so… the future is busy.
JBP: What are your thoughts on this new mumble rap craze?
Turk Gaines: The mumble rap craze has its place; it doesn’t bother me because the youth are allowed to like what they want. My parents didn’t like what I listened too and their parents didn’t like what they listen too. If the people like it, leave them alone.
JBP: Wise words. Any crazy stories from touring or live shows?
Turk Gaines: We play a lot of shows but I can remember one night in VA, I will leave the venue anonymous, at the end of the show, there were 2 fights inside the venue and one in the parking lot. I guess we definitely brought “The Funk” that night. This interview could be one giant, “Turk tells all of his road stories” but we will leave that for a different interview.
JBP: Thank you so much for this interview and I wish Suga Grits all the best!
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.