Interview with Footwerk, winner of the DC Area Deli's Reader's Poll.

New "Eyes Low" video!

By: Natan Press

February 10, 2015

Footwerk was unexpected, a happy accident...It's an interesting story because generally you don;t meet anyone on craigslist who's not borderline nuts, and we found 6 genuinely dedicated, talented people who naturally bonded.

Footwerk is the DC Area Deli's Reader's Poll winner for 2014. A 6-piece pop outfit, combining all the parties into one big all night rager, Footwerk can't help but be hugely popular and on the cusp of breaking across the nation. They just released a new video for single "Eyes Low" through Vevo, and their debut album Casual Encounters is set for a Spring 2015 release. Check out their new video, and get to know the diverse group with a little Q+A. 

Like many bands, you came together and got to know each other before determining the direction your music and presentation would take. However, the curious way Footwerk came together as a band has itself become the focus of the way you present yourselves and the themes in your new album. Can you talk about how the band was formed, why that story is compelling to you, and how it has given you guidance thus far?

Melissa: Footwerk was unexpected, a happy accident. While mentoring kids for a youth hip hop program, Kyle (male vocalist) wanted to put together a band for an end of semester showcase. Kyle often says ‘You can find anything on Craigslist’ so he turned to the site in search of musicians to play one gig but we all just sort of clicked, even though the showcase never happened. We decided to do an open mic, and another, then eventually anywhere that would have us. It’s an interesting story because generally you don't meet anyone on craigslist who's not borderline nuts, and we found 6 genuinely dedicated, talented people who naturally bonded.

Footwerk’s sound is diverse. What are the musical backgrounds of the members? How did they each come to music, and why?

We are a confused bunch for sure.
Eric (Percussionist) comes from a latin music background and grew up playing salsa/merengue. He brings an energy to our shows and rhythms that gringos or Go Go percussionists would never think to play.
Fern (Bass) is a metal head/ 90's hip hop junkie. He gives us a relentless groove and pitch perfect background harmonies.
Ted (keys) our in house producer is a self taught closet savant that can shred most instruments. He's the ’toe jam' of Footwerk.
Mel (Vocals) is the straight up soul of Footwerk. A sanger, she can sang with an ‘a’! One listen and you know she grew up in the church, probably a baptist church! Her powerful voice makes the edgier sound of our music hit harder.
Josh (Drums) has played drums since elementary school and never dreamed of doing anything else. We love his youthful exuberance and on stage persona. He brings the passion and dynamics to our high energy set.
Kyle (Vocals) was born in England, like his predecessors from across the pond he fell in love with american music and came here to make his mark on the scene. On stage he is part rapper, part singer and part-part-time comedian. He’s just trying his best not piss you off…

You have a lot of pieces, and a big sound. What’s your process for creating a cohesive sound. How do you write? Where do you practice? Where did you record your new album?

Fern: Actually we are currently seeking a guitarist, turns out they’re hard to find, even on craigslist! We also have flirted with the idea of adding a horn or horn section to the band as well. We spend a ton of time practicing in rehearsal with a focus on creating a cohesive sound, it’s always about the song instead of any individual part. Inspiration comes when it comes, whenever, wherever it finds you but when we are stuck or have writers block some of our best ideas come from ‘The White Board’ A dry erase board in the rehearsal space. When it comes to writing song lyrics, we write them out on The White Board and then each member thinks up the next line or rhyme, we pick the best and repeat the process until verse or hook is done. If we’re working on a melody, each person comes up their own idea of how it should go individually and then we each present our idea and the band picks the best one. Sometimes it’s terrible, usually it’s funny and occasional, genius. (Fern)

Josh: We rehearse at the band house which is similar to an MTV real world situation, which is depicted in our upcoming video for ‘Oh I Know’. Our dedicated production team consists of Grammy nominated Chris Wright, who records and produces between his DC and Atlanta studios as well as working with Sleepy Gringo, our engineer/mixmaster at Heininger Studios in Arlington, VA.

Tell me about the new album. What does it mean to you? What are you trying to communicate to your audience? What do you want your audience to get from it?

Kyle: This is our first album and we dubbed it Casual Encounters in homage to our humble beginnings on craigslist. The concept stems from todays generations interactions via the internet, texting, social networking, dating sites, viral videos, ect, It’s all a form of casual encounters in one way or another. People have become used to instant gratification via the push of a button, so all we’re asking for is one push of the Footwerk button, a one night stand if you will, with no strings attached. This album is our idea of what a good time with Footwerk sounds like, there will be ups, there will be downs, we will laugh, cry, fight and hug it out but at the end it’s all love, we are all family even if we only get together and hang at the family reunion once a year. We are all human, we’re not celebrities, we deal with real life issues on a daily basis just like you. We just are open enough to give you access into our resent search history, lol

The Deli is a magazine and blog that focuses on “up-and-coming” artists. Most of the artists we cover have yet to get any support from labels or press. Even if they have, they’re in the early stages, trying to make a name for themselves. You’ve been at this for four years, and are getting some good gigs, and developing a following. What lessons have you learned that you can share with other bands?

Eric: We’ve been at this our whole lives really, and Footwerk has been an idea in Kyle’s head for four years but only really existed in it’s current form for two years. The major lesson i have learned is ....dont be a dick! Treat everybody like they are the gatekeeper and key master to your success, and then work your ass off because nobody will do anything for you, that you aren’t doing for yourself already. That being said, Thank You Deli Magazine for saying nice things about us!

Ted: We are very proud to say we just booked our first official gig with 930 club, at their sister venue, U St Music Hall but thats not something that just magically happened. We have been emailing anybody and everybody, sending out press releases, media and music for the entire 2 years now. Proper planning prevents poor performance. I try to look at it like this... I know people have fun at our shows but not everyone has been yet, so I try to perform like this is someones first time seeing the band, this may be someone’s last time seeing the band or their only time ever seeing the band, so we can’t have an off night, we must give them the Footwerk experience. My fear isn’t whether Footwerk is or isn’t successful, my fear is looking back and having regrets or thinking we could have worked harder or didn’t put the work in.

What are your next steps?

By the time you read this we'll have released the video for "Eyes Low." Our Casual Encounters album release party will be held at U St Music Hall (U Hall DC) on April 23rd, 2015 and everybody who purchases a ticket ($15) or attends will get a complimentry download and 50% off a Casual Encounters T-Shirt ($25 = 1 Ticket + 1 Casual Encounters T-Shirt + Casual Encounters digital download). If you can't make the show, no worries, our next move will be coming to a city near you soon.