Interview: BRZZVLL

BRZZVLL keeps on tripping. Polemicals, the new album by the Belgian band on Melting Pot Music, takes their psychedelic jazz groove to a next level. It is still hard to find the right box for BRZZVLL, but it can be described as a blend of jazz, funk, afro and electronica. Jazz is the teacher, but band leader Vincent Brijs and hicrew couldn’t care less about restrictions and regulations. The six guys of BRZZVLL simply do what they want. Most times you can dance to it; all the time you can trip with it.

Were does the vowellesname BRZZVLL come from?

A couple of years ago I tried to get inspired for a band name looking on a world map. A friend of mine spotted the place Brazzaville. It sounded exotic and wild to me. Next to that I liked the association with my last name, ‘Brijs’.

What’s the early history of BRZZVLL as a collective?

We all met at the conservatory in Antwerp. We were all studying music and I wanted to do a project playing jazz music from the seventies. In particular funk jazz like The Headhunters, Eddie Harris, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, and so on.

Your previous two albums are more jazz/funk oriented, with a little bit of fusion. On the new album, PolemicalsBRZZVLL sounds really fresh, exploring more boundaries between the aforementioned genres. Was this an organic process?

Yeah, it happened naturally because it’s a ‘jam album’ in a sense. I write most of the music, but we experiment with all kinds of compositions. The final sound very much depends on the post-production which was done by Andrew Claes (tenor sax) and me. We share the same love for electronic music, hence the new influences on Polemicals.

These days we often hear musicians complaining about audiences at jazz gigs not being quiet enough, especially in the Netherlands. What do you personally expect from BRZZVLL’s audience at live shows?

I want the people to dance and to listen with full attention. Our audience is very diverse, I guess. I don’t believe jazz purists visit our shows. In general people who like funk, hip hop, soul and who have an eclectic taste come to our concerts.

Your first two albums were received very well in Belgium. How’s the band doing in the rest of Europe – and the world? 

We’ve recently been invited for a festival in Riga (Latvia). Playing good shows abroad means having a good booking agency, being part of the right circuit or having a hit factor. The latter is pretty difficult with no lead singer…

Who or what are the biggest influences for BRZZVLL?

That’s hard to say. There are a lot of big influences for us as a collective like The Headhunters, Luke Vibert, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Tony Allen, Yusef Lateef, Eddie Harris, Kraftwerk, Klaus Schulze, Fela, Theo Parrish, and many many more.

And what contemporary artists do you guys listen to these days?

Flying Lotus, Four Tet, Goat, Machinedrum, Andy Scott, Funkadelic, Drexciya, Boards of Canada… and of course Can. This list can go on and on for a very long time. (laughs)

What can we expect from you guys this summer, a lot of live gigs I assume?

We play on quite a few festivals like the one in Riga I mentioned. Next to that we perform at festivals like the Gentse Feesten in Belgium, Bruksellive, and Jazzmarathon in the Ancienne Belgique.