Not surprisingly, there wasn’t any time to take the foot off the gas on November 9, the day New York’s Big Village Little City released their debut album, Over the Weather. There was still work to be done, from a taping at City Winery to a record release party.
It’s the life of a working musician, and Amy Grace and her crew (Osei Kweku, Zac Hills-Bonczyk, Kenrick McBean, Kai Sandoval, Bryan Pasian, Mauki McGruder) aren’t waiting for the world to come to them. They’re going after every listener they can get the old fashioned way — by making good music and playing it whenever they can.
“Some bands forget that the whole point is the experience itself and to grow your audience,” said Grace, the band’s vocalist. “And you can’t really grow your audience when there is no audience because there’s no show. (Laughs) It’s a lot of work to really be booking all the time; it’s basically an office job. So it’s a lot of work to keep playing and to have all the musicians available, especially in New York because everybody’s part of a lot of different musical projects.”
But since 2016, they’ve managed to make it work with a diverse, yet cohesive, style that has a little bit of something for everyone. And in a city that isn’t easy to build a following, BVLC has managed to make a true home in the Big Apple.
“The response has always been really positive and everybody keeps saying I’ve never seen anything like this combination of all my favorite stuff,” said Grace. “There’s something for everybody. And the live experience is really fun. It’s a dance party, it’s live horns, it’s an ambiance that we create. It’s not just something that you stand and watch. And then when we did the video release party, all the feedback was really good, and everybody that comes across this band and this sound is super down, and we’re lucky that we have no shortage of other artists that want to come and add to the ambiance.”
That means body painters and live artists to go along with the music, and when you add it all together, it’s a fun time where you get your money’s worth. No, it’s not your typical night out, but that’s the point.
“With music, and radio and television too, the really mainstream things are getting more and more simple and formulaic,” she said. “It’s like, this is how you write a pop song and this is how a reality show goes down. So I think people are really looking for something different. And it is easier to reach an audience just because of technology. All you have to do is Google the name of the band and you hear all their music.”
That can be a good thing or a bad thing. In the case of BVLC, it’s a great thing, because it’s a mix of sounds that does the nearly impossible these days: it sounds fresh.
“It’s what we play,” Grace says matter-of-factly. “It’s a group that’s made up of a lot of people with a jazz background and a funk background and this is the sound that came out. It’s the art that came out of us. I do think that there’s a lot of people that do love it and it spans a wide range of ages because there’s a lot of old school sound in there and then there’s more modern stuff going on. It’s just what we do, and even if nobody listened to it, it’s still the sound that we would make.”
Oh, don’t worry Ms. Grace, people will be listening. And she can’t wait for more folks to join the BVLC family in the coming years.
“I think a lot of people are letting go of the whole record label idea because it just doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “You can be your own promoter and build your own team, and that’s very effective. It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s important because it builds your family. And when you have regular shows, some of the same people start showing up and it becomes such a vibe and you’re building a lot of love.”
For more information on Big Village Little City, click here