There’s nothing quite like a band that can explore different genres with their music. They offer different takes on hip hop, jazz, reggae, pop and many others with a refreshing spin. It also makes for a fun vibe that’ll last the whole night. Stemming from various parts of Rhode Island, Purple Honey has this in their repertoire and they have a knack for getting people to dance. Over at Proof in Narragansett, this kind of atmosphere will be taking over the place Saturday.
I had a talk with lead singer Gisella Farkas, keyboardist Tyler Barnes-Diana, drummer Josh DeFedele, bassist Luc Mailloux and guitarist Ben Wise ahead of the show about dabbling in numerous styles, mixing originals and covers and the story behind the name
Rob Duguay: Purple Honey is basically a party band that dabbles in numerous styles while mixing up covers and originals. Has this always been the vision behind the band or did it just come together this way?
Tyler Barnes - Diana: I’m not sure I’d call us a party band, rather a dance facilitator. The goal for us is to do our best to create quality music that brings joy to everybody regardless of age or favorite genre and get those feet tapping. The crowd is definitely a part of the experience.
Luc Mailloux: When we started getting ready to play out last fall, the idea was that we’d play a couple shows and see how they felt and then decide where to take things. We ended up enjoying the covers just as much as our originals and the response was greater than we had anticipated. We then decided we could definitely do the whole cover band thing and still play music that felt good.
Gisella Farkas: We initially fell in love with the orginal songs we created with a certain unique jazz and funk influence. We were young and just wanted to have fun writing together. Being more mature in music brought us to not only tweak and refine the originals. We wanted to add on the joy of making a crowd dance to something familiar with a Purple Honey flair, of course. There are certain songs from each artist that are timeless. I think we find it our duty to give them a limelight in memerence and appreciation.
Josh DeFedele: Some of those originals still make it to our setlists, but with more organization and dynamics. Focusing on cover music became the majority vote because we believe there is a lot to gain by learning popular songs from the inside-out.
Ben Wise: During my first time playing with Purple Honey, we played a couple of originals and we still incorporate those today and plan on writing more. We also had a lot of fun learning covers from a wide range of genres that we all love. It’s great because we all pull ideas from each other as to which direction we should move.
RD: That’s great how it’s been a steady evolution, it seems pretty natural.
LM: It definitely does.
RD: Who came up with the name and the logo? It’s all fairly unique.
LM: “Purple” came first, which I was pretty set on sticking with. Then we tossed around tons of ideas until Gisella finished it with “Honey”.
GF: Purple has a representation of both funk and rock. When people think “purple” in music, they think of “Purple Rain” by Prince. We liked the idea of indicating those genres will be in our music.
JD: We had a friend design our logo, Leah Lacsamana is a graphic designer at J&R Marketing. She began by collecting information about the group and generated a few mockups for us to ponder over. From that point we made some suggestions collectively as a group for edits until we came to our final product. She was extremely helpful throughout the entire process and it is obvious that she takes great pride in her work.
RD: Ben, you’re also the frontman for the Narragansett based jam-funk act Groove Axiom. When it comes to playing in Purple Honey do you find any major differences between this band and the one you sing in?
BW: There are definitely some major differences. The biggest apparent difference for me is my role between the two. We all play big roles in each band but in Groove Axiom, since we’re a 3 piece, I’m sort of the ring leader. On and off stage, I have to handle multiple things at once. In Purple Honey, I’m able to kind of sit back in the pocket more and just focus on my parts and add little pieces here and there while playing off the other instruments and I love it for that reason.
One other difference would be how we approach the songs we play. Groove Axiom is more loose and open ended, which comes with the territory. Purple Honey plays with more structure with planned song changes and things like that. Song selection is one other difference that stands out to me. I love playing in both bands and the differences between the two make it that much more fun and challenging! It’s never the same.
RD: Now for Luc, how difficult can it get when it comes to adapting to different rhythms and structures on bass? With the band having such a wide range of genres, it must take some adapting.
LM: Being adaptive has always been one of my best qualities, both inside and outside music. It’s just a part of who I am. I learned tons of music theory and such during my teen years, but there was always an emphasis on application and improvisation. Due to that I sought out a variety of groups and styles to play. During my high school years, I played bass in the concert and jazz bands and played guitar with my rock and pop bands. I also spent years doing the Craigslist shuffle, playing bass, drums and guitar with literally over a hundred musicians.
It has taught me a ton on how to play all kinds of styles. Then my background as a drummer definitely has helped, too. My first instrument was drums, so I’ve always had that solid connection with drummers. It’s especially true with Josh, who was the first drummer I played with all the way back in 2005. The challenges I face in Purple Honey are more along the lines of arranging the songs. Yes, most of the songs we play are covers, but we frequently make significant changes and sometimes rearrange songs for completely different feels.,
With our funk version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and the upbeat swing take of the Sublime classic “Santeria.” Nearly every song we play has a custom made chord and lyric sheet to help with key shifts and any structural changes. That’s my job, and the process of creating those arrangements makes playing the bass more of a reward than a challenge.
RD: What can people expect ahead of the show at Proof?
TBD: Some songs you know and love, some you might not expect, and some songs of our own.
GF: Get ready to have an “Oh, I know that song” moment and be intrigued with them having an interesting twist. This show is going to be a room full of contagious smiles deriving from the passion we all have for playing great music.