Interview/Music: Don’t Problem

Don’t Problem return with the second track from their upcoming album ‘Liminality’  which is planned to drop later this summer. Following up to the heavy jazz of ‘CD’s Lament’. ‘Whale’ pushes that vibe sound into a psychedelic and more mellow, yet still uplifting direction. Epic strings mingle with pulsing horn sounds all layered around subtle electronics, and thumping drums, they come together to create a soundscape that would light up any dancefloor! Bet they are an absolute blast live?

The South London-based 8-piece brass band are carving out their own space writing their own music which is uncommon in a brass band world full of cover bands.

Speaking about the track the band says:

“As 8 people writing music together, sometimes it can take a while for a tune to fully take shape. This tune came into itself in the studio which gave us the space to explore the production, sonic possibilities and instrumentation. The opening section leads to a beautiful first-take flugelhorn solo driven by lush strings, pulsing horns and electronics before reaching its soaring conclusion. The title ‘Whale’ is in reference to the Whale emoji which we use as a way to express a greatness or joy for which words can’t be found.”

We catch up with the band and discuss everything from their forthcoming album to people’s perceptions of brass bands.

For those that are new to the band. Tell us about how Don’t Problem came together?

We’re a group of friends who mainly play brass instruments and have been in various other projects together. We’d become a bit disillusioned with playing pop covers and brass bands in general and wanted to start something different. The first attempt at this (Off-Key He-Man) burned brightly for a very short time, though this incidentally led to the creation of 22a records (and we’re standing by that!). But then the members who still wanted to explore that sound came together with some others and started Don’t Problem.

Q. There are 8 of you in the band. What does each member bring to Don’t Problem, and also, where does your name come from?

First and foremost we’re a democracy and with 8 members our individual interests are incredibly wide-ranging. Each member brings ideas to the band, their own unique voice on their instrument and their general artistic sentiments, but we then expand upon those as a group. We got the name first and knew we had to start a band because we had the name. It actually came from a conversation two of our members were involved in while working on a building site. When they heard it they just knew.

Q. What music or artist unites you as a band?

Very hard question, especially when there are 8 of us. There are a million things we all love but then there are probably a million that some of us love and some of us hate. That’s what keeps it interesting!

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your forthcoming album ‘Liminality’?

We were really lucky that we were able to record this in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. We were able to spend a week away in the studio recording the bulk of it. It’s probably the biggest undertaking a lot of us have been involved with. Everything we have recorded before was just 8 of us in a room playing together, but being in the studio allowed us to expand on this adding a full string section, synths and other elements of production into the overall sound.

Q. As a brass band composing original material, you’re changing people’s perceptions of what brass bands have to offer. Was it a conscious decision to separate Don’t Problem from what’s gone before?

Yes and no. Yes because it feels like many other brass bands are stuck in a rut about what they’re allowed to do, whereas, as long as we are writing our own music, with our own sensibilities, nothing is off-limits for us. No in the respect that the brass band format is a far-reaching tradition in terms of time and place. But each of those individual traditions culturally represent the people creating that music, wherever and whenever that might be, and this is the music that represents us.

Q. For anyone that doesn’t know your music, what would you say to get them to listen?

Some music that we wanted to hear didn’t exist so we made it, and if other people enjoy it, that’s a bonus. Also, please?

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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