Foreign Goods, City’s Most Eclectic Band?
Nine crack musicians meld rap, hip hop, jazz, world music, yet keep the sound raw.
What do you get when rap, jazz, hip hop, and funk are meshed with the sounds of Columbian and Ethiopian music? There really is only one answer: if you selected Foreign Goods you’re correct. Foreign Good’s inspiration stems from Marvin Gaye to Kendrick Lamar and from Herbie Hancock to Tame Impala. The nine-piece band has grown over time with the most recent addition being frontman and saxophone player Jay Anderson‘s brother, Michael Anderson, on trumpet. Jay Anderson once described the band’s process this way: “Sometimes I’ll bring in some Ethiopian-folk-music-psychedelic-trance-North-Indian-Dervish-y stuff, maybe a Willie Bobo cover, or maybe just an idea I was playing with. The other members suggest material and ideas constantly, and we shape them over time.”
The band’s drummer Tim Russell, is Director of Music for UW-Milwaukee’s Dance Department. Bassist Sam Gehrke also plays with Soul Low. Pianist Quinten Farr has been playing jazz piano since he was a pre-teen. And the band’s guitarist Randy Komberec has performed with Naima Adedapo, a Milwaukee native who was featured on “American Idol.”
Jay Anderson has played with a long list of bands in town. He was happy to answer our questions.
When did you begin playing music?
I started playing 13 years ago when I was 10.
How did the band come together?
Tim Russel and I were living together and having these weekly sessions with Sam Gehrke from Soul Low. Then we started working with Klassik. Shortly after we added guitar (Randy Komberec), piano (Quinten Farr), and most recently two female vocalists (Abby Jeanne and Britney Freeman). This summer we will be at nine musicians in the band while working with my brother on trumpet.
What are some artists that inspire you?
Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, David Wake, Chucho Valdez, Ravi Shankar, Mulatu Astatke, Flying Lotus, Susana Baca, Willie Bobo, John Coltrane, Ghostface Killah, BadBadNotGood, D’Angelo, MADLIB, Roy Ayers, Herbie Hancock, Curtis Mayfileld, Tame Impala, Kanye West, Odd Future, Tito Puente, N.E.R.D, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Aphex Twin, Gold Panda, Dub Trio.
The band’s like 11 months old.
Where did your name come from?
It came to me, and everyone liked it and agreed on it. It was mainly because my music has so many good foreign influences. We can rap, sing and dance, but I’m also going to expose you to some Columbian music or some Ethiopian music while I’m at it.
How would you describe your music?
Eclectic and raw.
What’s your inspiration going into making a song?
Whatever my current emotional state is. Songs are like journal entries, I wrote that because that’s how I felt at that time. I might get the most basic bones of a song written up and let the band have at it. I, after all, cannot play any of their instruments.
How do you link up with other artists for collaborations?
If we hear something that we like it’ll just come up.
What’s the vibe in the studio when you are recording/practicing?
Serious but in a very laid back way. If the rest of the world is supposed to want our music this is the time to put that work in, but no need to be a dick about it.
Any local artists you really like?
What do you think of the local music scene?
It’s growing quickly! I’m blessed to live here
Do you most often play in Milwaukee?
Yes, I play here about five nights a week. The band plays about once a month all over town
Do you have a favorite place to play?
I used to love to play at The Estate when it was open. Right now my favorite place to play is Company Brewing.
What’s the best way to connect with your fans?
We go out into my community just for the sake of going out and talking to our people.
Have you toured anywhere?
Not yet, but soon
Any albums or EP’s coming out soon?
Foreign Goods will have its first album out this year, along with several albums with collaborative efforts with local artists.
What are your plans for the future?
To raise the Milwaukee music scene up, go on world tours.Cascio Interstate Music is proud to sponsor Urban Milwaukee’s Band of the Week column. Running in tandem with their own Band of the Month program, supporting local music is key to CIM’s mission.