It pays to be persistent. The Red Groove Project, a 10-member funk instrumental band from Shanghai, will release its first record on March 14. It’s a long-time coming as it took nearly nine years.
The band will perform the same day to support the album “Flow.” The gig will be held at On Stage in Redtown on Huaihai Road W.
“I’ve always liked the word ‘flow’ as it relates to music and to other aspects of life as well,” says Lawrence Ku, guitarist and founder of the Red Groove Project.
“It represents what this band is all about — making joyous, groovy music, creating this flow of communication and energy between the musicians themselves and between the band and the audience,” he says.
In his eyes, music has to flow and there are so many different streams of energy.
There is “the flow of each musician’s solo, the flow between musicians, the energy between the audience and the musicians, the flow of each song, of each set, of the whole show,” Ku says.
“There’s also that cultural aspect of ‘going with the flow.’ In a sense, that’s what this band is all about,” he adds. “We create to suit our needs, and the needs of the environment we live in.”
The band comprises musicians from around the world.
They started out doing mostly covers of songs they loved, including tunes by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Jamiroquai and Mod Def.
Later, the focus turned to original compositions.
“We finally had this nice book of original material and it was time to make a record,” Ku says.
At the moment, they have a trumpet player from northeastern China, another trumpeter from Melbourne, a saxophonist from New York, a trombonist from Shanghai, a bassist and one drummer from Cleveland, another drummer from Canberra, a keyboardist from Massachusetts, and Ku, who is from Los Angeles.
“This really heterogeneous cultural makeup is a very special aspect of the band. All the band members live in Shanghai, so that’s how I met them. We all play together in various other bands as well,” Ku says.
“I’m lucky to have really amazing musicians in this band. When I say ‘amazing,’ it’s not just their ability to play loud and hard and blow people away with their solos, but also their empathy, their understanding of the language, their ability to listen and react,” Ku says.
The band works with singers from time to time. They worked with Chinese-American pop singer Shunza on “Flow.”
“She’s one of my favorite singers and a good friend. The two songs she sings on, ‘Three Doors, Three Keys’ and ‘Reason’s Treason,’ really show her depth and versatility as a singer. Neither of those are easy songs to sing,” Ku says. “I’m very happy that she agreed to sing and she nails it.”
The band has performed at various music festivals in Shanghai, including JZ Festival and Midi Festival.
“Shanghai is a crazy place: fast, dense, with so much energy, with all kinds of people from everywhere. The band and our music reflects that in some way I think. It’s fun music, funky, groovy, jazzy, you can dance to it, you can just listen,” Ku says.
“I like to think it stimulates the mind and body. My hope is that everyone can connect to the music in one way or another,” he says.
Ku and the other band members understand how important the live shows are and that the audience is extremely important.
“It can be a very magical connection sometimes, a beautiful dance,” Ku says. “Music making wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without an audience to dig the music. We’ll try to hit as many cities as possible.”