By Ian Bremner
Music fans who reside in the Pacific Northwest are a lucky bunch. The global grunge scene notwithstanding, folks in Seattle have not had to cling to any certain genre as their own. From folk rockers to rappers, the city is home to all types of music in all forms.
The soulful funk rock outfit, The Dip are a prime example. Seven guys from various projects around town came together to become one of the premier bands in the city all because they simply share the love of retro rnb music. Tom Eddy from Beat Connection is the lead vocalist. The horn section shares time with one of the biggest electronic groups in the business, Odesza. They’ll play anything and anywhere.
The Dip just announced their 2nd full length album, The Dip Delivers, due out in February. Jarred Katz and Tom Eddy took the time to talk about the history of their band, their musical tastes and a bit of the new record.
Ian Bremner: I know you guys have other various projects, what made you want to play classic soul tunes?
Jarred Katz: A lot of us were studying jazz at University of Washington. It’s a really great program and it was cool to meet your future friends and band mates and other musicians with like minds. It was just an environment to feed the fire to do something different than what we were doing at school, because there were so many hours where you had to plan to rehearse and plan compositions and all this stuff. This group originated from something that was just low stress and that would be fun to play at a house party. Our friends could come dance, have fun and not sit around confused by the weird avant garde jazz we were playing. We all still really like that stuff, it’s fun to play, but this all started in that vein. Then we got Tom [Eddy] involved. The driving force behind it was just trying to make it more than 10-20 minute long jams that go late into the evening with people chugging beer. Let’s give ’em something to dance to.
IB: So you got started the old school way, just playing house parties?
Tom Eddy: Yeah, house parties. We lived on 17th and 52nd, up from all the frats so we were within distance to walk the drum sets to many debaucherous basements. It seemed like a natural thing to do and those were the only places that would allow us to play because didn’t have any recorded music. Also, the composed element helped too. There were other jam bands around but we didn’t really want to be a jam band. The music we all liked was the retro rnb stuff.
IB: I’ve been to a fair share of college parties, but trying to imagine a jazz or soul band would be unique from my experience to say the least.
JK: Well that was the cool part. People didn’t expect a 7-piece band with horns and everything. It caught people off guard. When we were in college, the [EDM] DJ thing was really starting to pick up and we were just a rock band. But when people are wasted, seeing a burning sax, it was the oddest thing and very peculiar for people to see. That is what stayed in people’s minds. And our short name, The Dip.
IB: You mentioned the sax, you have the 3 part horn section, sort of the jazz session pocket drummer. Seattle may not be known for it’s soul music, but how do you compile a band like this?
JK: Seattle has a pretty cool soul history. The whole Weedle’s Groove compilation back in the day. You can listen to a lot of great Seattle soul records from Light In The Attic Records. This guy Robbie Hill and the Family Affair, he’s a really cool drummer. Of course, Seattle has a pretty great jazz history. It’s a town where people still really like going out to see music.
IB: Having just mentioned Light In The Attic, you put out a 7″ single on Colemine Records, another great label. How did you get hooked up with those guys?
TE: Unbeknownst to any of us, our guitar player Jacob [Lundgren], sent the single over to Terry at Colemine Records and he was into it. And Jacob is kind of the last guy you would think to “make a record deal,” but he was like “hey guys, Colemine Records wants to do something” and we were all like, “What the fuck? Where’s this coming from?” That was really cool. They are a great label doing awesome stuff. Good people doing it for the right reasons. The deals with that label are really good and it’s just a really cool thing. There needs to be more shit like that.
IB: You have some pure instrumental tracks like the “Wont Be Coming Home EP,” is that simply keeping with soul tradition?
TE: We just wanted to put out more music and it’s sometimes hard to put out a whole record. There’s a lot that goes into it. We had some grooves laying around so we just decided to do it instrumental.
JK: We just like putting out music. Sometimes there’s a song and it just feels full. Once horns get involved, it can take on a lot of melodic leadership so there were a couple times we looked at each other and were like, “maybe we don’t need vocals.” Plus, its good to throw those in our live set. It mixes things up and give the crowd a bit of a break.
TE: I hope we do more instrumentals to alternate. I won’t have to sing so much.
IB: Soul music is a little different, there’s a beat and a groove but with all the different projects you guys have going on between everyone in the band, how do you decide, “OK this is a DIP song,” or this is “better served as a solo project.” When do you bring it to the rest of the group?
TE: Lately I’ve been setting out to write a Dip song as opposed to writing whatever and having to choose down the line when it’s more crystallized. I think there’s just a nostalgic feeling I have about The Dip and what is sounds like, so it’s not hard to go down that path. Of course, sometimes you write something and it just doesn’t have the groove or it doesn’t speak to arrangement to all of the the instruments we have in the band.
JK: People bring in ideas and as a band, it’s important to give that songwriter the attention that any new song deserves. You want to be delicate with people’s compositions. They’re personal. You never want to come away from a session and feel “those guys didn’t try very hard on my song.” If you bring something in, we’re going to work really hard on it for that day and then we can sit back after a day or two. That way, even if it wasn’t the right vibe, at least we gave it attention.
IB: Soul music has a lot of history obviously, and it seems like in certain genres like blues and hip hop, tradition and history is all a part of how the music is perceived. How important to you guys when your playing soul music?
TE: To be honest, we cringe a bit every time someone says we play “soul music.” Soul music is such a delicate thing. Soul music is black american music as an art form. That is something we never set out to really do. We are inspired by that music and inspired by the stories that inspired that music and the people and the lives that they lived. That’s really important to us. It’s one thing to label yourself as something but it’s another to be inspired and to make something of your own. We’re always pushing ourselves to analyze it and really question, “is this just a trope?” or an emulation of something that we couldn’t really do justice to? Then, with any type of music, there’s a threshold that you have to reach of in terms of quality and integrity in the way you approach it. Especially music with so much history and soul. We try to always keep ourselves accountable. Are we doing this so we can get on some playlist that a computer can pick up with algorithms OR are we doing it in such a way where it pays homage to the musical style?
IB: I really appreciate you saying that. It definitely takes a certain amount of awareness to put anything out art into the world. Speaking to that, who are some modern groups that you look to who are pushing that envelope.
TE: The Dap Kings are an example of something that is revivalist in nature but they are so good that it’s almost an entirely new thing. It’s from the depths of the people who made it feels that way to everyone who listens to it.
Also, Mac DeMarco. It’s totally different obviously, but his band and his philosophy about life and music about not taking yourself too seriously but being serious about the art and the emotions you put out, that’s fucking cool. He can stick a drumstick up his ass and at the same time sing a really beautiful song that can reach people emotionally. That’s a new take and I think that’s cool.
JK: There’s a lot of bands out there doing it really well. Durand Jones & The Indications, when you see them live, they’re incredible. Durand as a front man, he’s a phenomenal singer. He has so many levels he can go reach. Their drummer Aaron Frazer is a really great singer and drummer. Those guys are total record collectors too. You can see that they know the history. It’s cool to see a group doing what what they’re doing.
IB: I know that question is always impossible, but I ask more as a music fan and just curious to what you guys are listening to. I saw a playlist on Spotify called “The Dip Digs” and its pretty eclectic with a lot of artists I really dig. How do you pull from all these different types of sound that you clearly like?
TE: Besides the song and the melody itself, the actual arrangements in recorded music is kind of overarching. If you’re recording something, there are ways to fit in all the sounds and certain ecosystems of sounds. If you get it right, it can really inform the song. If you don’t, it doesn’t come across and your ideas get cluttered. Across all the genres, the arrangement of the songs and sonic textures can totally live in a Dip song. We’re always learning about that.
JK: All of the music that our band is into can infiltrate the subconscious and come out in our playing naturally. Something we try to do in our live set, is to have special moments where the audience, who may be in the backseat of the vehicle we’re driving, and trying to take them to different places. Just listening to our first album, you could probably tell what our vibe is like. Were trying to break down a few cliches with the funk, soul vibe and try to take it to new levels. In our set, we have some experimental noise breakdowns and some other moments that feature each members our band to an extended circumstance so that each person gets to shine and show who they are.
IB: So in terms of breakdowns and sequencing, how did that shakeout for the new album?
JK: Our guitar player Jacob produces all the music. Tom is involved too. Jake does the mixing and he had a real clear idea of how he wanted things to go in terms of track sequencing for the album since he spent so much time into it. We didn’t fight him on it. We trusted him because that’s just his lane. I think it sounds cool. And sometimes that stuff is overblown. It’s all on there. [laughs]
The Dip’s second full length LP, ‘The Dip Delivers’ will be out n February 8th, 2019. Catch their live shows
Listen to new single, She Gave Me The Keys from new album
The Dip will be on tour all spring long. Go see their show.
The Dip 2019 tour dates:
2/16 – Neumos – Seattle, WA
3/30 – Vancouver, BC – Wise Hall
3/31 – Volcanic Theatre Pub – Bend, OR
4/3 – The Chapel – San Francisco, CA
4/4 – Moroccan Lounge – Los Angeles, CA
4/5 – Soda Bar – San Diego, CA
4/6 – Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ
4/9 – 3Ten Live – Austin, TX
4/10 – The Rustic – Dallas, TX
4/12 – High Watt – Nashville, TN
4/13 – Vinyl – Atlanta, GA
4/14 – Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC
4/16 – Union Stage – Washington, D.C.
4/17 – World Cafe – Philadelphia, PA
4/19 – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY
4/20 – Great Scott – Boston, MA
4/23 – Beachland – Cleveland, OH
4/24 – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe – Kalamazoo, MI
4/25 – Chop Shop – Chicago, IL
4/26 – Colectivo – Milwaukee, WI
4/27 – Turf Club – St. Paul, MN
4/28 – Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
4/30 – Globe Hall – Denver, CO
5/2 – The Olympic – Boise, ID
5/3 – Top Hat – Missoula, MT
5/4 – Lucky You Lounge – Spokane, WA
5/5 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR