Music Spotlight: Andy Suzuki & the Method
by juliet izon
FROM LEFT: Jason Gorelick, Andy Suzuki, and Kozza Babumba named their band because of the Suzuki Method of teaching music. “We thought it was hidden and kind of cool,” Suzuki says.
Andy Suzuki, 27, almost bleeds the red and white of the District of Columbia flag. No, really: Emblazoned on the Sidwell Friends School graduate’s ribs is a stylized tattoo of DC’s stars and stripes. This juxtaposition of a passion for tradition and whimsy is not only seen on Suzuki himself, however, but is also a hallmark of his independent band, Andy Suzuki & the Method. The trio, who met at Brown University, also consists of 23-year-old Jason Gorelick and 29-year-old Kozza Babumba. They describe their sound as “folk pop,” or as Suzuki says with a grin, “Tracy Chapman if she were a little more Asian and a little bit country.”
For instance, the group’s new album, Born Out of Mischief, includes threads of everything from blues to pop rock. But after their tracks were written, one hurdle stood between them and a finished album: money. With the help of crowdfunding site Indiegogo, the trio raised more than $40,000 to cover production and engineering costs. “Our engineer, John Siket, has worked with everyone from Phish to Dave Matthews,” Babumba says. And, as a wink to his DC roots, the album cover features a photo Suzuki took while riding Amtrak into Union Station.
While Gorelick has been classically trained on the violin since age 3 and Babumba learned to play drums from his grandfather, Grammy-winning percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, the group is not afraid to venture into disparate musical territories and blend the resulting sounds.
Suzuki, who is the band’s primary vocalist, also cites his 14 years at Sidwell as a major force behind his musical proclivities: “Being a part of that community exposed me to all different kinds of music. It encouraged me to be creative; you feel like you can try any and everything,” he says.
Further inspiration for the record came not only from musicians whose work they’d like to emulate, such as Amos Lee, but also from performers who have a powerful spark on stage. “A lot of what inspired Mischief was our experience at the South by Southwest Music Festival 2012,” Gorelick says. “We saw an artist, Ben Howard, perform in this church venue, and it was transcendental; acoustic-driven, but with so much energy.”
The band—based in New York but claiming an avid following up and down the East Coast—plans to spend much of 2014 touring. They play live shows not only to connect with fans, but also to hone their musical personality. The crowd’s reaction to certain tunes directly influences the direction ASTM plans to take for later albums. “We use a lot of these current songs to inform our songwriting,” Babumba says. “We’re trying to figure out how certain tracks connect with people.”
While their next album is still incubating, Gorelick is confident about the band’s future. “In five years I want to have won an internationally recognized award, like a Grammy,” he says. “But I think a smaller goal is just to still be doing this.”
photography by Talisman Brolin
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