Artikal Sound System, a reggae-rock band with an R&B twist, debuts at the Crystal Bay Casino in a rare, free Tuesday night show in the Red Room on April 5. The music starts at 9 p.m.
The Florida band is fronted by singer Logan Rex, who answered some questions for Tahoe Onstage:
Please describe your production of the “Welcome to Florida” album, which was released on Feb. 1.
For this album we did all the writing and preproduction at home. Some of that process was done remotely through voice memos since I was living in North Carolina at the time and the guys we’re all still in Florida. We tracked drum and bass at our friend’s studio Seven Hills and Chris and Cope recorded their parts at Chris Montague’s studio, Oceanside Audio. I went up to White Star Studio, just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, and stayed with producer Danny Kalb for four days to cut vocals. This was our first time working this way and it left a lot of room for creativity and collaboration. I feel like you can really hear everyone’s fingerprints on the songs.
How do you describe the Artikal sound?
Adam’s got a heavy foot on the drums and Fabian has a really full, round bass tone. Together those guys lay a powerful foundation for Chris’ steady rhythmic guitar and Cope’s screeching synths. I think my vocals get to just sort of sprinkle over the top and contrast with all that. On this album we also used programmed drums for the first time and layered Adam’s playing over them. It creates a more modern sound while still having that breath of live playing.
Who are your musical influences?
We all come from pretty vastly different musical backgrounds. I know I find a lot of inspiration from old jazz singers, I even listened to quite a bit of country growing up. Chris and Fabian come from a history of playing with great Caribbean artists. Adam will tell you over and over again that he’s a huge metal head and doesn’t know how he got wrapped up in this reggae thing but also fangirls hard for Bruno Mars. Chris Cope is a musical index who pulls a lot from classical pieces and Stevie Wonder. Luckily one place we all meet in is our love for reggae and lately we’ve been really inspired by Dirty Heads. They do a great job of widening the expectations of this genre and accomplishing what we tried to with this album, which is that perfect mix of produced drums while still keeping a live sound.
Artikal has played with a lot of ostensibly called reggae bands, which are male dominated. How is Artikal received with you our front?
This is something that comes up a lot. I guess I feel like the true feminist in me doesn’t even really like to make a point of my gender because it doesn’t seem to have much to do with the music we make. We hustle as hard as everyone else and luckily so far my genitals haven’t had to come into play.
Other than making the new record, how did you spend your time during the lockdown?
Obviously, lockdown was a bit of a rollercoaster for everyone, no matter what industry you work in. I think for us we all sort of had our own individual versions of an existential crisis. It’s tough when you identify yourself so much as something and then you have to reorient yourself to what that is. Things get moving pretty quick when you’re touring and it’s easy to lose some of the gnawing questions life has for us when there’s so much chaos and chatter. Lockdown was a great time to get introspective and reassess what’s working and what wasn’t. I think we all came out of it feeling really grateful to get to come live in this van together and tour around the country making music on very little sleep. I also made a ton of banana bread.
Who inspired “You’re An Asshole” and who’s the person in the rug?
I was in a relationship with someone for about 10 years and when something that long ends you feel a whole rainbow of emotions. “You’re An Asshole” only expresses one of those colors but it’s a bold one. I’ve felt beholden to only express the happier side of the spectrum because we want our music to lift people up, but I think with this album we realized that it’s OK for things to not always be blue skies and butterflies, sometimes music is meant to help us move through those darker feelings.
Anyway, the guy’s name is….