"Eat Your Greens" – An Interview with FENG SUAVE
by Kyla Rain
The Amsterdam based group, “Feng Suave” have been quickly making a name for themselves and their psych pop/soul music. In this interview we talked about politics, the story behind Noche Oscura, karaoke, and so much more. I first came upon their music in the middle of one of my classes, and let me just say I melted in my seat. The soulful vocals and smooth bass line stole my heart from the first seconds, and I know it will do the same for you. Keep reading to learn more about this iconic duo and the magic they make.
Can you give us a little bit of background about your band? How’d you get started, how’d you come up with the name, etc.
Both of us once participated in a singer-songwriter contest and we liked each other’s performance on the show. One thing led to another and we started hanging out and became close friends. Our musical styles blended together real nice and we both shared the same vision in music, so we decided to team up and make music. We were able to sign a deal with Sony ATV (publishing) quite early on after we created a few demos, but we still didn’t have a name. Our Synth guy, room-mate and all round awesome dude, Joris, had this Instagram account called Feng.suave. He drew inspiration from a bottle of the best Portuguese shampoo called ‘Ultra Suave’. We decided to steal his idea for the band, because we had been struggling to come up with a name for months, and thought a name meaning ‘smooth wind’ or perhaps ‘soft breeze’ would suit our musical style very well.
Please spill your musical influences! The funky bass lines and soulful vocals get me every time, I’ve never heard anything that was this much the audio equivalent of honey before!
Our musical influences are quite varied but our love for black music and culture really shines through in our music, or at least we hope so. 60’s and 70’s soul music serves as a huge inspiration for our vocals, and artists like Bill Withers, Ray Charles, Nina Simone come to mind. We also listen to a lot of reggae. Artists like Burning Spear, The Abyssinians and The Congos are shared favourites of ours. There’s too many great artists to name all of them but since we find a lot of inspiration in funky/groovy music, the sounds of Funkadelic, D’angelo and Idris Muhammad deserve to be mentioned. Production wise we really look up to artists like Timber Timbre and Kevin Parker (Tame Impala). For the music we’re writing now we’re listening to a lot of Brazilian music, hip-hop and classical music as well. These are just some of the names and genres that inspire us to do what we do. We can find inspiration in every genre and we owe a huge part of our music to the people that inspired us to make it.
What’s the story behind Noche Oscura? Was it about someone or a specific event, or were you just drawing from a general emotion…?
Noche Oscure is basically a song about feeling uncomfortable in solitude to a point that it haunts you into your dreams. More specifically, the chorus is about seeing a former lover in a dream after not having had contact for a long time and the resulting mental turbulence that comes with it. I guess it’s something that a lot of people can relate to on some level; bad dreams, a dark night – hence the name.
Which leads me into the next question, which song that you’ve written thus far are you most emotionally attached to and why?
There are 2 songs on the EP that we think came out really strong. We are happy with all the songs we released on this EP, but in terms of the songwriting ‘Noche Oscura’ is our favourite. The way we wrote that song was proof that we work great as a team. The song took a long time to write and we really changed things up a couple of times. In the end we feel that we both wrote about 50% of the song and we are very happy with the result. On the production/recording side we feel ‘By The Poolside’ came out the strongest. The mix is well balanced and the track overall sounds very smooth, which feels like a major victory after goofing around in a music file for months.
Did you always know you wanted to make music? What would you say was the moment where you realized, or was it just a sort of side hobby thing?
In high-school my musical taste started developing and I started spending a lot of time looking for new music and exploring all the different styles and artists that are out there. I’ve been doing that for 10 years now and I’m still discovering new things I love in music. Around the same time music really sparked my interest, I also started playing guitar. Back then I wanted to be able to play like Johnny Greenwood and Jimi Hendrix. A couple of years later, when I was like 16 years old, I started getting interested in the way songs are written, and I started to write some on my own. Ever since I have been very interested in creating songs, and it satisfies me till this day.
Do you ever plan to make a trip out to the U.S.? What’s next for you as musicians, and just as people in general? & When can fans expect a full album to drop!!
Yeah man, we’re definitely planning to come to the US. Seriously though, we can’t wait to cross the pond. It’s always exciting to go to far away places, especially if there’s a bunch of people waiting for you there with tickets. Coming to the US, playing shows all over the place, connecting with the people there would be a dream man. We’ll be there as soon as possible and we’ll be there with a full headline show and a heap of T-shirt and vinyls, promise.
Right now we’re working on a bunch of new tunes which are going to be compiled into another 6-8 track EP this spring. It’s going to be more suave, and a little more leaning toward psychedelic 70’s music. We’re aiming to release a new single early on in the new year!
Give the readers a feel for who you are off stage, tell us some completely random facts about you that you think are important!
We always text each other in Jamaican patois – I guess it’s the reggae. Also, since we’re both called Daniel, we had to come up with a nickname for at least one of us. Daniel’s last name is De Jong, but of course we turned it into De Jonko, which is Dutch for ‘the spliff’.
Usually recording sessions evolve into a doing-the-lamest-possible-karaoke-take on our own songs or just a white ass rap battle. We also have this ritual of drinking Red Bull while recording, and I know I shouldn’t in all good conscience advocate this, but we both think it’s just really damn tasty. But don’t drink it, not even when you want to pull all-nighter. Eat your greens.
If you had to name your genre of music, what would it be? (Think out of the box, something strange and original like “psycho astronaut pop” or something)
We’d probably call it ‘interstellar affection music from the distant past’.
How do you feel about the current events going on in the world? (politics wise) & would you ever consider moving to another planet and making your own world? If so, what would be some key characteristics of it? What would be the “social norms” so to speak on your new planet?
Ah man, the world is in a weird place right now. In all seriousness, we’re pretty concerned about the way things are going politically around the globe, with nationalism on the rise everywhere. We think people transcend national boundaries and should extend their compassion in every direction. Also, climate change is moving into ominous directions, it would be a damn shame if we lost our beautiful nature just because we couldn’t agree on some relatively insignificant political disagreements. Let’s be affectionate and tolerant to one another.
If we could establish our own civilization on a new planet, we’d probably just be hunter-gatherers or fishermen and play gnarly space drums around the bonfire every night with our friends, no politics.
Finally, just anything else you’d like to add, throw out there to be in the article. Random statements, big announcements, anything at all!
In 2018 we’re going to be on the road and releasing new music.
Don’t forget to water your plants regularly man. Eat your greens.
It was amazing to be able to talk with these two, even if it was just over email. They quite literally wrote this entire interview for me, usually the musicians just type their replies in a message and I have to edit and format everything. However, these boys were so considerate enough to do all of that for me. This really struck me, and I appreciated it so much.
Can’t wait to see all the amazing things you do in the future, and I hope you’ll collaborate with us again! Watch out world, because Feng Suave is taking over.