Turkuaz is ‘On the Run’


Courtesy Brendan Bourke

Turkauz, a nine-member band, played in Chicago Dec. 1 and is currently working on its fifth studio album, which is due to release in 2018. 

By Kendrah Villiesse

When he is not on tour with his band, Turkuaz, frontman Dave Brandwein is in his New York City studio creating new music or producing albums. Brandwein, who wanted to be a musician since he was in middle school, founded Turkuaz in 2008 with a few friends while they lived in Boston. 

The Brooklyn-based band has nine members and named itself after a Turkish market that the band lived across the street from in Boston. 

Turkuaz’s latest single, “On the Run,” released Oct. 12, comes with a music video directed by Jay Sansone and continues the group’s punk/psychedelic pop sound. Turkuaz played in Chicago Dec. 1 at the Concord Music Hall, 2047 N. Milwaukee Ave., and is currently working on its fifth album, which is scheduled to release 2018. 

The Chronicle spoke with Brandwein about Turkuaz, its music and life on the road.

THE CHRONICLE: How was the band founded?

DAVE BRANDWEIN:A bunch of us were friends back in Boston, and that’s when we started playing together. [We] moved to New York [City], and the rest of the band materialized from there. [We] spent a few years playing mostly in the New York [City] area and drawing from that pool of musicians before starting to tour full time in 2012. It was mostly just friends of friends, and we were putting together a large band, looking for the right instrumentation. Luckily, we had an amazing pool of musicians to draw from. 

How is it having a nine-member band?

That was the vision of the band from the get-go. It’s funny when people ask about the size of the band and how we manage it; we’ve never known anything different. Many problems [that] are [normally] created by having a large band are eliminated as well. If I was driving around with the same two people all the time, I’d probably freak out. It’s nice to have a vibe where you can mix it up. We’re like a big family, and there’s a lot of interaction between everyone. It keeps things interesting. 

How would you describe your music?

[Bass player Taylor] Shell and I [decided] the concept going into it was to make fun, danceable music. I spent a lot of years in more of a songwriting-based environment and a more pop/rock-based environment. It just started to feel right to play music that was about fun and [was] high energy. It felt like we should start a band that [does] that but approaches it a little more seriously, which is what we achieved with Turkuaz. We have our own brand that’s not typical of old school soul and funk music; it’s our own spin on it. That challenge was something we set out to do from day one, and we’re still finding new ways to do it.

Who influences your music?

There’s so much that goes into it, especially with there being nine of us. Some major influences for the band are Talking Heads, Sly and the Family Stone [and] Peter Gabriel. Those are some of the big ones. I grew up listening to The Beatles constantly, [The Rolling] Stones, Pink Floyd—a lot of British rock music. That has its way of working into [our songs] as well.  

What is your writing process like?

 It’s usually based in some sort of a demo someone will generate, either myself, [Craig Brodhead, guitarist and keyboardist] or [Shell]. From there, I’ll write lyrics and melodies over it. Recently, some other members have started to help with that process as well, which has been really fun. Usually, we’ll [set up] a rehearsal time and let each person find their instrumental and vocal part they gravitate naturally toward. [It speaks] to everyone’s strengths and [lets] them have fun with the arrangement too. It starts as a lonely process, but then it becomes collaborative and comes to life. 

What was it like filming the “On the Run” video?

It was trippy filming it. It was an all-night shoot from around midnight to 6 a.m. at [an] awesome place in Brooklyn called House of Yes, which provided a lot of amazing scenery. A bunch of friends and fans came out to serve as extras and [other] roles in the video. [They] really helped set the vibe and atmosphere. It was a party.