Interview with Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz

Nora Lyle
By Nora Lyle / October 30, 2018

In anticipation of Turkuaz's show at The Anthem on Saturday night with Lettuce, guitarist Dave Brandwein spoke with Nora Lyle about the band's evolution as well as their most recent album, Life in the City. 

Nora Lyle: How has Turkuaz changed from when you guys started? I know it used to be a pretty minimalist set up between you and your current bassist Taylor Schell.

Dave Brandwein: Taylor and I recorded demos together. It was just the two of us demoing and writing songs. The school we were at at the time Berklee College of Music had a record label and they liked our songs and asked us to be in their showcase, and we didn't have a band. We called all of our friends and put a band together. We knew it had to be a party on stage, and a large ensemble performance. Five out of the nine of us that are in the band today were in that very first showcase.

NL: You have a newer live album out, how does that capture Turkuaz now compared to your previous live albums?

DB: It definitely shows the progression of the band in terms of writing and instrumentation. I think a lot of the stuff on the newest album is from our album Digitonium, which came out after all the other live records, so it’s a lot more synth-based and I think it’s an updated modern sound for us. I think we sound tighter. Those earlier live albums were an earlier rawer incarnation, which are fun, but the new one, I think has a more cohesive and complex sound and a more complex web of instruments.

NL: You guys have a new concert movie that you just filmed. What was the process behind that? Was it stressful? Or just like another day in the office?

DB: Well it was probably a combination of the two… in those earlier days part of the reason that Taylor and I always knew that we were going to put a large band together; we wanted a really interactive element on stage between musicians. This was based off the film Stop Making Sense by the Talking Heads, who were a considerable influence on us, one of the main reasons we started the band in a way.

We recently did two songs with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads. In working with him, I had the idea to make a film for Turkuaz. I feel like we are such a visual band. I felt like the people who listen to us who haven’t seen us live, really don't get a whole side to it. I took the chance to consult with Jerry about how they did that entire film, and I planned it for a whole year before we shot it. In that sense it was stressful. Overall it was a very seamless experience because of our director Andy LaViolette who did all of Snarky Puppy's videos.

NL: Your new album Life In The City is much tighter compared to Digitonium which is a twenty-four track beast. Is there a reason that you were more focused on the lyrics on your newest album?

Turkuaz - Life In The City

DB: As fun as Digitonium was, it’s a lot to digest as a listener since its so long. It was rooted in fantasy; it was based on the movie The Sword in The Stone, which was really fun to do, but it didn't have anything to do with my life, what's going on in any of our lives, or what's going on in the world. Life In The City was a chance to focus in a bit more and do something that was relative to us and was a little bit more meaningful based in reality. Along with that came with sorting through a lot of material. We recorded about twenty-one songs and stripped it down to just the nine that are on the album.

Turkuaz - Life In The City

NL: So are we going to get to hear any of those other songs?

DB: We’re making various plans to release them all over the next year.

NL: Do you guys have any goals that you're looking at in the next couple of years? Anything you'd like to accomplish as a band?

DB:  Definitely, spreading our music to more people. And that includes hopefully touring more internationally. We do have fans online from Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia so trying to see what we can do about that.  

Performance Details

Performance Details



Saturday, November 3, 2018

Doors: 6:30 PM

Show: 8:00 PM

The Anthem


901 Wharf Street SW

Washington, DC 20024

(Google Maps Link)

$41 - General Admission

$61 - Super Excellent Seats

About the author
Nora Lyle

Nora Lyle

Nora is a D.C. area native and passionate concert taper. She has had a love of music since she was young and combines her love of music with capturing music for others to enjoy. When not attending shows she's a full time nanny and enjoys hiking, reading, and painting.