BK & Mr. E
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BK & Mr. E

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Band EDM Alternative




"New EP and Video from Austin Electro-Pop Band BK & Mr. E Will Have You Dancing Through SXSW"

Don’t tell anyone, but during last year’s ACL, I snuck away from the festival and dipped into a media event at the American Legion. While there, I caught a snippet of a set from two dudes dressed in Las Vegas style marching band uniforms, jamming out from behind their keyboards. The crowd was dancing. I was intrigued.

The plumage wearing players were Austin’s BK & Mr. E. A newly-revived electro-pop endeavor from Lost Werks frontman Jason Blanchette and his bud Brandon Hegar, these guys have been tearing it up over the last few months. Since that day in October, they’ve been playing all over town, and they were even nominated for a Roary Award for Best Austin Band of 2010.

Yesterday, the band, building on this momentum, dropped a new EP. With funky synths and a driving beat, The Company Front EP is a high-energy electro-pop ride that will have you bouncing your way through SXSW and into the summer.

Out of all of Austin’s electronic bands, BK & Mr. E are probably the most approachable and mainstream. It’s kind of like Fischerspooner minus the New York art house drama. Combining the best of 80's pop with some nice swirly techno, they’re fun and playful–kinda like your favorite party jam. And with two pairs of amazing pipes, these dudes can belt out the vocals. In fact, their vocal interplay and falsetto reminds of Andre 3000 or 80's Prince.

A couple of weeks ago, they released the video for “Sand,” the first video off the new EP. Check the video to see them in action, fully plumed and ready to march.

And if that’s not cool enough, the band is workimg with Daft Punk’s designer to make their band uniforms a little more futuristic!

- Republic of Austin

"BK & Mr. E Bring the House Down Saturday Night at Club DeVille"

Jason Blanchette and Brandon Hegar make electronic indie pop under the name BK and Mr. E. They knew each other in high school, when they were both in marching band (which explains their current stage outfits, and it all works so well…). The two friends went on to college to pursue classical music performance degrees.

But later, they decided to create some intriguing sounds that crossed the electronic and rock ‘n’ roll genres. They added some very soulful vocals reminiscent of Hall and Oates, and irresistible dance beats, resulting in the perfect combination. You can rock out and get your dance moves on at the same time with this funky-funky music.

You absolutely must see BK and Mr. E live. Catch them at their show Saturday night at Club DeVille, 900 Red River. Opening the show is the mighty PONG, guaranteed to trip you out with the liveliest of jams and demented rockouts. It’s what they do. Things get started after 9 p.m. Highly recommended.

- Austin Music Minute - KUT Austin

"Basement Tapes: BK & Mr. E"

Suited in matching marching band uniforms — complete with sequins, feathers and fingerless gloves— electronic rock duo BK & Mr. E’s sound and energy is as loud, funky and classic as their attire.

It is no-brainer that from the look and sound of Jason Blanchette and Brandon Hegar, BK & Mr. E respecitively, the pair are influenced from their days of marching band. It is also only appropriate that the best friends met in high school band.

Even with premade synthetic beats playing from their laptops, the pair’s training in classical and jazz repetoires from high school and college (Blanchette at UT and Hegar at Baylor) is front and center. Driven by percussion, harmony and hooks, BK & Mr. E is the perfect fusion of the old and new.

BK & Mr. E will be playing at Frank’s tonight and on Thursday, Sept. 15; the duo is taking the stage at the Parish for the venue’s Free ACL Kickoff Party.

The Daily Texan interviewed Jason Blanchette and Brandon Hegar during Basement Tapes about their marching band days, name and costume.

The Daily Texan: Let’s start with the beginning. You guys met in band in high school?
Jason Blanchette: Yep. The short of it is we were both in band together.
Brandon Hegar: Both played trombone and then graduated, kind of went our separate ways, went to college and stuff, then came back and worked at a recording studio together. Then a music store together and then just started doing music from there.

DT: So back when you were in both high school, did you guys compete with each other? Like battling out for first chair?
JB: Well, he’s a couple of years older than I am. Even though I have all the grey hair, he’s a couple years older. We did when [he was] still there, I’ll say.
BH: I think it was more of a big brother thing.
JB: Mainly it was a friendly competition, but he always had his place and the whole seniority thing. I wasn’t going to subplant him by any means.

DT: Do you guys share any crazy band stories? I know you have at least one to share. Those bus rides... JB: The bus rides, yeah, definitely.
BH: Hand checks.
JB: Yeah, [the directors] did hand checks. It is exactly what it sounds like.
BH: Where they turn the lights on the bus...
JB: Turn on the lights and they need to see everyone’s hands. Cause those bus rides are dark and take a couple of hours sometimes and you know [laughs].
BH: Everybody thinks the football players and stuff are the people that...

DT: Nope, it’s the band kids.
JB: Band. Choir people too. Glee. That’s where your really crazy people are.

DT: Jason, for you, how was UT marching band?
JB: It was good. It was a lot of fun. When you talk about crazy, that was crazy. [It was] a lot of fun getting to go travel to all the different places...like Nebraska or go to St. Louis or go to the NCAA basketball tournament. You get to know a lot of the athletes and a lot of the band guys are really intense when they’re playing music on the fields, but are hanging out and having a good time when they aren’t. I got to tell you this, those freaking uniforms that have been around for like 40 years are the hottest thang. You think what we are wearing now are hot, those are like eight-ply polyester, flame retardent suits. And I know they look awesome with the fringe swaying back and forth, but I’ll be happy if I never had to wear anything like that again.

DT: So how did the both of you go from being classically trained to playing modern music?
BH: So like I said before, we worked in a music store together. The people that ran the company said we’re going to start carrying this kind of equipment where you can record it and keyboards and all sort of stuff. So Jason and I had the responsibility of learning all the equipments. We didn’t really know anything, so the best thing to do was just to write songs. We had all these influences from outside of classical music, so one day I said ‘Hey, let’s write a song that sounds like the Cars.’ And Jason is a big Prince fan, so I would say ‘Let’s write a song like Prince or the Police’ or whoever we liked. And that’s really how we started writing a lot of tunes that weren’t classical. I don’t think either of us really wanted to do classical music as a career. I certainly didn’t.

DT: Do you get a lot of questions about your outfits?
BH: I think what’s really cool, and Jason made a comment about this a couple of days ago, is that wearing the band uniforms has made us a lot more approachable to a lot of people.
JB: After our show, people come up to us and is like ‘Hey, I was in band too and I play this and you guys were awesome.’
BH: It’s like an affirmation for them, for a lot of people who were in band. They see two guys wearing band uniforms and they’re like ‘Oh, these guys really get it, because they must get it, because they were in band.’ In Texas, band is huge, it’s just like football.
JB: I think that’s kind of why we decided to do it. It’s the juxtaposition. Classical music, performance majors and choir are so serious, but no, not really. We like to joke around and have fun just like everybody else.

DT: How did you guys come up with the name?
BH: So Jason, when we worked in the recording studio, not the music store, we would have some very long hours and I guess I would complain a lot [laughs], so Jason would call me BK, which stands for bitch kitty. [laughs] And it’s a silly name that just stucked. And then when we started recording at the music store, I think one of our first songs was like a hip-hop tune and it was bad.
JB: And I don’t rap and I rapped in this song.
BH: We both rapped. It was like a bad Ice T. So we kind of came up with BK and Mr. E, because it had a certain cadence to it and it just fit with one of the songs, cause the song was called ‘BK & Mr. E Hardcore For The Twentyfirst Century.’ [laughs] - The Daily Texan

"BK & Mr. E Is One Of Those "Sounds Bigger Than They Are" Duos"

BK & Mr. E is another one of those “sounds bigger than they are” duos (like Killa Dilla or Before Dawn) that probably underwhelms on load out, but, by all reports, leaves the patrons in open-mouthed awe as they bring the house down.

That’s Jason Blanchette and Brandon Hegar in the marching band getup there. That might get you some looks, showing up on 6th Street with that hat on, but we can assure you that stranger sights are there to be had.

These Austin born-bred-trained band-itos met, as you can imagine, in the high school marching band; and afterwards got college educated in classical performance. (Don’t know for sure, but we can guess that their degrees were NOT in funky electronic instrumentation; though it seems to have been their major.) Seeing them today, we wonder if their old professors think they turned to the dark side, giving up their brass for synths, electric guitars, and drum machines.

But don’t let the outfits (and these tongue-in-cheek comments) fool you – These guys smoke with soul-powered vocals, pop-funky beats, and hearty harmonies that pull you, marching, right into their uniformed wake. Check out the Motown influence (that pops up about a minute in) in “Enemy”, from their “Under the Radar” LP, to see what we mean.

With two excellent releases under their belt (“Under the Radar” last year, and now the brand-new “Company Front”) the guys have shown an absolute bent for cool, accessible pop numbers. Though they claim inspiration from sources as far apart as Rachmaninoff and The Beatles, we wonder if maybe the hats are responsible for the genius behind the great melodic lines and danceable perc rhythms they pull off. (We’re perusing craigslist now for our own hats. Just to see.)

Compositionally, they put together a well-structured, ready-for-radio package; with fat electro bass lines and dance-friendly drum beats holding up keyboard and guitar-based melodies; the vocals topping it off, typically in chorus; encouraging sing-alongs or other random acts of karaoke.

Check out this well-written piece from the good folks at the Republic Of Austin, who mention, among other attributes, their great vocal chops.

BK & Mr. E played a SXSW showcase at Republic LIVE, and have been seen at Club de Ville. But until you get a chance to catch ‘em live, get your Sousa on and give a listen to “Company Front”; see if it doesn’t put a elbow-swinging, knee-popping march into your step.

You can find more about BK and Mr. E at Home Base, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and (appropriately enough) Bandcamp.
- Vivogig via Austin Independent Music

"Listening to BK & Mr. E Gives You Super Powers"

It’s true. Specifically, super hearing. I’m not talking about Superman’s lame super hearing, where he hears crimes happening miles away, and then flies to help somebody. I despise anything that involves me helping others. I’m talking about the “Neighbor in the Apartment Next to You” type of super hearing. The guy that says “bless you” through the walls after you sneeze, leaving you to wonder what else he can hear.

That’s what listening to BK & Mr E turns you into.

At least, this is the only explanation that I can come up with, because, in their EP Company Front, I hear things that I’ve never before heard in music. Head past the jump to find out more.

BK & Mr E is Jason Blanchette and Brandon Hegar, from none other than Austin, Texas. An eclectic electronic-indie-funk with a propensity toward layered sounds, it’s no surprise that they’ve been involved with music from young ages. They met in their high school marching band (a fact they pay homage to in their on-stage presence, adorned in full marching band uniforms), and they both went to college for classical music performance degrees. They write, record, produce, and perform everything themselves, a feat which I find truly impressive.

BK & Mr E turn the music world upside down by flawlessly and seemingly effortlessly transcending genres. One track may have an overtly electronica feel, while one may feel indie, while another can only be described as “funky like whoa.” It’s rare for a band to be able to weave in and out of styles in their career, let alone in one four song EP. It gives the record a mixtape feel. And, when I say mixtape, I don’t mean the way kids are using it these days when they refer to their Kanyes or their Jay Zs. I mean it like we meant back in my day; with our radios on, and a tape in the deck, we’d hit record whenever one of our favorite songs would come on (and we’d always miss the first couple seconds).

"La la la / I am singing a song / la la la / These are the words to my song"

“Sand” kicks this EP off, and it does so in blazing fashion. The beepboopbeep feel of the song carries through, while the vocal howl overlays. It’s a song that, much like Miley Cyrus, can’t be tamed. I have visions of them trying to record it, but realizing quickly that their studio just isn’t big enough for a song of this caliber. Just about two-thirds of the way through the song, just when you think it’s calming down for a nice ending, the song kicks back into high gear. When it ends, it leaves you wishing that it hadn’t. On my first listen-through, I actually played it again before going to the next track.

“Midnight” kicks it old school. The backing of duggaduggachsk adds a bit of funk spice to the soulful gumbo. This song fits right in with a playlist that also includes Fitz and the Tantrums, with it’s retro swing vibes. If the chorus doesn’t get your toes tapping, it is because you are dead.

“Luckily For Me” is in the number three spot, and is the perfect chaser for “Midnight.” It continues with a bit of funk, but adds a dash of indie sensibilities. Clapping in the background and bits where the music seems to drop out keep it fresh through the track. I’m not sure which singer is responsible for all the “Ahhhhh yeeeaaaaaahhhhh yaaaayy yaaaaaaaay yaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy”s, but I love it. It sends me back in time every time it happens and makes me wish there were more bands that capitalized on it.

“Different Strokes” rounds out the album, and is loaded with retro funk-swing. It does this so well, that I had to make up the genre “retro funk-swing.” It’s a perfect way to end the album, it’s big, but it’s subtle in its grandiose. Unlike “Sand,” which is begging to be turned up so loud it blows your speakers, “Different Strokes” asks you politely to be turned up to an appropriate listening volume. It wants to be appreciated for what it is – a well crafted song that was influenced by others and that will influence others.

BK & Mr E’s Company Front is absolutely remarkable. If you like bands like The Heavy, Fitz and the Tantrums, or the like, you owe it to yourself, and to them, to pick it up. The entire thing can be listened to on their bandcamp site, and as if that wasn’t convenient enough, if you like it, you can buy it straight from the same site! Outrageous! If that doesn’t fulfill your needs for BK & Mr E, they will be playing a show on August 20th at Stubbs, 9pm. I’ve heard they have some crazy stage antics. Oh, how I love crazy stage antics. - Yay or Nay

"BK & Mr. E @ Club Deville"

It is appropriate that the group kicked off their set with 'The Only Thing (I Hate about U),' an electro-pop number with a 45 second pep-rallying drumline intro. BK & Mr. E replaced the multi-tenor and bass drums with computers and left the field. A marching band somewhere in the country is missing a pair of uniforms. This classically trained duo is hard at work on their second album, in the meantime, you can get your dance on to their first, ‘Under the Radar’.
- Austin Music Weekly

"The Funky BK & Mr. E"

We are lovin’ this fresh-electro duo, BK & Mr. E, and their awesome attire. These dudes are from Austin and spend their spare time making sick beats, mastering their funky performance, and obviously tricking out their marching band uniforms. You’ve gotta check out their new EP, and follow their silly tweets.

If you want to see these boys in action, you have the chance to see them this Saturday at Club Deville, 9pm. Check the Facebook event page for more info. Here’s the video for “Sand” which is super baller and totally puts all of us band nerds on the map.

- BC & Merch


I Don't Think You Realize - EP, 2012
Company Front - EP, 2011
Under The Radar, 2010



BK & Mr. E is an indie-electronic duo from Austin, TX natives Jason Blanchette and Brandon Hegar. Their distinct layering of sounds has been compared to artists such as Queen, Prince, Outkast, The Police, and The Beach Boys.

Blanchette and Hegar have been involved with music and the arts from a very early age. They met in their high school marching band, and both soon went on to college to pursue classical music performance degrees. Substituting synthesizers for brass, the two continually try to bridge the gap between electronic and rock/funk genres. “We wanted to be as self-contained as possible. We write, record, produce, and perform everything ourselves,” proclaims Blanchette.

Their latest release, “Company Front", is currently available at bkmre.bandcamp.com and all major digital music outlets.