Black Masala
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Black Masala

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band World Rock

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Jun
01
Black Masala @ Black Masala Tour Dates

Washington, Iowa, United States

Washington, Iowa, United States

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Press


"Shows to Get Pumped For"

"D.C.’s rich history of producing great funk and soul while embracing our funkin’ future, which, if Black Masala is any indication, it looks pretty damn good."

Zeke Leeds - Brightest Young Things - April 29th, 2015 - Brightest Young Things


"Going Out Guide"

"Black Masala puts a face-melting brass section to work on rhythms as varied as Balkan beats, New Orleans jazz, indie rock and Appalachian roots music. The thread connecting it all? Party music."
- Fritz Hahn, The Washington Post, 7/01/14 - The Washington Post


"WRGW Music"

“Black Masala is a D.C. outfit that has found success riding off of its own inventiveness. Experimenting with a flirtatious combination of gypsy punkiness and brass, the band can expertly churn an audience of awkward head-bobbers into a livened stew of aspirant dancers. Their big-band sound seems able to adapt to any venue; readily filling out the cavernous space of the 9:30 while simultaneously fitting to match the intimacy of Tropicalia. For them, no groove is off limits.” – WRGW Music Blog - WRGW


"Releases Debut Album"

WASHINGTON, DC’S BLACK MASALA RELEASE SELF-TITLED A MUSICAL GUMBO OF FUNKY GLOBAL SOUNDS

Washington, DC – February 3rd, 2014 – One of the hottest new bands to emerge from the Nation’s Capital is Black Masala, who are now releasing their self titled debut album. Pulsating Balkan rhythms blend with funky New Orleans horns, creating an original, soulful gypsy party. The vibe is infectious as the Tuba player roams the floor looking for dance partners, dancers on stage back bending to ska beats, while other bandmates are up on tables and chairs calling the crowd into the party!

In just over a year’s time, Black Masala have been hitting the road, bringing the sweaty dance party to the East Coast and playing frequently in the Washington, DC area. All of these great shows are the inspiration for this album, which captures the live sound and feel of the shows.

The 7-track album represents Black Masala’s coming out party to the world! Each member adds their own influence to the mix with vocal duties shared by Mike Ounallah and Kristen Long. The fiery horns are Matt Hotez, Kirsten Warfield, and Frank Mitchell Jr. of Thievery Corporation fame. The Tuba low end is none other than Monty Montgomery and the rhythm section is rounded out by Duff Davis on Guitar, Yannick LePage on Accordion, and Mike Ounallah on Drums.

The is now available for purchase via Bandcamp (HERE). - Live Music Daily


"Black Masala album review"

BLACK MASALA

“Black Masala”

Kindred spirits: Red Baraat, Gogol Bordello, DeVotchKa

There’s no mistaking the energy on Black Masala’s self-titled debut album. Even on a studio recording, the Washington-based gypsy brass octet conjures a dance party.

Black Masala is just two years old, but several of its members perform with other Washington bands: Saxophonist Frank Mitchell Jr. with Thievery Corporation and trombonist Matt Hotez with reggae Beatles tribute Yellow Dubmarine. But this album is such a cohesive whole that individual members’ pedigrees are hardly important.

The band switches seamlessly between lead vocalists: Mike Ounallah takes on album opener “Feels the Same” with a raucous snarl, while Kristen Long’s sultry croon heats up the saucy “Knockin’.” The band is equally comfortable without vocals. “Bhangra V” tells its own story with horn blasts and varying melodies, and album closer “Circus/Jeni Jol” skitters at breakneck speed, hovering just before a chaotic outbreak.

Black Masala never lets its energy get away from itself. The track “Round and Around” starts slowly but
gradually accelerates at a pace that easily could have spun out of control. The band transitions several times between fast and slow, so the song has a bit of a predictable pacing, but it still handles each tempo change masterfully.

It’s impressive how well Black Masala captured its energy in the studio. Even more remarkable is how it channeled that energy with so much control.

— Catherine P. Lewis - Washington Post


"Bob Boilen's 116 Favorite Concerts Of 2013"

Bob Boilen's 116 Favorite Concerts Of 2013- Black Masala mentioned twice. - NPR- All Things Considered


"On Tap Magazine Review of Black Masala (Oct. 2012)"

“Thievery Corporation isn't the only DC-area band mixing diverse and international music styles into an appealing sonic mix. Black Masala, an eclectic eight-piece group, merges a wide array of musical traditions and backgrounds. Rocking tubas, accordions, banjos and who knows what else, Black Masala draws inspiration from the melodies of Eastern European brass bands, New Orleans jazz, Latin grooves, ambient/experimental indie rock riffs, and even a hint of Appalachian twang. Expect a dance party when they play Columbia Heights Day!” - On Tap Magazine


"Rising Artists: Black Masala (7/10/13)"

Eclectic, raucous, diverse, and engaging – these are all descriptors associated with Black Masala, the nine-piece group that can be counted among one of D.C.’s most unique musical outfits. The band is comprised of members from some of the city’s most notable bands-Thievery Corporation, Bellflur and Yellow Dubmarine-just to name a few.

Mike Ounallah (banjo, vocals, drums, percussion), who co-founded the group in 2012, spoke with DMD about the groups live performances, their influences, and the joys and challenges of making music with such a large group.



D.C. Music Download: How did the group form? When/how/why was the decision made to grow from a two piece to a nine piece group?

Mike Ounallah: The group formed as an idea I had to start a Balkan Brass influenced band with Matt Hotez, a trombone player I had just met in D.C. I recruited my long time friend Patrick Edwards (electric guitar) from Bellflur, and we started to branch out with music both in that brass band style but with guitar, pedals, and eventually vocals. It was actually a 4-piece with John (Di Lascio) from Paperhaus. He got busy, and we decided it was time to expand and have a bigger sound.

My friends Kristen Long (vocals, percussion, melodic) and Matt O’ Reilly (vocals, bass) joined up next. We found Kirsten Warfield (trombone), Frank Mitchell, Jr. (Tenor Sax), and Yannick LePage (accordion) pretty quickly after.

Monty Montgomery (tuba/ percussion) insisted on joining the band so we had to let him in! We already had a good amount of material as more people were coming in, so there was a bunch of music from the get-go.



DMD: Can you explain the Eastern European brass tradition that was the basis for the group’s sound and how did it guide the group? With the additional instrumentation, how has the group’s musical focus changed? Does it still maintain these roots?

MO: I love the music and grew up with it. Groups like Goran Bregovic, Slavic Soul Party, and Red Baraat were pretty influential early on in the writing stages.

I also grew up in the South, so I wanted to bring some more Appalachian music, singing, and writing elements into the mix. Monty lived in New Orleans and we play together all the time, so that music has seeped in a bit into our song list.

I’m not sure we’ve had a change in focus. We’re all about a good time and playing music together. The brass band music gives everyone a chance to shine, but of course we do a lot of singing as well, and now jumping out into the crowd!



DMD: How does the group make it work with 9 musicians? How do you arrange all the instrumentation (including vocals) to produce a coherent whole?

MO: Practice, lots of practice. But seriously a lot of our music is written out. Horn parts, chords, and arrangements. Not vocals so much, just a lyric sheet with chords.

Harmonies and arrangements we get tight and change when we rehearse. Whomever writes the song has a pretty good idea coming in of what they want, and we all edit and adjust together.

The band’s got some great musicians including Yannick, who is the most gallant accordion player in all of Columbia Heights. He is best known for being the only Frenchman named Yannick to play at The Kennedy Center. His uncle calls us regularly to congratulate him.



DMD: Black Masala is known for its high-energy live shows. What’s the craziest show you’ve had to date?

MO: They’re all good for different reasons. Top crazy was Zeba Bar in Columbia Heights, the first time in before they expanded for Ottomania, the monthly Gypsy Dance Party. There were 70 people in a 35 person-max room, falling on drums and yelling to our trombone player Matt to play harder and faster! He loves that.

Next crazy would be Black Cat in February with Jonny Grave, Norman Rockwell and Burlesque Artists. That was just a great night and a sold out show with amazing energy.



DMD: What’s one thing about Black Masala that you wish people knew, or understood, that doesn’t get conveyed very much by the media?

MO: Kristen would like you all to know she has 14 cats not 15 as she is often times accused of.

I think in general we all like to label music, so it’s easier to understand and we’re certainly a non-standard group for the area. I mean the biggest cover we play is Mesecina, which is huge in Serbia.

Like any group we’re prone to plead the 5th in describing our music as just Balkan, Gypsy, brass. We have elements of New Orleans music, funk, soul, bhangra, folk, all kinds of stuff. We’re into having a party on stage with people jumping off and on Gypsy style.



DMD: What are the group’s future plans? You all just wrapped up a tour – any more plans to tour outside D.C.?

MO: We’re on our way to Pennsylvania in August for Musikfest, Midwest in the fall, and the South again in October. We’ll also be doing more runs up the East Coast and taking a go at France and Portugal next year hopefully. Not to mention we play quite a - DC Music Download


"Black Masala Is the Name Rolling Off Everyone’s Tongue (6/24/13)"

"Black Masala seems to be the name rolling off of everyone’s tongue in the last year, and for a good reason: they deliver one of the most explosive performances you will see in D.C. The band is comprised of members from Bellflur, Thievery Corporation and many others-rounding out a very diverse sound. Black Masala paired with Thievery Corporation’s own Congo Sanchez will make for a rip-roaring evening of worldly music that is sure to be a don’t miss event." - DC Music Download


"Who The Heck Is: Black Masala? (5/29/13)"

In a multicultural city like D.C., you might have heard of masala, a South Asian spice mixture. Vocalist and drummer Mike Ounallah has put together a similarly potent mix with Black Masala, one of the most eclectic bands making music in the District today.

The Lineup: The band, which takes cues from Eastern European music and big brass bands, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and has snowballed from two members to nine. The impressive roster includes locals Frank Mitchell Jr. (saxophonist for Thievery Corporation), Matt Hotez (trombonist for Yellow Dubmarine) and Patrick Edwards (electric guitarist for Bellflur).

The Show: Black Masala’s live sets get the adrenaline pumping and the crowd dancing — aggressively. “People dance so hard they’ve fallen into our drum sets,” Ounallah says.

Stepping Out: The band has played small clubs and higher-profile gigs at venues such as the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. “You aren’t going to hear this kind of stuff anywhere else in D.C.,” Ounallah says. After a three-stop tour in North Carolina last week, the group’s bringing its distinctive mix back to the District.
- Washington Post Express


"D.C Weekend Recap (7/1/13)"

My first Black Masala show was a very interesting experience with a cast of talented musicians taking brass and gypsy to a whole new level. This danceable form of gypsy-funk-rock is a crowd pleasing throw down that is sure to take this act places beyond the local and regional stage. The wild onstage circus brings audiences along their journey in exploring the depths of sounds that break the typical barriers of genre specification. Breaking these barriers shouldn’t come as a great surprise as the one of the founding members of the group is a member of Yellow Dubmarine, a phenomenal reggae outfit paying tribute to the Beatles. Furthermore the cast of musicians extends from members of Thievery Coporation & See-I to Bellflur to Yamamonem Jazzband. With just over a year of experience under their belt they gave the audience a short, but highly energized set that left me craving more. The group will be back in action starting next Thursday, go catch them live and support your local musicans. - Live Music Daily


"Listening Session: Top Shows This Week (6/25/13)"

"Black Masala seems to be name rolling off of everyone’s tongue in the last year, and for a good reason: they deliver one of the most explosive performances you will see in D.C. The band is comprised of members from Bellflur, Thievery Corporation and many others-rounding out a very diverse sound. Black Masala paired with Thievery Corporation’s own Congo Sanchez will make for a rip-roaring evening of worldly music that is sure to be a don’t miss event." - DC Music Download by Stephanie Williams


"D.C Music Download- Rising Artist"

Rising Artists: Black Masala

Eclectic, raucous, diverse, and engaging – these are all descriptors associated with Black Masala, the nine-piece group that can be counted among one of D.C.’s most unique musical outfits. The band is comprised of members from some of the city’s most notable bands-Thievery Corporation, Bellflur and Yellow Dubmarine-just to name a few.

Black Masala brings its energetic show to the Rock and Roll Hotel this Friday. Mike Ounallah (banjo, vocals, drums, percussion), who co-founded the group in 2012, spoke with DMD about the groups live performances, their influences, and the joys and challenges of making music with such a large group.



D.C. Music Download: How did the group form? When/how/why was the decision made to grow from a two piece to a nine piece group?

Mike Ounallah: The group formed as an idea I had to start a Balkan Brass influenced band with Matt Hotez, a trombone player I had just met in D.C. I recruited my long time friend Patrick Edwards (electric guitar) from Bellflur, and we started to branch out with music both in that brass band style but with guitar, pedals, and eventually vocals. It was actually a 4-piece with John (Di Lascio) from Paperhaus. He got busy, and we decided it was time to expand and have a bigger sound.

My friends Kristen Long (vocals, percussion, melodic) and Matt O’ Reilly (vocals, bass) joined up next. We found Kirsten Warfield (trombone), Frank Mitchell, Jr. (Tenor Sax), and Yannick LePage (accordion) pretty quickly after.

Monty Montgomery (tuba/ percussion) insisted on joining the band so we had to let him in! We already had a good amount of material as more people were coming in, so there was a bunch of music from the get-go.



DMD: Can you explain the Eastern European brass tradition that was the basis for the group’s sound and how did it guide the group? With the additional instrumentation, how has the group’s musical focus changed? Does it still maintain these roots?

MO: I love the music and grew up with it. Groups like Goran Bregovic, Slavic Soul Party, and Red Baraat were pretty influential early on in the writing stages.

I also grew up in the South, so I wanted to bring some more Appalachian music, singing, and writing elements into the mix. Monty lived in New Orleans and we play together all the time, so that music has seeped in a bit into our song list.

I’m not sure we’ve had a change in focus. We’re all about a good time and playing music together. The brass band music gives everyone a chance to shine, but of course we do a lot of singing as well, and now jumping out into the crowd!



DMD: How does the group make it work with 9 musicians? How do you arrange all the instrumentation (including vocals) to produce a coherent whole?

MO: Practice, lots of practice. But seriously a lot of our music is written out. Horn parts, chords, and arrangements. Not vocals so much, just a lyric sheet with chords.

Harmonies and arrangements we get tight and change when we rehearse. Whomever writes the song has a pretty good idea coming in of what they want, and we all edit and adjust together.

The band’s got some great musicians including Yannick, who is the most gallant accordion player in all of Columbia Heights. He is best known for being the only Frenchman named Yannick to play at The Kennedy Center. His uncle calls us regularly to congratulate him.



DMD: Black Masala is known for its high-energy live shows. What’s the craziest show you’ve had to date?

MO: They’re all good for different reasons. Top crazy was Zeba Bar in Columbia Heights, the first time in before they expanded for Ottomania, the monthly Gypsy Dance Party. There were 70 people in a 35 person-max room, falling on drums and yelling to our trombone player Matt to play harder and faster! He loves that.

Next crazy would be Black Cat in February with Jonny Grave, Norman Rockwell and Burlesque Artists. That was just a great night and a sold out show with amazing energy.



DMD: What’s one thing about Black Masala that you wish people knew, or understood, that doesn’t get conveyed very much by the media?

MO: Kristen would like you all to know she has 14 cats not 15 as she is often times accused of.

I think in general we all like to label music, so it’s easier to understand and we’re certainly a non-standard group for the area. I mean the biggest cover we play is Mesecina, which is huge in Serbia.

Like any group we’re prone to plead the 5th in describing our music as just Balkan, Gypsy, brass. We have elements of New Orleans music, funk, soul, bhangra, folk, all kinds of stuff. We’re into having a party on stage with people jumping off and on Gypsy style.



DMD: What are the group’s future plans? You all just wrapped up a tour – any more plans to tour outside D.C.?

MO: We’re on our way to Pennsylvania in August for Musikfest, Midwest in the fall, and the South again in October. We’ll also be doing more run - Gregory Ayers


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Can you hear that? Can you feel it? It’s the sound of Washington, DC’s eclectic high energy brass band Black Masala. Formed in 2012, the band creates an irresistible dance groove packed with funk, gypsy punk, and soul. Black Masala has made a big impact as one of the most exciting live acts in the region and is the winner of four Washington, DC Area Music Awards (“WAMMIES”), including ‘Best New Artist’ and ‘Best World Music Album.’

In just three short years, Black Masala has released its debut album, multiple remixes, live recordings, and its follow up second album, “I Love You Madly” which came out October 30th. The new album showcases the band’s variety of influences and moods, ranging from Bhangra and bounce to New Orleans funk and Balkan brass. This sound was forged on the road, playing countless shows up and down the East Coast to enthusiastic crowds. Black Masala is part of a new generation of go anywhere brass bands, and when they take the stage, their infectious grooves result in dance party that leaves smiling concert goers eager for the next song.

EPK:  blackmasala.com/press-kit 
Website: blackmasala.com/
Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/BlackMasala
Soundcloud:  http://soundcloud.com/black-masala
Video's:  http://www.youtube.com/user/BlackMasala/videos
New Album on Spotify: http://bit.ly/1YgyVpz
New Album on Bandcamp:  http://blackmasala.bandcamp.com/

TOUR DATES: http://blackmasala.com/tour-dates



Band Members