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"Ill Groove Movement builds music from three simple truths"

By Patrick S. Fennelly

Ill Groove Movement is a melting pot of sound. Toss in some funk, some jazz, a little bit of rock -- add a splash of pop sensibility for flavor -- and you have got yourself one full serving of Ill Groove.

Just over a year old, this Milwaukee band, comprising guitarist Adam Lovinus, bassist Dave Hanson, drummer Mark "Barney" Zoller and tandem emcees Dave Walden (a.k.a. The Professor) and Theran Michaelis (a.k.a. Catalyst), is creating a new movement in town. The eclectic sound the band calls "organic hip-hop" is beginning to make a lot of people bob their heads.

What is the secret? Just ask the Professor and he'll tell you that there are three things that good music should do:

Music should relax you.

Substituting guitar, bass and drums for turntables and a mixer allows Ill groove Movement to mix songs just as a DJ would, but at a much more organic level on which band members can shift dynamics and improvise. In a sense, Ill Groove brings the turntables to life and makes them malleable. With diverse influences, it's no surprise that covers by the likes of Medeski, Martin and Wood, Dr. Dre, and Herbie Hancock co-exist as regulars in Ill Groove's set list.

Music should make you move.

When attending an Ill Groove Movement show, be prepared to dance. Says Hanson, "We have people who have been to like 20 shows. So many of our fans come back because they know they are going to get something different and they know that it's gonna make them dance." The show remains fresh and exciting by incorporating improvised transitions between songs as well as entire songs created off the cuff with the energy of the crowd feeding the freestyle.

Music should feed your brain.

Both The Professor and Catalyst agree that the music speaks the song. "Most of the songs I write come out of my freestyle because I feel like the song has something that it wants me to say," says The Professor.

The two emcees are proud of the lyrics that have evolved. They rhyme about self-recognition and try to convey their own attempts at self-discovery with their audience.

"Maybe something at our show will stick with you," says Catalyst, "maybe it will change the way that you think."

Of course, their main desire is that you simply "fall into the groove." At each show, Ill Groove Movement incorporates an open mic section that allows audience members to get on stage and do their own freestyle rapping, singing, poetry reading or even playing an instrument.

Later this month Ill Groove Movement will record is first full-length album slated to be called The "ILLiad" and due for spring or summer release. A four-song demo is available at any Ill Groove Movement show. For more information visit -

"Noize 24/7: Friday, May 6th, 2005"

Ill Groove Movement
Treats, 10pm

Dubbed “organic hip-hop,” Milwaukee-born Ill Groove Movement’s funk/jazz/rock/pop sound doesn’t lean on turntables for solid rhythms. Bassist Davin Hanson, guitarist Adam Lovinus and drummer Steve Kulwicki keep pace with fresh hooks for emcees Professor and Catalyst to lay down intelligent rhymes. Approaching three years together, the Movement is growing, with their debut album The ILLiad due this summer.

- Matt Richter: Shepherd Express

"ILL GROOVE Movement Show Feauture"

Ill Groove Movement w/ Chicago Afrobeat Project @ Points East Pub, 10 p.m.

Separately, jam-happy groups Ill Groove Movement and Chicago Afrobeat Project consistently offer improvisational gems. If they unite, and here’s hoping they do on this night, the possibilities may well be endless. Many Milwaukeeans have already become adept at falling into the groove with IGM, a homegrown quintet that drops intelligent lyrics with a hip-hop flow over a funky, genre-merging backbeat. Chicago Afrobeat Project, which features up to 14 members, utilizes full horn and percussion sections as it dabbles in everything from jazz-infused afrobeat to electronic house music. (Dave Rossetti)

- Shepherd-Express (Noize 24/7): March 30, 2006

"A Foreign Affair"

By Sarah Hoye
Posted: March 24, 2005
Amid a sea of donated furniture and a constant flow of housemates, members of the local hip-hop group Ill Groove Movement were busy polishing up a set for their show last Friday at Points East Pub.

The band practices weekly in the living room of a house shared by several of the bandmates and friends on Hackett Avenue near UW-Milwaukee. At practice, the Ill Groove crew was busy strumming on guitars, banging on drums and knocking out rhymes, generating an inviting fusion of funk, jazz, rock and hip-hop.

The self-dubbed "organic hip-hop" group is also gearing up for another main event: the Emergenza Festival, an international music competition, April 2 at the Rave. As the festival's only hip-hop group, Ill Groove came in second after the first round of the rock-saturated competition at Vnuk's Lounge in Cudahy in February.

Getting down together since 2001, Ill Groove Movement includes Adam Lovinus on guitar, Steve Kulwicki on drums (who joined in 2004), Davin Hanson on bass, emcees The Professor (a.k.a. Dave Walden) and Catalyst (a.k.a. Theran Michaelis). Together, they offer thirsty Milwaukeeans a unique mix of musical formats like New York's Justice System did with the rap-jazz of "Rooftop Soundcheck" in 1994 and beyond.

"At some point, we're going to hit on a genre that you love," Catalyst said. "You're going to hear music you've never heard."

On stage at Points East, they drip with sweat beneath the glare of the colored lights while winding through their arsenal of material, ranging from original works like the rappers ballad "22 Missed Calls" to a cover of "Aeroplane" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The crowd, full of dancing friends and strangers, bugs out to the groove while belting out lyrics and cheering on the band like it was a track meet.

"Our show is like a party. We're your deejay," Hanson said. "I think it's cool to open people's minds and defy their expectations."

Milwaukee winners of the initial Emergenza rounds go on to compete in Detroit and Boston, with the international finals to be battled out at the Taubertal Open Air Festival in Germany. Winners will also receive instruments from festival sponsors and their music will be presented to TRACK1, an international alliance dedicated to promoting up-and-coming musicians.

"I didn't know a thing about hip-hop six months ago," said Kulwicki, who auditioned for the group after the departure of the band's original drummer. "But it's all about the music."

Members of Ill Groove Movement originally hooked up at the end of 1999 at Marquette University. At the time, Catalyst hosted an open mic show on Marquette Radio and enlisted Lovinus and Hanson to play as a backup band. From there, the Movement was born.

Their first gig was at a house party on April 20, 2001, a date the guys can all shout out. But when their beat machine decided to give out, they turned to the crowd for a drummer. Up stepped Mark "Barney" Zoller, who remained with the band until last year before moving to Chicago.

"Music is a mind-freeing experience; it's liberating," said The Professor. "I want people to take away good feelings and have that afterglow."

Emerging from a variety of musical backgrounds, band members used hip-hop to fuse their talents, and they've been moving crowds ever since.

"It's all music, and it can be all brought together and all be good," Lovinus said. "It's the most open-minded genre, and it allows for freedom. It's a lot of fun."

Over the past year, momentum has picked up for the boys. From advancing to the second round of Emergenza, Ill Groove was nominated for a WAMI award in the R&B/Urban/Scratch/Hip-Hop Group or Artist of the Year category alongside Black Elephant, Cincere, Kung Fusion and Fat Sandwich. They are also getting ready to drop their first full-length album later this year.

"If it goes somewhere, that'd be the greatest. I want to give hip-hop a good name," Hanson said. "If I could tour the world with a guitar on my back, it would be the most incredible feeling."

- MKE Newspaper (

"INTO THE GROOVE: Local Hip-Hop Band Moves Milwaukee"

Musically aware Milwaukeeans with an eye on their local concert listings and an ear for original tunes are surely familiar with Ill Groove Movement. After all, the homegrown purveyors of “organic hip-hop,” as they term it, seem like they’re always on stage somewhere in the Brew City come the weekend. Delivering their own rhymes while seamlessly flowing between combinations of rock, jazz and funk laid over thick hip-hop grooves, emcees Professor (aka Dave Walden) and Catalyst (aka Theran Michaelis), guitarist Adam Lovinus, bassist Davin Hanson and drummer Steve Kulwicki often find themselves at the center of a crowd-driven dance party when they take the stage. With gigs at Milwaukee music hot spots such as Onopa, Points East Pub, the Rave and Shank Hall just this year, the 3-year-old band looks like it’s hitting its stride. Noize caught up with Ill Groove recently and talked about the band’s sound, its rise, its upcoming album and more.

Noize: Can you explain the concept of organic hip-hop?

Catalyst: The music is rooted in hip-hop but it’s fusion and it grows into other genres like jazz, folk, rock.

Davin Hanson: We just try to lay down a thick groove, whatever it is; it might be rock-oriented or more jazzy, but we try to jam it out, feel it out, and these guys [Professor and Catalyst] put their lyrics over it. I guess we call it that because hip-hop is kind of the closest thing you can call it.

N: So you’re rooted in hip-hop, but you’re also free to experiment. Do you enjoy exploring new avenues?

Adam Lovinus: Definitely. I think the most rewarding part is the new ground that we uncover in every rehearsal. We’re still discovering what our capabilities are and how far we can push things.

Professor: It’s like a meeting ground where we all can come together. We all get along when we are sitting together and can just groove, and it’s great when you can pass that on to someone who is listening in the room. That’s the most rewarding part, I think, of just doing music in the first place.

N: You’ve also got quite a wide-ranging list of covers in your repertoire [from the likes of Pink Floyd, the Roots, and Medeski, Martin and Wood, for starters]. What do those tunes add to your shows?

DH: At a show we try to go out and show people a good time and be the DJ for their party. We rely mostly on our own music and getting our own stuff out there, but at the same time people love it when we play something that they recognize. When we lay down a really thick version of something they like, it hits them and pulls them further into our shows.

N: The buzz surrounding the band seems to have grown this year. What’s caused you to take off?

C: Grinding. Grinding. I grind every day. I’m not trying to get all egocentric with it because what I do is for the love of the band. I know the guys in the band are working just as hard. But I’m working to connect with radio stations, promoters, and just fans—people who love hip-hop, people who love rock, who love music—to get people out to our shows.

DH: I think our live show is definitely our strength. We get so many repeat people once they come out to a live show—they really are hooked. … We’re diligent about coming up with new songs. People can come to a lot of shows and we give them a different show every time.

N: Steve, how does seeing the crowd’s energy help your shows?

Steve Kulwicki: If the crowd has no energy, it’s really hard for us to give it back. If the crowd is into it, that’s the greatest feeling in the world. We started playing a Rage Against the Machine cover, “Killing In The Name Of,” and I thought we were going to blow the roof off of Points East Pub.

N: Is the Milwaukee hip-hop scene now poised to make some moves nationally?

C: Not only is the scene growing, but the people in Milwaukee who enjoy hip-hop and who play hip-hop are starting to enjoy what other people are doing. You’re starting to see more and more people just supporting the local hip-hop that’s around town.

N: And where does Ill Groove fit into that mix?

C: We’re really happy with the growth. If we happen to get a show in Nebraska, we’ll go to Nebraska and jam out a show. Wherever we are blessed to get a show, we will go there and jam out a show.

DH: We’re just trying to get to Nebraska. [laughter]

N: Your first LP, The ILLiad, has been delayed a bit. What’s going on with it?

DH: It’s hard, dude. It’s expensive. We’re scraping away doing it on our own and we don’t have any record companies or producers helping us out and we are grateful for any penny we get from our fans. We give back as much as we can and try to use the money we make to advance our efforts to get that record out.

P: We’ve already knocked out a third of the album as far as it goes for its completion. We are gigging pretty hard, but after that we are going to go and lay down some vocals and I can’t wait for that because that’s my J.O.B.

N: Is getting it done your main goal for the upcoming year?

C: I think that is our one main goal right now. The number-one top priority is to get enough money, get into the studio and put it out there.

- By Dave Rossetti for the Shepherd Express

"Hip Hop Group of the Year"

R&B/Urban/Scratch/Hip Hop Group or Artist of the Year

Fat Sandwich
Black Elephant
Ill Groove Movement
Kung Fusion

- Wisconsin Area Music Industry

"Ill Groove Movement Rocks to a Different Tune"

Ill Groove Movement's style is so wholly its own it had to coin an original phrase simply to describe it.

They call it "organic hip-hop," a sound that's infused with splashes of old-school jazz, funk and rock, then mixed with hip-hop rhymes and beats. Ill Groove's unique brand of hip-hop, which began to take shape three years ago, has been winning the Milwaukee-based group the respect of its peers in the local music scene and a steady flow of new fans.

They've been making inroads in Milwaukee thanks largely to their kinetic live show. Emcees Professor and Catalyst roam the crowd spewing original rhymes, and the band's wide-ranging covers -- from Ice Cube's "Good Day" to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Aeroplane" -- showcase the all-encompassing nature of the band's stylistically diverse palette.

The band's fans are usually lively as well, moving to the beat and often taking part in Ill Groove's tradition of offering open mic sessions to anyone with anything to say artistically -- be it poetry, freestyle rhyming or playing an instrument.

In turn, Ill Groove -- rounded out by guitarist Adam Lovinus, bassist Dave Hanson and drummer Steve Kulwicki -- does whatever it can to fire up the audience.

"You get whatever energy you give," Professor says. "If you give a ton of energy, even if it's only in front of six people, you just get that given right back to you."

They've become adept at bringing spontaneous dance parties to almost everywhere they play in Milwaukee, but 2005 finds Ill Groove poised for a breakout. The group recently earned a 2005 WAMI Award nomination for R&B/Urban/Scratch/Hip-Hop Group or Artist of the Year. They also made their mark with an impressive showing at Vnuk's Lounge during the first round of the Emergenza Festival, an international battle of the bands contest, in early February. Ill Groove, the only hip-hop act to take the stage in a sea of rock bands, took second place for the night.

"We stood out like a sore thumb, but that was good," says Catalyst.

With the second-place finish, Ill Groove secured a spot in the contest's Milwaukee semifinal round, to be held April 2 at The Rave. A win there means a spot in the local finals, and more wins would be followed by trips to Detroit, Boston and the international finals in Taubertal, Germany.

Catalyst says a run all the way to the international finals would be huge for Ill Groove. "Being able to touch that many new people, that's what we're looking for," he says.

But, the members of Ill Groove aren't getting ahead of themselves.

They're tuning up for their set at The Rave with gigs at 10 p.m. March 18 at Points East Pub, 1501 N. Jackson St., and 9 p.m. April 1 at Conway's, 2127 W. Wells St. The group will also hit the studio to put the final touches on its first full-length album, "The ILLiad," which is set for a June 1 release.

Until then, the band hopes its fans continue to "fall into the groove." Ill Groove, meanwhile, continues its evolution.

"What I feel like we're discovering is you can add hip-hop to anything," Lovinus says. "As long as you can bang it out, you can flow to it."

- By Dave Rossetti of

"Milwaukee Meltdown"

An article written by Emergenza about the 1st Round of the Emergenza Festival in Milwaukee.

"There was no doubt that Ill Groove Movement took the crowd by storm with their talented rhymes by the end of the night."



"2006 WAMI Nominees Announced!"

2006 WAMI Nominees Announced
Feb 10, 2006
MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) has announced nominees for the 26th Annual Awards Ceremony in the following award categories:

R&B/Urban/Scratch/Hip Hop Group or Artist of the Year
Lem Banks
----> ILL GROOVE Movement
Mary Davis Trio
Rusty P’s
Black Elephant
Fat Sandwich

Guitarist of the Year
Steve Lewandowski
Michael Angelo Batio
Tom Dixon
----> Adam Lovinus (ILL GROOVE Movement)
Chris Dame
Dallas Dagenhardt

Group or Artist Website of the Year

- WAMI (


2004 - ILL GROOVE Movement Press EP and Book
2007 - The ILLiad



ILL GROOVE Movement was born April 20th, 2002 at an epic house-party in the heart of Milwaukee, a brain-child of five musical minds brought together by fate during the holiday's festivities. What began as an impromptu jam session has grown into one of Wisconsin's premier original music acts, headlining at venues such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison Union Terrace, Milwaukee's Shank Hall and The Rave, other venues in Wisconsin, several Chicago venues, as well as playing outdoor around the state. The group recorded, produced and released their first full-length album, The ILLiad, on January 23, 2007.

ILL GROOVE is fronted by a talented tandem of lyricists, Catalyst and Professor, whose intelligent rhymes are backed by the jazz-rock-funk grooves of a pedigreed three-piece rhythm section, comprised of Adam Lovinus on guitar, Davin Hanson on bass, and Steve Kulwicki on the drums.

The IGm sound is completely their own, constantly maturing and evolving. They represent the hip-hop, funk, and jazz traditions of years past, embracing the freedom to improvise and create within the confines of a musical piece. The best advice is to just listen and let the ill grooves move you.

* 2004, January - Released the ILL GROOVE Movement EP
* 2004, April - Opened for Interscope/Universal recording artists Jurassic 5 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
* 2004, September - Co-hosted Recreational Rhythms 1 Music Festival in Madison, Wisconsin
* 2005, April - WAMI Hip-Hop Group of the Year Nominee
* 2005, May - Opened for Columbia/Sony recording artists The Bad Plus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
* 2005, September - Co-hosted Recreational Rhythms 2 Music Festival in Madison, Wisconsin
* 2006, January - First broadcast radio airplay - FM 102.1 Milwaukee
* 2006, March - Broadcast radio airplay - 103.7 KISS-FM Milwaukee
* 2006, April - WAMI Hip-Hop Group of the Year Nominee
* 2006, April - WAMI Guitar Player of the Year Nominee
* 2006, April - Performed at the 2006 WAMI Awards Show
* 2006, September - Eclipsed the 100-show mark
* 2006, September - Co-hosted Recreational Rhythms 3 Music Festival in Madison, Wisconsin
* 2007, January -Performed live on-air - FM 91.7 WMSE Milwaukee
* 2007, January - Released debut-album, The ILLiad
* 2007, March- Nominated for 5 WAMI Awards - Artist/Group of the Year, Album (The ILLiad) of the Year, Song (Synergy) of the Year, Hip-Hop Group of the Year, and Web site of the year.