If you haven't heard of The Lique, you will soon.
The Las Vegas quintet just released a full-length album called "Democracy Manifest" that was entirely crowdfunded.
Yes – the community, fans of the band, and other random folks paid to have their record made.
And as the band gets ready to play Life is Beautiful this September, we thought we'd sit down with a few members of the group before they get to be too big to talk to us.
On their style of music:
Rasar: I would say it’s intelligent, groovy, jazz-based, funky, hip-hop. That is the most succinct thing I could say.
On the numerous influences for their album:
Jason: I think it was just pretty organic for us. On paper, we decided what the sound would be like but the influences you’re hearing - like the Pink Floyd and the Weezer - they are definitely just organic things to us. Artists like that and Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest have influenced us over the years. They’re just kind of coming out of us. We’re not deciding to try to sound like them.
Rasar: We’re primarily a music-first band. Most of the time the guys will write something, and everyone has contributed to the actual music. When we first started, I already had a long solo career -- I already had nine releases before this album. So, I brought a certain amount of my catalogue to the table. For instance, “Walk into my Office,” which is on our album, and then “One Reason” were on my previous releases, but the band just took it to a completely different level.
On the influence of classical training:
Jason: For me, I know a lot of pianists who think this way, but classical is always the first step for me. In my musical experience, everything I’ve dealt with in music can somehow be related back to classical music and has a foundation in classical music.
The theory aspect of classical music I try to use to enhance my sound when I’m playing with the Lique. And also, there is all the technical, classical piano stuff that makes everything a little more fun sounding. I think jazz and classical go hand in hand.
On crowdfunding the album:
Rasar: I got to give a ton of credit to Jason. It was his idea. It came up at a meeting. He came and said, "We should look into crowdfunding." I remember being kind of skeptical about that. I always felt unsure about it […] We actually got together and we got excited about it […] We had confidence because people had been coming out to our shows, paying to see us, buying t-shirts. We already had a bit of a track record.
Jason: It was a really awesome campaign, because it was really cool to see the support come through -- like, really concretely come through. It was fun to put together because we got to put together the incentives and we got to deliver them, and we got to make videos for people. But it was very rewarding for us to see the people come through for us.
We’re super humbled by everyone’s graciousness and all the support we’ve gotten.
On being a “Las Vegas” band:
Jason: I grew up here and I went to college here, so this city is my home. It means a lot that we are doing things to further progress the community. The fact that it was recorded downtown and the fact that this band from my home Las Vegas, which is known as tourist trap or a place where people go and just get destroyed and drink a lot and lose all their money, that there is something good coming out of here. The underground scene has definitely gotten stronger in the time that I’ve been here. I think Las Vegas has a local scene to be reckoned with, that can be compared to any other major metropolitan area around here.
On the Las Vegas music scene:
Rasar: Vegas -- it’s like this oasis. Me coming from Sacramento, I’m used to everything is two hours away. You can go to San Francisco. You can go to Chico. You can go to Monterey. I can go to anything with three to four hours.
We’re talking about music, but the environment shapes how you interpret your experience and that comes through the music -- for me, to not be around vegetation as much or to be so central to one city. I really only go to two streets in this entire city. All I go to is Fremont and the Las Vegas Strip. Ultimately, that’s all I’m really on. There is way more out here, but I’m not used to that. I’m still learning to make the most out of what is just a small corner of the world and make it the world.
On the influence the city has had on the sound of the band:
Rasar: I don’t know if we have a Vegas sound. That was part of the allure is that we kind of come out of nowhere. What are these guys? We kind of refer to ourselves as the hip-hop rat pack. We definitely honored that legacy. I love the classic vibe. I’m deeply enamored with Nat King Cole.
I don’t know if our sound is directly drawn from a Vegas sound, but I think if we lived somewhere else and had the same chops, I think it would sound the same. If it is a Vegas sound, it is a new Vegas sound.
On what’s next:
Rasar: The Lique. It’s exciting. This is the most promising act that any of us have been with. And we’re just going to get crazy basically […] I’m telling you, the levels that we’re going to […] I feel like we’ve improved but the difference is we found more of ourselves. We’ve gelled more. We’re not worried about acceptance.
Jason: It just seems like every time you turn on the TV and see the news it is something terrible happening again. We’re just trying to bring a message that you embody the change you want to see in the world, and you can help fix these problems. You just have to accept your own happiness and give it to other people.
Rasar, frontman; Jason Corpuz, keyboardist
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