Blackmoon GraffitiPROFICIENCY IN ONE music style takes practice. Blending several styles into music takes actual talent, a commodity Blackmoon Graffiti has in abundance.
Combining rap, hip hop, funk and jazz into one cohesive package is the band's signature, along with the ability to get people off the bar stools during live performances.
A repeat winner in the Techno/Hip Hop category, Blackmoon Graffiti has garnered local popularity since it's inception in 1993.
Blackmoon Graffiti prides itself on musicianship, and the members use real instruments, swearing off samples and loops. While some groups pick and choose the best of someone else's work to create musical collages, this band emphasizes the "live" part of a live performance.
"We're 'live' as far as the music is concerned," said guitarist Alex Skelton in a previous interview with The Weekly. "We're all with instruments on stage."
But while the band stops short of sampling actual riffs or melodies, bassist Shawn Crawford readily admits the impact of influences in the music.
"The thing we all have in common is we're thieves," he said. "I don't even make any apologies for it. You just steal an idea--it doesn't even have to be the notes--it's just a vibe."
Vocalists Amy Stuenkel and Leo Powell, guitarist/keyboardist Bill Mericle and drummer Marc Contreras fill out the roster, each contributing a different music style to draw from.
Powerful and lilting, Stuenkel's voice reveals her affinity for harmony gurus The Association, and her voice-as-instrument abilities are reminiscent of Anita Baker and Patti LaBelle.
Skelton cites Parliament and Funkadelic as influences. Everything from Pink Floyd, Earth, Wind and Fire, African tribal drumming, old-style country music, classical and Spanish guitar to New Age and punk shows up on the band's laundry list of personal faves.
Instead of pledging allegiance to one genre, even within a single song, Blackmoon Graffiti weaves funk bass riffs, a Floyd-esque guitar, rap and a haunting vocal canon together, puts a slow jazz spin on in and names it "Dr. King," a song from a four-song 1994 cassette.
Blackmoon Graffiti pulls no punches with lyrics, either.
"If you listen to some of our songs like "Dr. King" or "The City," you'll hear about some of the things we've dealt with in life, from our view," Skelton said.
Songwriting is a group effort, a habit drummer Contreras said keeps the music fresh. Songs are born by one riff evolving from another, until a cohesive idea emerges.
"By doing this, it helps us to keep from falling into one mode of writing songs -- pretty soon every song sounds the same," Contreras said in a previous interview. "With all six of us having different influences and ideas, we try different things."
Hooked On Chronics
"Hooked" appears to be more a motto than mere moniker for Hooked On Chronics.
The six-member, eight-month-old ensemble is an amalgamation of "funk, soul, R&B, jazz and rapping," says guitarist Fil Aguirre.
Hooked On Chronics is more funk than sheer Hip Hop, drawing inspiration from Parliament, Funkadelic and contemporary rap groups. "We do it with a hard edge," Aguirre says.
The band's name is "a play on words, something catchy. It just kind of hooks," he says. "And it's chronic. It's always there."
In addition to Aguirre, the band consists of: Aaron Canfield (keyboards), Frank Galvez (drums), Tyler Hogan (turn tables) Jason Canfield (auxiliary drums), and Henry Camargo (vocals).
While Aguirre admits it's difficult assembling six people for practice, songwriting is collaborative.
"It's just like a jam. Henry and I will have a hook and we'll just jam on it," Aguirre says. "Our lyrics deal with life, and we have one political song. "We're mostly a 'good-times band.'"
© 1995 Tucson Weekly