Simply put, Doombalaya is a wall of sound. Dubbed ‘progressive world beat’, their style is a mixture of jazz, afrobeat, progressive rock, hip hop, traditional musics of the world, funk, New Orleans, and all things in between. The five man fiery horn line is matched by an eclectic yet cohesive, full rhythm section. Members have done extensive studying around the world (Zambia, St. Lucia, Italian and Ductch conservatories, Ghana, Norway) and look to each culture as inspiration for their sound. Doombalaya was born out of the Tulane jazz program and has evolved their own unique voice through their six year career. We sat down with Jason Winikoff (Percussion) , Cyrus Nabipoor (Trumpet) and Cleveland Donald (Trumpet) and discussed past, present and future of Doombalaya.
How did Doombalaya get together?
We were all students at Tulane, pretty much everyone was a sophomore or freshman. We were just jamming and playing covers in our nighttime diner area. It was pretty much just cats who have been playing after their big-band or combo rehearsals.
So the group started as an open jam-session, was there a moment in the sessions that the band found it’s sound and direction?
We weren’t really focusing on that. As the sessions progressed, the musicians started bringing pieces of music they were working on at home, because we were already booking gigs, playing mostly cover tunes for a few dollars and food. But as we developed, watched and listened to the cats that were sitting in our set, we started figuring out what we wanted to do.
The Doombalaya sound has a mixture of New Orleans sound, Afrobeat, Funk, Jazz, many different influences coming together as one. On the new tracks seems like the band is exploring new grounds and adding new elements to the music. Is that a constant mindset inside the group?
The way we look into Doombalaya is that everytime you watch us is very much a snapshot of the musicians playing on stage. We are always constantly listening and researching to get to new places and inspirations. So each time you see us will reflect whatever we are working on at the moment. Our early stuff had alot of Afrobeat stuff and it was right after I came back from Ghana and that sound was stuck in my head, Ethan and Nick were studying new music in this conservatory in amsterdam, so we are heavily influenced by music from all around the world and that always pushes you to seek new grounds
With so many members travelling and collaborating how does the band keep it’s creative focus?
Yeah, getting together is tought (laughs) but we make it happen. Being in a band is very interesting because you get to know everyone very well and you have to get good at communicating and not getting into small arguments.
There’s always so many ideas coming in, everyone has a different perspective of where they want to take a particular song and the varying sounds is a really is the culmination of the musical perspective of these 11 people.
Doombalaya has many side projects, is that something that is encouraged inside the band?
It’s definitely not discouraged (laughs) ! We all are very involved with what we do and we love playing live. I think that’s just on the nature of the members and the scene we’re in, everyone is always creating and collaborating.
Your music is mostly instrumentals, but this year you guys released Scratchies/Thumpies with Jenna Winston on vocals is that something you guys are trying to explore?
Yeah, definitely, actually Jenna is now part of the band. At first we weren’t trying to have a vocalist, but it took a while for us to start including vocals, it was hard for us to find our own voice because we have so many musicians with different sounds and approaches that we didn’t really focus on writing for vocals. Ethan Stern is writing the lyrics for Doombalaya and everything is coming together really nice.