By Heart & Soul Staff
Trew Culture’s aim is to highlight the melting pot of New York City through the performance & production of Hiphop & Jazz music, fashion and the arts. With drummer/producer J. Swiney, a native Brooklynite, Rapper, songwriter BD3 a first generation West Indian who also grew up in Brooklyn and Saxophonist, song rwriter FKAjazz, a New York transplant originally from Houston, the three bring a distinct but diverse outlook on the culture. As the three artists began working alongside each other, it quickly became apparent that their musical kinship was something they could take beyond the limitations of the individual grind; that through working together they could create something greater than what either could accomplish on their own.
We can assume, but can you articulate to us BD3 what is “Green Juice” really about and why did you decide to remix or rerecord it.
BD3: When I first started to write “Green Juice” I was thinking about all of those old records from the 50’s and 60’s that had hidden messages in them, or rather were presented in one way but in itself was a double entendre. I wanted to tell a story of the elation you feel when you detox your body of the negativity and take a shot of a positive direction. Now, if you listen to “Green Juice” really closely I’m also talking about how a new sexual encounter is a positive uplifting one versus a toxic relationship I was previously in. It felt like a detox, it felt like a cleanse, it was juicy fresh and sweet, and most importantly, healthy. I just figured it would be dope to mask it as a song about the current health awareness. Thus, I entitling it “Green Juice.” After forming Trew Culture and performing the record the Trew Culture way, there was no doubt we had to record it with the band.
Watch Trew Culture featuring BD3 performing “Green Juice’
Why did you choose the name BD3?
BD3: It kinda chose me. BD3 is short for the name B.O. Da Trio which was my rap moniker for some time. The B.O. stood for “being original” and “blackout” which is a termed used when someone goes off on a record or really shows up and out. It’s also the first 2 letters of my last name and a childhood nickname. The Trio was my doctrine i live by which means: “In life there are only 3 things, what you know, what you think you know, and the truth.” I just figured it would be dope to shorten the name. It’s like a code to break and I consider my art to be the same way.
In your own words, please tell our readers what is Trew Culture? Am I correct to assume that you are a collective with 3 individual solo artists coming together yet operating simultaneously?
Justin: TrewCulture is a collective of artist from all walks of life. A beautiful group of producers, writers, singers and MC’s that are drenched in the history of BAM (Black American Music). Founded by FKAjazz, BD3 & Justin Swiney. Two brothers from Brooklyn and one brother from Houston.
FKAjazz: We bridge the gap between Hiphop & Jazz, from the production of music, live performances and everything that it encompasses. The 3 of us founded the collective towards the end of 2018. There’s a whole family of us. Anyone that comes to a show will feel that right away. For now we’re focusing on us (BD3, Justin & myself) as a core foundation but there’s a lot of exciting developing we’ll be rounding out soon.
BD3: You are correct, its a package deal but you can also individualize it if you so choose to. More importantly our mission is to infuse unadulterated truth in all forms of expression. We’ve gotten to the point where the lie is more entertaining than the truth but we are here to bring the truth in a way that is undeniable.
There seems to be an obvious intent to combine genres in your songs but with hip hop and jazz being the base. “Star-Crossers” is one of the smoothest natural jazz/hip-hop collabs I have heard in a while. Where did the inspiration for this song and direction come from?
Watch Fkajazz featuring ELISE TESTONE and EDSON SEAN
FKAjazz: Thank you so much! However it’s not necessarily “intent” as much as it’s more just a depiction of my trajectory as an artists. I grew up in the era of 90’s HipHop & R&B, while simultaneously developing a kinship & talent for jazz music. So naturally, Hiphop & Jazz are 2 very distinct elements of who I am and how I think. Aside from that I will say, it took me a long time to not only develop the facility & skill to pull this off but moreover, it took me some time to be around the right people to help me do it. I feel like I’m finally in an environment to make the music that I’ve been trying to make for years.
Please explain why the name Fkajazz?
FKAjazz: FKAjazz literally means “Formerly known as Jazz” and/or Formally known as Jazz” haha! It signifies the concept of my music and the trajectory my music has taken over the years. Starting out as a professional jazz musician after going to grad school at Manhattan School of Music, growing up in the 90s surrounded by hiphop & r&b and later learning how to produce music first through electronic music; it all brought together who I am & what FKAjazz is to me. It’s both an homage to the first truly American music, Jazz, while at the same time pulling from everything that followed: funk, r&b, hiphop, etc.
FKAjazz, we understand that your sister won a Grammy recently. What is her music direction and are their any plans for a future collab?
FKAjazz: My sister is a cellist. I actually started on violin when I was 4 yrs old right after starting piano (at 3 yrs old) because of her. She’s always been a big influence on me and I’m super proud of all her accomplishments. From working on the Broadway play “Hamilton,” being on the TV show “Empire” multiple times, working with the likes of Beyonce, Kirk Franklin & PJ Morton, she’s absolutely killing it! I’ve actually collaborated with her in the past but haven’t in years. When the time comes for me to add strings on a project, she’ll be my first call, of course.
This question is directed to Justin. From reading the Trew Culture bio and reviewing performances, as the drummer and youngest member of the collective, how would you define your role with Trew Culture? Are you working with any other projects outside of Trew Culture?
Justin: I think I’m still finding my role within TrewCulture. My role as well as BD3 & FKAJazz is continually evolving. Since the inception of TrewCulture I’ve made it a point to do more in the creation of our projects. First as a producer and now doing album artwork and mixing records. This came from working closely with FKAjazz and Edson Sean. These two brothers have inspired me over the years with their ability to be hands on in all aspects of a project. As a musician I’m always working with other artists. Currently outside of Trew Culture I’m working with an amazing vocalist, Sherma Andrews on Afrobeat inspired music.
Questions for BD3, Fkajazz and Justin individually:
A) Who are your biggest musical influences:
BD3: From a hip hop perspective it would have to be Nas; the art of story telling and putting the medicine in the candy has always been an inspiration. Busta is an amazing performer and energy god, his control over the crowd is amazing. Freddie McGreggor’s voice makes me want to crack open a Guinness and eat a fresh mango from the tree, and James Brown is the greatest of all times
FKAjazz: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter & Miles Davis for their ability to stay relevant and creative through so many decades and eras of American Music. I’m hoping to garner the same relevancy through my music.
Justin: My Biggest musical influences are Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Prince, Kanye West, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. I could keep going…
B) Tell us what are your 5 favorite current songs or current artists:
BD3: Dylan, Dylan, Dylan……..Ha! Its hard to say because I just listen to my people, not a big fan of everything out but Rapsody is dope, Walky Wah, Mic Blaque, Edson Sean, Sango (anything Soulection plays) and Anderson Paak. That guy is on fire
FKAjazz: I don’t really pay attention to songs as much as people so I’d say, aside from the people I’m currently working with; Common, H.E.R., Robert Glasper, The Roots & Katrynada.
Justin: My 5 favorite current artists are Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, YBN Cordae, PJ Morton.
C) Who would like you to collaborate with that you have not worked with yet:
BD3: Oddisee, and Gaidaa
FKAjazz: Would love to do a record with 9th Wonder, Common, Flying Lotus & Knxledge. Those are the first that come to mind but I’m up for anything that has a good vibe; from the people & the music
Justin: I would love to collaborate with PJ Morton, Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo and Raphael Saadiq. These artists always push the envelope. Most important thing for me is that these artists are all hands on in the creation of their music. They don’t just sing or rap over beats. They’re apart of the creative process.
D) As you know we are a health and wellness magazine for women, what are you doing currently or plan on doing to have a healthy lifestyle particularly in regards to diet, stress relief and exercise as artists:
BD3: My stress relief is writing and spending time near water, for some reason seeing the horizon calms me. As far as diet I stay away from swine and I plan to get some more cardio in to workout this Dad bod I’m rocking. The bike is my frien
FKAjazz: I’m Buddhist, so I center my life on self-reflection, appreciation & gratitude which plays a huge role in my mental health. As a Black man I find that to be firstly important. I’m also a Pescatarian (the only meat I eat is fish) which has been a great change for me health-wise. Aside from that, I just simply try and stay active and not eat too many cookies! LOL! As a music producer, it’s easy to find myself in front of a computer all day but incremental walks and exercise helps a ton as well.
Justin: I struggle with eating properly. I’m known for eating Chinese food often. I will say that over the last two years I’ve made it a point to cut down on sugar and create an at-home exercise routine. As I continue to mature I hope my diet will as well. It’s hard making good diet decisions as a musician because of the late nights and constant movement.
When are the next singles and albums for BD3 and FkaJazz coming ?
FKAjazz: BD3 and I are both releasing singles ion August 23, 2019.
BD3: Next single coming up for me will be the live version of L.I.T.E, produced & mixed by Justin Swiney.
L.I.T.E by BD3
FKAjazz: My next single “Supreme Love” actually features BD3 & Justin plus a ton of other friends including Marcus Machado, Lez Lemon & Noah MacNeil. And the album is coming this fall 2019! Aside from the elevation in the music, I think I’ve gotten better at mixing too. This is definitely the best sounding record I’ve done so far. Can’t wait for you guys to hear it!
“SUPREME LOVE” by FKAjazz featuring BD3 and Marcus Machado
What are the goals for Trew Culture ? Short term and Long term
BD3: Short term goal for us is to galvanize more listeners around the music and slowly build a great relationship between us and the people who support us. Long term, the sky is NOT the limit, it’s only the view, who knows…
FKAjazz: Agreed! We’re building a strong base in New York and soon will start spreading out to other cities & countries. Long Term, we’ll keep that to ourselves. There’s a lot of things we have lined up for the future, both near & far. But I don’t want to talk ahead of myself. We know what’s up and you’ll be there to find out.
Justin: As open as the market is today through the rise of Social Media, it’s still hard to reach the masses. Long term we also want to be touring a few months out of the year and continuously making music on a full-time basis. We want to be able to live comfortably doing what we love!
I understand that even though BD3, FKAjazz, and Justin are the core of Trew Culture, there is a very active extended musical family. Could you elaborate on who they are?
All: Very Trew!! Starting with the Trew Culture Band there’s Noah MacNeil on keys, Julian Litwack on guitar & Yoshiki Yamada on bass. And our main vocalist Natalie Oliveri who you’ll definitely be hearing more of in the future. Then there’s the extended fam with includes Marcus Machado, Elise Testone, Lez Lem, JSWISS, Edson Sean, Walky Wah and so many others it’s hard to count.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. One last question. In 2 sentences please state why a venue or festival should book Trew Culture
BD3: Well first of all we are that damn good! The way we intertwine genres of music will allow any venue/festival to book us. You want showmanship, interaction, a great vibe, and people who want to come back then you call us
We’re making music for the “forgotten generation,” people that want to hear great songs, people that grew up in the 90s or just love that music. We’re the best upcoming crew performing music that seamlessly fits a wide-ranging demographic but our focus really stems from music that speaks to mature party-goers.
Justin: And a venue or festival should book TrewCulture because we’re Trew to our culture and honest with the music. We have something for your grandmother to your 3 year old baby.