Toronto: Mauve Grove
Psychedelic hip-hop group Mauve Grove are close to dropping their second EP.
Mauve Grove are a four-piece mix of hip-hop, funk, and prog-rock from Toronto, Ontario- made up of guitarist Babak Taghinia, vocalist CJ Hall, drummer David Jones, and bassist Spencer Bridgwater. Beginning in late 2016, Mauve Grove describe themselves as "not quite hip-hop, not quite experimental."
Besides collective influences like A Tribe Called Quest, Anderson .Paak, and BADBADNOTGOOD, Jones discovered one of his biggest inspirations, Green Day's American Idiot, for the first time at ten years-old.
"I fell in love, and knew immediately that I was going to be a drummer," said Jones. "My parents got me a drum kit and some lessons. They had also opened up my horizons to lots of types of music, playing everything and anything all day long. My pops worked with rock bands back in the day, so I would get to hear some pretty crazy stories about life on the road, it's still something I'd love to do. As for inspirations, there's too many to name, but a few off the top of my head would be; Frank Zappa, Anderson Paak, MF Doom, Nas, Robert Glasper, Collective Soul, Rammstein, and many more."
"My parents tried to keep me busy for a week during summer in between school years when I was about eight or nine, so they sent me off to music camp," said Bridgwater. "I played trombone for a week and then ditched it for trumpet when I got back to school, and kept playing throughout high school. When I was 14 I picked up the bass after buying Rage Against The Machine’s Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium at a garage sale, and never looked back. My biggest inspirations built on top of each other, starting with Flea, to Victor Wooten, then later to Jaco and Felix Pastorius."
"I started around age 12, I was hooked on listening to Earth, Wind & Fire, and the Jackson Five," said Hall.
"I was cursed from a young age," said Taghinia. "The ghost of Pierre Boulez held my family
hostage for three days until I finally gave in and signed up for piano lessons at the age of six. Two years later, he came back and told me he would turn me into an overcooked beef wellington if I didn’t switch to guitar."
Bridgwater believes that becoming successful at music creation takes a lot of work, and equally as much luck.
"For raw creation and personal passion projects, music is a hobby until it isn’t," said Bridgwater. "There’s a lot of noise to wade through in the airwaves, so getting to the point where music is a sustainable career is a long road that takes a lot of work and a lot of luck. We work hard, but at the end of the day we’re just stoked to be making music with each other. As soon as you recognize the odds are weighed against you and you’ll probably never sell a million records, you stop worrying about the process and just write the most honest music you can, which is what we’re trying to do."
The boys are thankful to work alongside their buddies.
"Babak and I met off and on in the years leading up to Mauve’s formation at three-chord punk jams," said Bridgwater. "We had a few low-key recording sessions before we decided we needed some sort of machine behind the drums."
"We bought David off of Wish.com," said Taghinia.
"We found CJ in a basement, like in those movies where the group goes looking for
“The Kid” and there’s a guy in a smoky bar hustling people at billiards with an eyepatch
that they have to convince to join up," said Bridgwater.
"I was the last to join, and I'm very lucky to have these guys in my life," said Hall.
The band's origin story is a bit of a mystery.
"Very late 2016 is when we had our first show together, at the original Silver Dollar
Room," said Bridgwater. "Putting the band together only weeks before was a combination of luck and insanity."
"I didn’t land the position in Jann Arden’s band, so this seemed like the next best
thing," said Taghinia. "Regarding the name, Spence is probably going to say something along the lines of, 'it came to him in a dream' or something. Don’t buy it. Truth is we came up with the name when- (redacted)."
"Like any good band name, you think of it in the middle of the night after waking up from a feverish dream and state “yeah, that’s good enough”," said Bridgwater.
Hot Laundry was Mauve Grove's debut EP.
"Our first release was our debut LP Hot Laundry," said Bridgwater. "We recorded it in a very well
equipped, if very old, school studio with Toronto’s own part-architect, part-madman Donnie Drain. We did all the instrumental takes across two weekends nearly completely live off the floor. I tracked CJ at my place over the following month for vocals, and Babak and I spent another month and a half mixing and mastering it. We’ve learned a lot since then, but I’m pretty impressed with what four guys and very little studio experience ended up with."
The bandmates are proud of the loyal listeners they've attracted so far.
"We're still actively working to build our fanbase but are extremely proud of the great people
that have supported the band thus far," said Jones. "I can't personally say there’s been a "made it" moment, but when we play outside of our home city and have a few people there to see us,
that's something special."
"We get a lot of love and respect from the other bands that we play with, plus tons of support from the open mic scene as well," said Hall. "We've had so many great moments- who knows what the future holds?"
"Once this one random guy who biked by me one night turned around and came back just to ask me if I was the guitarist in Mauve Grove," said Taghinia. "I don’t know if we’ve necessarily reached a “made-it” moment, but we’ve definitely reached a number of cool milestones along the way- like venues we’ve always wanted to play at, having sold-out shows, and getting really good feedback from the audience about the music we’re creating."
The boys unanimously agree that The Horseshoe Tavern holds some special memories.
"The first time we played the Horseshoe Tavern was a big one for me," said Jones.
"A ton of our friends and family came out to support us, and the energy was absolute fire."
"Yeah that Horseshoe show was special, a real rite of passage for Toronto bands," said Bridgwater.
"It’s one of those venues I think anyone who’s musically inclined hopes to play at some point," said Taghinia. "It was a great show, great crowd, and just an overall swell time. There were also a lot of really cool shows we played on our way out to the East Coast a couple summers ago. We played a lot of new cities and towns, received a lot of awesome feedback from people who came out to see us, and got to spread our music to new audiences."
"We also played this Oakville house party show that felt like we were inside a music video- packed house, and everyone was into it," said Hall.
Mauve Grove are working on releasing a new album.
"We have a record that we’ve been working on that we’ve been putting out singles
from," said Bridgwater. "We recorded it at Genesis Sound Inc. in the west end of Toronto. Matt Snell engineered and mixed it. For the songs we’ve put out so far, the feedback has been awesome and varied. I think the tracks offer something different for a bunch of different tastes, which might be a double-edged sword, but that’s the sound we have been working on. As of this writing, we had just put out Textiles, which was a song that was written rather quickly nearly two
years ago (right after Hot Laundry, more or less), but took a long time to sort of all of the details and transitions to our liking. We’ve played it live dozens of times prior to its release and the reactions from fans who have now heard the studio version have been worth the wait."
When asked about their long-term goals, the boys kept it simple.
"Good music and the happiness and enjoyment that comes from it," said Hall.
"A live in Japan, straight-to-DVD release," said Taghinia.
"Definitely the Live in Japan! DVD, opening for T.M. Stevens," said Bridgwater.
Keep your eyes peeled for more tracks coming soon.
"We’ve got one more track planned for release before dropping the full album," said Bridgwater. "We’ve been working on our behind-the-scenes material for a while and are excited to finally be
putting it all out. Short term goals are focused on writing and recording our next demos. We’re only happy when we’re in the studio or on stage, and only one of those is possible right now."
COVID-19 is hitting musicians particularly hard, and Mauve Grove is no exception.
"I think the pandemic effected us all differently," said Taghinia. "Definitely strange times to be living in. While there aren’t any live shows going on right now, rightfully so, I think we all agree that it’s really important for us to be using this time to write and record new material, and use this time to expand and develop our online presence."
(Postponed due to COVID-19.)