If you’ve heard Menahan Street Band’s Make The Road By Walking (one of the year’s best!), then you know the horns are a major part of the album’s feel—if not the most important. The horn-lines entirely anchored the songs, adding texture to the already colorful arrangements but could also serve as its centerpiece. The horns were the product of Leon Michels, founder of Truth&Soul Records and frontman of El Michels Affair.
Menahan’s bandleader, Tommy Brenneck, has said that he thinks Leon is currently one of the top horn arrangers in the business, which is tough to dispute if you’ve heard either Make The Road…or Sounding Out The City. I spoke to Leon last year for a piece I was working on, and afterwards, he graciously shipped us a box of records to help sponsor San Jose’s Dig Dug. The year’s young, and Truth&Soul are gearing up to drop more heat this year. Here are some parts from the series of interviews we did a while back. Thanks again Leon, looking forward to the coming year.
Sounding Out The Scene
What was the response when you guys first played live?
It was first with the Mighty Imperials. At the time, we were sixteen and played hard funk songs to audiences of twenty-something hipsters in New York. People usually had a hard time wrapping their heads around the experience. It was a novelty act of sorts. With the El Michels Affair, it is different. Aside from the Wu-Tang shows we played, our original music is entirely instrumental. So the shows, depending the audience, are hit or miss.
Do you see your band expanding and playing different types of music, or just sticking with what you’ve already established?
Most of the stuff we do at Truth&Soul is produced and written by myself, Jeff, and some of the guys from El Michels. So we are consistently changing our style but attaching different band names to the music.
How did that Amy Winehouse remix come about? Continue reading “Affair To Remember: Interview with Leon Michels”