On January 27, Feedel Band and Insect Factory will perform at our Winter Luce Unplugged Community Showcase in the Luce Foundation Center. Feedel Band, an "EthioJazz" band, blends native Ethiopian tunes and jazz of the '60s and '70s to create soulful, textured music. Each member brings one-of-a-kind experiences to the bandâ€™s performances, from opening for Beyoncé and working with The Temptations and Dizzy Gillespie, to playing at the Kennedy Center and presidential inaugural celebrations. We sat down with this local band to hear how their unconventional sound is making waves in DC's music scene.
Eye Level: As an "EthioJazz" band, your original sound combines Ethiopian funk, jazz, and soul. How would you describe your creative process?
Feedel Band: We think it's a real gift, and we believe that everyone has this gift too. But sometimes external barriers keep people from exploring music and receiving this gift.
EL: Where do you seek your musical inspiration?
FB: We are inspired by the sound of legendary Ethiopian bands like Ibex and Walias from the '60s and '70s. And they continue to be our musical icons to this day.
EL: How does being in DC influence the band's music?
FB: The music scene here is not just for young hippies, but is also for fans of blues, jazz, and reggae music as well. There are times when the entire band can't be together for the show, and in DC, we always have someone we can count on to fill in, even on short notice.
EL: Feedel in Amharic means "alphabet." How did you decide on this name?
FB: Feedel is, by definition, the Amharic word for letter or alphabet. In fact, it is one of the few written systems that has survived on the African continent to this day. Feedel is unique. Ethiopian characters are entirely phonetic structured in seven columns. In other words, each character in the Feedel system has seven sounds and has the ability to represent virtually every sound. The Feedel system is not only a dazzling display of human creativity but also, in practical terms, a powerful medium for communication and social interaction. The power of Feedel resides in the characters ability to represent virtually every sound. In music theory, we call these characters Diatonic scale, which has seven pitches, and the scale has five whole steps and two half steps. In other words, Feedel could be used as synonyms for a musical scale.
EL: What is one of your favorite memories together as a band?
FB: Our first big instrumental music show at FestAfrica in 2011 was interesting. We were very nervous before the show because we thought the majority of the people in the audience were not very familiar with "EthioJazz" music, but the outcome was very surprising. They were enamored with our warm and engaging style of music. We will never forget that day.
EL: How can fans access your music and are you releasing any upcoming albums?
FB: We just released our new album called Ethiopian Ocean in September that can be accessed via our website or Facebook page.
Hear Feedel Band play Friday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. following a performance by Insect Factory. The concert, presented in collaboration with Washington City Paper, will include free tastings from 3 Stars Brewing Company as well as a cash bar with additional drinks and snacks. Check out more details on Luce's Facebook page. See you Friday!