Inspired by Steely Dan, both musically and in terms of the band’s set-up, Gideon King & The City Blog features a rotating selection of accomplished musicians who participate according to a song’s needs.
King writes guitar songs without a focus on genre, preferring to experiment with complex harmonic, rhythms, and abstract lyrical patterns instead. They’re big on the NYC circuit, with regular gigs at Joe’s Pub, and the current band features Alita Moses, who is also touring the world with Jacob Collier this year.
Known for their emotive, soulful songwriting, fans of Stevie Wonder to Miles Davis and much in between can latch on to the City Blog’s unique musicality.
And tomorrow, the band has their latest ambient and soulful single, “Turn Off the Sky,” releasing with an EP on the horizon.
We got to chat with King about the band’s new single, the upcoming EP, hanging with Roger Federer, and much more.
So how’s 2023 treated you and/or the band? Any notable highlights or performances?
Well, so far so good. We are playing a bunch of shows. One nice one coming up is at The Cutting Room on 5/18. We have been working on videos to go along with our new EP. Just forward motion.
Your music has a unique mix of experimentational jazz influences among other things. What led or inspired the band to experiment and develop this signature sound?
Not really a conscious decision. An oak tree grows oak tree leaves. We are just very diverse from a musical standpoint. Jazz. Funk. Classical. I come from a true fusion background and love lyric creation. Most of the musicians in the band are trained jazz folks, so that leaches to the surface even when we play pop or funk or whatever. I think the signature sound comes from a molding pattern; first I write things and then the band members change what I write to an appreciable extent. And then there it is.
Incredible. So you’ve got your new single, “Turn Off the Sky,” officially out tomorrow. It’s an intriguing title- can you tell us the backstory and inspiration behind it?
Well, I usually write more complex lyrics in the ecosystem of Steely Dan or Dylan, but I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to try and write thick slow lyrics in the Bono style. His lyrics are syrup. Dripping syrup. So our keyboard fella and I came up with some chord changes. Then I did my Bono imitation with the lyrics. Then a Radiohead vibe was tossed in with a muted drum groove and some atmospherics and we had a song salad. Simple though. Just a few ingredients.
Also, that vocal by Caleb Hawley is so solid and soulful. The live video features Michael Mayo on vocals. He is another badass in a totally different way. He has a sunshine voice. Blessed talent. Oh, the title. Well in relationships sometimes people expect another to do the impossible. So I thought of the idea that nobody can turn off the sky.
What was the songwriting/creative process like for this track?
Our keyboard guru and I knocked out some chord changes and I wrote the lyrics. Then we got in the studio with the whole band and one of our drummers Zach Mullings cooked up a little sonic motif. Then we argued and tracked for hours till something good happened. Same as always. Chaos…then more chaos…then desperation….then a glimmer of hope which opens the floodgates. Then music.
I also saw you have an EP coming out later this year. What can you tell us about it?
I honestly think it’s our best work. It’s called Splinters. Five tunes. The goal is complexity that sounds simple. Who the hell knows if it will be successful. I love it and the band loves it. There are like 50,000 Spotify releases every day. Do these tunes differentiate themselves in that never ending ocean? I hope so. We worked like hell to make them something special and deep. Maybe there is some weird dance we can do to induce people to listen? Like a musical rain dance or something.
How has your sound and/or songwriting evolved as a group over time?
We have come to the right human algorithm. No egos. Good people. The best people. Nice people. Truly open minds. Not just lip service to acceptance of ideas only to return to the same old crap in popular music today. Songs with intentional forms. We have stolen from the following genres: fusion.. jam band… funk… jazz… ballads.. classical… rock- and formed a new vibe. It took years. It was too abstract before, almost lazy in its complexity. Check out the song “Splinters.” It is a manifestation of the great musicianship in the band and all of my musical influences.
What does a dream gig look like for Gideon King & The City Blog?
Playing in front of lots of people that know and like our catalogue and don’t give a shit about social media. New fans with old tastes.
What does success as a songwriter/musician mean to you?
A songwriter should write, not talk about writing. I want to have a very large catalogue so that one that likes our music can spend hours and hours listening to our hand crafted compositions. Just want the audience to gradually grow. I love that young people and older people listen to our stuff.
If you could sit and shoot the breeze with any living idol of yours, who would it be and why? And where do you envision this happening?
Wouldn’t be a musician. Musical artists take themselves and their ideas too seriously. Roger Federer! What a complete master! Winston Churchill? To hold fast to an opinion that was so unpopular and turn out to be right. Incredible fortitude! Wait… maybe Snoop Dogg. He is very funny and cool and smart. Actually, no. It would be Shakespeare. I just want to know if he really wrote all of these plays and poems. If he did that is just madness. Yeah, it would be Shakespeare. Not a musician. I like to hear them play or sing… not talk.
Now, if I could hang our with Shakespeare, I would like to do it at a nice sushi place downtown in NYC. I would get great press and become famous. It would be a game changer for my music career. People would assume I had access to timeless poetry at all times. I know you asked me to name a living idol and I didn’t do so, thereby failing this interview.
What else can you tell us about your 2023 plans?
It’s a secret. GKCB is planning something that will change the world as you know it. No, that isn’t true. We are just gonna keep playing and improving and writing and performing and so on. You know, like a band does. Not very original I suppose, but I would like our fanbase to keep growing and I would like to see us playing In front of bigger and bigger crowds. You asleep yet?