In my heart, Fat Night will always be an Orlando band. And I can’t wait until the next time they come to town to rip a dancefloor into funky pieces. Their latest is already a live staple that kicks erry time. If you’re in Chicago, you should consider yourself lucky.
Zoya Zafar lives in Orlando. Gia Margaret resides in Chicago. The two songwriters met a while back; Zoya was visiting the second city and ran into Gia on the street. They became great fans of each other’s work and wanted to collaborate on a project–smart. Zoya went back to Chicago; they recorded together and made Mutual Friends. Enjoy.
Gia Margaret — “Smoke”
Alrighty, Gia first because she’s a guest on this Orlando blog, and we will be cordial. The very fitting title of her song is “Smoke.” I call it accurate because the song rolls in like a strong haze. It’s thick. It’s grey. You sit in it. The tone is somber. There are elements of Beach House bliss–the constant ticking, blurry vocals–but they’re given a kick by the progressing drum and bass. The low tones and electronic hits make things heavier as we float along. There’s a pairing between the semi-distorted coos and a crystal smooth harmony that makes Gia feel both cold and warm.
Zoya Zafar — “Glass”
Zoya is dope. Every time I’ve seen her perform, the room stops. People are transfixed. I’ve never heard a more delicate voice get such attention. Her songs are hand strung melodies, personal and relatable. They work in dark bars or Sunday afternoons under a tree–I know because I’ve seen a focused crowd at both venues. On her effort, “Glass,” she warns an idling friend; “You’ll just look behind the glass, sitting at the window watching life past.” This person is getting on a plane and thereby running away from their life and loved ones. Her carefully strummed guitar lays the base for the story to be told, almost in a Bob Dylan type of way. A synth starts to hum and a cool clap begin with the second verse as Zoya lays out her feelings. When the song ends, she hasn’t quite let go. “Call me when you find your way back home.”
For the past few years, Orlando has shared funk darlings Fat Night with The Windy City, Chicago. The situation is similar to that of a divorced couple with kids. We get them on weekends, while weekdays are spent with that cheating whore. Luck for us, tonight happens to be Orlando’s turn, as Fat Night will be one of the many acts playing Sweater Fest. Dave Hanson (Sweater Fest organizer) and I (sweater aficionado) had a few questions for our Second City sons, some pertaining to Christmas, their latest release (that we reviewed), and that cheating whore I spoke about earlier. Enjoy.
How did everyone end up in Chicago? What’s it been like relocating and have any new opportunities opened themselves up since the move? What are your hopes for having everyone together up there?
Gabe moved first, a couple years back, to pursue opportunities with The Second City Comedy School. Ted fell in love with the city while visiting Gabe and found a job (quite a few months) after college at a Chicago school. Daniel is still in the process of his move, so it’s still a bit of a work in progress. As of now, we’ve played here once while on tour and had a really great time. If Chicago becomes the place for us, the opportunities seem endless. There are so many outlets for the kind of music we play here, along with being in a more central part of the country, allowing us to explore places we’d love to tour more frequently.
What are the biggest differences in the music communities?
Orlando is so tight knit and centralized. Orlando definitely has a lot of killer musicians and great bands for a city of its size. Chicago has a population many times greater than Orlando, and with that, a staggering number of high caliber, session ready players, be they church musicians or kids that went to music school. There are many great shows and jams every single night and lots of cross pollination between musicians and bands. This can be both inspiring and intimidating as a musician, and both exciting and expensive as a fan of music.
You guys put out an album called Lazy Days over the summer, how’s the response been to that, and how happy are you guys about how it came out? How has your sound and process evolved since the first release?
We’ve had a strong, positive response to Lazy Days. It’s gotten more attention off the bat than our debut. We feel good about it too. It’s definitely a step forward from the first album, which had some songs written by us as 19 year olds. We were a little more meticulous this time around, as we were still writing some of the songs during the recording process. So we would do a bit of demoing up front to figure out not only where we wanted to take the structure of the songs, but how we wanted them to sound and feel along the way. With that being said, the vibes feel stronger and more like our own thing, which we’re super proud of.
I think more than most other music, R&B and soul relies heavily on a groove, a feeling, and that feeling is built into a song when the musicians mesh well together. How does this work in Fat Night? Is there some struggle to it? Do you guys give input to each other or kind of just let everyone do their thing?
Absolutely. Ted (bass) & Nik (drums) have been locked in from the beginning. They have really good chemistry and communication when it comes to establishing the back bone of our music. If ever there is a struggle, which isn’t very often, it’s worked out by just expanding upon the idea that someone brings in, or even trying hits on different beats or different parts of beats until a song or section is the grooviest and funkiest it could possibly be. Certain songs may have an instrument (including vocals) playing more of a lead role or being prominently featured, and we all know to stay in our lane and not step on any toes. We have a clear understanding of everyone’s style and usually go into the songwriting process keeping those factors in mind.
After building an audience in Orlando, do you feel like you have to start over again in a new town?
Naturally, but it’s different. We’re going into something new with the knowledge we have of the past few years of growth we’ve experienced there.
How often should we expect to see you guys back in Orlando? Any plans to do a big tour between the two cities?
We seem to be able to play in Orlando at least four or five weekends a year. One reason Ted took a job at a school was for frequent touring and shows at home! No plans as of right now, but that sounds like a good idea!
What do you hope to see happening in the Orlando music community when you come back? What do you think it needs to grow into something nationally regarded?
I hope that the right people will make it possible for establishing a wider variety of venues in Orlando. Right now there are only a handful, and some aren’t accessible to every kind of show. Although what’s available is great, I think if there are more options, it will be more inspiring for all different kinds of events to start happening.
Do any of you guys honor any strange Christmas traditions?
We often do an exchange with each other. The gifts have ranged from very thoughtful to very crappy. Sometimes during December shows, we will sneak Christmas lyrics and motifs into our songs, so keep your ears perked at Sweater Fest.
What are you looking forward to most about Sweater Fest?
The crowd! Last year, everyone who showed up threw down. Will there be egg nog? The TG Lee Factory is right across the street…
OOOooo scary! Ghosts! It’s Halloween. But, these ghost don’t want to spook; they want to party. Do you feel that bass? It’s not frightening, but it will definitely send shivers up your spine. Is that a fucking disco guitar solo? You’re damn right! Let’s exorcise those funking demons! Chicago boys Ghosthouse are all about fun, and I am very much about it. “I can be your Clark Kent, baby. You can be my Louis Lane.” Carry on boys! Enjoy.
Get down at Ghosthouse’s Soundcloud!