An Interview with The Soul Rebels

Image of a bandsman from the Outside Lands interview with The Soul Rebels

It’s not common to find an 8-piece band, much less one that has managed to successfully fuse traditional brass with hip-hop, rock and pop and has grow from a locally known New Orleans collective to playing 250 shows a year all over the world. The Soul Rebels are everything but the typical brass band, but still carry over the core of the New Orleans tradition to their genre-bending music. Whether through curating instrumental covers of radio songs, collaborating live with groups such as Metallica or Green Day, playing shows with Kanye West or Arcade Fire, the group is constantly finding a way to innovate and rebel against the standards for brass bands.

The Soul Rebels are at Outside Lands to kick off the festival, playing one of the first shows of the weekend. The Soul Rebels tour manager leads us into their trailer, where we find six of them sprawled out on multiple couches surrounded by Christmas lights, flowers, various beverages and snacks. They playfully introduce themselves as Derrick, Julian, Lumar, Erion, Paul and Corey.

FFW ~ With your album and a new mixtape out combined with playing over 250 shows a year — which experience is your favorite?

JULIAN ~ I think the 250 shows, traveling around the world, it’s definitely an eye-opener, it’s a blessing to be able to see these different countries, to meet new people every day, to experience different cultures.

FFW ~ Collaboration versus just playing your own music live?

COREY ~ Collaborating with other artists first of all; it’s fun coming up with new ideas, new creations, things to embark on that are different. Because we are all brass, it’s good for us to step outside our box and collab with other artists and show them that we can, that we are able to do other stuff and create other vibes.

FFW ~ With being on the road, time to constantly work on new music?

LUMAR ~ Yes, each individual member has their own personal library of music that they work on.We have always fostered every individual talent each member brings to the team. We constantly work on new music, bringing that new vibe to the element of Soul Rebels. We’re in the studio now, doing new tracks and will soon bring it to the public.

FFW ~ What’s your dream collaboration?

COREY ~ Jigga, Chromeo, of course Kanye West. Definitely some of the mainstream acts I would say, probably Snoop.
LUMAR ~ I’d love to play with some of the posthumous people like Jim Morrison with The Doors. I think their music was so Soul Rebels, cause it was from the heart, it was intense. Each one of these guys, was so intellectual in their approach.

FFW ~ What are you guys still trying to accomplish that you haven’t yet?

ERION ~ I think the ultimate goal is mainstream. You want to crossover to the masses. Take this sound and tell people that a New Orleans brass band can do anything. We can reach out and touch people in any kind of way— if it’s hip- hop, funk or reggae.

FFW ~ Can you crossover to mainstream without losing your signature sound?

LUMAR ~ It would have to be due to the instrumentation. We’re never going to stray away from that original representation of what music was back in the day, that’s what makes us authentic and different.

Follow The Soul Rebels on Twitter at @SoulRebelsNOLA.