Transforming One Pop Song At A Time, Learn More About The Band Making it All Happen – POSTMODERN JUKEBOX!
Posted On 14 Nov 2014
Tag: Adam Kubota, Alex MacDonald, All About That Bass, Allan Mednard, Ariana Savalas, Ashley Stroud, Behind The Music, Beyonce, Blackstreet, Blurred Lines, Britney Spears, Broadway, Careless Whisper, Chandelier, Dave Koz, Drunk In Love, Ellie Goulding, Fancy, Fred Astaire, George Michael, Ginger Rogers, Hyde, Iggy Azalea, Kate Davis, LA Follies, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Macklemore, maps, Maroon 5, Meghan Trainor, Miche Braden, Miley Cyrus, Morgan James, Motown Tribute, Nickelback, No Diggity, Paula Abdul, PMJ Fit Club, PostModern Jukebox, Puddles Pity Party, Radiohead, Rihanna, Robin Thicke, Robyn Adele Anderson, Royals, Rude, Scott Bradlee, Shoshana Bean, Sia, Straight Up, Sunset Boulevard, Taylor Swift, The Tee-Tones, Thrift Shop, TLC, VH1, Von Smith, Waterfalls, We can't stop, West Hollywood, Womanizer
Postmodern Jukebox is a group of rotating musicians that posts weekly covers of recent pop songs with jazz or other genre variations. Led by pianist, composer and arranger, Scott Bradlee, the band has seen incredible success on YouTube. They have released six albums since 2012 and are nowhere near stopping. Just to name a few, so far, they have re-imagined songs from Lady Gaga, Meghan Trainor, Lorde, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding, Sia, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Radiohead, George Michael and many many more!
On Wednesday, November 12th, this All Access writer had the pleasure of seeing PostModern Jukebox perform live at the 1940’s themed Hyde in West Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. From the very first song, it was not hard to tell that these musicians love the music they are playing and really enjoy the whole experience. An truly unique experience is exactly what Postmodern Jukebox create for the audience.
Complete with a set of dancers called the LA Follies, Postmodern Jukebox took us all on a time machine. We visited the 1920’s with their rendition of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” performed a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers by Ashley Stroud and Alex MacDonald. Next up was a vintage soul version of TLC’s “Waterfalls” again sung by Ashley Stroud.
Other throwback tunes played were Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” and an awesome ballad-style version of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” performed by Postmodern Jukebox newbie, Ariana Savalas.
Robyn Adele Anderson sang smooth throwback to George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, a bluegrass rendition of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and many others.
One highlight of the evening was certainly when surprise guest and Broadway superstar, Shoshana Bean sang Sia’s “Chandelier”. She definitely brought the house down with her powerful vocals.
Postmodern Jukebox performs Meghan Trainor “All About That Bass”:
Learn about Postmodern Jukebox in the following interview with front-man, Scott Bradlee:
Can you please list everyone in the band and what instrument they play?
It’s a musical collective, rather than a band, so it tends to change from time to time….kind of like Cirque Du Soleil.
Can you remember when you all decided to start this band? Since the beginning of its formation, what has been your goal for this group?
I was taking pop songs and arranging them for ragtime piano when I was still in high school, so in some ways, a fully-produced Postmodern Jukebox show was the next logical step. However, it took a number of years (and the right group of musicians) for the project to really take shape. Along the way, we had a few viral successes, such as our “Motown Tribute to Nickelback,” but things really started happening for us about a year and a half ago.
Our first really big viral video (a 1930’s jazz cover of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop,” featuring Robyn Adele Anderson on vocals, Adam Kubota on bass, and Allan Mednard on drums) was kind of a turning point. That’s when I realized that this had much more potential than I had previously imagined.
How have you all grown as a group since you started?
Almost none of us had been on tour before our June tour, so that was a definite learning experience. I remember the day of our first sold out show being genuinely worried that no one would show up and that the ticket sales were a mistake. We knew that our videos got a lot of views, but we had no idea that we had so many fans in every city. It’s still taken a while for that to set in.
What sets you apart from other bands that are covering popular songs?
I think the idea of a “cover” was traditionally to create something to compete with the original recorded version. We try to do the opposite, and re-imagine these songs in a completely different era. So, for us, it’s about creating the greatest contrast possible from the original. It’s also completely acceptable for someone to enjoy both our version and the original version of these songs.
Where do you get the inspiration for your unique arrangements of all the songs you cover?
I’m a bit of an old soul, so a lot of the time, I’m just creating the version of the song that I myself would like to listen to…which is kind of a selfish reason. But luckily, it seems that a lot of other people are discovering that they, too, have a thing for these “older” styles of music. As for my inspirations, they’re largely New Orleans jazz, swing, doo wop and Motown. And then, of course, all of the singers and instrumentalists bring in their own unique influences to our videos. It’s a pretty nice melting pot.
Postmodern Jukebox – “We Can’t Stop” Featuring The Tee-Tones:
What have been your favorite songs that you guys have covered?
It’s hard to say- there are so many that I like. Our doowop version of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” was a definite milestone (it was the most popular video on all of Youtube for a day), and our 1920’s cover of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” has been one of my favorites to play live. The past few months alone have had some videos that I’ve been really excited about- a 1950s version of Rihanna’s “Rude” with Von Smith, a soul version of Maroon 5’s “Maps” with Morgan James, and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” with Kate Davis.
Are there any songs that you are currently working on arranging for the group to perform? Any dream songs you hope to cover one day?
We’re working on a Christmas album right now- which in some ways is an even greater challenge, since there are so many great arrangements of holiday tunes already.
Does everyone in the group love pop music?
It’s a mixed bag. Certainly, I’ve grown to appreciate pop music much more, simply because it’s culturally relevant. Some of our vocalists- especially Robyn Adele Anderson loves pop music; others, like Miche Braden, come more from the jazz tradition. Our bassist, Adam Kubota, is pretty agnostic on pop music; usually, he never hears the songs that we cover until we cover them.
Do you hope to create some original music as well one day?
I never count that out. I’m sure some original music is in our future, even if it’s part of a separate project. But for right now, these arrangements *are* our originals…that we didn’t write, of course…
Have any of the original artists praised any of your covers yet? If so, who?
We’ve gotten a few that have publicly stated their appreciation: Beyonce for our big band cover of “Drunk in Love,” Meghan Trainor for our version of “All About That Bass” with Kate Davis on bass and vocals, and Lorde, for our Sad Clown version of “Royals” with Puddles Pity Party.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with the band (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
There are so many…Puddles coming to my building for the first time and freaking out the neighbors, performing to a sold out crowd in Prague and getting treated like rock stars, the video with the Flame-o-phone (no need to say more on that one), watching our merch guy, Rook, craft elaborate meals out of leftover green room food on the tour bus… We’d have a pretty great “Behind the Music” special on Vh1.
Do you guys have any pre-performance rituals?
Everybody is different. Personally, I like a bit of peace and quiet before the show, since two hours of craziness ensue soon after. There’s also a loosely organized “PMJ Fit Club,” which seeks to counteract the unhealthy aspects on tour with exercise between load in and sound check. I’m only a very occasional member of that, though.
Our Hyde residency has allowed us to return to our roots as performers in a really unique way. Basically, it’s a speakeasy party that we host, complete with dancers (the LA Follies), special guests, and more. It’s an intimate setting, which allows us to be very improvisational with our approach and create a lot of great moments along the way. It’s not uncommon, for instance, for our horn section to spontaneously have a New Orleans-style parade and have sax legend Dave Koz jump up and jam with them.
Where do you see the band does in 10, 20+ years?
That’s a pretty long time! I honestly have no plan, other than to keep making the music that I want to make. Certainly, next year we’ll be expanding our touring into places that we’ve never seen before, in addition to returning to Europe in early 2015 and doing a national tour in the Spring. It’s been so exciting to watch this project grow outside of my living room that it’s actually hard to imagine the future.