Josh Reynolds and Zach Golden
Written by Scott Wallner
As a listener, my best attempt to define or describe the music of this unique duo would be that Broken Luxury is the beautiful offspring of a sexier James Blake and a downtempo Justin Timberlake wrapped in a blanket of Frank Ocean, sweat and strobe lights.
Raw vocal talent and thoughtful lyricism pair with vital and adventurous songwriting to comprise Broken Luxury. Featuring two Chicago natives Josh Reynolds and Zach Golden, who work to create art that is both busy and minimal, accessible and reflective. Reynold’s voice punches viscerally amid Golden’s calculated compositions. If Golden’s sounds are a maze, Reynolds’s voice is what guides listeners through. Their debut album arouses listeners’ own emotions while eliciting the undeniable emotional context in which the music was crafted. Broken Luxury is a group who embraces the idea of being labeled as “genre-less.” Golden’s thoughts on genre give insight to the band’s unique perspectives and identity.
“I love the statement of “genreless,” but even when I say it, I still feel kind of pompous. I still have trouble figuring out what genre we can be, besides the general statement of electronic soul. Really, any music or artist that I love I have never thought about what genre it really fits into. I just feel that it’s music. It’s some sort of raw emotion and when the artist was creating it, I don’t think they were thinking about what genre they were going to call it or how they were going to classify their art.”
Genre or not, the music is founded on hard-driving electronic beats, infused with jazz-influenced rhythms and powerfully soulful vocals, that invoke feeling. Vocalist Josh Reynolds, a Berklee School of Music alum, brings a unique and impressive set of skills to the table. His vocal talent is only matched by his deft sense of rhythm and melody in complete synergy with Golden's brilliance. These skills undoubtedly hold roots in a childhood immersed in quality music. Josh’s father and older brother are both accomplished drummers in bands of their own. The exposure to copious amounts of music spanning all genres throughout his life has equipped Josh with an innate and instinctive sense for the way music is created. Josh was able to refine his musical skills and prowess as a vocal performance student at the Berklee School of Music. Working and learning alongside talented artists in a variety of disciplines has given Josh a multitude of singing and performing tools to enhance his undeniable natural talent. Much of Reynolds’ writing originates, then develops from hours of self-recorded jam sessions behind the piano. Accompanying himself with improvised piano chord progressions for hours at a time, Reynolds freestyles vocal melodies and lyrics to create songs that possess an intense character of truth and vulnerability.
“It took a while, but when I can really focus in on how I feel or have felt about a situation, it all starts to come together. I dont think. I just feel it out and let it go where my mind wants it to.”
The mastermind behind the tracks, Zach Golden, is relentless in his attention to detail. Building and weaving layer upon layer of rhythm and melody, there is no doubt Golden is a unique musical talent with an incredible ability to create tracks that are not only multidimensional and complex, but groovy and exciting. From a young age, Golden was exclusively exposed to Classical and Jazz music by his parents. Despite appreciating his parents’ taste, Golden was inspired by more modern groups. The energy and intensity of rock and roll enchanted the young musician, and it was not until a more mature musical outlook developed that Golden learned to truly appreciate and love jazz. A defining moment came when Golden was an audience member for one of Avishai Cohen’s performances at the Blue Note.
“His writing and playing was so overwhelming and so inspiring, that I immediately dove into European and modern jazz.”
Enchanted by this experience, Golden obsessed over artists like E.S.T., Mark Guiliana, Joshua Redman, and Jason Lindner. These influences led Zach to lead and write for a modern jazz quintet at Berklee College of Music. Post graduation, Golden expanded his horizons and immersed himself in modern music. Accessing his childhood passion for rock’s in-your-face energy and tempo, along with a newly refined understanding of the complexities of jazz and the creative possibilities of contemporary musical styles, Golden decided to write. Incorporating aspects of all his experiences, he started composing electronic music.
“My musical style and ideas have changed drastically from wanting to make progressive house music to downtempo dub. The final piece was having Josh to work with. My writing settled on what is now Broken Luxury, but the music continues to grow and develop between Josh and me. Always evolving, but always being Broken Luxury.”
Each track is dynamic and takes the listener on a journey, leaving them dancing, crying, or simply stunned. A core value of the band is connecting with and moving its audience.
“We want our listeners to feel emotionally drained at the end of listening to our album. We want them to be taken somewhere visually (whether realistic or abstract) and aurally that they have never been before. It’s sexual, seductive, painful, unforgiving, scary, but never regrettable. It is a lot of what is missing with most music these days, a lack of emotion. Every listener wants to feel something, that’s what music should be giving to everyone.”
The self-titled eight track EP Broken Luxury, recorded at Victorian Recordings in Barrington IL, is scheduled for official full release January 6th of 2014 shortly after a release party January 4th at the Elbo Room in Chicago. For now, the band plans to gradually release tracks as they prepare their live set for an eventual 2014 tour. But even with their first EP complete and an inaugural tour ahead, the band continues to create new music with an additional five demos ready to utilize in a live set and future studio recordings. Reynolds states,
“I just want everyone to connect with the music we create. To let the music make you feel something within yourself, or with someone else, and then to just let loose and act on those emotions.”