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[Artist Interview] Jeff Franca of Thievery Corporation talks Congo Sanchez, current tour, and why Colorado Gets So Much Congo Love

Photo by John Shore

Congo Sanchez is a funky live experience hailing from the streets of DC, a city well known for its history in funk and jazz culture. Combining the best elements of conscious hip-hop and reggaeton all layered with thick percussion, the three members bring their personal artistry to Congo Sanchez to create a truly unique and high-energy sound. Made up of members Jeff Franca, Flex Matthews and Haile Supreme, it is obvious that Congo Sanchez’s power lies in its members’ undeniable thirst for sharing their musical craft. We were stoked to have an opportunity to chat it up with Congo himself leading up to tonight’s show at Cervante’s Other Side in Denver. Read below for more on the band’s current moves, the latest on Thievery, and why Congo Sanchez can’t get enough of Colorado’s crowds.

Compose Yourself Mag: Between working with Thievery and rolling through 27 dates with Congo Sanchez, I’m sure it’s been an incredibly busy year for you! Tell us how 2015 has been  overall.

Jeff Franca: By the time we wrap up this tour next week, Congo Sanchez will have played 78 shows from Coast to Coast in the last year. Phew!!! We want to do more! The evolution of the live show has led us in some interesting directions.. We have adapted some songs for more intimate settings and have created new songs that we perform in the live more high energy vibe that is a Congo Sanchez show. All of this progress and work has made for a great 2015.

Along with my work with this band, I have also been on a steady touring schedule drumming for Thievery Corporation. Thievery spent 10 days in Jamaica this February working on a new album dropping next year to commemorate the bands 20th anniversary! We also took part in the Grateful Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” weekend in Chicago where I was responsible for making the Dead remixes that Thievery performed at the Aragon; that was one of my favorite things I’ve done in a while! So all in all, 2015 has been a busy but productive year.

Photo by John Shore

CYM: November marks the year anniversary of Congo Sanchez’s first full length release, ‘Dealin’ With This’. That album in particular is very politically charged; How do you feel your sound and/or message has evolved since then?

JF: The three of us (myself, Flex Mathews, and Haile Supreme) have grown very close and continue to discuss what our music means to us, and what we want it to achieve with the message we put out. We continue to strive to free the spirit of the listener while pointing out perspectives of the oppressed, less fortunate and sometimes hidden discrimination that exists in our society. The world is in very trying times, but on the verge of moving forward we hope our music can open the minds of the people who hear it into living a more understanding, educated and less ignorant life… All while celebrating everyday and dancing your ass off!

CYM: You’ll be playing Cervantes tonight, November 4th, are you excited to be returning to Denver? It was this same venue I saw you crush last year with Haile and Flex – I remember the energy being off-the-wall crazy!

Photo by John Shore


JF: SUPER EXCITED! Colorado is the first place I started touring – I remember when I first met Eric Kalb (drummer for Sharon Jones, John Scofield, Deep Banana Blackout) before I started touring he said, “Wow sounds great man, you’re gonna do well; You will hit Colorado a lot.” Then I started touring and totally got what he was talking about. My first tours out here were mind blowing. People here LOVE music, and all types of it! Not to mention, musicians love weed and we all know there is plenty of that around. But as far the scene here goes, it is quite vital. I have had the chance to play all over this state, from Durango to Fort Collins, and it’s a consistently positive vibe. Some towns are crazier than others (Shouts out to my Durangotans) but every body gets down. Having played Red Rocks 5 years in a row now, I am amazed at how one place can draw so many different types of bands and sell out all the time! It says a lot about the people of Colorado.

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