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Getting into ‘Trouble in the Streets’: The power behind the music, influences & what’s next for Austin’s Electro-Tribe [Artist Interview]

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Austin’s own Electro Tribe a.k.a Trouble in the Streets. This trio composed of Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji (Keys/Vocals)Bobby Snakes (Drums) and Andy Leonard (Bass) is taking the Austin scene by storm with their funky spin on a blend of World, Hip-Hop, Electronic, R&B and Funk. These three are a powerhouse movement not be missed and you can catch them in a city near you at one of their upcoming tour dates! 

READ our in-depth interview with TiTS below for an exclusive look at what keeps this band going, stories from the road & lots more. Enjoy! 

Sept. 1st ||  Magna Carda with Trouble in The Streets and Boombaptist || Austin, TX

Sept. 8th || Quantum Flux || Conway, AR

Sept. 9th || MoLove Festival || St. Louis, MO

Sept. 10th || Art Outside Campout || Rockdale, TX

Sept. 23rd || Empire Control Room & Garage || Austin, TX

Sept. 30th || EOTO with Special Guests Zoogma and Trouble in The Streets || Austin, TX

Oct. 8th || Joshua Tree Music Festival || Joshua Tree, CA

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Jonathan Garza Photography

Trouble in The Streets continues to leave a big musical impression everywhere they play. Most recently they have played with George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic, Grammy Award Winners Rebirth Brass Band, Beto Martinez of the Grammy Award Winning project Grupo Fantasma, along with many notable artists across the nation.

CYM: Thanks for taking some time to talk to CYM on this Hot Summer Night! Y’all just got back form Arkansas, how was playing there?

Bobby: We had a great time. It was at George’s Majestic, they have a really cool stage. It was our first time there. We have played Arkansas a few times and everyone has been trying to push us to that stage, so it was awesome to finally play there.

CYM: Okay, don’t judge me with this super basic question, but I have to ask where the name Trouble in the Streets originated?

Nnedi Nebula: Well, when we first started playing music together and trying to decide what to call ourselves, I originally came up with the name ‘Sirens.’ It’s super cool but it was actually claimed by a duo in Ohio…so we couldn’t use it. The search continued and at the time, I was listening to this album that I remember listening to when I was a kid. It’s a Nigerian Seventies Funk album. My dad would play it and there is a track on there by the Lijadu Sisters called ‘Trouble in the Streets,’ and the lyrics are ‘Get out! Fight! Trouble in the Streets,” and immediately I thought ‘Oh my god! That’s it!’ It kind of has taken on its own meaning now. It’s definitely coming into its own with ‘Electro Tribe,’ the name of our new album. It feels just very tribal but it’s that social uprising that gives birth to that new way of being…you know, redirecting the powers that be to listen to what we as a whole community, are saying.

CYM: I totally agree and I totally love what y’all are doing. Trying to rally people and make a bigger connection not just about music but having more of a purpose to drive people to make changes in this harsh world we are living in right now. Tell me more about the power and the drive behind the exciting music y’all play.

Bobby: A big commonality here is that the three of us want music to be cathartic. We want music to make you feel good but also make sure that you get something out of it. If you are going through something, your own personal or negative situation, we want to help you transgress beyond that and heal. I think we really want to tow that line…

Andy: …Get people to dig deep….

Bobby: Music is not just like candy to help you forget your problems, but more like, saying things that make people think about their problems, but then empower them to heal and take the power back. I think that in it’s own way makes people feel good.

Andy: Hopefully something that they can carry home and continue to feel after the music.

Jonathan Garza Photography

CYM: Totally. What do y’all do day-to-day to keep the power and drive to keep the creativity and drive flowing?

Bobby: I think for me, finding new music. I am always searching for new music and using the Internet to try and discover new people and things. There are so many cool things coming out right now so that keeps me going.

CYM: Who are some people you are really digging right now?

Bobby: Thundercat…it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s bringing jazz back but in a funky, fun, weird way…that whole crew, Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus….

Nnedi Nebula: Cory Henry…

Bobby: Yes! The whole Snarky Puppy movement that’s going on…

Nnedi Nebula: Hiatus Kaiyote….

Bobby: Yes! There’s this whole new jazz, funk…

Nnedi Nebula: Electro Funk…

CYM: Electro Tribe you could say?!

TiTS: Yes’s all around!

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Bobby: It’s all very instrumental and more traditional instrument music. We are very influenced by the whole festival scene, the Big Gigantic’s, the Umphrey’s, the Tribes, the electronic stuff. There are so many interesting sounds coming out right now with computers and synthesizers to keep music fresh so we really like to blend all that. To piggy back on that, I think another thing we really like to d from more of the DJ/producer perspective, is to be able to reverse engineer that and do it with live drums, live looping, live instruments and have vocals on top of it. I think in our way we are creating our own hybrid. I think that’s what music is: blending all of your influences and then if you are being true to yourself in that, it is not just a blend of borrowing, it has you in it.

CYM: Rad. I love that perspective of making new music. I have y’all’s CD in my car actually! Nnedi, this one is for you. I know you do tons of poetry, songwriting and spoken word…where do you draw your inspirations and who are some of your favorite vocalists out there?

Nnedi Nebula: Oh man…really big one is Nina Simone. She is like the godmother of just being a soapbox…a microphone for the times and really challenging other people to just look at what’s going on instead of letting it wash over you and thinking ‘I am not capable of doing anything.’ I think in her times, she was in the thick of it. It was just so blatantly there, so she just decided to talk about it. ‘Mississippi Goddam’ is a great example of that. I grew up with not a lot of actual influences. Rage Against the Machine is actually one of the biggest….

CYM: That’s who I immediately thought of when I first saw you guys and I was BLOWN away…

Nnedi Nebula: I grew up really sheltered…a lot of Christian music, a lot of Nigerian music, which also came with story telling. I kind of see my life in that way where I try to look for a deeper meaning or lesson, how can I not fall on my face again? I think my catharsis through my art is to turn those into lyrics so I learn whatever I feel like I needed to learn. Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield from Hiatus Coyote is another big influence…her words are just so melodically poignant to where the music is set up and the message she is speaking is almost like a handbook. Those are the big ones, but across the board, definitely Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and everything else now I am getting…like N.W.A. is a newer one.

CYM: Love all of those you mentioned! So what’s next for you guys for the rest of the summer?

Nnedi Nebula: we have a few bands coming here. We have a badass band called Water Seed out of New Orleans ending their national tour here. Playing at One-to-One August 4th (TONIGHT FOLKS- SEE Y’ALL THERE!). We are doing Riders Against The Storm Day. We have some big things coming up in September.

Andy: Yep. Hitting the road…Quantum Flux in Arkansas in September and then Mo Love Fest the next day in Missouri. Then in October we are at Joshua Tree Festival!

Bobby: Then there is a band called The Last Internationals with the drummer Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine….

Nnedi Nebula: We are playing the same night! (Squeals of delight all around!)

CYM: WOW! That is exciting. That is huge. Switching subjects…what is a weird road or show moment that sticks out?

Andy: I’d say the first time we played in Oklahoma. We played at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The first Pastafarian Church…we played for basically the sound guy and the band before us…and I think Nnedi’s two friends. We were running on three hours of sleep and a long drive from Colorado too. 

Bobby: Sometimes it’s two people, sometimes it’s a thousand. You’ve got to love it.

CYM: Well, Compose Yourself! Do what you love and share it with the world. That is what we are all about…!

Andy: Exactly! If it never got bad, we would never have stories to tell.

CYM: You just have to have that drive to keep doing it and have faith that it’s going to all f**king work out.

Bobby: Every tour is a little better. We learn more every time.

CYM: Any last things you would like to share with people before we wrap up?

TiTS: Check out our music and thanks for the support! 

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