Michael League, leader of the band Snarky Puppy: COMES TO BELGRADE FOR THE FIRST TIME!

The amazing New York based collective, Snarky Puppy, will close this Musicology Barcaffe Sessions’ season. The concert will take place on June 23, at Kalemegdan.

The band won three GRAMMYs, as well as other prestigious awards, and is widely recognized as one of the best jazz fusion collectives there are. There are 25 members in the band, but they usually rotate in smaller groups consisting of 8 or 10 people when performing. Snarky Puppy is giving Belgrade the unique opportunity to hear the whole band perform this June.

The bassist, composer and leader of the band, Michael League, formed the band back in 2003, never imagining it would become such an amazing project. We had the opportunity to ask him some questions for their fans:

You are coming to Belgrade for the first time as a group. The Belgrade crowd seems really excited to have you, especially since the whole collective is coming. Are you excited to be here as well?

Absolutely! I played in Belgrade last year with my other band, Bokanté, and the response was incredible. It was a very warm, music-loving audience. I can’t wait to put Snarky Puppy in front of that crowd.

How did Snarky Puppy come together?

– I started the group with a bunch of friends from college after my first year at the University of North Texas. That was 2003, I believe. Most of the guys were jazz majors at the school. We played a show in the basement of a pizza parlor, and never really stopped.

How did you come up with the name „Snarky Puppy“?

– I didn’t expect the band to play more than a few gigs, so I chose this name (which my brother had considered for one of his bands years before). But now we’re stuck with it!

You’ve been playing for a decade before you started gaining media attention. Was it hard back then? And did you ever think this would become such an amazing thing?

– The music has to be the thing that keeps you pushing forward. If you need other people to validate your art- whether it’s the press, the public, the industry, or whatever- you’re setting yourself up for failure. Even though no one cared or noticed Snarky Puppy for 10 years, we’re still here. And it’s because every single person in the band plays for the love of music.

What do you consider your biggest success?

The chemistry of the band. To play together for 15 years and still like each other is not an easy thing, but actually we get along better now than we ever have. To me, that is our biggest success. Also, being able to survive playing original instrumental music makes me feel like we’ve climbed some kind of mountain. It feels good.

Tell us more about the „Family dinner“. Listening to this album and reading about it, seems almost like a real family dinner.

The two Family Dinner albums are charity projects designed to raise money for two different youth music education programs, one in Virginia and the other in New Orleans. We invited some of our favorite singers/composers from around the world to record their music with us, but with Snarky Puppy making the arrangements. They were very, very special experiences for us.

You did some workshops for students. Did you like the teaching experience? What message do you have for young musicians trying to make it in this world?

We love to teach. We all had excellent teachers/band directors/mentors growing up, and it’s important to us that we try to give back to other musicians what we received over the years. As for a message, I believe that if a person works hard to excel at their craft, is reliable, and has a good attitude, they will always have work in the music industry.

What kind of impact do you hope to make as famous artists?

I don’t see us as famous, but I think that we try to use what influence we do have to encourage musicians, especially young ones, to try their best to create music they love and believe in. Art is so important for us as both individuals and societies- it can change hearts and minds, but only when there is substance to it.

How would you describe your audience? Is it diverse?

Definitely. I would say that the only common thing among them is a deep, obsessive love of music. Age, gender, race, religion… those things vary greatly from gig to gig.

What can Belgrade expect on June 23?

A band that is very excited to play in Serbia for the first time! We’ll be performing a mix of new and old songs from our repertoire.

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