Funky folksters

By @ 11/09/12 in Press

Good Times

Funky folksters

By Chris Kocher

March 29, 2007

They aren’t exactly an odd couple on the scale of Felix Unger and
Oscar Madison – but when you listen to their music, you may wonder how
Julz-A and Andrew Scandal ended up on the road together.

After all, Julz-A is a brash accordion-playing hip-hop singer and
rapper (yes, you read that right), while Scandal’s dreamier guitar
tunes invoke such psychedelic Brits as David Bowie and Robyn Hitchcock.


Ask them how they joined forces, and they’ll tell you about how they
met at an “anit-folk” open mic night at a New York café and realized
that they both went to school at the California Institute of the Arts.
But like any good double act, they have some witty banter together,


“The first time I saw Julz,” Scandal said in a recent joint
interview, “I thought, ‘My God, this man is nearly as handsome as I


Julz laughs.  “That’s a true story.  He told me that right to my face.”


Although their styles are quite different, they do have one shared
approach:  Both utilize backing tracks during their performances to
provide rhythm and other effects, a technique not common among
folksters.  (Among other electronic gadgets, Scandal uses a boom box he
calls “Tony the Sony.”  Also, he sometimes practices the 1980s art of
“beat-box” — imitating percussion noises into the mic — to add to the


“Both of us had had experiences at open mics — the singer/songwriter
scene where everyone has a guitar and sings their little love ballads —
and we both stand out as being a little different from that mentality
because, even though we’re solo acts, we use backing tracks,” Julz
said.  “Sometimes when we go to open mics, we get people who think that
somehow we’re not legitimate singer/songwriters because of that —
which, of course, is not the case.  We’re writing good songs and so are
they — we just have a different approach to presenting them.”


From the start, Scandal knew he had found a kindered spirit:  “I was
so used to explaining to people what I did — playing guitar and singing
with a boom box, with people thinking I was crazy.  Julz was unfazed:
‘Oh, really?  Well, I play accordion and rap and sing.’  Oh, well,
pardon me.  I thought, ‘I’ve got to see this.'”


Oh, yeah, about that accordion … Julz credits his stepfather’s
membership in a klezmer band, along with a desire to have a portable
organ sound, for picking up an instrument more associated with polka
and “Weird Al” Yankovic than Snoop Dogg.  He likes to call his hybrid
style “squeeze rock.”


“Mostly people are a little scared, a little intrigued,” Julz
admitted.  “The inevitable I run into with some people is that the
accordion is a gimmick, and I’m just playing folk music, sticking it in
for fun — or when I really tell people what I do, they don’t believe
it.  They say, ‘Are you sure?  That doesn’t sound real.’  They’ll
listen to recordings and ask, ‘Does it really rock?’  But usually I’ll
win them over.”


“Audiences see that Andrew Scandal is enjoying it,” Scandal joked, “so they feel comfortable to show that they also enjoy it.”


Since that fateful first meeting, Julz and Scandal have traveled
around the country together, including a stop earlier this month in
Texas at Austin’s famed South by Southwest music festival.  Their stay
there included a few showcase gigs as well as many hours playing on the
streets for the masses.


“At South by Southwest, it’s a fantastic energy, but it’s also very,
very loud,” Scandal said.  “We weren’t actually sure if we could use
amplification on the street, so we’ve been really pushing it to get


Don’t worry:  Saturday, at the Cyber Café, they can turn it up to 11 and rock the whole place with confidence.




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