“I think the amalgamation of jazz and world music is going to become more and more prevalent in the years to come.”- Stich Wynston, Shuffle Demons

Canada's iconic, high energy, award winning jazz funksters, the Shuffle Demons are a band that blends virtuosic jazz, funk, RnB, Rap, Hip Hop, Reggae, World music, avant-garde and more with eye-catching costumes and over the top stage antics. A hit at festivals all over the world from Bangkok to Berlin, the Shuffle Demons toured India  to promote their critically acclaimed, most recent CD 'Clusterfunk'. The band is comprised of  Richard Underhill, Perry White, Kelly Jefferson, George Koller and Stich Wynston. The Juno-nominated band (awarded annually to Canadian artistes), with hits like Spadina Bus and Cheese On Bread to its credit, plays a cool mix of funk jazz, hard bop jazz and jazz rap, all held together with an eccentric wardrobe. Stich Wynston spoke to Abhijit Ganguly.

Where does your band name come from?    

The interesting thing about the Shuffle Demons is that we never had any preconceived notions about putting a band together.  It started out as some musician friends busking on the streets of downtown Toronto to have fun and make a bit of money.  We used to play a tune that our lead saxophone player Richard Underhill wrote called the Shuffle Monster.  One day we were playing on the street at Yonge and Bloor, a major intersection in downtown Toronto.  We had just finished playing the Shuffle Monster and then somebody in the crowd yelled out "Hey, what do you guys call yourselves?  To which Richard blurted out "The...um..Ah...Shuffle...Demons!".  And that's how we got our name.  It was totally impromptu, which basically describes the entire evolution of the band.  

How would you describe and define your music?

As all of the critics who reviewed our most recent CD 'Clusterfunk' pointed out, the Shuffle Demons cannot be categorized.  We have basically taken all of our very eclectic influences, put them together in a very unique way, and added our own personalities into the mix to come up with something totally fresh and original.  High energy, risk taking, and top notch musicianship define the band's sound and approach. 

What are your band’s biggest musical influences?

We have and incorporate so many different musical influences into our group that it is hard to pin down what are biggest musical influences are. 

You have some very unique, funny songs. What’s the driving force behind the lyrics?

We find joy and humour in many of the commonalities that we all experience in our everyday lives. 

How important, would you say, are music festivals in growing the careers of singers and musicians?

Music festivals are very important in the career development of musicians because there are usually very large built in audiences so it gives the musicians instant exposure which can really bode well for your career. 

Do you enjoy playing to new crowds and do these journeys make you discover a new side to your music?

Absolutely!  It's like meeting someone that you have never met before and discovering what makes them unique.  We have had the good fortune of touring all over the world and meeting lots of people from very diverse cultural backgrounds and these experiences have enriched our lives and made their way into our music.

Where do you see jazz music heading in the coming years?

That is a very difficult question to answer.  The word 'jazz' is so wide open now because it is played and interpreted by musicians from all over the world.  I think the amalgamation of jazz and world music is going to become more and more prevalent in the years to come.

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