With eight members, Big Body Nation is by far the largest of the four student bands performing at this year’s Kohoutek Music and Arts Festival at Pitzer College. They’re also the weekend’s most experienced performers, landing a coveted spot playing at 9 p.m. on Saturday night, third-to-last of all the weekend’s sets. The band members are Louis Gallardo PO ’13 (piano), Quentin Jones PO ’13 (MC/percussionist), Julio Sharp-Wasserman PO ’13 (electric guitar), Tyriek White PZ ’13 (MC), Jordan Leonard PZ ’14 (tenor/saxophone and band leader), Fiona Young PZ ’14 (vocals), Nick Phelps PZ ’15 (drums), and Sam DeRosa PZ ’16 (bass).
TSL: What led you to start Big Body Nation and when?
Leonard: It started about two years ago. What led me to start the band was I saw a lack of representation within the communities of color within music and also within the black community within music. There was a lag between a lot of genres that could be played here that weren’t being played. Being a saxophone player that’s been trained in jazz, [who] knows a lot of hip-hop, plays a lot of funk, I could really pull a good class of musicians together and make something happen. That’s basically what we did; we started reaching out … Communities that have grown up around this style of music, this representation within their area of music, it’s a pleasure for us to play.
TSL: How would you describe the kind of music you play? Where do you get your inspiration?
Young: That’s a big question.
DeRosa: The way I see it is we all bring stuff to the table, and as a band we decide what we want to play.
White: Everyone has their different sensibilities, or training, and at the end of the day it just comes together; it works.
FY: I think there are a lot of references from the past. We like to draw from all sums [of music] and give them a very personal feel. That’s what we tend to do. We also do songs that are recent and contemporary but personalized in our way.
TSL: Where does the name Big Body Nation come from?
TW: I was there for that.
JL: It was Tyriek, myself, and Nick who were sitting in a room, playing some music, and we were like, “We need to find a name for this.” We were going through some possible names, we had Electric City, which sounded strange, we had something with fruit in it, Banana something, and so [Nick said], “What about Big Body Nation?” And we thought, this sounds fine. So we were using that for a while, and then our name started growing under it, so we stuck with it. And then it became Big Body just for short, so we go by two names.
TW: Or The Nation.
JL: Our music has a lot of body, we have a lot of people in the band, our sounds are typically very textured, very thick.
TSL: So I heard you’ve played at festivals before, which ones?
SD: Zest Fest, JamFest.
TW: Reggae Fest.
JL: Jam Fest, Reggae Fest, Zest Fest, we’ve played at events with the Office of Black Student Affairs throughout the years, International Festival, Hip-Hop Groove at the Grove showcase.
TW: We opened for the Satisfaction at Kinetic.
JL: We’ve probably played at upwards of a dozen festivals.
TSL: What are you looking forward to at Kohoutek?
FY: It’s going to be my first Kohoutek in my life. I didn’t realize how big it was. I couldn’t even pronounce it, I kept [saying] “K-tek”. It’s going to be new; it seems like there’s a lot of energy—everyone has a great mind about it. The sound is going to be amazing. I’m excited about the audience; it’s always good to have a good audience.
TW: I’ve been here four years, and this is the most musically diverse Kohoutek there’s been. There’s hip-hop, funk, and jazz elements. Usually Kohoutek is alternative/rock. But now there’s all forms of music, so now everyone can go and have fun.