Stepping into the Spotlight with the New York Funk Exchange

, Staff

Every week we like to spotlight rising bands from outside of New England. Today, we get to know New York City’s New York Funk Exchange. You can catch the band in Boston when they perform at Johnny D’s on Saturday, February 15. Learn more about the band, below.

Band Name: New York Funk Exchange

Band Members:
Serena Fortier: Vocals
Ray Holman: Drums, Vocals
Matt Fox: Bass
Jamey Zebrack: Keys, Vocals
Matty G.: Guitar
RJ Avallone: Trumpet
Michael Farrell: Tenor Sax
Nick Martino: Trumpet
Matt Mailey: Baritone, Alto Sax

This Is Your Brain on Funk (2014)
Funkonomic Stimulus Plan


How did you form/start?

A few of us met at Berklee College of Music – right in Back Bay.  After graduation, we moved out to NYC, sort of doing our own thing. Jamey, our keys player, started playing in a band that ultimately broke up. So we snagged up the bass player and the drummer of the previous band and started writing some tunes. We were looking for a killer guitar player, so we called up our buddy from Berklee who was living upstate at the time. I called him up and said, “Look man, we’re starting a new funk band and we need you. We got you a place to live and can hook up a job.” He moved down to Brooklyn a few weeks later! The Wall Street horns we sort of picked up along the way. Seems like every couple of years there’s a new horn player!

Finish the sentence, someone would like your band if they like…

… to party, have fun and groove!

What song of yours should people listen to first and why?

That’s a hard one! I think off our first album, they should listen to “Shimmy.” It really shows our fun, party vibe. That or “Funk My Way,” because its super funky and makes you wanna move!

Walk us through your songwriting process.

Usually Jamey will come in to rehearsal with a groove or a horn line, and we’ll all vibe to it and jam it out. Everyone then starts to add their own flavors in there until we have a complete song. I always like starting with a groove first as the vibe usually points me in a direction for lyrics and melody. Jamey writes and arranges our horn lines as well.

Tell us a little bit about your latest album.

I’m in love with our new album! This album really shows the NYFE sound. It has big horns, solid grooves and catchy melodies that make you want to sing along and bust out your best dance moves! I like to say its new school with an old soul.

What has your most memorable moment as a band been?

Probably when we were able to open up for Martha Reeves and The Vandellas. I mean, “Dancin In The Street,” “Heatwave”? These are songs what my mom, my sisters, and I would belt along to when I was a kid. Then, BOOM! There we are sharing a stage with them! Just awesome!

What has been the hardest part of building your name onto the national level?

Promotion and building a brand that people recognize can be difficult. Also, the logistics of traveling with nine people sure doesn’t make it any easier!

What band would you most like to open for?

Hmmm. That’s a hard one, too! I think we’d love to open up for Soulive or Tedeschi Trucks Band. I’d definitely pay to see that show!!

Who is your all-time favorite Boston band?

Lettuce. They’re such a talented group of guys. They’re definitely one of the few newer bands we pull inspiration from.

What are your thoughts on playing Boston?

We’ve played in Boston a handful of times and love it every time we do. The people here seem to really be into live music. They not only love to get down, but they can also appreciate the technical aspects of what we’re doing up there. There’s a lot of skill that goes into having nine different things happening at once and it not sounding chaotic. Everything has it’s place.

What can people expect from your live show and why should our readers catch your next stop in Boston?

Our live shows are not to be missed! This is what we are known for. A strong, soulful lead vocal, the four piece “Wall Street Horns” section, the power and energy that the New York Funk Exchange emotes during each live performance leaves audiences begging for more. Two words… Dance Party!

**All questions answered by Serena Fortier.

New York Funk Exchange will perform at Johnny D’s in Somerville on Saturday, February 15. Tickets for the show, which starts at 8 p.m., are available through TicketWeb in advance for $6.

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