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Corey Fonville - Interview

Hamish and Ally got the chance to chat with Virginian-born drummer Corey Fonville, who played at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club with Christian Scott back in March. Aside from playing with Christian, Corey also plays with his outfit Butcher Brown.

Hamish – ‘How do you feel about playing in London?’

“It feels great, I love playing in London. It’s been great being able to tour here, we’ve been out here for a week and a half. It’s always a great vibe playing in front of this crowd. Yeah man I can’t complain, I love playing in London.”

Hamish “You’ve obviously been playing with Christian Scott for a long time, how would you describe your relationship with him and playing with him?”

“On stage we read each other really well, I know his pivots musically and where he’s trying to go. On stage he’s like my big brother, you know it’s going to come out in the music and it speaks for itself. The music on stage it’s like how our personal life is.”

Ally – “What is your relationship like with Weedie Braimah?”

“Funny story, I met Weedie at a festival called the ‘Bear Creek Festival’ in Florida. He was out there with the Nth Power, and I was out there with Nicholas Payton. I met him through a friend called Alvin Ford, who’s a great drummer. So fast forward and another drummer Amaury Acosta said ‘yo you’ve got to check out this cat Weedie Braimah’. The name sounded familiar, but it was something that I’d forgotten about. Eventually I looked him up and I realised ‘OH I did meet this guy!’” I remember Alvin saying he is the dopest djembe foli ever, at least of our time. One day Christian said he was looking for a djembe player for his records, so I obviously pointed him to Weedie who had moved to New Orleans – where we were making the record – so it was perfect. Weirdly our first time playing together was with Christian, so we’ve only been playing for about a year, but over the past two weeks this is the most we’ve ever played on a regular basis. We’ve known each other off the bandstand, but what’s beautiful about that is when you have a relationship with somebody it honestly makes for really great music because your personality comes out and you really know each other. I feel like it might sound like we’ve played with each other forever, but the chemistry is just there.”

Hamish – “Is there anyone who you’re listening to at the moment who’s really influencing your drumming?”

“There are so many great drummers right now, obviously you’ve got Chris Dave, Makaya McCraven is great, I love Justin Brown, Justin Faulknerwho’s one of my close friends. Billy Williams is another great drummer who we grew up with together. Jamire Williams who actually used to play in this band with Christian. Marcus Gilmore is also amazing. Probably one of my favourites is Karriem Riggins. Nate Smith as well, we grew up in the same area too, so he’s my man”.

Hamish – “Do you think where you grew up has had a big effect on your development as a player?”

“I’ve been playing drums since I was a little kid, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. I’ve never lost that passion. I got a lot of exposure through high school programmes and stuff like that. Where I grew up in Virginia Beach, there wasn’t a big market. There wasn’t much there to be honest in terms of music and culture. People may get offended, but it’s the fucking truth. It’s just another American city.”

Ally – “Can you tell us a little bit about Butcher Brown for those who may not know the group”

“Butcher Brown is a band which I helped start with my boy DJ Harrison (keys) who’s an incredible producer. There’s also Andrew Randazzo who’s the bass player with Marcus Tenney on the trumpet and saxophone and Morgan Burrs on guitar. Essentially that band started about 5 and half years ago based out of Richmond, Virginia, which is where I used to live. So, it’s a hybrid-funk fusion with rock and hip-hop influences, but I don’t like to put categories onto things, I prefer people to hear it out. We’re coming over to London on May 22nd to play at the Jazz Cafe.”

Ally – “Can you pick your top jazz albums of all time which have influenced and impacted you the most?”

“The first jazz I ever heard to be honest was Art Blakey’s Moanin’, which was probably the same for a lot of us. I’m pretty sure my Dad pushed me towards that when I was young. I mean Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, I mean I know that’s kind of basic but that was towards the beginning of trying to learn this music. There are so many Miles albums… but Nefertiti.”

Corey Fonville will be returning to London on the 22nd of May with Butcher Brown, who will be performing at the Jazz Cafe:

You can listen to Butcher Brown's Camden Session EP here:

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