When it was first announced that legendary Go-Go drummer JuJu House would be joining the critically acclaimed GoGo Symphony cast of musicians, the anticipation of what that collaboration would bring sparked an even more interest in what the ensemble was already bringing to the table. After all, this is the same drummer who brought life to such projects from Grace Jones‘ “Slave To The Rhythm” to the stages of Chaka Khan, Chuck Brown and Dionne Farris. And of course Experience Unlimited. So when I heard about this new up and coming project, I was definitely peaked to find out more.
On January 13, 2017, the Go-Go Symphony will be debuting “JuJu Symphony” and “Down With You” to the ears of the world. This unveiling will be taking place at the Church at Clarendon, a place that serves almost as a home to the GoGo Symphony.
But, exactly what is “JuJu Symphony”? What is “Down With You”?
They’re songs. Concepts of JuJu’s. Over the past several months, JuJu and and GoGo Symphony founder Liza Figueroa Kravinsky have been working together and collaborating on with different pieces and ideas. Between the two of them, they’ve collaborated on several pieces, but the main two songs were “JuJu Symphony” and “Down With You”.
As JuJu explains it, “This is something of taking go-go and being able to broad it into different elements, but still using my own flavor. That’s what it’s always been about. Being able to blend and properly deliver all the colors together.”
But of course, even though these songs are being performed as premieres, JuJu’s work with the GoGo Symphony has been going on ever since the announcement of he joining back in November of 2014.
“I really got in there and changed a lot of stuff,” says JuJu. “But Liza is open. She’s down. She wants to get it right. A lot of them in the symphony were more curious about things such as ‘Do I know what I was doing?’. They were more looking at me coming in with cornrolls and scarfs, and were wondering, ‘Does he know what the hell he is doing?’ But then when they seen that other side of me, they were like ‘Whoa! Wait a minute! Hold it! He CAN do this!'”
“Collaborating with Juju on a symphony has been quite eye opening,” explains Liza. “I’m learning a lot about rhythm and other things that classical musicians don’t normally think about. Go-Go has a lot to offer the to the classical world.”
When asked if the GoGo Symphony would be recording this upcoming performance of the song premiers, music director Joshua Cruse stated that Go-Go Symphony is working on their first album, which is going to be something of a hybrid between a studio and live album.
“Back in March of 2016, we performed a show at the Intersection festival at the Atlas performing arts center,” explained Joshua. “And we did a live recording of that show. So, what we’re going to do is take some of the stuff from that show and we’re going to go to the studio and work on a couple of things. We’re going to take the basic structures of those recordings see what from that we want to use to re-record in the studio. But we are looking at possibly putting these two songs on that album.”
The Church of Clarendon, which have been wonderfully hosting the GoGo Symphony for years, has been a spot that has perfectly served as an opportunity for them to share what they do on a monthly basis. And for this show that’s coming up on January 13th, they will be premiering both pieces.
“This is going to be the first pubic performance of what we believe is a very close final version of these pieces,” explains Joshua.