Muzz, the new project of Paul Banks (Interpol), Josh Kaufman (producer/multi-
‘Red Western Sky’ follows two previously released songs—the sparse and rustic ‘Broken Tambourine’, and ‘Bad Feeling’, which was uploaded anonymously to Soundcloud and chimes with melodic introspection.
Muzz was born out of longstanding friendship and collaboration. Banks and Kaufman have known each other since childhood, attending high school together in Spain before separately moving to New York. There, they independently crossed paths with Barrick while running in similar music circles. They kept in touch in the following years: Barrick drummed in Banks + Steelz and on some of Kaufman’s production sessions; Kaufman helped on Banks’ early Julian Plenti solo endeavor; various demos were collaborated on, and a studio was co-bought.
Taking shape at a simmer, the first Muzz recordings date back to 2015. A typical session incorporated demos Banks or Kaufman brought to the table with room for any member to build upon, or with a new skeleton composed during a jam in the live room. All three contributed lyrics and helped shape things vocally (a first for Banks who is usually the sole lyricist). “Josh has more training as a theory musician while Paul comes from a different perspective,” Barrick says. “You never know how Paul’s gonna approach a song, lyrically and melodically, so it’s always unusual and exciting. Everyone is open to everyone else’s ideas. I think three is a great number of people for a band. We all had a big hand in everything.”
Sonically, Kaufman says, “the music has this weird, super removed vibe but is also personal and emotional at the same time. If something felt natural in a simple way, we left it. I’d never heard Paul’s voice framed like that—a string section, horns, guitars—we know none of that is visionary but it felt classic and kind of classy.” In fact, the band’s name holds a meaning that serves to describe that very feeling – Kaufman used the word “muzz” to describe the music’s subtle, analog quality and texture.
The self-titled debut album, written, arranged and performed by all three, is dark and gorgeous, expansive and soulful. No matter the sonic direction, Muzz goes there effortlessly and with maximum emotional charge.
“Ultimately, the music speaks for itself,” says Banks. “We have a genuine, organic artistic chemistry together. It’s partly a shared musical taste from youth, as with me and Josh, but then it’s also the souls of my friends that resonate with me when expressed through music. I think it’s cosmic.”