Episode 59: Michael League of Snarky Puppy

Between Snarky Puppy’s recent captivating pair of Atlanta shows, Rob and Seth chatted with its founder (who just won a Grammy for Culcha Vulcha) and co-founder of the GroundUP Music label, Michael League. This label’s truly unique, annual and independent GroundUP Music Festival in Miami Beach, Florida is an extension of the group’s ethos, so it is discussed first. We learn about how they chose to hold the fest in Miami Beach and about the challenges and rewards of running a festival at which shining a light on truly brilliant artists is more important than ticket sales. Michael also talks about how his producing work has become increasingly diverse and he tells stories specifically about working with Eliades Ochoa (Buena Vista Social Club) and David Crosby. Michael talks about how his playing has been influenced by Jaco Pastorius and Wayne Krantz, and he goes on to reveal why he has evidenced such loyalty to musicians and other peers who have been with him and the band for years. We also get a window into his process creating music to execute with Metropole Orkest, collaborating with Jules Buckley (he “plugged the music into the score”) all of which landed the band one of their Grammy’s for Sylva. Michael also touches on the writing process for Snarky Puppy, one which often involves a slew of extremely talented musicians, and he talks about how the band’s live shows remain cohesive despite their rotating line-ups and tendency to improvise. He also touches on his other band, Bokanté, and what the future holds for them. The ever-effusive League elaborates on many other topics and the episode ends with live versions of Snarky Puppy performing “Tarova” and GroundUP’s latest amazing artist Alina Engibaryan singing “We Are,” each from a recent Atlanta show.

Make sure you head on over to livesnarky.com to listen to the band’s two-night run in Atlanta and many more available shows!

Music used for this episode as inspiration and also speaking points can be found on a Spotify playlist here https://open.spotify.com/user/shimoner/playlist/7ttTU8JvD0YXpBJWMiUiVB?si=-9cT5jOCRrmodKGgin1MTA

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