By Dylan Deprey
Looking back into history, when the best of the best have united, magical things have happened. Whether it’s the Dream Team wiping out the competition in the ’92 Olympics, to Marvel’s The Avengers defeating yet another attack on the human race, there is no stopping an elite group.
So, what do we get when a skilled saxophonist decides to create a team of some of the best musicians in Milwaukee? It could be Hip-Hop group? It could be Jazz group? It could even be an R&B group? Or… it could be Foreign Goods, the ten-piece band that has the ability to blend the evanescent screams of bandleader Jay Anderson’s saxophone with a rock and roll guitar riff and a lyrical downpour of rap lyrics.
Known for transitioning from an R&B ballad, to a funky bass line and then into a jazzy rap freestyle within seconds, Foreign Goods’ versatile repertoire has had audiences constantly question what their specific genre of music is. Anderson said that its simply Black American music.
“Everything we play exists because of how the rest of the world was affected by Black people leaving Africa,” Anderson said.
He added that people forget that before the Beatles were on world tours, Chuck Berry was doing the exact same thing back in St. Louis.
Foreign Goods’ creation was no fluke. A ten-piece band was always at the back of Anderson’s mind, but he had to strategically place each piece of the puzzle at the right time. After months of practicing over the winter and finding a sound with Soul Low bassist Sam Gehrke, and UW-Milwaukee’s Dance Department Director of Music Tim Russell on drums, more pieces were added.
Anderson then brought on rapper and singer Klassik, keyboardist Quinten Farr, guitarist Randy Komberac, his brother Michael Anderson on trumpet and vocalists Dailen Harris, B-Free, and Kyndal J.
Singer Kyndal J said that Foreign Goods being a group of individual artists working on separate projects brought a whole new aspect of the band experience when they united.
“We rub off on each other and really become one big creative collective,” Kyndal J said.
She said that Foreign Good’s genre blending sound came naturally to the group. She noted that working with other people with different styles was challenging but an exciting and educational experience.
“As individuals we’d already be doing this by ourselves, but as a collective we make more noise,” Kyndal J said.
Having checked headlining every Milwaukee summer festival off the list, Anderson said that a debut album was not entirely in the stars for Foreign Goods. It was until a last minute decision to place an audio recorder on the soundboard at the Summer Solstice Festival that the album ever happened.
“This was pretty much a perfect show,” Anderson said. “Everyone worked their absolute hardest and there were minimal mistakes.”
“Coronation” is Foreign Goods’ first EP and was released on cassette and a digital video release through Gloss Records on Sept. 15. The 25-minute live recording from their the Summer Solstice performance includes three songs: “Atlantis and the Lost Sea Lands,” “Shiki No Uta” and “Stay in your lane.”
Anderson dove into his past college anthropology courses to emulate sound of the mythical and mystical city of Atlantis along with the many buried cities across the world in the song “Atlantis and the Lost Seas.”
Anderson said that by following the Black American sound, it actually led them to one of the biggest black music influenced fanatics on the planet: Japan. “Shiki No Uta,” is actually a take on what sounds like an R&B pop song, but really was the outro to a Japanese anime Samurai Champloo.
The song “Stay in your Lane,” is reminder to audiences that sometimes it is better to keep your nose out of other people’s business and worry about yourself. Anderson said that songs like “Stay in your lane” have purpose and convey a message to audiences to ponder upon, even after the show.
“If you look at all the moments in human history where music was the most important, that was when it was having something to do with people,” Anderson said.
Even after headlining countless summer festivals and the release of its first EP, Anderson and Foreign Goods plan to keep working hard as ever, trucking towards Anderson’s goal at creating a worldwide touring band.
“I don’t judge any other bands in the city to how I treat my band, but the goals I have for Foreign Goods would be a mild failure doing the same festivals next summer,” Anderson said.