Interview: Triforce \\ Four young black guys on a mission to influence

Triforce play Roundhouse Rising on 27 February

Over the last two years, Triforce have put their stamp on London’s live scene with their ambitious, cosmic grooves. Starting out as a trio before guitarist Mansur Brown came on board, they released their 5ive record via Jazz re:freshed in 2016, with community as the heart of the EP’s ethos. 

Following their recent performance at Total Refreshment Centre for the release of Brownswood‘s We Out Here compilation, they’re performing at this year’s Roundhouse Rising series at London’s iconic Roundhouse venue.

Nina Fine talks to keys player Dominic Canning about being role models for young black men and working with Jazz re:freshed. 

\\ Tell us about the birth of Triforce and where your name comes from?

Triforce began at Middlesex University with Ben, Ricco and I. In our year we all had similar interests and got together for a jam one day after lectures. The name—I guess that’s just because there was three of us and maybe my love for video games but it just came to me—the guys liked it, too.

We had a couple shows as a trio, then we wanted to have guest features so we thought of our friend, Mansur Brown who we all knew. Having wrote the tune Red Lagoon with us we slowly found ourselves not wanting to part ways with each other and he was the force that bounded the three of us together. So we now see it more has a triangle with Mansur in the middle.

\\ What are the key sounds that you’d like people to identify with in your music?

We all come from different walks of life and you can definitely hear that in our tunes. Mainly grime, hip hop, jazz, rock, neo-soul and funk. We all bring something different to the table when it comes to writing them tunes.

\\ Tell us about working with London powerhouse label and promoters Jazz re:freshed? 

The Jazz re:freshed team have been amazing; they put us out there when no one wanted to hear four young black guys playing jazz rock mixed with neo-soul and hip hop. They’ve just allowed us to express ourselves. They’ve done nothing but back us since we’ve released with them.

\\ What are the group dynamics when it comes to writing?

Everyone is everywhere to be honest. If Ricco has a drum part he wants for a particular tune, he’ll jump on drums and show it to Ben. If I have a particular voicing or lead line I’d want someone to play, I know they’ve got it. It works both ways; sometimes we have tunes that we have parts to and all the rest of the band have to do is play it and give it some feeling, and sometimes we just jam and see what comes up—if it works then good. If it’s dead we’ll just say to each other there’s no hard feelings.

“As young black men in today’s society not only is it our mission to show the world that we can be more than the stereotype, but that we can influence others while doing so” – Dominic, Triforce

\\ How did you all come to study Jazz? What was your attraction to the music?

All of our outlooks on Jazz has changed. I believe what encouraged us to study Jazz at the beginning was seeing the likes of Theon Cross make a living from Jazz and enjoy it. It was seeing that transition from “Hobby” to “Career” that really led us to want to learn more about it. Jazz is such a broad genre, the broadest as far as I’m concerned. It allows you to express yourself in a way that nothing else can really do. It allows you to make a statement that says, yeah we play Jazz but we listen to rock too, and hip hop.

\\ Triforce have been involved in various workshops at schools. Do you feel a responsibility to pass on your current experiences to younger generations?

As young black men in today’s society not only is it our mission to show the world that we can be more than the stereotype but that we can influence others while doing so and push them in a direction that is better for them, whether that’s through the arts or something else. If it wasn’t for people like Mat Fox (R.I.P), or Andy Grappy, showing us the way from young, we wouldn’t be where we are today—it’s only right we do the same.

When teaching at Holy Trinity, a student came to Ben an I and was raving on about how he’s heard our record and he was gassed and thought it was sick. It was definitely one of the funniest yet humbling moments of our teaching careers.

\\ What is your take on the resurgence of Jazz appreciation in London on a wider level? 

With all the work that Jazz re:freshed have been doing behind the scenes it was only a matter of time before it was getting its dues, but Yussef Kamaal really put London on the map, and it’s obvious—you can’t deny it. After Black Focus released, all of a sudden there was this massive wave of love for us and everyone on the scene is now on that wave. The next big push is from Brownswood’s We Out Here.

\\ What does 2018 look like for TriForce? 

We’re keeping it all under wraps so if you want to know more, you just gotta keep your eyes peeled.

Triforce play Roundhouse Rising on 27 February

Tweet @EZHmag @Triforcesounds

EZH | Nina Fine