“When you hold a microphone, you have the power to reach so many people. Music can inspire, it can touch and it can change people’s lives.”Nacho Segura of Butcher Knives
Incredible music is made better when it comes with an amazing story. New York’s Butcher Knives combines the music from cultures all over the world and draws the inspiration from the multicultural and multilingual atmosphere in Brooklyn New York. Proving that music doesn’t have to be confined to cultural and musical genre boundaries, the music on their latest album Misery is a fascinating blending of sounds, instruments, and languages. For more information on their album, check out my review of Misery in The Voice.
Via email, I recently caught up with Butcher Knives frontman Nacho Segura.
How did you and your band meet?
Nacho: After I left my previous band, Nikko and I started working together in Miami and decided to create this project based on all the music we love. We began producing for a few years before moving to New York and looking for musicians to join the band. Nikko knew Yoni who put us in touch with the other members, and the rest is history.
Where are you and your band from?
Nacho: Nikko, guitar, Colombia
Nacho, lead vocals and percussion, Colombia
Yoni, base, Israel
Tal, keyboard and accordion, Israel
Melissa, accordion, New Orleans
Greg, drums, Colorado
Thinking back to early childhood, what was your first experience with music?
Nacho: I watched a lot of music videos when I was a kid. I would fashion a drum set from my mom’s pots and pans, banging on them with spoons along with the beat of the music.
What type of music did each of you hear the most growing up? Is it different from what you listen to now?
Yoni: I’ve always listened to punk, rockabilly and psychobilly.
Nacho: I grew up listening to reggae and rock steady as well as punk from Spain and France. Now the Internet gives me access to music from around the world so even though my tastes haven’t really changed, I also like gypsy, Balkan and African music.
What is the first song you ever sang?
Nacho: Like every kid in the world, I remember performing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in front of my elementary school.
What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Nacho: Back in the nineties, I had my first band and experienced the intense energy that comes from performing in front of a crowd. When you hold a microphone, you have the power to reach so many people. Music can inspire, it can touch and it can change people’s lives.
How did you become involved with the type of music you play and sing now?
Nacho: I used to play drums for another band from Colombia that came to the United States to tour and make an album. We already had the sound and influence of European bands, with punk and a mix of other types of music, but New York exposed us to Balkan, Blue Grass and country music for the first time. When I quit the band, Nikko and I decided to start Butcher Knives incorporating all the genres we like but punk rock merges all the sounds together.
For those who have never seen or heard your music before, how would you describe your music for a public audience?
Nacho: When the Butcher Knives perform live, there is a lot of energy on stage. It is really important for us to interact with the crowd and we feed off of that. We create a connection with the crowd. This isn’t a band where there are three guys standing still with guitars, we are performers. It’s crazy… high octane… theatrical.
Would you rather perform live or be in the studio?
Nacho: They’re so different. In the studio we can be more creative and focused, but I love being on stage. When we perform live, it gets wild; we jump around with the crowd and have zero control.
Have you ever entered any contests to enhance your music career?
Nacho: No, never.
Have you been involved in any benefit performances?
Nacho: The most meaningful benefit concert we’ve been a part of was joining together with a bunch of other bands to raise money for a friend who lost his house in a fire.
What do you think your greatest musical accomplishment has been?
Nacho: We were really proud when our first music video aired on MTVU and music channels in Colombia, and the opportunity to play with bands we grew up listening to like Boom Boom Kid and Mustard Plug has been thrilling. We just released our latest music video, “American Dream” and have gotten a lot of radio stations interested in playing it since immigration is one of the most important topics in the presidential election, so I’m excited to see where that leads us.
If you had to categorize your music, what genre would be the best fit?
Nacho: We don’t fit in one specific genre, but we have our own unique sound called gypsybilly.
What are your songs about? What general themes to they talk about?
Nacho: Butcher Knives songs are about social injustice, immigration and love.
Why do you choose to focus on these themes?
Nacho: As an immigrant in the United States, I experienced most of these themes and I write what I know. It was really important for me to talk about the painful incidents I’ve been through and be the voice for other immigrants and people I know.
What has been your strongest influence to keep performing?
Nacho: Playing is an addiction and I love being on stage.
Does anyone in particular influence you?
Nacho: Yes, a bunch of European bands but especially an 80’s band called Mano Negra. They mix every style of music, touching on love, immigration and social injustice with their lyrics and they’re very aggressive live, delivering a very powerful performance. We really look up to them as a group.
What are your immediate music career goals?
Nacho: We want to finish the new EP, shoot a new music video and start touring in August through the Midwest.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you or the group?
Nacho: The hardest part is getting everyone together at the same time and trying to get our name out there to book shows, especially outside of New York.
What type of fan base do you have?
Nacho: We cater to a wide audience of young people, old people, Americans and immigrants. It is a very diverse crowd, which makes every show super interesting.
Do you have any advice for the youth of today?
Nacho: I don’t care if you’re on a stage, on a football field, or in a classroom, whatever you do, just do your best and someday, I promise you, you’re going to surprise yourself.
Do you have other interests or talents?
Nacho: I’m a filmmaker as well and love making the Butcher Knives music videos.
What do you do with your time away from music?
Nacho: I like watching documentaries, being healthy and going to the gym, and working on my own film projects.
As an artist, is there anything special you hope to accomplish?
Nacho: I hope one day we can hit the big stages and festivals.
Note: I would like to thank Nacho Segura and all members of Butcher Knives for agreeing to doing the interview, and taking the time to answer my questions. I would also like to thank Meijin Bruttomesso of Effectively Immediately PR for facilitating the interview.