If you haven’t experienced Localized yet, now is the time to start. March 8 at Urban Lounge welcomes the genre-bending Lady Murasaki and the playful Secret Abilities. There won’t be any similarities in sound between the sets, but both these bands will make you want to move your body. If that’s not enough to spark your interest, consider this: Strange rockers 90s Television will be opening, and it’s only $5, 21+ to get in the door.
Lady Murasaki, which means “lady purple” in Japanese, has a great thing going for them: They have the real-life version of Cassandra from Wayne’s World. “Actually, I get that a lot,” says frontwoman Amber Taniuchi. Of course, they have many other things going for them, namely talented musicians who care about the quality of their music as much as they want people to enjoy it. But Taniuchi truly is a babe who can sing, play keyboard and guitar. She’s the catalyst behind this fusion of smooth jazz-rock called Lady Murasaki.
Taniuchi formed the band in May of 2011 with four others. Steve McSweeney, who plays lead guitar, is the only other surviving member from the original, five-piece lineup. The band is now a four-piece, with Jonathan Baez on drums and Tyler Morris—who joined the band in May of last year—on bass. “Our sound is now a lot tighter as a result,” says McSweeney. He and Taniuchi met working as IT specialists (aside from Baez, all members of the band are computer geeks with saucy musical skills). “I played (bass) in bands back home [in Ireland] between the ages of 18 and 20. Then I started chasing snow all over the world,” says McSweeney. “I came down here for a couple of weeks in 2005. I’m a snow junkie, basically.” Once friends, the two began to jam, and when Taniuchi decided to form a band, she went to McSweeney first. Lead guitar wasn’t his forte, originally, but he studied hard, and now croons out riffs that take the songs to their greatest heights. “He one of the best lead guitarists I’ve ever had the fortune of playing with. He’s the wizard,” says Morris.
Morris had played with a band named Salt Insurgence from 2008 to 2009 before finding himself bandless. “I was in between bands and I tried out for The Suicycles,” he says. They didn’t choose him, but Black Rob of The Suicycles mentioned a band named Lady Murasaki that could really use a dynamic bass player. Once Morris played with Lady Murasaki, they realized what a natural fit it was and he was in the band.
Lady Murasaki went through ten different drummers before finding Jonathan Baez. “So far, he’s the freaking awesomest,” says McSweeney. The nephew of famous ’60s folk singer Joan Baez, Jonathan Baez was first inspired to play the drums when he saw Animal on The Muppet Show. He saw the rage and fun of Animal and said, “I’m going to be that guy.” He eventually learned the drums by ear, and today he’s an integral part of the band. Baez says, “I’m definitely digging Lady Murasaki. You can be yourself—you can dance on the drums.” Everyone laughed together as Baez described his love for drumming in the band. He seems to be their backbone for fun and unceasing energy.
It’s not hard to imagine the vibe they bring onstage. Baez is the “Animal” behind the drums; Morris is grooving on the bass behind anything McSweeney turns out; then you have Taniuchi with resonating vocals, simple keyboard notes and a neverending smile.
They recently decided to adopt a motto from fellow SLC band King Niko: “We want to play music that makes the chicks dance,” says Taniuchi. They also want to be able to reach any kind of audience. It’s that desire combined with the band’s chemistry that makes national success a possibility for them. Taniuchi feels that the band’s overall vibe could be compared to The Cardigans. “We’re pretty flexible in terms of gigs,” says Taniuchi. They’ve played everything from lounge and hard rock sets to acoustic sets at the VFW Bar.
The band has an EP available on Bandcamp (ladymurasaki.bandcamp.com), but it’s the work of the old lineup with five members. As a four piece, they’re currently working on a single titled “Baby Hit the Beats.” Kyle Dickson, who plays in the SLC band Beachmen, is mastering the single and we’ll be able to hear it live at Localized. Although one single may not sound like much, the band has such free-flowing abilities that McSweeney says, “There’s always a new song creeping in.” With all of Lady Murasaki’s current momentum, their Localized set is sure to be a memorable one, so don’t miss it.