Lady Murasaki

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 (, 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.

Secret Abilities

Secret Abilities attributes a few things to their longevity as a band: having fun and being unpredictable. Their music can be described as both playful and spooky—it’s up to you. “All our songs are about monsters or death, but they’re not gothic. Our goal is to have people enjoy themselves,” says vocalist Davin Abegg. Their main motivation is to get a crowd on their feet, which is clear in their rambunctious style of rock n’ roll. “If we play a show where everyone’s just sitting there, we feel like we didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” says drummer Dave Todd.

Abegg, Todd and bass player Justin Behling were in a band together 10 years ago, called X-Boyfriend, mostly playing shows for their friends. The three joined one other band that didn’t last long, but they still had an urge to create music together. “I have to be in a band,” says Abegg, so he formed Secret Abilities in 2007.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that the band name developed while playing video games. “Dave and I were playing an old Nintendo game. When the last boss came out Dave shouted, ‘Ah, secret abilities—he can hit you from anywhere!’” says Abegg. Abegg began laughing and said, “Let’s just do that as our band name.”

The band initially featured Abegg as a vocalist, Todd as drummer and Tim Sessions on bass. After Sessions left the band for personal reasons, they went to familiar territory, asking Behling to play bass. Behling’s response was simple: “I’ll try.” Behling had only played guitar before playing bass for Secret Abilities. “Justin is probably the most talented person in the band,” says Abegg. “The bass parts of the songs are my favorite parts of almost all our songs,” says Tink Safeer.

Safeer is the newest addition to the band. She plays keyboard, percussion and lead vocals along with Abegg—her howling vocals can stick to you for days. She found her way into the band by answering a KSL ad. “It said, ‘We need a female vocalist/keyboardist who doesn’t need to be great at either one and just wants to have fun,’” says Safeer. She was looking for a job, and joining a band was the next best thing. Two weeks later, the current lineup of the band played their first show together (it was three hours long). “I learned a lot of songs really quickly,” says Safeer.

The sound of this band is something like the “Monster Mash” with a garage rock twist. The most surprising ingredient is the soul that gives the macabre songs a warm feeling. If that doesn’t sound strange enough, consider the fact that they’ve been featured on tribute albums to Jim Henson and Frank Zappa. “A lot of my songs start out [sounding like] an old, classic country song,” says Abegg. Todd says of Abegg, “He was on a big Hank Williams kick in the beginning, and said he wouldn’t mind if we were a Western rockabilly band.”

Most recently, the band released an EP titled Rise From Your Grave last September. Each member of the band is more experienced on this album. “I incorporated a lot more riffs on this one. I’ve written a few parts that are beyond my ability, so that I’m challenging myself,” says Behling. The EP was also an opportunity to showcase the talents of the band’s newest member. “These songs were written knowing that I’d be a part of them,” says Safeer. What you have with all these elements coming together is loud and high-energy rock n’ roll reminiscent of The Ramones’ pop sensibilities and catchy rhythms.

While the band still desires to push themselves, they looked for simplicity and catchiness more than anything. “It starts with just a three-chord song and we go from there,” says Abegg. They’re not interested in being technical with their sound. “We want to play something we can mess up without anyone noticing,” he continues.

It’s obvious this band is only out to have a good time. They attribute their success to not being concerned with their band’s success. Secret Abilities are truly playing just to play. Urban Lounge is sure to be a spooky mess with these guys rocking the house. Their entire catalogue is available on Bandcamp at