For Butcher Knives, culture cuts deep into music
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Dec 10, 2015 | 5883 views | 0 0 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The multicultural band Butcher Knives  Photo Credit: Ana Pinto Lorez
The multicultural band Butcher Knives Photo Credit: Ana Pinto Lorez
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The Gypsybilly band Butcher Knives consists of six immigrant musicians from places such as Colombia, Israel, Colorado and New Orleans. Their sound is a little mixture of everything, especially punk rock with a cultural flare, and their multilingual lyrics often feature languages such as English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Hebrew.

The band will be playing their next gig at The Knitting Factory on Friday, December 18. I spoke to Nikko Matiz, a vocalist and guitarist for the band, about the band’s name, being an immigrant band and what it means to be Gypsybilly.

First of all, tell me how did you guys come up with the name Butcher Knives?

We’re all immigrants. Me and Nacho Segura, our singer, are from Colombia. Back in the 40s and 50s, there was a bloody period in our country and both of our great-grandparents were displaced. The guerrillas came in the middle of the night and took over their farms, basically. They had to leave their farms with nothing but the clothes on their back, machetes and butcher knives in order to get to the capital of the city. So that’s where the name came from, we thought it was pretty cool.

Since you’re all immigrants, how did you get together?

We did the whole album in Miami when [Nacho] lived there. It was recorded by us in Miami but then he moved to New York City and then we just started grabbing musicians from across the city. I think this one of the places where we can find such a wide array of people from around the globe.

How do you inject your different cultures into your music? Is songwriting difficult?

I think definitely that once people listen to the album and listen live, you can notice how everybody in the band brings something forward to the live show. It’s a crazy, full-of-energy show. For example, Yoni does a little rhyme in Hebrew and then we have some parts in Arabic. We try to keep it as influenced by everyone’s culture as possible.

Me and Nacho are the main writers. We record everything as really rough drafts and then we’ll bring it to the band and we polish it. Then, it becomes something completely different.

Have you found a common thread amongst you that makes it easier to gel together and create music together?

Absolutely. We have a Muslim, two Jews and two Colombians in the same band so there’s kind of an internal joke in the band that we’re going to solve the Middle East conflict between us.

You guys have categorized yourself as Gypsybilly. Can you explain what that is.

Every time someone came to us and asked what kind or sound or genre did we play, it was so hard for us. It’s so many things combined into one that we had to come up with our own new thing. It’s kind of a mixture of hillbilly and gypsy music along with the banjo and the french accordion melodies. It has a punk rock aesthetic to it.

What should your fans expect for the future?

We haven’t played New York City in a while. We’ve been writing a bunch of new songs. There are two new songs that we haven’t ever played here, so we’ll be playing it in the new show. Right now we’re recording our next album that will probably be out early next year, maybe in March.
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