On the Bates College music scene, there’s one group on campus that has become familiar to most everyone. This band’s unique fusion of funk, hip-hop, and soul has made not only an impression on campus music lovers, but it also hopes to inspire a new generation of hopeful and upcoming groups. Before their Friday night show in the Mays Center, the band shared laughs, a brief biography, and words of wisdom for those who also wish to share their sweet and soulful sounds.
The Bates Student: So when did the band originally form? How did you guys all come together?
Adam Kornreich: Hansen, Dan, and I have played in various bands, but Morangutan didn’t truly form until I found Easton [Morang]. I was in my music theory class and we really needed a drummer, so I just asked Easton out of the blue. We discovered we had similar tastes in funk and hip hop music, and then we found Becky, who I had heard in Jazz Band. We thought she was great so we asked her to join us. The rest is history, I suppose.
TBS: I’ve got to ask, where in the world does the name “Morangutan” come from?
Hansen Johnson: It started with Easton’s last name which is Morang. The band was originally going to be called Peach Morang, after adding in Dan’s last name, Peach. We knew we were going to be a sort of a groove and funk band, so Peach Morang felt appropriate. We also wanted to represent that sort of a fun and light-hearted feel that we wanted our music to express.
TBS: Is there one style of music that you stick to? If so, what are your musical influences?
Adam Kornreich: I think we have recently have branched out with different types of music but I guess our main genre is funk, soul, with few unexpected things thrown in. The flute’s a little unconventional with the genre, but when we heard Becky play, it reminded us of a band we like that also features flute in their funk music.
Hansen Johnson: In terms of influences, Grayboy Allstars is one of our inspirations, which is one of the bands that features flute. Soulive, Lettuce, Jamiraoqui, and Humphries McGee are a few others we like. Easton has turned us on to a hip-hop kind of feel, which gives us that kind of sound along in the mix.
TBS: Do you have any particular favorite songs that you like to play? Are they all originals?
Becky Schwartz: I’m biased toward Grayboy Allstars, because there’s a lot of flute parts in most of their songs. Another favorite song of mine is “Leave the Browns at Home” by Grayboy Allstars. “Sissy Strut” by the Meters is another fun song that we cover.
Hansen Johnson: Right now, we have four originals that we like to play, but we have a lot of new material that we’re refining at the moment.
TBS: What events have you done this year so far? Do you prefer on or off-campus?
Easton Morang: We like playing both on- and off-campus. We’ve played at Gritty’s twice this school year–once for the Bates Night in Town, and since then they’ve asked us back. On campus, we’ve played twice in Old Commons (for the Yule Ball and WRBC Concert) and in the Little Room. We’ve got another gig coming up February 13th in the Little Room from 9-11 P.M.
TBS: Is there any advice that you would give to up and coming groups on campus?
Hansen Johnson: If you book the gig, it will happen.
Easton Morang: That’s wisdom right there…It’s the fedora talking.
Adam Kornreich: But seriously, if you’re really into music, start talking to people and figure out others that enjoy music as much as you do. Joining the BMU (Bates Musicians Union) will also help a lot. Let people know that you play and you want to play.
TBS: What’s something that you want to share with Bates College that they don’t know about Morangutan?
Hanson Johnson: We would love to work with Bates students interested in videography and photography with the band. We’d love some help developing a logo, posters, or any sort of promotional creative aspect of the band.
Adam Kornreich: Our general philosophy is that we want to bring people live music because that’s typically not a common option at Bates. It’s our passion to bring people live music and simply provide a really good time for everyone.
Dan Peach: I wish the Bates music scene were bigger, and if I could say one thing, I hope Morangutan inspires a greater interest in the Bates music scene and becoming involved in it.
Becky Schwartz: Coming in as a freshman and not knowing the music scene, I would say Morangutan gave me a strong musical and creative outlet that challenges me. We’re all very committed to the group and if I could say anything about us, it’s that we’re all about having fun and sharing our love for music.
Olivia Norrmén-Smith: Wait, I still need a quote…I’m their number one fan!