By Vaughn Schoonmaker
In today’s world of music entertainment, it's often easy to associate musicians and bands with a genre, even if the artists like to mix it up every now and then. Kids These Days, a seven-member band of teenagers from Chicago, have defied my ability to do this.
Three of the band's members dropped by MTV News recently while in town for a show to give us a chance to understand what lies behind their unique jazz-meets-alternative rock-meets-funk-meets-soul-meets-hip-hop-meets-pop sound.
"Traphouse Rock" vocalist and keyboardist Macie Stewart specified. "That's what we call our music. We just started jamming in [guitarist] Liam's basement. I don't think we ever consciously said let's put this all together, jazz, soul, rock. I think it just kind of came through because that's what we listen to, that's what we're a part of, and that's what came out in our playing."
I found myself contemplating how this group of kids found themselves in a band together in the first place. The members include a trombone player, a rapper and both a male and female ready to take over the vocal load. Besides all being from Chicago, I wondered, what was the connection between these seemingly unconnected kids?
"A lot of us come from a jazz background," trumpet player Nico Segal explained, referring to a genre where improvisation and jamming sessions are considered the norm. "A lot of us come from Chicago-sponsored after school programs where we got to play music."
A big part of the band's "message," as Nico put it, is to keep the spirit behind such programs in Chicago (and the rest of the country). "A lot of arts programs are getting cut all over the United States," he cautioned. "Music is always the first thing to go in these schools that don't have what they need. That's a big part of Kids These Days is to stand up for that."
The Kids have played all over the country and opened for all kinds of bands, but their biggest highlight so far was playing Lollapalooza last August.
"We've got some really dope stuff coming up," assured the rapper of the band, Vic Mensa. "We're playing The Roots' Block Party in June. That's a dream come true for us."
If you're curious about the band's unique, almost collective approach to music, then check out the video for their latest single, "Summerscent," to see just how well they pull off their different sounds and talents when they come together as one.