HomeInterviewsQuincy Mumford on his Big Benefit Show, a New Sound & More

Quincy Mumford on his Big Benefit Show, a New Sound & More

Asbury Park’s soul funk band Quincy Mumford & the Reason Why is busy prepping for their 6th Annual Holiday Show at The Stone Pony this Friday (Dec. 15). Listeners will hear the full glory of their 11-piece band while they play a set of original songs, followed by a “Super Jam” where they’ll perform a bunch of covers and invite special guests to join them on stage. Keeping up with the spirit of giving, proceeds from the ticket sales will be going to Mary’s Place by the Sea, a respite home for women with cancer in Ocean Grove.

Quincy Mumford & the Reason Why creates funky, soul-driven songs about positivity and spreading kindness. Truthful, heartfelt lyrics shine bright in their music, reminding us to express ourselves and always be willing to lend a helping hand.

In honor of the Holiday Show, The Pop Break spoke with Quincy Mumford about all the exciting details for Friday’s event, how he creates feel-good music that inspires kindness in listeners, his ever-evolving songwriting process and upcoming music that branches out into different genres.

So this is the 6th Annual Holiday Show. The turn out has to be pretty good, if this is the 6th year you’re doing it! How has it been to have this Holiday show each year?

It’s been really amazing, and definitely a learning experience. Every year there is a new challenge and a new great surprise. It started out by just putting on one set at The Pony and we wanted to combine holiday spirit with funky music. And then the other goal was to give back to our community in some way. The first year we picked Musicians on a Mission, which is helping musicians who had lost musical gear during Hurricane Sandy. From there, we just kept building every year and picking different organizations until we landed upon Mary’s Place by the Sea in Ocean Grove, NJ.

I really fell in love with their mission and for the last three years, they’ve been receiving the proceeds from ticket sales for the show, including this year’s. It’s been amazing. Every year has been getting bigger and better and we get a great crowd that comes out to see us and it’s just a big celebration of the holidays.

What’s your favorite part about this event?

I like to give back to my community in any way that I can. If I can play music and help out a bunch of people along the way, there’s nothing more I could ask for.

What specifics do you want fans to know about this show?

It’s going to have a ton of energy, that’s for sure. Not only do we do all these covers and have all these guests on the second set, but we do a set of original music from my past records and from some new music I’m working on. There’s a brand new song that we’re going to feature in the first set that we’ve never played live before. So that will be a fun little addition this year.

Will that song be recorded anytime soon?

So it is recorded, but I won’t be releasing it probably until this summer. It’s a whole new project, a really fun thing I’m working on with a DJ and producer friend of mine out of New York. We’re kind of combining the EDM/DJ/pop world with soul music. I can’t wait for people to hear it, but it’s kind of hush-hush, and this will be the first time that anyone will hear us do this kind of thing. It will be a little taste of new music to come for myself.

That’s going to be really exciting for everyone! I was going to talk about upcoming music towards the end, so I figure we can just come back to that later. For the meantime, we might as well just jump into your music. So, out of pop, funk, soul, surf and reggae, what sounds stand out in your music the most?

If you were to just put them all into one category, it’s soul music. It’s music that comes from the heart that is pure and it’s got feeling behind it. There’s something to be said about soul music in general, which can blend a lot of those genres. It touches home for people when they hear it because it has a sense of urgency, a sense of deep feeling when you listen to it and when you play it. Whether it’s up a couple more bpms and we’re funking out, or we’re slowing it down for a groove, it always has the same overall feeling and message—it’s soul music.

Also, in your description of “State of Mind” on your website, it’s all about how you wanted to create an album that inspires people to love and be loved, and to smile and spread kindness. It was also mentioned that your music shares the same “feel good” attitude that you do. That just got me thinking—what is your life philosophy and how is it expressed in your music?

I believe in overall acts of kindness. I remember being a little kid and watching the movie Pay It Forward and my parents teaching me the lesson behind that. Everyone needs to give to get. It’s not about getting, but it’s about creating a cycle where people can always be helped and are always looking out for one another. There’s too much destruction and issues and yelling going on in this world and so many different opinions. It’s important to understand other people’s points of view and respect them and still have cohesiveness amongst society and humanity.

I really believe in acts of kindness and paying it forward. That message comes out a lot in the songs. I’m young and I’m a struggling musician and it’s not always rainbows and butterflies on this side of things, but it’s really rewarding to be able to do what I love and to inspire people to think in similar ways or take their own perspective on my music. It kind of comes around full circle.

A lot of my music is built on that positivity. It’s built on the ability to express yourself and not being afraid to express yourself. Say what you mean. I want to do something bigger than just create music. That’s why I created the Holiday show, because I wanted to do more than just play some songs – I wanted to impact people and get people to think – mostly about other people. The holidays are a time to reflect and hang with your loved ones and it’s important not to just think about yourself. Think about everyone else. It’s a big reminder of that.

Photo taken by jconpixphotos, found on Quincy Mumford’s Facebook Page.

Along those lines, is that the kind of message you want to get across to listeners with your music?

Absolutely. I have songs that aren’t as happy and positive as others, but they’re truthful. I think it’s important to express truth through your music. My main philosophy in life is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you and that comes across in a lot of the messages of my songs. That is the exact message behind my song “Helping Hand.” No matter how little or how much you have, look around and see what you can do for other people.

And how do you want people to feel while listening to your music?

I want them to feel happy, I want them to feel joy. Most of all, I want them to feel something. That’s really the most rewarding thing about playing. People will come up to me and say “Hey I love this song, hey this song got me through a hard time, this song really spoke to me during this time. This song always makes me so happy, I put it on every morning when I go to work and I know I have a long day ahead of me.” Those are the kinds of things that make me smile ear-to-ear. That’s all I could ask for.

Listening to the different songs on the album, I really liked “Shifted” especially because the horns section of it is just crazy and has a really catchy groove. Then there’s “Home” which brings more of a pop vibe and brings us back to the sound of your earlier albums. And “It’s Just Love” is a very feel good tune. Then “Helping Hand” is just awesome because it brings rap into the mix and you just mentioned that track before. Thinking back on the whole album, what are you most proud of with State of Mind?

I’m most proud of the entire body of work as a whole. Every record, I try to do something different. I’m always growing as an artist and my music is constantly changing. With this record, it really hit home because, as I’d really started getting into funk music and those kinds of grooves, I started writing more songs like that. It felt like the music that I had been wanting to create for a long time. And now, (he laughs) I say this about the new music I’m creating too. But I think at that point in my life, I grew to be really positive and happy and the music really reflects that. I’d say the overall message is what I’m most happy about with this record.

As far as songs go, my favorite song on the record is probably “You Girl.” That was one of those songs that just kind of wrote itself really quickly. That’s always a blessing when it happens in songwriting, because it can be very challenging and difficult at times if you need to force yourself to write and think outside the box. And the groove just feels really good in that tune.

When it comes to the lyrics, how would you describe the style of your songwriting?

It’s hard to say, as my style changes from song to song and record to record. State of Mind was mostly written in the studio, on the fly. I’d come in and it would just be me and my producer and I’d say “Hey I have this baseline drum idea, I made a little demo of it” and it would be a simple baseline that I wrote down. Then we’d just sit in the studio and jam. Michael Ghegan would start jamming on the piano and blowing sax lines and we just went back and forth until we had a groove at the end of the day.

I’d think about it the whole ride home and all night, and then the next morning I’d wake up and write a verse or a verse and a chorus. Then I’d come back in and we’d try it out. So a lot of the songwriting for this record was mostly on the fly, just going as we’re going. Whereas records in the past, it’s been me starting with an acoustic guitar, and strumming some chords that I liked and then singing a melody and putting lyrics on top of that, like a traditional folk writer.

The new music that I’m working on is a lot of songs that I’ve written and collected over the last couple months of just sitting down with my acoustic guitar and creating a melody. Some songs have come from just singing a lyric in my car while driving, if something pops in my head. Then I made little demos and I met this guy Eugene – he goes by the name Jenaux – and he’s an EDM DJ/producer, so he’s used to a whole different world and mainstream radio. I brought these demos in to him and we collided worlds. It’s very much a mix between New World Pop music and hip-hop and soul. There’s even a new song that we just started working on that’s almost disco funk. It’s interesting. It’s really different and I’ve never written like this before.

What do you think the response will be with your fans?

I’m very curious. It’s my voice, you hear me on it, but it’s edgier. There’s cool vocal chops and samples and hard-hitting hip-hop grooves so it’s different, but it’s nothing that I haven’t tasted in my other music. This is just full-on into that world. I’m hoping that the response will be good, but I think most of all, it’s going to bring on a new reach of people that I hadn’t been reaching before. I think this is definitely a step in that direction, to grab a different audience and I’m excited for that opportunity.

Along with releasing these new songs in 2018, what else is in store for next year?

We’ll be announcing next week that on January 13, as a part of Asbury Park’s Light of Day Festival, we are doing two sets at the House of Independents—a set of original music and a set that’s a big tribute to Prince. We’re going to have tons of special guests and probably an 11-piece band. So that’ll be a great time. Along with that, I’m working on new music, so expect it by summer 2018.

Quincy Mumford and The Reason Why perform at The Stone Pony on Friday. Click here for tickets.

Laura Curry
Laura Curry
Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.

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