Meet Minor Element, performing on Juneteenth 2021
June 7, 2021
Juneteenth is right around the corner and we are incredibly excited to be partnering with a number of organizations throughout the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek area to present Minor Element, an all-instrumental jazz fusion group from Battle Creek, MI. In order to prepare for their virtual concert, we spoke with pianist and Minor Element member, Brandon Fitzpatrick, about the group – let’s hear what he had to say!
We’re excited to hear Minor Element perform on Saturday, June 19 at 7 PM ET. How did the eight of you become acquainted and how long have you been performing together?
Minor Element has always had a wide variety of musicians coming from different areas. However, most of the band members come from Western Michigan University. As we were looking for musicians to play our compositions, we sought out a lot of talent from WMU which got us more connected in the Kalamazoo music scene. Minor Element has been performing together since 2012 and the current line-up of musicians have been performing together since late 2018.
You co-own your own label, Blvck Sheep. What was it like starting a label and what exciting things do you have coming up that you can tell us about?
Being a Co-Founder of Blvcksheep has always felt empowering. For a long time, I’ve dreamed of having different artists come together to create our own tribe of people. Blvcksheep was built on the idea that our artists don’t fit into normal systems that typically strip creativity and free thinking away from the artist. Our goals include creating albums underneath our label and finding ways to bring music to the West Michigan community through our YouTube video series “The Rehearsal Room”, which invites West Michigan artists and bands from all genres to perform.
You released your EP, Stranger Things, in 2018. How does the experience of producing a record differ from performing a concert?
Recording and producing a record is a lot different from playing concerts. Our goal as a band is to play the music in a way that edifies the songs. Even though the general structure is the same, during every show there is a different interpretation and depiction of the tunes. Crowd participation and improvisation allows us to have a unique show experience every time we hit the stage.
What inspires you and your musicality the most?
Failure inspires me. We are not proficient at anything without failing. It takes time to develop and grow. My greatest time of acceleration has always been after my largest shortcoming. Mastery of anything is the mindset of no mastery at all. Continuing to be a student of the game and a lifelong learner pushes me to be a better musician daily.
Covid-19 has definitely changed a lot of things this year — What have you been up to lately that has been bringing you joy?
Creating has always given me joy, but as of late it’s been especially important to be able to maintain a high level of artistic expression. Without performing, a musician or artist can feel void of purpose. Prepping myself for what is to come when we emerge out of the pandemic is what I have my eyes set on. I’ve not only been working on finishing Minor Element’s new album Odd Family, but I’ve also started working on one of my own. It’s been fun merging different styles of music and musicians together to create a new sound.
Your group is based in Battle Creek. What’s your favorite part about the city and being located in Southwest Michigan?
Battle Creek has a connotation of being small, but in reality, this community dreams big! There are so many artists and entities in the city that are doing amazing things. Being that we are in a small city, we are able to work with each other with a greater ease of access which strengthens our community partnerships.
Finally, if you had any advice for young jazz musicians just starting out, what would it be?
Jazz is fusion and has always been fusion. Be who you want to be, make what you want to make and never compare yourself to anyone else.
Thank you to Mr. Fitzpatrick for speaking with us! Make sure you tune in for Minor Element’s livestreamed concert on Saturday, June 19 at 7 PM ET as part of Battle Creek’s Juneteenth Family Day Celebration. Battle Creek’s Juneteenth Family Day Celebration is collaborating with community partners to create fun and educational offerings for area families including a children’s show created by the Battle Creek Community Foundation to be televised on WOOD TV8, a video contest through the Willard Library, a Juneteenth Motorcade Parade, and a Vaccine Clinic through Bronson Battle Creek. Get your ticket for the free concert today!