Since 2003, Brooklyn-based Tortured Soul has stayed true to its style, creating dance music that blends the soulful purr of R&B with the four-by-four bass of traditional house music.
“[We’re] creating dance music, approaching the process as life musicians, but at the same time never forgetting that what we want to create is music that will be embraced by people who like dance,” says John-Christian Ulrich, drummer and vocalist. Together he and JKriv (bass) and Ethan White (keys) return to Chicago for the first time in more than two years, bringing with them a renewed sense of house-laden creativity.
And for the first time since the band’s seminal release, “Introducing Tortured Soul,” the trio is currently putting its finishing touches on its next album, due out for release in the fall. “We’ve worked on some new producing and recording techniques to try to combine those two things on the upcoming record, and hopefully our fans and new listeners will feel we’ve made some improvements,” Ulrich says. “We’ve tried to maintain a songwriting integrity as well, meaning there should be a few themes and melodies that people will go away with after listening that they will be resigning to themselves.”
As a band best known for creating live, sunny house vibes, Tortured Soul has remained accessible to mainstream audiences without losing love from a devout fan base of the underground house scene. “We’ve never had trouble reaching out to new audiences,” JKriv says. “I think for a while music—especially electronic and dance music—had sort of moved away from the live side of things, but I’ve definitely noticed a shift back; you see a lot more ‘live’ billings in the dance and electronic world now than you did in 2003.”
Not that pioneering Tortured Soul is comparing. The past two years has seen them writing new material, rehearsing in the studio and sparking what Ulrich calls a “nice reaction” to their new, soulful savvy material at a recent show in Brooklyn. The band is expecting nothing less for its forthcoming billing in Chicago.
“There’s something that clicks for us in Chicago, I think people coming out for the first time will dig the way the audience responds to the show—there’s an intense energy to the crowd here,” White says. “Our approach to the live show is special because it is raw, but still tight, and I think Chicago feels that.” (Jenn Danko)
Tortured Soul with special guest guitarist Mark “Tewar” Tewarson, Amp Fiddler and DJ Julius The Mad Thinker at Double Door, 1572 North Milwaukee, (773)489-3160, on March 15, 9pm. $15 advanced, $18 door.