Tavey Lean and The Solid Gold Dream Machine have been churning out the infectious sounds of funk, soul, and Motown to the Beijing masses since 2012. Riding on good vibes, copious amounts of groove and bass, and a badass horn section, the eight-strong band, made up of Tavey Lin on the mic, Will K Bonnah on the drums, Daniel Rothwell on the trombone, Itay Kochva on the saxophone, Bruno Lucas on the keyboard, Sammy Boy on the guitar, Ryan Brown on Bass, and RC Granger on the trumpet, have a new EP coming out, included as part of a split cassette with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Beach Boys of Beijing, Boss Cuts, this Friday April 19 at DDC.
However, a brand new EP is not the only thing that’s about to drop. The band are made up of hedonistic singletons, cool dads and dads-to-be, negotiating their way through life, music, and fatherhood in the Jing. The Solid Gold Dream Machine will soon be welcoming in a new addition to their Kids of Golden Dads Club.
Beijingkids caught up with the dads and dads-to-be of the band to find out exactly how they keep the dream alive, the machine well oiled, and fully prepared for the launch of their new EP, with fatherhood and impending fatherhood a top priority for them and their families.
How long have you been a member of the band?
Itay: Since the beginning, in 2012. I’m one of only three band members who got to play with all 18 current and past band members we have had over the years.
Will: Just over a year now. I used to play in a jazz band back in the UK. Through a friend’s recommendation I was able to audition to play the drums for the band, when they were looking for a new drummer when their old one relocated to Shanghai. The guys saw my passion and the rest is history.
RC: I’ve been a member of the band since the beginning. I met Tavey in Lush in Wudaokou. It was mid-September 2012, I had just changed jobs, and he said he was looking for people for his band. I had brought my trumpet with me from the states, but hadn’t played in a long time. Felt like the right time to start again.
How do you (intend to) balance fatherhood with your music?
Itay: I have an amazing wife who supports my decision to keep making music with this band. I couldn’t have done it without her help. Every Monday night for the past seven plus years has been a Solid Gold practice night. Even when everyone was watching Game of Thrones on Monday, she’d wait to watch on Tuesday together. That’s true love right there. I also try to limit the amount of shows we play to two per month, so we can balance family activities and have enough opportunities to make plans for the entire weekend without me being too tired to play with the kids.
Will: I’m fortunate to have a very supportive and encouraging wife, who not only wrote this article but also encouraged me to follow my passion for music as a hobby. My schedule is pretty hectic but for the love of playing music and having a ball with this bunch of talented musicians, I find a way to make it work.
RC: Well, the good news is that out of all the things I do, music actually requires the least amount of time invested from me. Balancing fatherhood with my music hopefully won’t be too challenging to start. We’ll see how that has to change, as the kid gets older.
How would you describe the sound of your band? What/who is your inspiration?
Itay: If I had to choose two words to describe our sound, it would be Big and Fun. The band’s sound is a projection of our collective personality and feelings. We can play smooth and classy, we can go loud and dirty, but what we really want is to have fun on stage, and get the audience to participate in that fun feeling. The way we formed the band is at its core; we are just friends having fun together.
Will: I would describe it as a fusion of funk and soul; basically the type that forces you to shake a leg. I think music should move you – not just physically, but it’s also a heart thing. You should be able to feel the energy and good vibes.
RC: I’ve always found questions like this challenging. My training is in jazz, so some of our songs I hear for the first time as we work on them. Others are obviously more iconic, but my general lack of knowledge when it comes to soul music makes it challenging for me to have an inspiration outside the band. As for our sound – well, we play fun, danceable, funk ‘n’ soul.
How old is/are your kid(s)?
Itay: My son is almost 5, and my daughter is almost 2 years old. My son has been coming with me to Saturday afternoon sound checks for the past three years. He loves it!
Will: I’ve had nine months of joy with my new baby boy, Lux.
RC: My son is about a month from being born.
How does your partner/wife feel about you being in the coolest band in town?
Itay: My wife is happy for me to have something like this. She’s super supportive. As I said before, I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for her.
Will: My wife is very proud. Especially when random strangers come up to me in Great Leap Brewery (GLB), our local, and say: “hey you’re from SG, saw you guys last night. You guys are amazing”. This has happened several times whiles out for a Sunday afternoon beer with my family – and milk for my baby!
RC: I don’t know that Nassau cares how cool we are, ha! She likes that I like it, and she likes that I can make money doing something I love, but she usually can’t make it out to our shows.
What are your hopes for the band and family life in the future?
Itay: Growth. Not the physical growth of kids or growth in number of band members of course, but the more mental type of growth. For the band, this EP release is an important step in our growth – we’ve defined our own voice over the years while covering other people’s music in our own way, and now we’re using this voice to tell our own stories. For my family, it’s kind of the same thing – we all want our kids to find their voice, define who they are, and use that voice to go into the world and use it.
Will: Continue spreading our good vibes to the city of Beijing and who knows where else. I want to be able to inspire my son to have the confidence to go after the things that he loves and have boldness to dream big. My family is everything and we are on this adventure of a journey together, we hope to travel more, laugh more, and discover more.
RC: Band hopes: more original work. The way we’ve developed a lot of these songs has been somewhat organic. Ideas brought in by band members that other members have added to. I’m looking forward to more sessions like that. As for family hopes, well, I hope for the usual – health and happiness, but I’m really looking forward to when my kid can walk and when my kid can talk. I love teaching, so hopefully this will be an experience that’s good for all of us.
Why have you guys decided to drop an EP now and can you tell us a little about your collaboration with Boss Cuts?
Itay: The idea for an EP or an album was brewing for a long while, but for many different reasons never materialized. I think that as a band, we got to a point where we feel good about how we sound and how we want to use that sound. During the summer of 2018 we heard that Boss Cuts are in a similar situation and were looking for an EP partner. We like Boss Cuts, and their music is different than ours, so it felt right to join forces. This couldn’t have happened without the continuous efforts of Daniel Rothwell, our trombone player.
Will: And because too many fans have been asking for it. It’s of course an obvious creative decision to take as a band I guess. We have new and awesome material to share with everyone and the time is always now.
RC: Why NOT an EP now? We’ve been sitting on a couple of these songs for years. Others have been created more recently. High time we get them out there.
You’ve been creating a lot of original music lately and one of your hits with fans has been “Actual Baby” – what was the inspiration behind the track?
Itay: Tavey, our singer, wrote the words for this song. He’s a great storyteller, and I think that he wanted to make a point about how the word Baby is over used in modern music.
Will: Our lead singer is a great songwriter and a great lyricist with an interesting sense of humor. Ha!
RC: You’d have to ask Tavey – it was his song idea originally. He brought it to us, and we adapted it to what we do.
Is this one for the parents out there? And seeing as this track features an actual baby, will all the fathers in the band look to have their baby’s voice sampled on other tracks in the future?
Itay: If there’s a toddler/kids sequel, I’ll get my kids involved, I’m sure they’d love it.
Will: Well, my baby is the one who features on “Actual Baby”, so I guess I’m done. Makes me so proud. The whole 2.5 seconds of it.
RC: I’d love to have my son feature on something somewhere ha! I think it’s something he’d be entertained by when he was older. But who knows?
What can audiences expect at the release show?
Itay: A really fun night with good music from two very different bands, in one of Beijing’s coolest spots. We’ll be there to play and hang out with everyone, so if you’re looking for a chance to have a drink and chat with us, that’d be it.
Will: You can expect to sweat on the night and have aching bones in the morning. Our music will make you move parts you didn’t even know you could move.
RC: The release show will have our signature sound and vibe, combined with Boss Cuts and their tunes. It’s going to be very fun, I think. Also bring a bit of extra cash, as there’ll be a few things for purchase that may not be around forever.
How can newbies and fans of Solid Gold follow you and keep up to date with where you will be performing?
Itay: We post regularly in our band’s WeChat account (search for SolidGold) about our gigs and other interesting events we want to support around town. If you’re one of those who still haven’t given up on Facebook, you can find us there as well. We also run a smaller, close-knit Solid Gold community WeChat group chat, where we share more “behind the scenes” videos and banter.
Will: Yeah, follow us on WeChat and of course buy the EP!
RC: We’ve got an official WeChat account, as well as a group chat for those who want to more directly interact with band members. That info will be readily available at the show.
Do you have any advice for dads out there who are also following a passion of theirs?
Itay: Guys, this is important so pay attention – Happy wife, happy life. It’s all about balance. If your partner supports you, you can go out there and follow your passion. It can’t survive if you’re forcing your family to adapt to something that you’re the only one who gets to have fun from at their expense. So go find that thing that you’re passionate about, and find a way to make it work for you and for your family.
Will: No better time than now. Go for it.
RC: I don’t have any advice yet, though I’ll take some if anyone has any, ha. I’ll have advice in about a year.
Do you have any closing comments?
Itay: Solid Gold is special to me. We work hard on making it the band what it is, putting in the time and effort, and we do it because we’re friends and want to have fun and create new things in this city. I’m sure this EP is the first of many great things to come.
Will: I’m truly blessed to be a part of this talented group of musicians and to have the opportunity to use my skills. Whatever talent you’re given, don’t bury it, use it and increase it.
RC: Just to pursue passions with love and integrity, and try not to forget why you love something in the first place.
Go check out Tavey Lean and The Solid Gold Dream Machine at their EP launch party. Scan the QR code below to check out their new single and request to follow them by adding we chat: WilliamBonnah, to keep up to date with gigs, events, and more. Adults. RMB 50 (advance tickets) RMB 60 (on the door). Dusk Dawn Club, 14 Shanlao Hutong, Dongcheng District. 东城区山老胡同14号
Photos: Courtesy of Tavey Lean and The Solid Gold Dream Machine