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Mocha, sounds just as good as it tastes

Mocha sounds just as sweet as it tastes. Well, at least that’s the case for Belmont’s very own Mocha.

The lineup featuring vocalist Sakari Greenwell, keyboardist Adam Kirincich, bassist Sheila Graves, guitarist Ben Tankersley, Drew Lombana on trombone, Nick Dory on saxophone, Alex Kaptain on trumpet and drummer Ray Standiford brings a fusion of funk, soul, jazz and a special influence from each band member.

Formed in early 2014, the band has already begun performing and recording original material. Recently, the group opened up about their experience as a band and its future.

How did Mocha form? You guys have such a huge lineup, did you all meet at once or was it gradual?

Adam: “Sakari and I were friends before Mocha. I had written a couple songs, and we started singing together. From there we got the rest of the gang together. We were just all a group of friends who happened to be fairly proficient musicians. We started to grow as a band from there and developed a sound from the group dynamic.”

Where do you draw your influences musically?

Sakari: “I grew up singing gospel music in church. Both of my parents listened to R&B and smooth jazz, and it made me kind of hate it. I got mad that they wouldn’t play Britney Spears instead. After starting this band though, I realized how lucky I was listening to jazz as a kid because now I love it, and it has become such a big part of my life. Some of my favorite artists are Allen Stone, Aretha Franklin, Tonex, Justin Timberlake and, of course, Beyoncé.”

Adam: “All of us have different musical influences but a lot of common threads of soul, R&B and funk, so it gives us a nice contrast.”

What has been the biggest accomplishment as a band?

Adam: “I think the Show at 12th & Porter with Koa, Dynamo and The Pressure Kids was a big milestone for us.”

Ray: “Yeah, at that show, we loved seeing everyone happy because of the music. As the shows keep getting bigger, we know that people are into our music. It feels like we’re fulfilling what we want as a band – to be able to share it with them.”

Drew: “For me, it’s been about making great music. While we’ve seen our audience grow, it hasn’t been about how many people are in the crowd. It’s been about how amazing it’s been to share our music and passion with them.“

Do you see your sound evolving as you guys play? Are you planning on taking any certain directions?

Sakari: “We plan on just getting tighter as a band, vibing and knowing each other better as musicians. From there, I think we will just see where it takes us.”

Do you have any big plans for the future?

Adam: “We would like to tour when we graduate or have a period of off-time and actually hit the road as a collective. We also want to play in smaller festival slots or possibly bigger festivals. We would love to perform at Bonnaroo if we ever become popular enough.”

Sakari: “My sister goes to Howard University and invited us to play at their homecoming this year at the R&B show on Oct. 18. We’ll be opening for this jazz artist called Kem.”

What are practices like? What is your writing process?

Adam: “It’s kind of continually changing process. We are such a new band that every time we do something different in a practice or writing session, we learn from it. If we’re practicing, it’s usually for upcoming shows, and we base it around our set list and what we feel needs work. For writing new material, we usually bring in a chart and play around with ideas until we find something concrete and feels like Mocha, or tastes like Mocha.”

Do you have any particular goals as a band or as musicians?

Adam: ”Right now we’re working on a mixtape, so we’ve been in the studio this past week trying to capture the music we’ve been working on the past six months.”

Ray: “I feel that our personal goals tie in to Mocha because we’re all going to school for music to become the best we can be at our craft, and we get to experience that through playing together.”

Drew: “Personally, I want better myself as a musician to contribute to the greater good as Mocha.”

Mocha Plans on releasing new material and playing a handful of shows this coming fall.

Check out Mocha on Facebook.

Photos by Hadley Sintic.

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