Evan Nicole Brown
Three Bushwick-based musicians and collaborators have recently released an album called “No Liquor in Bushwick,” a genre-bending effort they describe as post hip-hop. The 11 song album was created over the course of a year in a studio on Jefferson Street, with a zero budget and full creative freedom, making “No Liquor in Bushwick” a truly DIY project—a mode of creation that feels at home in the Bushwick neighborhood.
The album is written, performed, produced, and published by Ace Marcano, Jordan Menard, and Ivan Markovsky; Markovsky recorded and mixed the tunes as well. While the three musicians all hail from different places—Marcano, a native of Bushwick, Menrad from California, and Markovsky from Ukraine—a chance encounter in a Bushwick apartment building is what brought them all together.
“I run a small sound production studio on Jefferson Street, and Jordan just moved in the same apartment, and Ace was his friend,” Markovsky said. “It was just random circumstances: we met, we felt something, and we immediately started to work together, and that’s a rare thing.”
In the true spirit of collaboration, they tapped other Bushwick-based artists to assist with the project, like Maja Martini, a singer from Norway whose vocals are featured on the album’s track “Percxanistan,” and Bianca Brown, an actress who electrified the party scene in the video for “Tester.”
“The whole creative and production process was completely unorthodox, everything got confused and kinda melted together,” Markovsky said of the album’s creation.
“There were no formulas or discussions of what we were ever going to do, nothing was ever contrived, it was just happening,” Marcano said. “All we did was find a heartbeat and let it flow.”
As far as inspiration goes, the group’s responses to what helped influence their sound are as varied as their roles in the project. For Marcano, the organic nature of the album building process came from his inspirations being “actual life events, happening to me on the spot” which he used as fuel. Menrad credits “a lot of Young Thug and Saint Jhn” as what influenced his sound, along with everything from “late 70’s punk rock to modern hip hop.”
The title of the album, which I assumed was inspired by the appalling absence of liquor stores in the Bushwick area, is actually named for something far less literal.
“The title of the album doesn’t actually have anything to do with liquor,” Menard explained. “‘Liquor’ is called a spirit, and that comes from the old world where religious folks would see somebody getting hyped on the music or sermon in church and wonder if that was the holy spirit or just the liquor—was he a drunk or a prophet? I think the line is so fine between madness and greatness. It’s often blurred for the observer.”
The Bushwick neighborhood essentially co-wrote and produced this album, with the three musicians pulling influences from all of its blocks and bars and bodegas. “Half of the lyrics were written and then argued and rewritten at local bars,” Markovsky said. “We used residents and neighbors as our first listeners and critics all the time.”
“For years I’ve watched ‘Bushy’ become a hub for all of the creators, artists, and innovative entrepreneurs…watching that happen reaches inside of you and it makes you start to question ‘well, what am I good at artistically?’ because now you have the best landing space for it,” Marcano mused.
The group is planning an album presentation and live performance event at a local bar, yet to be determined. You can listen to the album on all streaming platforms.
All images courtesy of Ivan Markovsky.
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