MINT, Queen’s newly formed six-piece funk band, is on the rise.
Formed in September 2019 out of disparate members of the Queen’s Music Club, the group has seen exponential success since they started. Lead guitarist Jordan Wiener (Comm ’20), lead vocalist Daniel DeGagne (ArtSci ’22), pianist and vocalist Joel Alan (Sci ’22), bassist Arthur Araújo (MASc student), drummer Omar Elmor (ArtSci ’21), and saxophonist and rapper Arinze Imasogie (Sci ’21)—were drawn together by a passion for musical growth and a desire to get people dancing.
Now, only six months since their beginning, the group is only growing in recognition and hopes to leave a legacy on campus.
The band was originally started by lead guitarist Wiener, who had played in bands throughout his university career. As his former bandmates graduated, he reached out into the community to find talented student artists interested in keeping the music alive.
“[Music] is such an important part of my life at Queen’s, and being able to interact with the community through music,” Wiener said in an interview with The Journal.
“I made a post in the Queen’s Music Club [on Facebook], and then it kind of just fell together.”
Although MINT’s new members had never played funk music before, once they came together as a unit, it seemed like the natural next step for a group that wanted to stand out as badly as they did.
The group debuted at September’s climate strike, and since then have been hopping from charity concert to charity concert, gathering a dedicated group of fans. Since September, MINT has played everywhere from the University and Union intersection to Ale House, performing music for events hosted by groups such as Relay for Life, UNICEF, and Autism Partnership.
After a rushed start—Imasogie joined the band the same week as their first gig—the group has settled into its groove.
“We [didn’t want to] waste time,” Wiener said. “It’s my last year, so we just had to throw everyone together. Everyone is so individually good that then coming together was just the natural part of it.”
The group’s biggest struggle is coordinating their busy student schedules to practice regularly. Because the group is too large to meet up for jam sessions at home, they book rooms at MacGillivray-Brown Hall to practice, through the Queen’s Music Club. Still, with a growing repertoire and a performance schedule booked well in advance, MINT won’t be letting up anytime soon.
Moving away from standard covers, the group has begun rewriting songs to fit the funk genre, mashing together music to match.
“It’s like taking a song that you know, let’s say a Beatles song, and updating and modernizing it through funk […] [We’re] taking a song that people normally wouldn’t dance to, then making it more danceable. It’s just a fun challenge,” Wiener said.
It’s time-consuming for the band to adapt each new song to their sound, which often involves writing new parts for the keyboard and saxophone. They spend hours piecing together new music from existing tracks, but MINT strives to grow from gig to gig. They try to never play the same setlist twice.
Although the end of the winter semester will see the departure of several members of MINT, including founder Wiener and bassist Araújo, the band’s biggest goal is to see the group continue to change and grow as it adopts new members and evolves.
“I [want] to come back a year later after we graduate, and see that the band is still a living breathing thing,” Wiener said.
For now, the biggest success for the group has been coming together in the first place and growing from strangers to bandmates to friends.
“It’s a lot of fun getting to know other people really well and forming a group that all have this one common interest,” DeGagne said. “We were all strangers at the start, but we push through, we persevere. […] It’s really cool to kind of make a new family.”
This piece has been updated to reflect Omar Elmor’s participation in the band.
The Journal regrets the error
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