There’s only one band on the planet that knows how to work instruments such as the toe-bourine, the buke—which is a six-string ukelele—and the gase, a guitar/bass hybrid. This band is Buke & Gase, brainchild of Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez, both of whom are Brooklyn natives. Their expertise is rooted in the fact that they came up with each of these instruments themselves, having turned once-commonplace music-makers into colossal innovations.
“[Sanchez] has a kick drum which is slightly enhanced,” explained Dyer. “It’s got a snare sound, a tambourine sound and a shaker sound so that when you hit the kick drum, it has more range.”
Buke & Gase has managed to remain a fairly percussion-centric duo without ever having to lay hands on a drum set. Instead of using the traditional setup, the band breaks the mold by using bells, the modified kick drum, their toe-bourine and an assortment of other instruments that have been modified to suit their desired sound. Even the band’s string instruments are “very percussive and we play rhythmic parts that add percussive drive to the music.”
“We grew up in Brooklyn around bands like Lightning Bolt and all kinds of do-it-yourself small two-person bands,” said Sanchez. “I think that’s influenced the manner in which we make music, right up to creating instruments that allow us to be a two-person band that sounds huge, allowing us to be sonically powerful.”
Having met in 2000, the two wasted no time getting their musical careers up and running. Before they pioneered Buke & Gase six years ago, Dyer and Sanchez dabbled in electronic music together for some time, then played in a four-piece band called Hominid. For the entirety of their musical career, now more than ever, the duo has prided themselves on drawing inspiration from all over.
“We were influenced quite heavily when we were in Brooklyn by the other bands that were our peers,” said Dyer. “But the music that we like is not necessarily Brooklyn-based. Stylistically, we are very influenced by nigerian highlife. We like world music, classical, classic american rock, hip hop … anything, pretty much.”
For that reason, any given review of a Buke & Gase album or show will offer up an entirely unique and eclectic mash-up of terms in an attempt to file them under some form of quasi-genre. Cataloguing their style, however, is an unwelcome act in Dyer’s books.
“We like to not really describe it,” she said. “It’s good to get your own opinion. If you think about the instrumentation, it gives it a certain style; we play a string of instruments that could be classified as rock instruments.” They do come equipped with a kick drum, a guitar and bass sounds, but given that they have all been tweaked and modified, the resulting sound is equally abnormal.
“Usually when somebody asks me [to describe our sound], I tend to say, ‘I don’t know, listen to it and see what you think of it first before we discuss what it sounds like,’ so that they can get their own opinion.”
In 2009, the band appeared as a guest on Radiolab, a radio program also available as a podcast produced by a company based out of New York. According to Sanchez, their appearance on the show gave Buke & Gase a ton of invaluable exposure and since then, the band has never looked back.
Are they able to pinpoint one outstanding career-defining experience? “All of it,” said Sanchez.
Dyer laughed in agreement, adding, “We’ve been invited by several of our heroes to perform with them and each time it’s amazing […] we play with such a variety of other musicians and we’ve been featured in a variety of different types of shows from classical to rock. It’s never the same thing twice, that’s for sure.”