Guitarist, vocalist and bandleader Dominic Minix lists Yung Vul's appellations: Yung Vulnerability, Yung Vulva, Yung Vulcan, or "Yung Vole, like the rodent." His nimble quartet with drummer Michael Scott, trumpeter Xavier Molina and bassist Nic Lefebvre embraces the raw intimacy of hardcore punk to plunge into a heady mix of jazz and soul, resistant to genre boundaries while challenging them. The band hosts the monthly Clashback series, a collaborative music residency at Three Keys at the Ace Hotel in which the band performs alongside a range of artists, from Saul Williams to Nick Hakim and New Orleans electronic and hip-hop producer AF THE NAYSAYER.
"Just to work with different artists each month is a great challenge, but it's also a great way to build material and build songs," he says. "It was a good training ground."
Minix counts among his influences artists from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Joan Miro and Kanye West and "musicians who have something to say that goes against the grain: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Christian Scott, Miles Davis." In 2016, Minix joined an international tour with Scott, whose genre-averse visions transcend traditional jazz audiences and "influenced my entire generation," Minix says. "Seeing that it's possible really fueled my ambition."
After studying at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), Minix attended Loyola University New Orleans, where he developed a quartet from a school project during his freshman year and morphed gradually over five years from jazz and R&B to an "all-encompassing" multilingual outfit cutting through several genres and with "different languages to choose from — hip-hop, punk rock, jazz, whatever," Minix says. "If I want to take it to this visceral level, I can access Bad Brains or Nirvana, and pull from that. But it definitely comes through the songwriting, too."
Minix says while NOCCA taught him jazz theory and conventions and Loyola showed him the business, "I really learned to play by just taking every gig and playing with everybody."
On his 2016 EP Introducing as the Dominic Minix Quartet, he's immersed in sweeping jazz instrumentals. Yung Vul's 2016 EP Cannonball Adderall assembles a singular mix of eerie harmonies, breakneck rhythms, metal riffs and vaporous, meditative jazz riffs — opening with the chaotic "Invisible Idiot" and closing with the R&B-inspired "Wine and Cookies."
"I think everyone has synesthesia," he says. "I keep that in mind when I'm thinking about the aspects of music and recording, melody, texture, dynamic. ... I know when I want an explosion in the song, I know when I want the song to float, I know when there needs to be booming — these are more visual adjectives, and trying to convey that to the band is the challenge."
Minix sees each show's arc as having a beginning, middle and end, a story told in the unique language the band developed over five years.
"It comes back to telling a story," he says. "I think one of the reasons people don't listen to jazz now is because they don't know when the story begins or ends. Jazz becomes institutionalized. We've taken it away from the idea of music by people for people. That informs the language we have. What languages are we using? Punk rock and jazz. ... The beginning of someone's solo I might say 'no drums,' or then it's like, 'balls to the wall, let's go crazy.' There's the unpredictability aspect, where I want guys in the band to feel safe and take risks."
The 2017 Music Issue:
13 Dreams | Blato Zlato | Boyish Charm
Tasche & the Psychedelic Roses | Yung Vul