What do you get when three musicians are home and bored at the same time? Create a supergroup! At least that’s how Denver’s fresh new trio got started. Singer-songwriters Kayle Marque and Sur Ellz (Khalil Arcady) got together with producer CRL CRRLL (Carl Carrell) as a few friends interested to see what they could come up with — and Denver won’t be the same.
We caught up with The Grand Alliance to get a background on how the three got together, what their creative process is like and what to expect when we can all congregate again and hear them live.
303 Magazine: You all have your own respective followings in Denver. Can you tell me more about how Grand Alliance came to be?
Kayla Marque: It was via Facebook, is how it started. We have all been friends for a while and know each other from the scene. I don’t know how many people know that Carl is always traveling. He made a post about being in Denver for a little bit and having some time. He asked if anyone wanted to hop in the studio and he and I had been talking about getting in the studio together and it had never happened. I had just gotten back from traveling myself, and was really bored, and thought, “I need this!” I responded to the post, “pick me!” Khalil also saw the post, so me and Khalil drove out to his studio, Fasor Records, and banged out our single, “Chakra Khan.” It was a very organic process for us and was super fun. We were like, “there might actually be something here.”
303: With such eclectic sounds and different backgrounds for your music, how do you navigate fusing those together?
CRL CRRLL: It’s a collaborative effort. I think my background is very funk and groove-oriented, a lot of old school vibes. Khalil and Kayla both vibe out to a lot of funk and soul, so I think this project just brings that out of all three of us and is a perfect fit. Everything that comes out of this project is going to be very funk, very soul, very futuristic sounding. All of the sounds and songs that we have been picking have been an easy process just because of all of our backgrounds. The process is really just that we get in the studio, I pick some beats and we vibe out from there. We tweak things, Khalil adds his harmonies and vocals and Kayla comes in and crushes it with the verses and raps on a song. It’s getting out to the box from what we normally do and just having some fun.
303: Can you let us know what to expect with your new music?
CC: “Chakra Khan” is the only single out right now, our other singles will be out later this year, and we are working on some visuals. We’re shooting for an album to be finished at some point soon, but we won’t be releasing [it] until a lot later. We did have some shows coming up this summer if everything falls back into place. We will be doing UMS for sure. Records, to singles, then some performances later this summer.
Sur Ellz: I think it has just been a very genuine process, just because we are all friends and we formed an even stronger friendship through this music, it became a living thing. We are excited for people to get a taste of when Denver has to offer.
KM: I am so ready for this music to be out. It is hard to be patient right now and it is driving me crazy, it’s such a fun project. It’s very different from my solo work, which is really introspective and heavy and uncomfortable. So, this is an outlet for me to have fun, dance and groove and vibe.
SE: I would agree. Kayla and I, in particular, have completely different sounds from each other, and from what Carl’s doing, genuinely. I would say we separately excel in our songwriting skills, but when we come together we just vibrate off of each other. When we have something good, it just flows. We just take the energy from the three of us and it has its own flare. It’s amazing.
303: Do you have other events planned? Has COVID-19 postponed any other events?
CRL CRRLL: Individually but nothing together. Pushing off live performances. As a group, not really.
303: What do you foresee or hope for the future of Grand Alliance?
SE: We all would like to take what we’re doing here and present it to the world to bring people an infectious type of energy when they come to our show. The feel-good music of Parliament and that type of energy. Bringing a big funk boogie celebration. I think it would be exciting to start playing shows and opening shows for bigger acts and possibly going on tour. I’m not going to say it started as a joke, but we would get together, joke around, and then create something really beautiful. Then, in the end, we’d figure out a random title to call it that blends in with the feel of the song. It was a good time and we are ready to share with anyone who wants to hear it.
KM: The world is definitely going to need this music after this is all over.
SE: I would say that though we are not making strictly conscious music, our songs have messages and tell stories. Now that we think about it, we caught a glimpse of a vision of a time when people will need to hear these messages. Just thinking on a more conscious and spiritual level, it’s like we tapped into this channel. It really speaks to what we are currently living in.
Be sure to listen to “Chakra Khan” and get ready to go see Grand Alliance once the dangers of public engagements pass.