Turkuaz: A Band That’s Close to Home

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Turkuaz: A Band That’s Close to Home

Nicole Shaker, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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“Funk is just so fun!” said THS alum Josh Schwartz (’03), who now travels full-time as a saxophonist with the funk band Turkuaz. The band has a distinct, high-energy style that combines alternative, rock, R&B, psychedelia, and now electronic aspects, to make, at times, chaotic music. They have released eight albums throughout their decade run, and just released a new EP, Kaudrochrome, along with the debut of a new live show style.  

Schwartz, who plays baritone saxophone and is involved in song-writing, was a founding member of the band in 2008. He decided to study advertising at the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University after graduating THS in 2003. He said that although he had a lot of catching up to do with his instrument (as most of the other band members went to music school), it’s smart for a musician to be well-versed in the worlds of networking and social media; he’s been able to design posters and album covers for the band.

As a staple in all the THS theatre productions of his high school career, he had always had an affinity for the performing arts, but he said, “The thing that really made me realize I could see myself doing this [being a performing musician] was performing at a show in Asbury Park at The Stone Pony with my high school band.” He was in a band all through high school and some of college, and so he had experience with the scene before founding Turkuaz. Growing up listening to oldies, as well as bands like the Talking Heads, also helped inspire him to pursue music in his later life.

Currently, Turkuaz is playing sporadic shows—so while not on tour, they are consistently performing. With their release of four-track Kuadrochrome, they debuted a new color scheme to their live shows. Previously, in the Digtonium era of the band, they each represented a color of the rainbow, Schwartz donning bright purple at every gig. Fans would come to shows in groups each dressed in a different band member’s color, which Schwartz said warmed his heart. Their new outfits are black, white, gray, and tan with chrome highlights. Schwartz has begun seeing fans dressed in silver as well as the old rainbow style. Fans have really taken to the new style, and Schwartz said that shows so far have been “great.” 

The nonet band cites Talking Heads as a major inspiration, Schwartz specifically citing their documentary Stop Making Sense as a stylistic inspiration for live shows. They plan to incorporate more electronic aspects into their music as they continue to record new material, with a bunch of releases planned for 2020. 

Josh Schwartz (’03), saxophonist and vocalist in the band Tukuaz. Photo credit: Facebook.

Being part of a nine-person band can seem daunting, but to Schwartz, it’s a relief. He enjoys having many eccentric personalities working on one project and says that it reduces drama because if two people get into a squabble, they’ll be able to work it out among themselves instead of harming a huge part of the band. He says that he’s very lucky to have been able to form the band and stick with it for so long; not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to be a full-time musician. 

“I know this will sound cheesy, and everyone says it, but the best advice I could give to people who want to be musicians is to practice. I wish I had practiced my instrument more in high school and college.” Practice, along with marketing skills, could go a long way for students who are aspiring musicians. Schwartz also said that personality is a huge factor. “I’ve met some really amazing musicians who can play the hell out of their instruments, but… No one wants to play with a person they don’t like spending time with.” So, for all aspiring musicians reading this, taking Schwartz’s advice to heart would be a good idea—after all, he was just like you some years ago.

Josh Schwartz definitely did not take the traditional path out of THS, but he’s been able to make a life for himself doing what he loves and, even if Turkuaz isn’t necessarily a household name, in this day and age, that in itself is extremely commendable.