January 18, 2017

Injunuity: Not your grandfather’s flute music

Jeff Carpenter, left, and Brad Clonch are “Injunuity.” The Oklahoma duo will be performing their brand of Native music in Switzerland this summer. COURTESY PHOTOADA, Okla. – What happens when you mix the Native American flute, a guitar, and some drums together?

One thing you might not think of is award winning folk/rock music. However, that is what happened when Brad Clonch (Mississippi Choctaw) and Jeff Carpenter (Chickasaw) came together to form Injunuity.
Formed in 2007, the group won a NAMMY the following year for Best Debut/Duo Group.
“He (Brad) was doing his own solo project with the flute. He had a show coming up and said ‘hey Jeff I want you to play guitar with me at the show,’” said Carpenter.
So the two teamed up and wrote about six or seven songs for the show. The performance turned out to be a big success. “People really seemed to like it. They really got into that style of music. From there it really took off,” said Carpenter.
The duo then quickly put together an EP to get their sound out there. They began playing small shows around Oklahoma and added other members to round out the band. The group has since branched out playing shows across the country, from Alabama to New Mexico to Wisconsin. This summer the original duo will head to Switzerland for a European tour.
The music is something new and unique by going with a no-vocal completely instrumental style. “It’s a different thing that most people haven’t really been introduced to. It’s a rock style music featuring the Native flute as the melody instrument. People say it’s a new fresh sound and we’re changing the way people listen to flute music,” said Carpenter.
“Native American flute music is a broad category. But it’s not necessarily your traditional style Native flute music. We have a slogan, ‘it’s not your grandfather’s flute music.’ Different mixed with modern drums and modern bass and electric and the rhythms. It still kind of holds that cultural presence with the flute being the primary instrument on every song,” said Clonch.
That change has come through the combination of opposite music styles. “It’s a melding of my background and Brad’s background. Brad was raised on classical piano. He grew up listening to Beethoven and Bach. I grew up more of a rock, more modern style of music. In our music you will hear a lot of classical elements – a lot of string orchestra and piano. That’s all Brad’s background. I usually come up with drums and the guitar and bring those things into play. It’s a great mesh between the two of us,” said Carpenter.
The pride in their heritage and keeping it alive is what gives the music its spirit. “I’ve always liked the aspect of, if you record something, it’s a feeling, it’s a part of you. It’s captured in history with the technology today. Tribes centuries ago didn’t have recorders, so a lot of those songs were lost and a lot of the history was lost. With Jeff and I, although it’s something modern, I still want to think of it as something we’re doing historically. By helping keep one aspect of our culture alive through music with the Native flute and with other tribal instruments,” said Clonch.
In the future, the group would like to win a Grammy award and move into doing music for television and film. This spring they will release a full-length album titled “Fight for Survival.” For more information visit www.injunuity.net or the band’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/injunuity.