Operating with positivity and a reggae sound.Photo By Louis Morales
Feng shui is the ancient Chinese philosophy and practice focused on creating physical areas revolving around the natural energy of the space in order to promote positivity and well-being.
It takes into account the five elements in nature, colors, shapes and locations of physical objects in the environment and for centuries people have used this approach to enhance their own feelings inside their homes and offices.
Refocusing energy with a positive intent is familiar territory for Galveston based band Dem Roots whose sound is heavily inspired by reggae and always uplifting and unifying in nature.
Dem Roots is releasing their second single, “Feng Shui,” off their upcoming album, Forward Ever today and will be celebrating Saturday night with a live show at The Continental Club with long time Houston reggae band, Idiginis.
“Whenever I was writing this tune I was exploring a lot of my spiritual self and a lot of that was just the distribution of energy within my existence and the environment that I was in,” says lead singer Louis Morales.
Where the actual philosophy of feng shui deals with physical objects and what they transmit, the song deals with rearranging a much more abstract concept, feelings.
“The song is about someone speaking to their significant other about security. You’re desiring to spend time with me but you just want attention and you’d much rather go for security because of what security brings rather than what is right for you,” describes Morales.
Morales describes his observations from the road where people who often have a stable relationship back home, can be easily swayed by the fleeing temptations that present themselves during their travels.
“What good is it to be secure about something if you’re just going to be unhappy about what you’re doing? You’re just going to create this huge lie that essentially with time is going to catch up to you and you have to start all over.”
“Feng Shui” embodies the trademark Dem Roots reggae sound but also shows off the six-piece band's ability to harmonize softly and incorporate jazzy intonations in the vocals.
“The root of our music is definitely always going to be reggae music, that’s just something that I’ve always been into. I love the sound and the concepts of reggae music. The message, it clearly is always going to change but we are keeping it in that range of reggae,” he says.
“There is a lot of different elements and flavors in the band that really make it what it is, but we are incorporating a lot of different styles and one dominant style is jazz.” Evidence of this new direction is the first single they released, "Justification" featuring the smooth saxophone work of Allison Lopez which takes the bands sound to another level.
It is their trademark reggae sound that has made them Houston favorites and helped them maintain their successful Sunday brunch residency at La Grange.
"La Grange is really good about being open towards everyone. It really has become something really nice that brings everyone together," says Morales of the residency which will be slowing down in the upcoming hotter Houston months and in anticipation of their new album's release.
For the release of Forward Ever, their first official album due out this fall on Splice Records, Dem Roots teamed up with another reggae band, Lion Heights from Austin. When the shutdown began, both bands took the time off from playing live to hit the studio and rework Dem Roots songs with their new lineup.
Though they had worked with Splice Records before, it wasn't until they sent Splice the finished album that they were signed to the label. The band has already scheduled a four and half week tour this fall taking them from Texas to New York and back with Lion Heights.
"I've been wanting to do that for a while," says Morales of the tour. "That's actually what I've been looking forward to the most."
Dem Roots has also been part of Galveston's new concert series Save The Locals taking place each Thursday on the Island and they are an active part of the community which has bred like minded, reggae inspired bands in and around Houston and Galveston.
Ironically, just as live music began to return allowing Morales the opportunity to plan on performing again, he was injured in a hit and run as he was rendering aid to someone who had an accident on I-45. He continues to heal and strengthen each day and his sister has started a GoFundMe in his name.The same positive outlook that shines through his music is supporting him in the long physical recovery journey he faces.
Despite the uncomfortable outcome of his kindhearted gesture, Morales does not regret stopping to help the stranger that day. He says people often tell him that he shouldn't have stopped but he always thinks that if it was one of his relatives, he would have wanted someone to help.
"I’m looking at it as, it is what it is. I’m a testament of the Lord's mercy and I’m alive. I’m alive to play music, talk to people, smile, cry and learn from it. There’s a reason why this happened and I’m slowly learning what that reason is. I’m going to continue to grow and learn from this. It's a day by day basis for me until I am able to walk again."
"Feng Shui" will be available for streaming on Saturday, June 26. Dem Roots will perform with Idiginis on Saturday, June 26 at The Continental Club, 700 Main. Music starts at 10 p.m., $10
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.