Meet Blac Rabbit, a Brooklyn Psych Band Co-Fronted by "Mirror Twins"

Blac RabbitEXPAND
Blac Rabbit
Photo by Angel Boyd
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Twin brothers Amiri and Rahiem Taylor have a lot in common as co-frontmen of the Brooklyn-based psychedelic rock band Blac Rabbit. They often double each other's guitar riffs for a monophonic effect, and it's difficult for new listeners to tell their singing voices apart. They are musically intertwined — inseparable even.

All of which makes sense, given that they share the same DNA. But they still have their differences. 

"Our songwriting styles are so oddly similar, but you can still tell if Rah wrote a song or if I wrote a song even if you don't put vocals over it," Amiri says. "I think that Rah is more lyrically introspective. He's been through a lot of emotional wounds and stuff. It comes from a place of old-soul wisdom, and I think my lyrics are a little more lighthearted. Personality-wise, he's a little bit more introverted than I am."

Though they both sing and play guitar onstage — backed by Patrick Jones on drums and Josh Lugo on bass — the Taylor twins assume complementary roles in the studio. Rahiem plays drums, bass, and guitar; Amiri plays guitar and keyboards. Rahiem is more of the big-picture thinker. 

"I tend to think about production a lot, even in the very early stages of writing a song," Rahiem says. "I usually start out with a drumbeat or something, and I tend to go a more musically simple route than Amiri does. A lot of the time, Amiri is the one pushing to add more harmonies to a song."

Blac Rabbit is set to play a free show at Las Rosas Saturday, November 3. At this point, the Taylor twins aren't best known for their original music: YouTube videos of them performing spot-on renditions of mop-top era Beatles songs such as "We Can Work It Out" and "Eight Days a Week" on the New York City Subway have garnered millions of views. As a result, the group has been mistaken for a cover band.

Having learned so many songs by the Beatles, the brothers can't help taking cues from the world-beating songwriting duo of Lennon and McCartney. "There are certain styles of songwriting that I've followed from John and Paul, like working out vocal melodies on the keyboard," Amiri says. "Or I'll take a guitar melody and translate that to my voice. Our use of certain chord progressions, bass lines, and harmonies are lifted from the Beatles and that psychedelic-rock era."

Much like the Beatles, the Taylor twins are competitive as songwriters and highly critical of each other's work, both attempting to one-up the other and continually searching for "that healthy balance of having artistic control and also being able to let go of that inner ego, recognizing when something is good and just rolling with it," Amiri says.

Blac Rabbit is also inspired by the studio wizardry of Tame Impala's Kevin Parker. "Sonically, there's a lot we really dig about Tame Impala, but personally, the biggest takeaway is Kevin's ability to invoke emotion with his music," Rahiem says. "I really like music that's very melodic and emotional. There's also the fact that he's an amazing producer and multi-instrumentalist. It's very inspiring."

So far, the band has one album to its name, last year's six-song, self-titled EP (released digitally by How Far Music). But the brothers have been in the studio recently, nailing down a couple of singles for a forthcoming full-length album, due out early next year. The new material is a continuation of the EP, which is to say it's richly textured '60s psych-pop loaded with fuzzy guitar riffs.

"In a way, I think this album is even more riff-heavy than the last one," Rahiem says. "Our tastes have developed. The EP was kind of a test run. After experimenting with some gear at home, we had a better idea of what we wanted going into this project."

Adds Amiri: "We have learned a lot from recording in the studio with really, really nice gear and learning how to mess with certain keyboard sounds."

The brothers believe higher production values will make it easier to hear the timbre nuances that distinguish their singing voices. But maybe their differences don't matter so much — maybe it's more about the balance between them.

"We're like mirror twins," Amiri says. "He's a lefty; I'm a righty. We complete each other."

Blac Rabbit. 10 p.m. Saturday, November 3, at Las Rosas, 2898 NW Seventh Ave., Miami; 786-780-2700; lasrosasbar.com. Admission is free.

8 p.m. Sunday, November 4, at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-832-9999; sub-culture.org/respectable-street. Tickets cost $12 via etix.com.

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