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By Kasey Leavitt

Black Square is one band who really gets it. Managed by Hawai‘i Pacific University Communication Professor Dr. Serena Hashimoto (or Serpico, as she’s affectionately called by the group), all six members of Black Square genuinely love their music, their art, and their fans.

Hashimoto, who receives no pay for her work, has been managing the band for just over a year. In fact, when all the costs are factored in, no one in the band makes any money.

“ I started doing all this because I believed in their talent and their message. I’ve been with them over a year now, and they feel like family. They are so great it is ridiculous...I am constantly impressed with how much they give of themselves.  They work like dogs so they can play some amazing music and nobody makes a cent off of it,” Hashimoto said.

Their musical and songwriting talent was evident at a September 21st gig at Anna Banana’s. It felt like a party with 300 of Black Square’s closest friends than an actual show. The room was stifling hot as people, dripping in sweat, crowded together shoulder to shoulder at the foot of the stage, just to be that much closer to the band. There wasn’t a static person in the place. Every person was dancing, jumping, or bobbing, moved by the upbeat sounds of this power reggae group.

“ I loved their sound and the instruments being used,” Kalei Kam, a graduate student at HPU, exclaimed. “My favorite part was when two of the band members came into the audience still playing their instruments and dancing with the audience; the audience went absolutely wild!  Love them!”
Not many bands can captivate an audience the way Black Square can. Josh86, the band’s lead singer, attributes that energy to the band “just having fun,” their love for their art, and most
importantly, their love for people who turn out to see them. Decidedly humble despite the band’s growing popularity, Josh86 says that Black Square’s success is due largely to other local bands and that they have a “very strong love and appreciation for the local music scene and all the bands who are a part of it.” He added, “we wouldn’t have the foundation that we do if it weren’t for those bands.”

Black Square writes songs that reflects its perspective on current issues such as racism, war, the situation in Iraq, and capitalism. Black Square feels a responsibility to sing about important issues to encourage people to talk about our social climate. Those lyrics are then set to music that blends traditional genres like rock and reggae, with newer ones like punk rock and ska.

Black Square has a truly unique sound. Just as unique is how they chose their name. Inspired by Kazimir Malevich’s infamous Black Square painting, which challenged people to consider art differently and more objectively, the band’s moniker reflects their dispute with society’s traditional notion of art. In the same way that they don’t define art as any one particular medium, they don’t define their music as any one particular style.

The members of Black Square, include lead singer Josh86, 25; drummer Little Brian Kim, 28; bassist Nick Danger, 24; alto saxophonist TR, 26; trombone player G-Bone, 20; and tenor saxophonist Babyface, who’s just 17 years old. Their last album, One Glass of Water, sold over 1,000 copies in less than six months, despite limited promotion and no local radio play. They have toured the mainland twice and have opened for the nationally popular, but locally-grown, Pepper.

Black Square lights up the local music scene with their passion and their message. You can pick up their latest CD at Jelly’s, Hungry Ear, Sure Shock Café, or online at cdbaby.com. Be on the look out for their next album, tentatively scheduled to drop in February.



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