Nick Behnan knows what’s good for the musical soul.
The Detroit singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist seamlessly fuses soulful, funky and rocky grooves into his latest single, “Days of Creation,” which pays homage to the Motor City’s musical legacy.
“That was the first thing I wanted to do in that song, and if you notice at the end, there’s a shout-out to Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Parliament. I definitely wanted to keep it as a tribute to Motown,” Behnan said.
“Regardless of what anyone says about this city, I honestly think it has the most timeless and the most iconic music ever. There might be a few exceptions, but I think it would be tough to beat Detroit as a whole when it comes to everything that’s come out of this city.”
Available today via all streaming platforms, “Days of Creation” features funky bass, rhythmic electric guitar, pulsating drums and vintage organ wrapped in 3.5 minutes of groovy sonic bliss. It also spotlights the smooth soulful vocals of Detroit R&B singer-songwriter and longtime Behnan collaborator Kendrick Hardaway.
Throughout the track, Hardaway beautifully sings, “What happened to the good days of creation/Will they ever come back/C’mon give me that funk baby, c’mon give me that soul/Cuz I need some inspiration, real Motown flow/C’mon give me that funk baby, c’mon give me that soul/I don’t want no imitation, straight rock and roll.”
Besides paying tribute to Motown and Detroit’s musical legacy, the track also references the absence of soul and funk from today’s popular music. These days, mainstream artists are less likely to blend several genres into one track – think back to Michael Jackson’s 1984 hit single, “Thriller.”
“New music doesn’t quite have the same soul like Bob Seger says in his song. There are great bands out there, and not to take anything away from them, but on the whole as far as pop music’s concerned, I think it’s lacking in soul,” said Behnan, who plays all the instruments on “Days of Creation.”
Luckily, Behnan and Hardaway return that long-lost mix of soul, funk and rock on “Days of Creation.” The former Infatuations bandmates have brought a strong multi-genre approach to several recent singles, including Hardaway’s “The Slave King” and Behnan’s “Right at Home.”
“I actually came up with that song back when I was in the Infatuations. I thought of the song for that band, and we just never got around to recording it. I had the music beginning to end, and I had the hook and the chorus,” Behnan said.
“That’s when I brought in Kendrick and said, ‘I don’t have the verses yet,’ and he came up with those verses off the top of his head like he always does. He’s pretty amazing at that. He knew exactly where I was going with ‘Give me that funk, give me that soul.’”
Behnan developed a fascination with soul, R&B, funk, hip-hop and rock music while growing up in Farmington Hills. As a budding guitarist and pianist, his musical tastes ranged from Stevie Wonder to Michael Jackson to Jimi Hendrix to Wu-Tang Clan.
During his teen years, Behnan started writing music and gigging heavily around metro Detroit until forming his first band, Jiva, while attending Michigan State University. Jiva went through two iterations – a female-fronted heavy rock project and a male-fronted soul group – before disbanding in 2011.
By 2011, Behnan joined The Infatuations, a funk-soul-rock nonet based in Detroit, and later added Hardaway as the group’s vocalist. The band eventually went on hiatus, but Behnan and Hardaway continued to collaborate on each other’s projects, including a growing roster of singles and EPs.
“From the first time I met him, I felt like I’d known him forever, and we must have been in a past life together. And even if I don’t see him for six months, and then when we see each other, it’s like no time has passed,” said Behnan, who’s now a guitarist with The Lows.
“I’m always writing grooves, melodies, rhythms and chord progressions, and I have an insane amount of songs. I can just play him something I’m working on, and the minute he hears it, he’ll start humming, singing and doing stuff that sounds great. He comes up with melodies and ideas right away.”
Outside of his ongoing projects with Hardaway, Behnan also collaborates with Rochester gospel singer-songwriter James Cooper, aka JAECODA, on his latest heartfelt single, “Rescue.” He lends an uplifting guitar on this divine track about a worshipper’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m a guitarist at J Moss’s church in Detroit, and he’s a pastor now, and he has an amazing band, and one of the keyboardists is JAECODA. He was just putting that song out, and he hit me up during the quarantine. He sent me the track, and I recorded the guitars at my house and sent it back to him,” Behnan said.
After collaborating with several artists and dropping two singles, Behnan plans to release an instrumental album as well as continue licensing guitar-driven rock for film and TV. He currently holds several sync licenses for different projects through Jiva.
“I do play a variety of instruments on them, but most of my stuff ends up being guitar-driven. I have a lot of rock, indie rock, punk rock, heavy rock and blues rock stuff that I’ve done for sync licensing. A lot of the stuff I do is also more on the funk, soul and modern Motown side, and that’s kind the vibe of where I see this album going,” Behnan said.